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.
teaches that God created the whole world in six short days. He put the
stars and planets in their places; He made dry land appear out of the
watery earth; He created the plants, the fish, the birds, and every
animal. And finally, He reached down to create His masterpiece, Man. He
carefully formed him out of the dust of the earth. He shaped every organ
and limb, He designed the brain, the nervous system, and all of our
senses. He made Man more complex than all the other animals, capable of
thoughts and emotions far beyond their comprehension. And then, He bent
over and put on the final touch...
His own life into him, and Man became a living soul—not just physically
alive, but spiritually alive as well. The breath of God made Man of an
entirely different order than all the rest of creation. Man is not just
a very intelligent monkey, he is a spiritual being. He has a dimension
that the chimpanzee doesn't have. He is able to sense the world of the
spirit all around him. He knows it’s there, though he cannot taste it or
see it. He feels it deep within. He is curious, at times even desperate,
to know what it’s all about. He knows there is a God, and he knows there
are evil spirits, too. Something inside, that he cannot fully explain or
identify, is sensitive to the invisible world. Man is not just a living
body; he is a living soul.
That soul, or
spirit, came from God Himself. It is very much like His own. It has many
of the same qualities. This is one reason why the Bible states, "God
created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him..."
(Gen. 1:27). One of the similarities between our spirit and God's is
that it does not die. Our body must die, for it is created of the matter
of this world—it will return to dust eventually. But our soul is not of
this world, it is of God, who is eternal and heavenly. And, like Him, it
cannot die. If you're worried about dying, you may as well resign
yourself to it. Your body will die—it must; but your soul cannot die—it
is totally impossible.
You will live
forever! Does that sound exciting? It can be very exciting indeed, or it
can be a real nightmare. The Bible does not teach the possibility of
many lifetimes in which a person gradually evolves to a higher spiritual
plane. Your spirit is already in the image of God. How can it get
higher? It is what you do with your spiritual life that counts. Do you
ignore it? Do you come up with your own spiritual ideas and principles
to live by? Do you submit to some religious system, and leave the care
of your soul to another, a priest or holy man? What you do with your
soul in this life determines what happens to you in the next. That's
what the Bible teaches, and you owe it to yourself to study it at some
length. It could be true; we believe it is. You could be in serious
trouble—for eternity—if you do not heed the teachings of the God of the
Bible. You could be stuck with eternal life without Christ.
Eternal Life Without Christ
at birth. Each child born into the world gets his own soul; Jesus Christ
breathes it into you. It is not said that any of the animals have a
soul, but every man surely does. "In him [Christ] was life.. and the
life was the light of men... the true light, which lighteth every man
that cometh into the world," (John 1:4,9). From the moment you are
born, you are alive with this divine life, for good or evil. You will
You may have
a happy childhood, or you may not. You are born naked, and millions of
children stay that way throughout the early years of their life. You may
be hungry and never know what a full stomach feels like. You could be
neglected, or even abused by your parents. Perhaps your father is a
drunkard who beats your mother. Perhaps he is not. You may be one of the
lucky few in this world who has plenty to eat, good parents, and the
nicer things of life.
You will have
many childhood experiences. Times of sickness, when you think your
little insides just cannot take any more pain. Times of sorrow, when you
cry your little eyes out until the tears just won't come anymore. Happy
times, laughing and playing with your friends. Unhappy times, when your
friends hurt you, turn against you, tell lies to others about you. You
will learn what a broken heart feels like. You may even learn how to
hate, while still a child. You will learn what loneliness feels like,
and sometimes you will feel so alone that you wish you could die.
As you get a
little older, and become a young man or lady, you’ll realize that life
is not all fun and games and children’s’ troubles. You are expected to
start thinking about becoming an adult. You'll want to get married and
get a job. You'd like to get married for life, to a person you can
really love, and share your life with. You'd like to have a job that you
really enjoy, and feel fulfilled in doing. Unfortunately, the odds are
not too good for either one of these dreams. Most likely, you'll end up
working in an office, factory, or field, doing the same thing day after
day, year after year, and coming home to life that is not nearly as
promising as it seemed on your wedding day. You will sometimes look back
upon the carefree childhood years, and almost wish you could turn back
the time and be small again. You will think about your old friends,
remember the good times and wonder how happy they are today.
