Man – Temporary and Eternal -------- Dennis Strickland
In the Genesis account of the creation of man we are given insight from God regarding the difference between man and the beasts of the field. We know that God made the beast of the earth and the cattle and everything that creeps upon the earth. And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. 25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:24-25
We also know from Genesis 1:26-27 that God spoke of the creating of man. And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
We are then told in Genesis 2:7 what the difference is between man and beast. 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. Therefore the difference between man and beast is the possession of a soul. It is recorded that the animals were created and man was created, yet man is God's only creation that was given a soul.
In Genesis 35:16-18 we are made to understand that physical death is the departing of a soul when this happened to Rachel, the mother of Joseph and Benjamin. And they journeyed from Bethel; and there was but a little way to come to Ephrath: and Rachel travailed, and she had hard labour. 17 And it came to pass, when she was in hard labour, that the midwife said unto her, Fear not; thou shalt have this son also. 18 And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin. The physical body of Rachel died, but her soul departed. Where did it go? According to Ecclesiastes 12:7 the spirit (soul) returns to God who gave it while the body returns to the elements from which it came. Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.
David in 2 Samuel 12:22-23 knew this. Here we find his words after the death of his infant child, conceived because of the sin of David. And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether GOD will be gracious to me, that the child may live? 23 But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me. How would David go to his son? His soul would return to God as did the soul of his child.
Ezekiel 18:20–21 tells us that a soul can live or die, but since the soul is eternal, what does this mean? The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him. 21 But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die.
Death in the physical realm is separation of soul and body. We know that the soul continues after the body ceases to function from Psalms 90:10. The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. Does it not stand to reason that death to a soul is eternal separation from God?
This time we have on the earth is when we decide what God will do with our soul after it returns to Him. Paul indicated this in 2 Timothy 1:12. For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. Paul, by being obedient to God had committed his soul to God and in so doing became the servant of Christ. Romans 6:16 is evidence of this. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
Colossians 3:24-25 shows that we will receive a reward for serving God. That reward is to be with Him for eternity. But this passage also shows that there is punishment for disobedience. Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. 25 But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.
We are told in Hebrews 9:27 when the reward and punishment will take place. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: The temporary you (physical) will die. After that, the eternal you (your soul) will be judged. Will the "spiritual" you, live forever with God or will it be separated from God for eternity?
The temporary you will determine the final abode of the eternal you. For you to spend eternity with God, you must obey Him and live for Him in this life. Those who do not will experience the vengeance of God at the hand of Jesus Christ. In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
2 Thessalonians 1:8 Be obedient today. Your eternity depends upon it.