Question:

Hi. I’m a non-religious Christian. Only water baptised. Haven’t been baptised in the Holy Spirit, but I believe in God and that Jesus died for our sins and that I have to constantly repent my sins. I also believe in the existence of the Holy Spirit because I’ve sensed it several times before.

My question to you is one I’ve always wrestled with but should be simple for a man of your calling.

What is the soul?

I’ll tell you what I believe and why I have doubts about my own beliefs. I think I got some of this right, but probably most of it wrong, not sure…

First: I believe that our soul was created by God before we were even conceived. Our soul defines us and we live in our bodies until we die. We are not designed to live without our bodies and we aren’t conscious without them unless we are having an out of body experience, either while we’re alive or for a short while sometime right after death. I believe we form Soul-Ties with our friends, family and lovers that can greatly influence our life for better or worse.

I believe that when we die we sleep until we are revived for the resurrection to be judged by God for either eternal life in Heaven or oblivion in hell, where we cease to exist. I believe that if we are Born Again before we died and living righteously for him, we will rest in peace until the resurrection, then go to Heaven. I believe that if we died before the age of accountability (when a child learns right from wrong), we will rest in peace until the resurrection, then go to Heaven.

I believe that if we lose our innocence after the age of accountability, are not Born Again and living righteously we will die and after death, have un-ending nightmares in an unconscious sleep until the resurrection, at which point we will be Judged by God by what’s written in the Book of Life (that’s maintained by His angels) and probably thrown into The Lake of Fire for the final death.

My doubt comes when people tell me they had near death experiences where they say they were headed for hell or heaven. I’m confused as to why that would be immediate, when I’ve been told many times before by preachers that we sleep. I even read in the bible in several stories that when we die, we’re just sleeping. So what’s up with those people who almost died or came back from the dead with those stories? Are they all lying?

Answer:

You pose very interesting questions. As far as the soul, the word comes from the Greek psyche’ and refers to the center of man’s emotion, reasoning and intellect. It is clearly identified as the root to our English word psychology which we use for the modern science that examines man’s inner struggles of the mind and heart. We have several instances in scripture where we observe people who have departed from the body yet, still retain all of the sensations and inner conflicts previously experienced in the body( i.e. Rich man in Hell/Tartarus and his counterpart Lazarus the beggar in Paradise according to Christ’s account in the Gospels). This proves that there is a consciousness outside of the body which operates quite similar to the operation of the psyche’ when in the body.

Your thoughts on soul sleep seem to echo teachings from several non-conventional quasi/Christian churches (i.e. Seventh-Day Adventist, Worldwide Church of God). There are many instances in scripture where we espy those who have passed on into the afterlife who are clearly conscious and experiencing either torment or bliss. The example just cited above concerning Lazarus and the Rich Man serves as a very powerful argument for the soul’s consciousness after death and an abode for the dead, as well. Also, Christ promises the thief on the cross what appears to be a very conscious existence with Him in Paradise upon cessation of life, proving once again, the same point.

As far as the preconception creation of the soul, there are scriptures that give this impression (i.e. Book of Enoch). However, Genesis, Jasher and Jubilees seem to imply that Adam’s body was created first and then God breathed into him and he became a “living soul”. For me the question is open.The age of accountability is also a very sketchy concept that scripture doesn’t appear to directly address. The concept comes out of Roman Catholic thought and that alone makes it suspect for me. This is another difficult question and I understand why people would want to have assurance about it. However, in my opinion, I don’t believe we have any evidence from the Word of God to unequivocally establish this belief.
Dre, you have shared that you were baptized in water. I assume that was upon genuine confession of belief in Christ and repentance of your sin with full knowledge and understanding of what you were doing. If so, that is great! I would encourage you to move on to the next act of obedience to Christ as your Savior and Lord and receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. I have taught on this extensively, in my book Sinner’s Prayer Gospel and also in my Blogtalk programs. You can access those in the archives.
Thank you for your very intelligent questions and I hope I have been of some assistance. Blessings,
Dr. Daniel Morano