Life goes on,
and the years go by. At first, while you're young, you have many
dreams... in a few years I'll leave this job, and get into something I'd
really like to do for the rest of my life... we'll have a little more
money then, and we'll be able to take a vacation, see a little of the
world... I’ll get a new car... and a house, our own house... that's
right, I'm not going to be poor and struggling all my life, I'm going to
make something of myself.
But for most
people, the dream slowly fades as the years go by. You settle into the
same old routine. You wake up in the morning and go to work. You work
hard all day, the boss shouting at you incessantly, but you need the
money so you swallow your pride and bite your tongue; jobs are scarce,
and you can't take any chances. Finally, the work day is over and you’re
on your way home. You eat dinner, perhaps have a little time to relax,
or even watch TV—a dream world where everybody is beautiful and rich—and
then it’s time for bed. You have to work in the morning, and you can't
stay up all night, you know.
Eat and sleep
and work, and eat and sleep and work, and eat and sleep and work. On and
on and on, day after day, week after week, year after year. Hardly a
vacation in between. Just eating and sleeping and working your life
some joys along the way, of course. Family relationships, children, are
often a source of pleasure. It’s not impossible to have a good marriage,
and many do. Enjoy it while you can, you lucky soul. Be proud of your
children, love them, pour yourself into them—they’ll be gone soon
enough, starting out on their own lives, while you continue to eat and
sleep and work. Hopefully, your family isn’t a source of trouble and
sorrow to you instead. That can make life very difficult. It can seem
that much more meaningless when you don't even have the little joys that
a family can provide.
older, and you start to realize that your body isn't going to live
forever. It's amazing how quickly it begins to age. You start developing
all kinds of little aches and pains that you didn't have before, maybe a
trick knee, a bad back, or high blood pressure. You don't eat nearly as
much as you used to, but you get fatter around the middle. You just
don't feel as good as you did a few years ago.
If you smoke,
your lungs get worse and worse, until you're coughing up blood every
morning. One day you’ll end up in the hospital, spitting and wheezing,
barely able to breathe, dying. If you drink too much, you can end up
with various disorders of your vital organs, not to mention the
emotional problems, and all the pain you brought upon your family. But
even if you've lived clean, you can still get cancer, heart trouble, and
any number of other things. Your body must die, remember, and the
process of deterioration actually is already underway at the age the age
thought now and again about spiritual matters, and once in a while have
even made a decision to change your life, and start being more the man
or woman you know you should be. Your soul doesn't receive too much
attention, but sometimes does manage to be heard above the noise of
everyday life. You may go through a time where you start seriously
thinking about God and the real meaning of life. Maybe a loved one dies,
or you have an accident yourself. You start to think... there must be
more to life than eating, sleeping, working, and one day dying. But you
calm yourself by going to church or temple, the religion of your youth
that has done so little for you all these years. The familiar smell of
old building and incense acts like a sedative on your mind, and you
ignore the crying of your soul. You’re comforted now, even though you
didn’t really deal with the issue at all.
One day you
die. Eat and sleep and work... and die. Perhaps you were very sick, and
in great pain. When you finally passed on, the relatives sighed, and a
few felt a profound sense of loss. But they all comforted themselves and
said, "At least he's at peace now, there's no more pain or sorrow for
After the Body Dies
The rich man
also died, and was buried. And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in
If you never
truly dealt with the issue of your soul and your relationship to God, if
you left the care of spiritual things to the priest or your wife, if you
silenced the voice of your spirit by practicing a little religion, but
never honestly examined the claims of the Lord and did something about
them—then you will, like the man here in Luke chapter sixteen, wake up
in Hell when your body dies. He was a rich man, but that has nothing to
do with the state of his soul. Hell is full of both rich and poor, black
and white, small and great, weak and powerful, Christians, Hindus,
Buddhists, Jews and Muslims.
