“What Is The Soul?”
The lack of vitality and penetration in human literature and conversation is most clearly evidenced by the utter failure to distinguish between soul and spirit. It is almost universally the case that when the soul is spoken of, the spirit is intended. The English words which have been derived from psuchee, the Greek word for soul, all, erroneously, refer to various aspects of spirit. For instance, psychology has to do with the mind, not the soulish sensations. Psychic, instead of bearing its true meaning, soulish or sensual, denotes pneumatic, or spiritual. These are not mere curiosities of philology, but the sure indexes of the present day confusion which we must detect and avoid if we wish to get the truth on the subject of the soul.
“What Is Death?”
Amazing as it may seem to some, death is a return. Man is soil and returns to the soil (Gen.3:19). The spirit returns to God who gave it (Ecc.12:7). The soul returns to the unseen whence it came (Psa.9:17 and Acts 2:27,31). In fact, Job speaks of death itself as a return when he says: For I know that Thou wilt return me to death. (Job 30:23 AV). Neither man as a whole, nor any part of him enters a new, unknown condition at death, but all returns to the state from which it emerged when life was imparted. Even as the body was created of existing entities, so with the spirit which was given by God; and at death these return to the same condition in which they were before.
“The Soul and the Unseen”
In approaching the question of the scriptural meaning of the Hebrew sheol and the Greek hadês, it is necessary first of all to establish the scriptural significance of “soul.” This is because, in Scripture, man, who is said both to be a soul and to have a soul, returns in death to the “unseen,” which is sheol or hades.
“The Gehenna of Fire”
The meaning of Gehenna must be established from facts furnished by the Scripture, not by falsehoods foisted by human tradition. To the reader of the Hebrew Scriptures themselves, Gehenna can only mean a verdict which, besides condemning a man to death, also ordains that, after death, his body should be cast into the loathsome valley of Hinnom. This being the sense of Gehenna in the Hebrew Scriptures, we may be sure that this is the sense in which Christ used it.
“The Judgment of the Nations”
Tremendous judgment upon the nations of the earth, certain and sudden, has long been predicted by Israel’s prophets. Quite a number of passages in the Greek Scriptures (New Testament) are concerned with this theme as well. The time is coming, when the day of the Lord begins to unfold, when men will say, “Peace and security.” Yet it is at that very time when extermination will be standing by them unawares—“even as a pang over the pregnant, and they may by no means escape” (1 Thess.5:2,3).
“Eonian Fire and Judging”
The “fire” eonian spoken of in Matthew 25 is a figure of the chastening of the unjust nations during the coming eon, even as it is written in the prophets. Nations cannot be chastened in literal fire. In Matthew 25, the chastening of nations in “fire” should alert us to an obvious figurative usage. Indeed, even individual persons could never be put into a literal fire for even a few seconds without destroying their bodies, thus making chastening impossible, since death would ensue nearly immediately.
“The Lake of Fire”
The words “this is the second death—the lake of fire,” may be clarified thus: “Let me show you ‘the second death.’ There it is: the lake of fire.” The lake of fire is the second death. That is, the lake of fire is the cause of, or the agency which produces, the second death. “This” represents that. The idea is, the lake of fire—by figure of association in which the cause is put for the effect—represents the second death.
“A Resurrection of Judging”
“The rest of the dead do not live until the thousand years should be finished” (Rev.20:5). This is the latter of the two resurrections considered in Revelation 20:4,5. After the thousand years, “the rest of the dead” will be returned to life. This will occur so that they might be judged. Their judgment, the experience of judging which they undergo, will transpire in association with “a great white throne” and in the presence of “Him Who is sitting upon it” (Rev.20:11), the Son of God, into Whose hands God has committed all judging (John 5:22, 27).
“Judgment and Death”
The “day of judging” (Matt.11:24; Rom.2:5) will transpire in connection with the great white throne, prior to the second death, not in it. The day of judging not only will occur at this juncture, prior to the second death, but this is the only era in which it can occur. Before the great white throne, men are not simply tried, they are judged. And this continues until they are cast into the lake of fire. Then, in death, all sensation ceases. It is a release, not a torture chamber, or even a place for chastening. The lake of fire mercifully close the judgment period of all who suffer for their sins. It is not an infliction but its cessation”.
“The Revelation of God’s Just Judgment”
In considering God's judgments it will help us greatly to keep in mind that, for all their good as divine operations, they do not deliver anyone from sin. Far from being a gateway to life and righteousness, the judgment of the great white throne leads to death. The lake of fire “is ” the second death in that, as the agency which is its cause, the lake of fire becomes the symbol of the second death.
“The Repudiation of Grace”
We find untenable the idea which some have taught concerning the diminutive form for “scroll” in Revelation 20:12. The claim is that it refers to a “small” scroll here, and that this little “scrollet” becomes a very large “scroll” following the day of judgment. This supposedly will occur inasmuch as the names of most men will then be added to the scroll of life. The great majority, having finally done their part, using their free wills aright, will thus qualify themselves for exemption from the second death. It is claimed that therefore only a few enter the second death. This remarkable claim is based on the irrational idea popularly known as “free will.”
“Challenges to God’s Deity”
This article continues the theme begun in the previous article. “Etymology,” or the study of a word’s origin, is not central but strictly peripheral in determining word meaning. Even the meaning of a word’s elements is not determinative of the word’s own meaning. Definitive context alone determines meaning. We have a definitive context not when a certain idea can fit but when it alone can fit.
“Crucial Questions About Resurrection”
We have been asked to reply to a recent book entitled CRUCIAL QUESTIONS ABOUT HELL. For the most part, the author simply makes a case for eternal punishment and Hell such as will appeal to and, we suppose, satisfy the so-called evangelical public. Will all who die in unbelief, including those who have never heard the gospel, experience the horrors of an orthodox Hell for all eternity? According to the author, they will indeed. Remarkably, however, this expositor only considers the vital scriptural points at issue in this controversy quite cursorily.
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