Immortality of the Soul?
Plain Truth Magazine
September 1953
Volume: Vol XVIII, No.4
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Immortality of the Soul?

Death is NOT the separation of body and soul! Read how the fable of the immortality of the soul crept into the Christian world TWO centuries after the Crucifixion.

   EVER since human beings appeared on this earth, they have all shared one common fate — DEATH. Whether rich or poor, young or old, we all face DEATH.
   Death is a reality! — a terrible reality for most people. It is supposed to be the inescapable final plunge into the next world from which there is no return. Mussolini screamed for mercy before he was slain. Dictator Stalin met sudden death — just as he murdered many of his enemies.
   Hundreds are born and other hundreds die every hour. Thousands starve annually in China and India. Other hundreds perish — are burned alive — in flaming buildings and on the battlefronts.
   Just what is DEATH anyway? Do you know?

The World in Confusion

   There are dozens of ideas about what happens at death. But how can you KNOW what really occurs?
   You can't peer on the other side of death to find out. Then how are you going to be sure of what will happen when the blow of death cuts you down? You have been reared in a professing Christian world. Yet observe the CONFUSION among the churches. Many people confess their bewilderment. One teaches that man is body and soul, but another teaches that man is body, soul and spirit. Modernists believe man has an immortal soul, but they don't know how man acquired it in his supposed evolutionary development from the anthropoid apes!
   Still others say that man is mortal, that when he dies he is dead. Most churches believe that death doesn't mean death. Death is the separation of body and soul, they say. Death means you continue to live, only in another place and condition.
   Amid this CONFUSION you hear the arguments that human beings have only two places to go — heaven or hell. A great church teaches that there are three places — heaven, purgatory and hell. Some understand that there is only one place — the grave — and that a resurrection is needed to impart eternal life.
   What confusion among the churches!
   Have you ever stopped to wonder how the churches "know" you have an immortal soul? Have they seen one?
   The immortality of the soul can't be proved in a laboratory. Scientists have not seen heaven or purgatory or an ever-burning hell. No one has ever seen an "immortal soul." No one has ever seen a "soul" leave a body at death. The answer is, they don't KNOW — they blindly assume.
   Yet you can't afford to remain in ignorance on this vital question. Let us not be like many agnostics who say, "I don't know," by which they mean, "I don't WANT to know." Let's understand it.

How YOU Can Know

   There remains only one way to know what death is. That is by the revelation of the Creator who made man and who set laws in motion governing human life — its birth, growth and DEATH.
   We have such a revelation — and what it reveals is NOT what most of you have been taught!
   Where did the churches acquire the doctrine that death means the separation of body and soul? Did Jesus teach it?
   Where does the Bible say that you have an immortal soul?
   Why would you need a resurrection if you could live apart from your body?

Example of an Auto Accident

   Auto accidents happen every hour. Hundreds are injured and dozens die. Let us stop a few moments to consider what happens in an auto accident.
   A young child, seeing his father struck down by a speeding car, rushes to his side to comfort him. The son speaks; but no reply. The father is unconscious, he hears not a sound, he is not thinking a single thought — yet he is still breathing and alive!
   Notice. Here is a man who is still alive, although he is totally unconscious of what occurred after being struck to the pavement.
   As the seconds pass, the child notices his father weakly gasping for his last breath of air — then the breathing ceases. DEATH has struck!
   Now, according to the common teaching, the father knows more in death than when he was still alive. Is this reasonable? Is it logical that if the father does not know what is happening while unconscious, that he knows everything as soon as he dies? That he knows more when dead than alive?
   Put yourself in the father's place. Have you ever realized that if you were an immortal soul which can think and know after you leave the body, you would also be able to know and think while you were in your unconscious body? Merely the body was unconscious, not you, since you are supposedly an immortal soul
   But the facts are that YOU would be unconscious, not just your body. YOU would not know what happened after striking the pavement. Then finally YOU would die, YOU would cease to think and breathe. YOU would be dead! You would NOT be an immortal soul, YOU would be dead!
   Now notice a question which Job once asked. If a man die, shall he live again?" (Job 14:14).
   Most churches today have changed this Scripture to read: "If a man die, is he really dead?" This is exactly what they say in the case of the father who died in the accident — "lf the father dies, he is not really dead!"
   Let's learn the TRUTH. Let's study the revelation of God in order to KNOW what death really is.

