Bible Studies/Death

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Question
Hi, I just want to ask you regarding what the Bible says, which is that the Soul dies at the death of the physical body.
What doesn't sound logical to me is, that after a whole lifetime of learning, experiencing, developing skills etc.all that is wasted and disappears at death. It does not make sense that we are born, we live and then we die and we don't exist any more.
That seems to be a great waste. There would have to be a good reason for this. To me, we must have a spirit, made in God's Image, that stores all this knowledge and experience for future use. I have been researching the Jehovahs Witnesses for years now and the sticking point is that when we die, everything is dead, we don't exist any more.

Answer
Hi Collin,

You asked about the soul dying with the death of the physical body, and stated that, logically, this seems a waste.  

You are correct.  It is a waste, unless the individual essence of righteous men and women is somehow preserved for a resurrection in a non-physical body -- an eternal body.  By essence we mean the memories, personality, character, experience, knowledge, skills, and any other non-physical qualities that make us an individual, distinct from all other individuals.

Job asked, and answered the same question, "For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease.  But man dies, and wastes away: yes, man gives up the ghost, and where is he?" (Job 14:7, 10).  
Job answered his own question:  "So man lies down, and rises not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.  O that you would hide me in the grave, that you would keep me secret, until your wrath (the Day of the Lord's wrath, Rev. 6:17) be past, that you would appoint me a set time, and remember me!  If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. (Job 14:12-14, "we shall all be changed" 1Cor. 15:50-54, "at the last trump, v. 52).

A key word here is "remember".  We will come back to this.

The Lord's statement to Ezekiel was that "the soul that sins, shall die", while he that keeps "my statutes, judgments (laws), shall live." (Eze. 18:4-32).  The two choices are life or death (Deu. 30:15, 19), life or  destruction (Mat. 7:13-14), life or death (Rev. 21:6-8).  From "beginning to end", the two choices for humans are life or death, not life versus life in torment.

The concept of an immortal soul began with the serpent telling Eve "you shall not surely die" (Gen. 3:4), for disobeying God's law ("do not eat that one fruit", v. 3).  It was a full lie (there are no half-truths, 1Jn. 2:21).  She did not immediately drop dead, but she did eventually die physically.  If she did not repent, or if she has no other options (such as being in a "second resurrection"), then she will remain dead, because there are only two options, according to God, regardless of popular human traditions or opinions otherwise.

In Gen. 2:7, we see that God formed the first man out of dust (and water), but he was not alive, or "living" until God breathed the breath of life into his nostrils.  Without oxygen, the body does not work. Without the body working, it does not get oxygen. It is somewhat like the chicken and egg question, [which is one reason scientists, trying to prove evolution, argue over which subatomic cell functions evolved first when they can only work concurrently.] Only here, we are told that God created the body of Adam and somehow jump-started the circulatory system.  It is described in terms that are easy to understand, somewhat like a "mouth to mouth" resuscitation.  

We also notice in v. 7, that when God "breathed" life-giving oxygen into Adam's nostrils, "man became a living soul".  This says that man became a soul, not that he was given one.  In Gen. 3:19, Adam was told that he came from dust and would "return" to dust.  We are told in Eze. 18:4, 20, ". . .the soul that sins, it shall die" [not live in torment].   "His breath goes forth, he returns to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish." (Psa. 146:4).

When a family member or friend dies, we mourn them and we try to not forget them.  The only part of their "being" that remains consists of our memories of them.  If we lose those memories, then it is as though that person never existed.  Job wrote about being in the grave (being dead) until God's "wrath" (the Day of the Lord) was past, and he prayed that God would schedule a "set time" to "remember" him.

David wrote, "Remember me, O Lord, with the favor that you bear unto your people: O visit me with your salvation [being saved from death, being resurrected to life].  That I may see the good of your chosen, that I may rejoice in the gladness of your nation, that I may glory with your inheritance. (Psa. 106:4-5) [in the Kingdom of Christ the King, Rev. 11:15]

One of the thieves crucified (if the sole account is accurate) said: "And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom." (Lk. 23:42). 

God doesn't need a storage room (a hell, limbo, or a "type of heaven") to store "floppy" souls, or data storage ghosts, until a resurrection.

