Well, I understand just how you felt about the matter, and am in sympathy with you in your desire and hope that sometime you may have the opportunity to converse with him on this subject and give him your conception of the truth.
It is the subject of so many sermons and theories preached by preachers and others, and yet not one of them has the true understanding of what immortality is. They understand it only in the sense of continuous life, and in addition, try by argument and inferences to attach to it the idea of never ending - that is of the continuous life being so established that it can never be ended - and in this they satisfy their longings and desires.
But you see, this inference is merely one that is drawn from the desires of the preachers - that they have no true basis upon which to found their conclusions, and as to the ordinary things of life they would not be willing to risk the important things of life upon a basis no better established from which they could draw conclusions that would cause them to act. No, mankind do not really know what immortality is, and all the arguments that they can put forth to establish the true immortality, are not sufficient to convince the clear, cool and unprejudiced mind as to its being a fact.
As is said in the message that you have received from Jesus,2 immortality can be derived only from that which is immortal, and all arguments that merely tend to show that a thing must be immortal because of the desires or intentions of God, do not suffice. All the facts that may be established as premises, are not sufficient to logically prove the conclusion desired to be established and men cannot depend upon such method of reasoning.
Table of Contents for The Immortality of Living Beings
It is utterly impossible to derive immortality from anything less than that which is immortal in itself, and to attempt to do so by argument or inference is a mere waste of time by the exercise of the reasoning faculties. As has been said, only God is Immortal, and that means that the very Qualities and Nature of Himself is Immortal; and if it were possible for Him to have any qualities that are not of a nature that partakes of the Immortal, then these qualities would not be Immortal, but subject to change and dissolution.
His existence would be less than that of a God; and that being a fact this great Quality of Love must be Immortal, and into whatever this Quality may enter and form a part, that thing is necessarily Immortal, and in no other way could it become Immortal. Then this Love of God brings Immortality in the true sense of the term and when It enters into the soul of man and possesses it, that soul becomes Immortal, and in no other way can Immortality be acquired.
Not all things of God's creation are immortal, for in a shorter or longer time they perform the object of their creation, and their existence is no longer required and they become dissolved into the elements of which they were composed. Man's physical body for this reason is not immortal, for after a short life on earth it dissolves and is no more. His spirit body is primarily of this evanescent character, and it may be that in the course of eternity it will have performed its mission and cease to exist.
We do not know this, neither are we assured that it is not true, because it is dependent upon the continuous existence of the soul for its continuous existence, and not all souls will receive a part of the Father's Divine Love, which is the only thing that has within itself this immortality; and it may be that at sometime in the future, this soul without the love may cease to exist and become no more a creature of the Father.
But this we do know, that whatever partakes of the Divine Love has in it that which is necessarily immortal, and can no more die than can this love itself; and hence, must be immortal. They did not do much to help us understand what the soul is. It is obvious to me that these people do not depend on God's word at all for their understanding of the concept.
As a matter of fact, they are hung up on the understanding of the soul as has come down to us through philosophy, and not through the Bible. If they had relied on the Bible, they would be relying on how scripture uses Hebrew and Greek words— nephesh and psyche and their derivatives. The Latin Vulgate uses the word anima , which is a synonymous term. Nephesh means, "a breathing creature. All these three terms have to do with the fact that creatures have to breathe.
Now to put it simply, and biblically, these terms refer to the breath of life.
Genesis And the L ORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being [King James Version, "soul"]. The fact is, the living soul is from the one word in Hebrew, nephesh —a creature, or being that breathes. To chase this out in another place, turn to Leviticus. Leviticus For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.
Here, nephesh is found three times in this one verse—the life of the flesh, and then the word soul s twice. Leviticus "For it is the life of all flesh. Its blood sustains its life. Therefore I said to the children of Israel, 'You shall not eat the blood of any flesh, for the life of all flesh is its blood. Whoever eats it shall be cut off. So, what we have here is the Old Testament understanding of how life works in us.
We breathe in the air with its oxygen into our lungs where it is absorbed into our bloodstream, and then it is carried throughout our whole body by that bloodstream. This life-giving oxygen is then available to the whole body. And what God breathed into the first man, then, was this ability to have life. But, that was not the only thing that God gave man; but in terms of what the soul is in scripture, this is where we must begin. The soul, then, just from what we have read so far, is the life-force, the vital-force, or the vital-principle of a person, creature, or being. It is what we would call the immaterial gift of life.
The functions of a living organism are due to a vital principle distinct from and greater than the biochemical reactions of the body.
But do you understand what is being said here? A body is not just an organism living by the biochemical reactions to have life. The life that has been given to it has come from outside of it.
Immortality by St. Luke - the writer of the third Gospel of the New Testament.
And, it makes those bio-chemical reactions work. That is why it says that it is a vital principle distinct from and greater than the biochemical reactions of the body. Science proves this every time it tries to create some sort of living organism. It can put these chemicals together, but it cannot impart life.
The life-force, the vital principle, or the however you wish to put it, is something greater than and coming from outside the body. That is why I called it the immaterial gift of life.
A soul, then, defined practically in how it is used in the Old Testament, in terms of people talking with one another and God's instructions to us about various things, is a living being. The soul is a living being. The emphasis is on both living and being. But, mostly living because the soul's source, you might say, is the idea for the initial concept for the idea of the soul, and is in the fact that God gave us life. We could also define it as a creature in which is life.
Or, even a creature that had life, because as we know nephesh is used in many ways; not only for human beings, it is also used for animals which are living things, because they are made up of biochemical processes that were given life by the Creator God. It is not quite the same kind of life we have, but they do have animal life just as we have animal life. But we have something extra which will come later. But, they are living beings too—living creatures. In the Old Testament, nephesh is also used for corpses—dead beings, non-living beings, once living beings.
Of Life, Death and Immortality
There is even one place in scripture, which I failed to write down, where God uses it of Himself! He says, "My Soul doth Well, He is a living being. And, like my Dad said, He is a Soul. We get so used to hearing about having a soul, that we do not readily realize that the proper teaching is that we are a soul. And yet, there is another way to look at this, and that is having life.
Now, we are not used to thinking of a soul as just the ability to have life, but that is what it comes down to. We have life. We have being. Remember, it all goes back to the fact that we breathe. And God was the one who gave us that breath. Now as I mentioned a moment ago, we have something extra. In this next passage, Elihu is speaking to Job and his friends, having waited a long time hearing their discourse and is now unable to contain himself any longer.
Job But there is a spirit in man, and the breath of the Almighty gives him understanding. It is interesting that "nephesh" is used in this verse. The Churches of God teach that human beings have a spirit, which is from the Hebrew word ruach , given to us by God. Obviously, this is the point we see in the scripture above, from Job And now, we will see it once more.