Soul: The Container of Mans’ Future?
Soul, Death, & Grace Chapter 9
THE NATURE OF MAN-BODY, SPIRIT, SOUL
“When the voice of God awakens the dead, he will come from the grave with the same appetites and passions, the same likes and dislikes, that he cherished when living.” COL, p. 270
The material we have just been reviewing points us toward a question which seems to almost be forcing itself into our consciousness.
Soul, Death, and Grace
the back story
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11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15
If the spirit, the breath, returns to the Lord at death, Cf., p. 38, #6 and the body returns eventually to the dust, what should we conceive of as being that which extends through death, capable of being guarded—hence capable of being harmed, until the resurrection—to come forth from the grave? Or, to ask the question differently, what, during death, is in the prison house? Or, to use terminology appearing earlier in our study, when the bands of the tomb are broken, what is there to be set free? What is the grave?
One thing is immediately obvious, for something, anything to be in tomb man must be composed of more than the two parts referred to above—the spirit which returns to God who gave it at death, and the body which returns to the dust is not resurrected—the resurrection body being of a much finer material than the body is now made from.
To move toward an understanding of how our durable portion of man is, and of what it insulates itself from destruction, we will review some partially observed perspectives looking for their fullness.
“Put your whole being into the Lord’s hands, soul, body, and spirit….” OHC, p. 131.
“Divine grace is needed to sanctify the human being—body, soul, and spirit.” 4RH, p. 323.
“Jesus said to Mary, ‘touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father.’ When He closed His eyes in death upon the cross the soul of Christ did not go at once to heaven, as many believe, or how could His words be true—‘I am not yet ascended to my Father’?” 3SP, p. 203.
Considering concepts formulated in the foregoing thought pattern, man, in addition to being a possessor of breath or spirit and body, is quantitatively to be viewed as possessor of a soul. Therefore we can hypothesize that that which endures through the prison house, the grave, until the band of the tomb are broken, to be called forth, can be summarized under the term soul.
As we are obviously going to need to find definitional material to identify this concept further, let’s also briefly consider some implications which rise with the soul or continuity concept.
To find soul being inserted into our developing anthropological cartouche is an expected but interesting idea because the qualities of this soul designation are not by nature inclusive of eternal life! Notice!
“The Soul that sinneth, it shall die an everlasting death—a death from which there will be no hope of a resurrection….” EW, p, 218.
Issues of Continuity, or, Durable Soul
If the soul definition we are trying to find were found to represent a reality, it would mean that the Lord, in addition to everything else He does, guards the dead! Such a concept would also imply loudly to this researcher that everyone guarded and protected by God goes on to eternal reward. But are we therefore to conclude, by implication, that everyone who dies goes to heaven –the home of God and right doing—regardless of what their life style has been? If one answers yes—certainly a most desirably gracious answer—we have an interesting problem because the resurrected one needs to be the same person who died or we have an act of creation and not an act of resurrection to give meaning, or a start for meaning, to death’s significance and/or function.
The doctrine of resurrection implied, at least thus far, which we are investigating, is of that which attaches to death and thereby enabled death to be the conductor connecting two life interacting experiences, and is a resurrection concept that has the same person coming up out of the grave as went into it — the same memories, the same likes, the same character, and the same loves.
It appears to this researcher that the concerns so clearly expressed at the beginning of this study point to a formula that requires us to understand that for resurrection to be meaningful it must reconnect that which was disrupted by death’s visit, to the future, however that future is conceived.
The ‘resurrection’ of a different person, or of a similar but altered edition, does not constitute one’s hope for a re-continuation of a previously held association of family or friends.
For resurrection to provide a solution of death’s impact it has to result in continuity, not disruption, or by definition it is not resurrection—which by definition means an awaking or a standing up.
Everyone, it appears obvious to me, given the chance to vote, would desire the resurrection of the good! But what are we to hypothesize about the bad? Or do we find a formula which presses on us the conclusion that resurrection is resurrection and therefore if we allow a resurrection concept, we have to—you know—take the good with the bad!
Or is there the potential for a formula that we have overlooked, can the concept we are weighing, soul, be understood as capable of bearing a revelation of a doctrine of death in which not all who die enter into the same sate or condition? Could some, for example, be guarded in death while others weren’t as we found above, without a defining difference being identified—because of a quality of the soul?
If one were to suggest the potential for there to be more than one state or condition of those who have died, does that necessitate a parallel hypothesis that presents us with more than one quality of future chained to death’s end?
Would our hypothesis need to postulate that there was more than one reward-existence?
If one answered yes, would they both, or as many reward-existences as one conceived be more necessary for all the resurrected ones to be treated according to their life-acts—if there were more than one—would they all be good or desirable? To be rewarded, they would to have to be desirable in the view of the receiver?
As we questioned earlier, if we were to decide that not all who die enter into the same condition, would we also be deciding that not all who die enter into the same relationship during death to God?
If a plurality of death’s condition were to be our hypothesis what would we understand to be that which determined my position in death’s house after death’s visit?
If one were to promptly answer, “how one lived,” because resulting to life-choices is something all people recognize as chained to one’s acts, even when life is only deemed unfair, would one have a cause-and-effect rationale without interference, do and get, or would one be envisioning a cause and effect, act and reward sequel that was modulated through such concepts as forgiveness and/or restoration, or perhaps substitution?
Should the concept of a God who is gentle enough to guard the dead—if such turns out ultimately to be the situation—be conceived of as a God of justice and righteousness, hence do and get, or would one more-better envision that controlling One as exhibiting for primary attributes such qualities as mercy and love? If one were to elect for mercy and friends (love), might one conceive of a scenario where one did not receive the obvious result? If one elected for love, mercy, and forgiveness, would such concepts contain stability? If such concepts were alone attributed to a God, could such a One be trusted? Is there not a need for justice and law to be present in our formula for future stability to be conceivable? Where does law connect to soul?
The issues seem to be never ending. However, we will conclude with one obvious issue—if resurrection is to life eternal but only for the perfect, how do we formulate a forum which produces perfect people? If we don’t produce perfect people—sometimes!—what would be the point of a resurrection hypothesis?
This excursus began with questions that led us to a concept—soul. If one were to formulate and express the thoughts about death and God we would have been thinking randomly, so that those concepts gathered themselves together under the soul designation, what would one say? What would be the hues of the picture? How might the developed concept appear on paper? Would one’s perception of soul and death, for example, portray God, or would one’s understanding reflect life in relation with God—with death’s exact individual impact-description being altered to reflect the pre-death man-God relationship as it impacted the soul?
In the next four chapters, without forgetting what we have been thinking and before attempting to answer the issues raised-before drawing precisely a formula—we will examine some of the soul concepts we are questioning here, as they appear on paper in the works we are surveying.
To emphasize a particular facet of a concept of soul, the materials may be presented in numbered groups, comment and evaluation will come later in our study.