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Chapter 2 - Human Constitution
Most everyone is familiar with the physical human body. Anyone who has studied physiology should have an appreciation for the complexity and even beauty of the design of human life. Most are also familiar with the decay that begins at the time of death. However, to understand what happens after death, we need to examine two additional components of human existence, soul and spirit.
The bible tells us that these two components are so intertwined that it is difficult to distinguish the two.
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. - Hebrews 4:12
The spirit is usually considered as 'breath' or vitalizing force. The soul is usually considered the place of thoughts and emotions. The bible tells us of how life began.
And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. - Genesis 2:7
We might think that our existence began as God constituted our soul life via his infusion of vitality from his 'breath' or Spirit.
We can see an additional differentiation as the bible contrasts Jesus with Adam.
And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. - 1 Corinthians 15:45
The soul life that we inherit from Adam is insufficient to rescue us from death. For this reason Jesus (referred to as the 'last Adam') is the means whereby we can be 'made alive'. Understanding this rebirth, or being born again, is critical to understanding what happens after death.
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. - 1 Corinthians 15:22
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. - John 3:5-6
God warned Adam that the day he ate of the prohibited tree, he would die.
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. - Genesis 2:17
Since Adam did not physically die until over 900 years later, the question becomes, 'what died on that day?'. We have a hint when Jesus tells Nicodemus, 'that which is born of the Spirit is spirit'. The requirement for a natural birth (born of water) and a spiritual birth (born again) to enter the kingdom of God indicates the possibility of a restoration of that which 'died' when Adam sinned.
We get more insight into the difference between the natural man and the spiritual (reconstituted) man throughout the bible.
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. - 1 Corinthians 2:14
We get a picture of the freedom the reconstituted man has in that we are called to serve God on the basis of having been rescued from 'death'.
Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. - Romans 6:13
This begins to build a picture of differing fates after death. One fate awaits those have been 'born again' (made alive) and another awaits those who are remain 'dead'.
And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; - Ephesians 2:1
For those who are not 'quickened' (made alive) a less favorable fate awaits.
And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. - Matthew 10:28
The fate of those who have not been 'made alive' again also begins to shed a little light on the difference between the death of the body and the death of the soul.
Being able to consider human existence with the three elements of body, soul, and spirit helps us to understand what happens after death and how there may be different conditions based on how these elements are constituted.
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