For a scriptural explanation of what happens at death, see "Okay, I'm Dead, Now What?" at  http://thechurchofgodinamerica.com/B101.C.6.a.Okay_I%27m_Dead_Now_What.htm


Someone else asked us a similar question in the context of Ecc. 9:5-6, "The dead know nothing". 
They asked, "Is there a difference between the "spirit" and "soul" of a person? What happens to the spirit or soul of a person when the person dies? Is the spirit or soul dead too?  This does not allow for the law of chemistry(?) that says that nothing is destroyed, only changed."


In the English language, both spirit and soul have more than one meaning, even among religions.
[For explanations of how these two terms are often used (causing even more confusion), see articles at:  http://www.thefreedictionary.com/spirit  and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spirit]

In the context of what happens when we die, the two words are often used interchangeably. [e.g. "He gave up the spirit."  "His soul departed." Also, "He gave up the ghost."]

When you mention the law of conservation of mass and energy, you are on the right track, but perhaps not for the reason you think.

[For Lavoisier's Law of Conservation of Mass, see:   http://www.chemteam.info/Equations/Conserv-of-Mass.html
For the First Law of thermodynamics, also called the Law of Conservation of Energy, see: https://web.chemistry.ohio-state.edu/~woodward/ch121/ch5_law.htm ]

As you correctly stated, according to the physical laws of the universe, nothing (physical) can be created or destroyed (by man), only changed.

If we look to the Bible to explain itself, as God instructs us through his prophet Isaiah (Isa. 28:9-10 "precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little, there a little"), then we can sort through the confusion (which is not of God, 1Cor. 14:33, but of men, Pro. 14:12, Jer. 10:23, Rom. 1:18-22), and find the truth ("all truth", Jn. 16:13) as promised by Christ.  The truth that sets us free (Jn. 8:32) from confusion, superstition, false doctrines, and ultimately, from eternal death (Eze. 18:4, 20).

Among the principles given in the Bible, of how to understand the Bible, are the following:

We can understand spiritual truths by observation of the physical world and universe. Rom. 1:20, "For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead [can be clearly seen]; so that they are without excuse:"

For example, Christ explained that death is like sleep, Jn. 11:11-14.  He later resurrected Lazarus, to "awake him out of sleep". (Also, 1Ths. 4:14-16).

Every word of God is profitable for understanding truth.  2Tim. 3:16, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:"

For example, eternal life is the opposite of (eternal) death, Rom. 5:21, 6:23.   The choices God gives us are between eternal life and eternal death, (not eternal life versus eternal life), Deu. 30:15,19, Jer. 21:8, Jn. 5:24, Rom. 6:23, 8:6.

The next example brings us back to your question regarding the soul:

Adam (mankind) "became a living soul", Gen. 2:7.  He was not given a soul, but became a "living soul" (a nephesh, a breathing creature).  When he died, he returned to the dust, from which he came, Gen. 3:19.  When he died, his breathing stopped.  His breath "left him".  He "gave up" breathing.  His breath (nephesh) "departed".

Breathing creatures, or "Souls" die, Eze. 18:4, 20, unless we are given immortality (Job 4:17).  "For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality." (1Cor. 15:53).

[Some claim that this only applies to the body and not the soul, that the souls are brought back from heaven and hell and reunited with a "new body".  This forces the question that if everyone who died since Christ, has been in heaven praising God for up to 2,000 years, if not longer, or if they have spent up to 6,000 years in Hell (Cain?), then why would they need a body in the future?  The answer is they don't, but if we believe in an immortal soul, then we have to attempt to find another reason to justify the resurrections, or as some do, claim that all of Revelation and the prophets are mere "allegory".]

The first claim that man has an immortal soul, and will not die, was made by Satan, to Eve, in Gen. 3:4.  
The pagan Greek philosophers of the 5th and 6th centuries BC, made the concept popular.  Greek philosophy became wide spread during the Roman Empire and continues to be taught today.  In most universities, religion is taught as a mere subset of Greek philosophy.

