Curiosities on Pentecost (Shavout- A Followup
"Buddy - I remember you calling attention to our spirit as being what is reborn, and our soul as being fleshly."
Our soul can be either fleshly or spiritual. It depends on the source we are drawing from. Our soul is our personal identity. It is our spirit that is born again, and it is from our spirit that our soul draws on spiritual resources. But if we are living by the flesh, then our soul is drawing on fleshly powers. (I'll explain further down.)
Let me break down your next paragraph. You had several questions sort of wrapped up together.
"I've had trouble grasping this."
It can be a difficult area, but the Scriptures themselves can help quite a bit.
The Bible says that God created Adam as a 'living soul.' Nephesh simply refers to a distinct living being. As a living soul, Adam had self realization. He knew he was a distinct person. Therefore, our soul is who we are.
But if that was all Adam was, then he wouldn't necessarily have realization of God. So he needed something in him that could relate directly to God. Keep in mind that God is Spirit, and that no one has ever seen God at any time, that is, in His pure essence. (According to the Scriptures.)
So God also placed in Adam something that would be Adam's, God connector. The writer said, "The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord, searching all the innermost parts of his being." (Prov20:27)
When Adam sinned against the covenant, what was it in him that died? It wasn't his soul. But the Lord said that in 'the day' that Adam ate from the fruit of a certain tree, he would die. (He would die that very day.)
What happened the moment Adam ate? His spirit life was cut off from God. Adam and Eve suddenly became aware of their sensual nature. They became afraid, and yet fear had not been a part of their life prior to this. Adam's death meant that his direct spiritual God-connector was no longer functioning. God would have to deal with Adam, from the outside working inwardly.
But spiritual death did not mean that Adam did not have a spirit. It meant that his spirit-nature had been cut off from God. And Adam became what the Bible describes as a soulish man, or a man of the senses. Any God connection in the future would be largely through his senses. This is why you see so much visible manifestations of God in the Old Testament. (Pillar of fire & cloud; burning bush; angel appearances, etc.)
This bring us to our birth from above. What happens when a person is born again? Its not his soul that is born again. His soul is eternal. It is his God-connector is born anew. And in this new birth the Spirit of God enters into the deepest part of His being. This is why Jesus said, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." (John 3:5)
In the Old Testament you don't see the distinction so clearly between our soul and spirit, but in the New Testament it becomes more plain. This is where circumcision of the heart comes into place. Remember how the veil in the temple was rent at the death of Jesus. This expressed what would happen to each person in the new covenant.
What happens when a person is listening to the Word of truth, that is, the gospel of Jesus Christ, the power of that message begins working like a sword in the inward man. And when right believing is in place, and as a result, the confession of the Lordship of Jesus is made, it is because something has taken place in the human heart (spirit.)
This is what Hebrews 4:12,13 has in view; "For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the DIVISION OF SOUL AND SPIRIT, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do."
In the new birth the individual has his God-connector fully functional. Where he was blind, now he sees. Where he was unfeeling with regard to the things of God, now he feels quite deeply. Where he was dead to the voice of God, now he hears the voice of Christ in the deepest of his being.
"I'd always been taught that it was our soul which was eternal and needed to be saved - and our spirit was somehow connected to our particular personality/emotional make-up."
One way to understand the terms spirit, soul, and body, is by use of the word 'consciousness.' With our body we are conscious of the world around us. In our soul we are conscious of our own personhood. In our spirit we are conscious of God. It is always in spirit that we have true fellowship with Jesus.
"What exactly is our soul?"
It is as I said above.
"Is it our soul that goes to be with God when we die? If our soul and spirit are separate from one another, what happens to each of them when we die?"
We go to be with God as born again people, fully conscious of ourselves and of him. No, our soul and spirit are never separated from one another. Not even for a sinner.
But the salvation that is given us in Jesus Christ also applies to our body. This is why there is a resurrection, and this is why we are to be given new bodies.
"If it is our spirit which is reborn, then what of our soul? I am soooo confused about this!"
No reason to be confused. Just think about it for a moment. If it is our spirit that is born again to God, then how does this affect our soul, or our personal life? The soul undergoes a process of restoration. In speaking by the Spirit, David said, "He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake." (Psalm 23:3)
In the New Testament this takes on a deeper spiritual significance. It comes under the doctrine of the renewing of the mind, and the transformation of our life. Paul said, "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." (Romans 12:2)
In another place he says, "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit." (2Co4:18)
This transformation speaks of Jesus-likeness. We begin to think like Jesus. Did not the apostle say, "Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus..." (Phil2:5) The Greek word for 'attitude' has to do with your thinking, and your personal understanding.
All I can add is what Paul said, "Let us therefore, as many as are perfect (completed in this understanding), have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you" (Phil3:15 - The word attitude simply speaks of understanding.)
The Lord will show you. Meditate on these things.
This study was originally part of a series on the book of Acts given to members of Hebraic Foundations from July 10, 2002 through January 19, 2003. They were written by Pastor Buddy Martin, a former United Pentecostal Church minister, who founded Christian Challenge International. Writings are the copyright of Buddy Martin and reprinted on this site by permission.
Page added October 23, 2004
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