By Wayne Schatzle


       Nearly all religions believe in some sort of physical change at death. Some think they will change to another type of being as a gift from their unseen god. This is also the case in the Christian religion. As usual there are diverse opinions on exactly the nature of what sort of change it will be. Many of the Christian sects claim that man has an immortal "soul" and physical death releases that soul to waif away to heaven to be with the Lord. There are some problems with that scenario when studied in the light of the Bible.

       There are a couple of words used to depict this essence assumed to dwell within us. The first word used is the aforementioned "soul". The Hebrew word is nephesh {Greek, psuche}, which means, a breathing creature, and includes a wide range of things such as, man, mind, vitality, animals and even trees! There is nothing to allude to an immortal being, in fact several times it is used as a soul dying or being destroyed. The next commonly used word is spirit {Hebrew: ruwach; Greek: pneuma} which is another of those catch-all words which can mean wind, breath, mind, angel, demon, power, breeze. When applied to God’s Holy Spirit we see it as being poured out, creating, given as a gift to believers for power, and adding heavenly intellect to a believer. One must have the Spirit of Christ to be numbered among the Saved {Romans 8:9}.

      Neither of those words can describe an individual as being immortal, yet in their definitions is a key to uncovering the truth of what actually survives the death of men and women. The mind is a thing we actually create by the information we receive. Believers are encouraged to renew their minds, to care for it, guard from the evil one. God says "Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established" {Proverbs 16:3}. When a man dies, his thinking ceases, but where does thoughts go? Do they stay in the grave or go back to the Father for safekeeping? That is a question posed in Ecclesiastes chapter three, for no one knows.

       Compared to a video tape, our thoughts are like the magnetic impulses, not possible to be seen, and useless without a tape [brain] and a player [body]. But never the less used to convey expressions. Moody Institute has an outstanding documentary on the human body. What really fascinated me was the section about the brain. At just 3 pounds, it has more connections than the world’s largest computer. It actually receives 100 million bits of information per second and must sort them out according to importance. We are always learning, and some fear of filling up their brain with information, but get this: you would have to learn something new every second for 3 million years to fill the brain to capacity!

       The great culture of ancient Egypt, still astounds us with the buildings and monuments they made. And their preparations for the afterlife are impressive. But amazingly as they would prepare the body for burial, when they came to the brain, they thought it was useless and just threw it away. That is the way of the world to save the worldly things and disregard the eternal things. Indeed the thoughts of man are what interests God- in fact the only thing worth saving are the good thoughts of man.

       Until our Lord returns and raises believers to a new and incorruptible body worthy of the treasure of our mind, we must heed the words of the apostle Paul. "Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is good and acceptable and perfect will of God" {Romans 12}. 01/03

Written by:

Wayne Schatzle, director, Freedom Biblical Information Center, PO Box 1806, West Chester OH 45071