In perhaps the greatest admission of pagan philosophy's influence on religion, the Catholic Church frankly states: "The question of the reality of the soul and its distinction from the body is among the most important problems of philosophy,"  "The question of immortality was a principal subject of Plato's speculations."  "the chief argument for the immortality of the soul is based on the nature of intellectual knowledge interpreted on the theory of reminiscence;"  "Neo-Platonism, which through St. Augustine contributed so much to spiritual philosophy ,. . . "  "It is impossible to give more than a very brief notice of the psychology [Cath. "science of the soul"] of  St. Augustine. His contributions to every branch of the science were immense; the senses, the emotions, imagination, memory, the will, and the intellect — he explored them all, and there is scarcely any subsequent development of importance that he did not forestall."
[Source: The Catholic Encyclopedia, http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14153a.htm]

A recent college textbook on philosophy contains the statement, "Philosophy is to be studied, not for the sake of any definite answers to questions, since no definite answers can, as a rule, be known to be true, but [studied] for the sake of the questions themselves . . .[to] enrich our intellectual imagination and diminish dogmatic assurance which closes the mind against speculation but above all because, . . .  the mind is rendered great," (quoted from Bertrand Russell, The Problems of Philosophy, Oxford Univ. Press, 1912)
[Source: Archetypes of Wisdom, an introduction to philosophy, by Douglas J. Soccio, 1998, p.6, Wadsworth Pub.]

In effect, this says that the greatest minds have no answers to the most basic questions of human existence and purpose.  The Catholic church celebrates this basis for their "spiritual philosophy", their dogma, which is "diminished" by the use of Greek philosophy.

God's words contradicts this alleged, unknowable mystery,   "For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, [even] his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:  Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, . . . Who changed the truth of God into a lie." (Rom. 1:20-22, 25).

The early philosophers argued that there were three or more non-physical parts to the human soul.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plato%27s_tripartite_theory_of_soul

By Socrates' arguments for the immortality of the soul, plants would also have souls, and some still believe that.
Source: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ancient-soul/
"According to Catholic thought, both animals/plants and humans have souls, though of different types."
(Response on Catholic Answers Forum, http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=198004).


What is the human "soul"?

All the aspects of a human that are non-physical, the cognition or consciousness, the memory, the thought processes, the emotions, imagination, the experiences of the senses, the will, the intellect and the moral character (or lack of it) form a vast difference between humans and all other breathing creatures.  These aspects are also what make each of us unique from every other human who is alive or dead.

God's words tell us that we can understand everything not seen, by what we see around us.  One easy and convenient analogy (or parable) is our own computer. We are not computer techs, so forgive us if we get the comparisons a little off.

Our body is like the tower, our face is like the monitor, our mouth is the speaker, our ears and eyes are the keyboard or camera.  We can load everything about ourselves into the memory. If the hard drive crashes, it is as though our brain stops functioning, even though other parts may still be operating.  It's as though we are brain dead, perhaps with some parts suitable for organ donation.

If we have previously "saved" all the information onto some form of backup, separate from our main computer, we can get all new hardware and upload everything and be back where we started.

Our body, including the brain, is the physical hardware.  Without software, the computer cannot function, it cannot "live".  Software is also physical but it makes the hardware "alive", a sort of "breathing creature", but only because of the programming that is written in it.

When our computer crashes, it becomes merely a box of non-functioning parts.  When a person dies, there is no physical evidence of the memory, emotions, experiences, et cetera, remaining. The body returns to dust (Gen. 3:19).  

When Christ resurrected Lazarus after he had been dead for four days (Jn. 11), everyone recognized him as the same Lazarus, with the same appearance, voice, memories, experiences and emotions as he had before he was dead.  No one said, This is not the same Lazarus (Jn. 12:10).

Where do all these aspects go, that do not remain with the dead body?  And, how do we get them back when we are resurrected?

To restore all your files to a new computer (new body) you simply upload from whatever memory storage device that you used. What does God use for memory storage?

Most of us had pets when we were children.  Pets tend to have short lives.  However, most people remember their pet's name, what it looked like, how it felt (fur, feathers, scales), how it acted, its personality, its likes and dislikes, how smart (or dumb) it was, its good traits and its bad traits.  We also remember the things we saw our pets do.  Our memories are not perfect, but we can close our eyes and "see" and "hear" our pet again.

Our memories are stored in our brains. Some researchers have said that everything that we have actively, consciously experienced with our minds, is still in there.  The difficulty for us is in retrieving it. Since we were created in God's own image, his brain works like ours, only better.

God knows the thoughts that are in our minds (Psa. 94:11, Mat. 9:4, 12:25, Heb. 4:12-13). He knows how many hairs are on our heads (Mat. 10:30), a constantly changing number.

While he can choose to forget our sins, when we repent of them (Heb. 8:12, 10:17, Isa. 43:25), he can also choose to remember every act (Amos 8:7) and every word (Mat. 12:36).