Man IS a Soul

   In the very first chapter of Genesis, at the time man was created, God tells us what man is. "Then the Eternal God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and MAN became a living SOUL" (Gen. 2:7).
   Man is a living soul — that is what he became. Man is a living being or creature, a soul breathing the breath of air which imparts physical life. Then YOU and I are living SOULS. When we sin we must die because the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23). Since we're living souls, and since we sin, then the soul must surely die!
   This is exactly what God inspired the prophet Ezekiel to write: "The soul that sins shall DIE" (Ezek. 18:4).
   As the soul can die, it must be mortal, subject to death. Nowhere is the phrase "immortality of the soul" used in Scripture. If the soul were immortal, then it could not die; but Scripture says that the soul does die.
   Even animals are souls. In the first chapter of Genesis, the same original Hebrew word for "soul" — nephesh — is translated "creature" when referring to animals. Since animals are also living, breathing souls, they inhale the same breath of life that God breathed into Adam. Solomon said "they all have one breath" (Ecc. 3:19). Moses, writing of the flood at Noah's time, said: "All flesh died... both of cattle... and every man: all in whose nostrils was the BREATH OF LIFE" (Gen. 7:21-22).
   God didn't breathe an immortal soul or spirit into Adam. He breathed air — the same air that animals breathe, which imparts physical life to man and animals alike.

Soul Has Physical Life

   Nor only is the soul a living, breaching creature, whether man or animal, bur the word "soul" is also used to mean life or blood of living physical beings. Notice Isaiah 53:10 and 12: Jesus Christ, who came to redeem us from the penalty of death, gave "his soul an offering for sin." "He hath poured out his soul unto death."
   Jesus offered his body (his soul) for our transgressions. He also poured our his blood (his soul) for our sins. He did nor pour out an immortal substance, but he poured out his blood (soul) which gave him physical life. When his blood was shed, his life was gone.
   This is why Moses could write in Leviticus 17:11 that "the life of the flesh is in the blood" — not in an immortal soul. The life of animals and man is in the blood. The original Hebrew word for "life" is nephesh — the same as for "soul." That explains why Jesus poured out his "soul" or life when he shed his blood for us.
   How plain then, that the soul not only means the living, breathing body, but also the blood which contains the physical life of all flesh. We inhale air and the lungs, absorbing the oxygen from the air, impart it to the blood. That is how the breath of life oxygen from the air — is imparted to the blood.
   As a living soul breathes to sustain its life, so when the life is gone, it must become a dead soul or body. In many places in the Old Testament, a soul is also called a "dead body." In Numbers 19:11 and many other verses, the same original Hebrew word nephesh — meaning "soul" — is translated "dead body." Hence a dead body is also a soul — a dead soul — just the same as a breathing body, Adam for instance, is called a living soul.
   The word soul means the physical body, whether alive or dead, and it also means the life in the blood. But nowhere in Scripture can you find that man has an "immortal soul." The soul is physical.

No Knowledge in Death

   Recall the father who was struck to the pavement in the auto accident. After being unconscious for a short period, he died. What happened to him? Did he go to heaven? Here is David's inspired answer: "His breath goes forth, he returns to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish" (Psalm 146:4). So the father didn't go to heaven; he died and returned to dust.
   "For the living know that they shall die (the child knew he would also face death): but the dead know nothing (the father was DEAD, lifeless)" (Ecc. 9:5).
   Since a dead man knows nothing, he could not be in heaven praising the Lord. "The dead do not praise the Lord, nor do any that go down into silence" (Psalm 115:17). "For in death there is NO REMEMBRANCE of thee, in the grave who shall give thee thanks?" (Psalm 6:5). That is what your Bible says.
   Man is exactly like the animals that perish. He has only mortal life. As one dies, so dies the other, said Solomon. We all go to one place — the dust of the earth. The breath (mistranslated "spirit") returns to God, who gave it to mankind when He breathed it into Adam's lungs. Even at this very moment, the "breath (spirit) of all mankind" is in the hands of God — in His authority and He takes it back whenever He will (Job 12:10 and Ecc. 3:19-21).

Why a Resurrection?

   Man has no eternal life abiding in him by nature. We need to gain eternal life as a GIFT from God through the Holy Spirit (Rom. 6:23). Now let Job answer his own question: "If a man die, shall he live again?"
   "All the days of my appointed time," he said, "will I wait, till my change come. Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: for thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands" (Job 14:14-15).
   Job will wait in his grave till the appointed time when Jesus Christ will come to raise the dead. "Thou shalt call" said Job. "The hour is coming," said Jesus, "when the DEAD shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live" (John 5:25). Where have the dead been? In heaven? No!
   "The hour is coming, in which all that are in the GRAVES shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good unto the resurrection of life... " (John 5:28-29).
   So the dead are in their graves awaiting, like Job, the RESURRECTION (I Cor. 15:12). This mortal shall put on immortality at the resurrection. To those who seek immortality, God bestows eternal life (Rom. 2:7).
   Man does nor possess immortality, nor an immortal soul. Then how did the. doctrine of the immortality of the soul originate in the churches?

