Published August 25th, 2017 by Dirk Waren
The Bible plainly declares that immortality and eternal life are only available through the gospel of Christ (2 Timothy 1:10). Immortality is something we’re called to seek and not something we intrinsically possess apart from Christ, as shown in Romans 2:7.
Furthermore, nowhere does the Bible state that the human soul, once created, is immortal and can never die. The Hebrew word for “soul,” nephesh, appears over 750 times in the Old Testament and the Greek word for “soul,” psuche, appears over 100 times in the New Testament. These over 850 references should tell us all we need to know about the soul, yet none say anything about it being immortal by nature. If the immortal soul doctrine is true, why did God inspire hundreds of references to the soul without mentioning anything about it being inherently immortal?
On the contrary, God plainly informed Adam, who was a “living soul,” that he would “surely die” if he sinned (Genesis 2:7,17). He also pointed out in Ezekiel 18:4,20 that “the soul (nephesh) who sins… will die.” And, furthermore, Jesus plainly declared that God would “destroy both soul (psuche) and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). A usual knee-jerk, but hollow, response is to argue that these Scriptures “are taken out of context.” I would like to use this same argument and point out that biblical references to the immortal soul are taken out of context, but I can’t because no such passages exist.
Where Did the Idea of an “Immortal Soul” apart from Christ Originate?
From the devil, the “father of lies,” as Jesus called him (John 8:44). Remember what God said to Adam and Eve would be the consequence of disobedience? He warned them that they would “surely die” (Genesis 2:17). You see, the LORD made it perfectly clear way back in the beginning that going the wrong way—the way of selfishness and rebellion—would lead to death. This is in harmony with the biblical fact that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).
Yet when “the father of lies” tempted Eve to sin in Genesis 3:4, he contradicted what God said by saying that she would “not surely die” if she sinned. This is the very first lie recorded in the Bible. The devil was saying in essence, “What God said is a lie, you will not surely die—you have an immortal soul.” Unfortunately people have been believing this lie about the so-called immortal soul ever since; this false doctrine infiltrated Christianity early on and has gone on to become the “orthodox” view even though the Bible does not teach it, thus proving the power of religious tradition and sectarian allegiance. This long-lasting mass deception explains why I refer to the doctrine of the immortal soul as The Great Lie.
After the unfortunate fall of Adam and Eve, notice what the LORD said to Himself:
And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”
God would not have said this if Adam already possessed an immortal soul (i.e. unconditional immortality). Secondly, this statement makes it clear that human beings can obtain unconditional immortality if they eat of the tree of life. The obvious reason God did not want Adam to eat of the tree of life is because he was unredeemed. If Adam ate of the tree of life in his unredeemed condition he would have attained unconditional immortality and thus would have condemned himself and his descendants to live forever in a fallen, ungodly state (like the devil and his angels). The LORD is just, righteous and merciful and didn’t want such a horrible tragedy to befall humanity so he immediately banished Adam & Eve from the garden and was sure to guard the way to the tree of life (verses 23-24).
The LORD would have to redeem humankind before allowing us to eat “from the tree of life and live forever.” That’s what the gospel of Christ is all about. And this explains Jesus’ statement in Revelation 2:7: “To him who overcomes I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” Notice clearly that only those who are born of God and overcome the world by faith (1 John 5:4) have the right to eat of the tree of life and live forever. That’s because eternal life and immortality are only available through the gospel (2 Timothy 1:10).
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