David prayed that God would "remember" him, but "forget" his sins (Psa. 25:7, 106:4). 

God doesn't need temporary storage devices to "remember" us.  It is called mental memory.  We see it in use every day.

The human body is only temporary hardware.  It is not who we are.  We are the sum of our experiences, memories, emotions, knowledge, wisdom, understanding, attitudes and character. Who we are is recorded within the mind of God and all that information will be re-loaded into a spiritual body at the first resurrection (1Cor. 15:51-54, Rev. 20:4, 5b), or a physical body at the second resurrection (Rev. 5a, Eze. 37:3-14).

The spirit, or soul, is a term that can be used for who we are.  It is used that way when we say that a ship sank and all the souls perished (died).  
The body is not us, it is simply where we live temporarily.  When our breathing stops, the muscles stop moving air, and our breath is recycled into the atmosphere.  Our bodies are recycled into dust and water.  God simply remembers us until we are awakened (resurrected) in immortal bodies like his.  The alternative is to be forgotten, forever (Pro. 10:7, also Ecc. 9:5 and Isa. 26:14 in the spiritual sense).

It is a (divinely created) law of our physical world, that nothing physical can be created or destroyed, only changed. Adam came from dust and returned to dust. Nothing more and nothing less.
However, God is working to create within us (our mind, or soul), perfect and righteous character (Mat. 5:48), if we do our part (Jn. 17:13, Eph. 4:13, Phil. 3:12, 15, Heb. 13:21, Jas. 1:4, 1Pet. 5:10, 2Tim. 3:16-17).

As physical "sons (and daughters) of God") we are Beta versions of what God wants us to become.  "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." (1Jn. 3:2).  Notice that this says that we will not be "like him", in form, until he returns.


[There are over 200 verses explaining what happens after we die. For instance, David has not gone "to heaven" (Acts 2: 29, 34).  When John wrote (90 AD), no one but Christ had gone "to heaven" (Jn. 3:13).  "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.  For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.  For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall --rise-- first:" (1Ths. 4:14-16).   

For a complete discussion of all the related scriptures, see article at http://thechurchofgodinamerica.com/B101.C.6.a.Okay_I%27m_Dead_Now_What.htm ]

We hope this helps.
If you have additional questions on this or other subjects, feel free to write anytime.

Sincerely,
Mel and Guyna

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Mel and Guyna Horne

Expertise

Anyone can read the Bible but sometimes it helps to have someone assist with the understanding (Acts 8:26-40). Truth comes from God through his holy spirit of truth (Jn. 16:13, 1Cor. 2:12), which is available to anyone who believes, repents and seeks God fervently and wholeheartedly, with humility, faith and persistence (Mat. 7:7, Deu. 4:29, Isa. 66:2, Jas. 4:1-10, Phil. 2:12). Truth is not limited to, or by, man’s religious organizations, church traditions, popular beliefs or personal opinions (Jn. 8:32, 14:6). We will try to help anyone who is trying to understand scripture or Christian living. [Please do not submit homework questions as they will be rejected.]

Experience

Over 50 years of personal study of the entire Bible (Deu. 8:3, Mat. 4:4, 2Tim. 3:16, Deu. 4:12, Rev. 22:18). B.A. in Theology with continuing studies in religious history and education (2Tim 2:15, 1Ths. 5:21). Years of informal counseling of young adults, teens, couples, and prisoners, based on scripture and on actual life experience in the world outside of classrooms and church buildings and including a long and happy marriage. After years of experience with organized religion, we are non-denominational. Publications: http://thechurchofgodinamerica.com/index.htm; http://www.reocities.com/Athens/Forum/1611/books on God's Holy Days, Lying, the Sacred Names Doctrine; articles on Terrorism and Islam, the Gospel of Christ, Preparing Yourself for Life in the Kingdom of Christ; What Happens After Death

Organizations
Organizations are of men, not God. While God may use some of them to facilitate his plan, organizations train their people to follow, not to lead. God was able to create the whole Creation, as we see it, in only six days, because he did not use a committee. Ten years after 9/11, the only thing approved for construction at the New York site was a mosque.

Education/Credentials
"If a man would teach others, he must first teach himself." - Source Unknown. B.A. in Theology, over 50 years of personal study, the last sixteen of which have been full time study and research resulting in publication of several books and many articles.

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