The Amazing Origin

   You are now going to read WHERE the doctrine of the soul's immortality came from. It did not come from the Bible nor the early true church which was guided by the teachings of Christ. It came, instead, nearly TWO centuries later into an apostate Christianity from the pagan Greeks! The Greeks obtained it from the Egyptians, who taught it soon after the apostacy at the tower of Babel.
   In fact, its ultimate origin is the FIRST RECORDED LIE! — "You won't really die" (Gen. 3:4). And the devil has had the world believing it ever since.
   The famous Greek historian, Herodotus, who lived in the fifth century before Jesus, wrote : "The Egyptians were also the FIRST that asserted that the soul of man is immortal... This opinion some among the Greeks have at different periods of time adopted as their own" (Euterpe, chap. 123).
   Not the Bible, but the Egyptians taught that the soul of man is immortal. And the Greeks adopted the doctrine from the Egyptians.
   Socrates, the perverted Greek philosopher, traveled into Egypt and consulted the Egyptians on this very teaching. After his return he imparted the error to Plato, his most famous pupil. Now compare the present-day doctrine of the churches with what Plato wrote in his book, the Phaedo: "The soul whose inseparable attribute is life will never admit of life's opposite, death. Thus the soul is shown to be immortal, and since immortal, indestructible... Do we believe there is such a thing as death? To be sure. And is this anything but the separation of the soul and body? And being dead is the attainment of this separation, when the soul exists in herself and separate from the body, and the body is parted from the soul. That is death... Death is merely the separation of soul and body."
   Death didn't mean death to Plato, and the churches today have almost universally followed his doctrine instead of the teaching of Jesus Christ, who came as the messenger from God bringing the true way to gain immortality and eternal life.

Early Catholics Teach That Soul Is Mortal

   For TWO centuries, however, the churches that had apostatized still retained the true teaching that man was mortal and needed the Spirit of God to gain eternal life at the resurrection.
   Such early Catholics as Justin Martyr, who died about 166 A.D. wrote: "Bui: our Jesus Christ, being crucified, and DEAD, and having ascended to heaven, reigned; and by those things which were published in His name among all nations by the apostles, there is joy offered to those who expect the IMMORTALITY PROMISED BY HIM" (Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. I, p. 176).
   The early Catholics knew that when Jesus died He was absolutely dead, not in some abode of spirits. They also knew that He promised immortality to the overcomers, not that man already has an immortal soul which could live forever without Jesus' promise.

Catholic Doctrine Changed

   But Catholic doctrine soon changed in order to gain greater numbers for their church. Toward the close of the second century, a school of professing Christians in Alexandria, Egypt, adopted Platonism plus the Bible as their creed. One of their chief teachers, Origen, wrote: "Souls are immortal, as God himself is eternal and immortal." He continues to speak of "the — Platonist, who believes in the immortality of the soul" (Vol. IV, pp. 314, 402).
   Notice, this teaching came from Plato, not the Bible. Tertullian, another important teacher at the close of the second century, wrote: "For some things are known, even by nature: the immortality of the soul, for instance, is held by many... I may use, therefore, THE OPINION OF A PLATO, when he declares: 'Every soul is immortal'" (Vol. III, p. 547).
   Instead of quoting the Bible, Tertullian quotes Plato to substantiate his belief that man has an immortal soul.
   There were some Catholic writers and teachers even as late as the fourth century who condemned the CHANGE IN DOCTRINE from the TRUTH to the errors of Plato. Here is what Arnobias wrote of those who were "carried away with an extravagant opinion of themselves that souls are immortal... Will you lay aside your habitual arrogance, O men, who claim God as your Father, and maintain that you are immortal just as He is?" (Vol. IV, p. 440).
   As the centuries rolled by, the truth was completely stamped out of the Catholic Church. They even issued a decree in 1513 A.D. against the faithful few who "dared to assert concerning the nature of the reasonable soul that it is mortal" that they must be "punished as heretics."
   When the Protestant Reformation broke out, instead of returning to the FAITH ONCE DELIVERED, the reformers chose to follow tradition — Catholic tradition which has its origin in pagan philosophy and doctrines of demons. And that is the reason why most of YOU were reared to believe in the immortality of the soul.
   Let's quit following the traditions of men and, instead, strive for the TRUE FAITH once delivered to the saints. It is time we put away the false doctrines we have been taught and ask God to clear our minds to see His TRUTH.

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Plain Truth MagazineSeptember 1953Vol XVIII, No.4