The confusion within the religious community regarding the soul revolves around the identities of man’s soul and his spirit. Man does not HAVE a soul; man IS a soul. Man dies because of sin. The soul dies because of sin. That man and soul are one in the same is made clear in Ezekiel 18:4,20 where we are told: “the soul that sins, it shall die.” The apostle Paul said the same thing in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of (man’s) sin is death.” Upon death the soul is normally placed in the ground, a tomb, etc. Others have been burned to ash, eaten by animals, trapped in sinking ships, etc. No matter what condition the soul/body takes in death, God will resurrect it and the person’s spirit will return to him/her. The union of body and spirit will reproduce the person as he/she was while on earth in human form. That person will stand before God and be judged and either rewarded or condemned “according to his works” (obedience to God)–2 Tim. 4:14. However, what happens at that point is totally misunderstood by professing Christendom, as is the entire death and afterlife process. We will, over the following days, take a Biblical look at the life-after-death situation. Though I taught the information earlier in three series titled Life After Death: What? When? Where? and The Rapture and The Resurrection of Mankind respectively, I feel that a short review of those series is needed as a follow-up to the soul series. There is much misinformation (aka wishful thinking) being circulated within professing Christendom that is labeled “Biblical Truth” simply because it has been believed for hundreds of years by billions of people. My commission from the Lord is to tell church people God’s Truth–Truth that they have never heard and have never learned on their own. I am commissioned to tell them, all the while knowing that the vast majority of them will reject it and the majority who believe will not obey it.
Let us now explore the difference between the soul of man, called flesh, and the spirit of man, called “the spirit that is in man” by Job in 32:8. Job, who had a good grasp of the subject, noted that God had breathed the spirit of life into his nostrils at the time of his birth, as is the case with all who live following birth. As with Adam, God causes breath (Heb. n sama–blast, spirit of life) to enter man. That breath becomes man’s spirit. Every living person (soul) has a spirit within him. Man’s spirit contains his personality, mannerisms, appearance, uniqueness, etc. Man’s spirit gives him the power of thought, reasoning, the ability to make intricate plans and decisions, etc. Job expressed this when he said: “the inspiration (spirit) of the Almighty gives them (man) understanding.” Each spirit is unique and is the quality that distinguishes each human from all other humans. It is man’s spirit, not man himself, that returns to God upon death. It is his spirit that man “gives up” with his final breath. Recall that with His final breath Jesus said to His Father: “‘Unto you I commend My spirit.’ And having said thus, He gave up (commended) HIS SPIRIT”’ (Lk. 23:45) which returned to God, from Whom He had received it at birth. Jesus received His personal spirit just as each of us receive our personal spirit. That this is the case with everyone who has lived and died is revealed in Ecclesiastes 12:7 where we are told that following death, “the dust (man) will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God Who gave it.” Jesus, being a human being, had a spirit that was unique to Him. And like all other men who die, He gave up His spirit upon exhaling for the final time. And like the spirits of all who have ever lived and died, Christ’s spirit returned to God Who gave it to Him with His first breath.
Where does the soul go following death? Jesus answered the question when He said concerning His death: “… the Son of Man will be three days and three nights IN THE HEART OF THE EARTH (the tomb).” Notice that He said that He, the Son of Man, would die, then HE would be placed in a tomb where HE would remain for three days and nights. He was saying that He–His body (soul)–would die and be placed in a tomb where HE–His body (soul) that had died–would remain for three days and nights. The part of Christ that immediately returned to God following His death was His spirit, not Jesus Himself, as He plainly tells us in Scripture. His spirit could not die, in that spirits cannot die. However, He Himself died, remained dead for three days and nights, then was resurrected as a spirit at which time He was born again from physical to spiritual just as His saints will be at the first resurrection which will occur upon His Second Advent. Let us now study that resurrection.
The Institutional Church has for centuries believed that the person him/herself either goes to heaven or hell at death where he/she will remain forever. This doctrine came from Babylonian heathenism that had earlier been embraced by the Catholic Church in the fourth century. As I prove Scripturally in the Life After Death series, the soul/body/person returns to dust following death. It is his/her spirit that returns to God Who gave it. This is true of each and every human being who has died regardless of his/her spiritual condition. Satan has deceived most church people into believing that, upon death, they will be immediately taken up to heaven (another heathen belief). God’s Word teaches that at death everyone goes into the earth and remains there until Christ returns to clean up the mess man has made. So where does the secret, silent “rapture of the saints” fit into this scenario? It doesn’t, as God tells us.
As will be shown, Christ’s one and only return to earth’s atmosphere, followed immediately by His return to earth’s surface with His saints, will be neither silent nor secret. In 1 Thessalonians 4:16,17 the Apostle Paul explains what will happen when Christ returns and the first resurrection takes place: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God (silent, secret?): and the dead in Christ will rise first (from their graves); then we who are alive and remain will be caught up (Gk-harpazo–caught away) together with them (the dead) in the clouds (of angels–2 Thes. 1:7/ Rev. 1:7) where we will meet the Lord in the air. And so we will ever be with the Lord.” This is what the church calls the “rapture.” The problem revolves around where the Lord will ever be. The church teaches that He and those have been in “the church” going immediately to heaven during the rapture where they will supposedly live forever in the presence of all those who had preceded them in death. Question: If all of those who have died while in the church have gone immediately to heaven, who are the dead in Christ who will rise from their graves to meet Him in the air? If they have been dead since their demise, were they dead in heaven? If they were alive in heaven, then God had to kill them and send them back to earth as dirt so that they could rise to meet Jesus in the air and return to heaven with Him. Only Satan could come up with such a scheme.
Another problem with the church’s rapture idea involves where Jesus and His saints will go following their meeting in the air, where they “will ever be with Him.” As is always the case when people want to know the Truth, God tells them. In Zechariah 14:4 we are told that upon Christ’s return to the earth His feet “will stand on the Mount of Olives.” That He and His saints will descend to the mount after meeting in the sky is confirmed in the first chapter of the Book of Acts where Jesus has returned from heaven and, for 40 days has taught His disciples “the things concerning the Kingdom of God” (vs 3). Upon finishing His teachings He was talking with them on the Mt. of Olives. After giving them His final instructions, He began to ascend into the clouds. The disciples watched as He “was taken up and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven, behold, two men (angels) stood by them in white apparel, who said to them: ‘You men of Galilee, why do you stand there gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which was taken from you INTO HEAVEN will so RETURN IN LIKE MANNER AS YOU HAVE SEEN HIM GO INTO HEAVEN.'” He had His final meeting with them on the Mt. of Olives (Acts 1:12) from which He ascended. As was prophesied by Zechariah, Jesus will return to the earth (with His saints) to the same place from which He left–the Mount of Olives, WHICH WAS WHERE THE DISCIPLES WATCHED HIM LEAVE THE EARTH and to which they will return with Him. Nowhere are we told that there would be a rapture of church members (secret or otherwise) which would take them to heaven. Nowhere are we told that church members, not even those in God’s church, go to heaven upon their deaths. We are told that there has been only one human being that has ever gone to live in heaven after dying–Jesus Christ. Even David, the man after God’s own heart, is still dead and his remains are still in the grave (Acts 2:29/13:36).
Let us seek Truth in the inward parts. Let us use God’s study method to learn that Truth from His Word (Isa. 28:9-13), which Jesus called Truth (Jn. 17:17). Let us seek the mind of God which, as this ministry has been saying and writing for many years, is found ONLY IN HIS HOLY SCRIPTURES. L.J.