You might be
surprised at who you see there. The rich man was not particularly
sinful, not any more than most people, that is. He was probably a devout
Jew. He no doubt belonged to all the right organizations of his day, and
gave to charity. But he never dealt with the issue of eternal life. He
was too busy eating, sleeping, and working. He never thought deeply
about spiritual things, he probably found them confusing. He wasn't any
worse than the next man, and better than many, so he decided just to
take his chances. If there is a God, and a Hell, well, any decent kind
of God would never send anyone there, anyway...so he thought. And so
might you. We're all trying our best, aren't we? It's sincerity that
counts, right? But have you ever thought about righteousness, justice,
and holiness? Do you really think you can lie, hate, cheat, steal, lust,
hurt others, mock good things and celebrate evil, live for yourself, and
ignore God and your soul all your life and then go to meet your Maker,
who kindly smiles and ushers you into Heaven?
You will wake
up in Hell. Your body is gone, but you can still see, speak, feel pain,
think and remember. You don't have a mouth, but you can communicate on a
different level, the spiritual. You don't have nerves, but you are in
agony; you feel as though you're on fire. You want some kind of relief,
because it seems unbearable. You feel as though you must pass out from
the pain any second, but a soul does not pass out. You wish for death to
put an end to the suffering, but you're already dead. Is it literal
fire? I really can't say. How can a soul burn? I don't actually know.
But the Bible always describes Hell in the same kind of terminology—it
must be the closest thing we can imagine or compare it to.
The Lake of Fire
How long will
you be there? Until the final judgment day. We don't know exactly when
it will be, but one day the Lord will begin to wrap things up on this
old earth. One day He will hold court, and begin sentencing those who
did not please Him. All the dead shall appear before Him...
And I saw the
dead, small and great, stand before God, and the books were opened...and
death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them, and they were
judged every man according to his works...and whosoever was not found
written in the book of life was cast into the lake of
Hell is the
equivalent of a local jail; you wait there until your case is tried in
court. Then you’re sentenced to the penitentiary, the Lake of Fire. Now,
on earth an innocent man maybe put in jail, and after his trial the
charges maybe dropped, and he is released. Men sometimes make mistakes.
God doesn’t. He wouldn't have a man suffer in jail for a thousand years,
and then upon examining the books, pronounce him not guilty after all,
and send him to Heaven! He wouldn't have gone to Hell in the first place
if he was not guilty. There is no indication that any of the people in
Revelation chapter twenty go to Heaven. It looks as though they are all
thrown in the Lake of Fire.
Is there no
second chance? Is there no way to say you’re sorry, and to repent of
your carelessness? I certainly would like to think there was, but there
is no indication of it in the Bible. The rich man was unhappy with Hell,
but he’s not recorded to have been sorry. He begs for the pain to be
lessened, but he doesn't repent. No one at the judgment seat repents
either. There is no one who is recorded as asking for a second chance.
It would seem that whatever spiritual state you leave this life in, you
remain in... "He that is unjust, let him be
unjust still; and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he
that is righteous, let him be righteous still..." (Rev. 22:11).
W hat is the
Lake of Fire like? Does it finally end there? Is the soul then
annihilated? No, a soul cannot die. For good or bad, it is alive
forevermore. The Bible says that the soul that is "cast into the lake
of fire and brimstone...shall be tormented day and night forever and
ever," (Rev. 20:10). One prominent man of God in our time was given
a vision of this Lake of Fire. He described it as floating alone in a
sea of molten sulfur, with no one to hear your screams; the next
individual is just out of earshot. That somehow seems even worse than
the burning. I’ve heard people laugh about Hell, remarking that all
their friends would be there with them. Not so. The soul is all alone in
the Lake of Fire—forever and ever.
There is only
one possible comfort that I can think of to offer the person who lives
eternally without Christ, and that is perhaps time has little or no
meaning to a soul, especially one that is caught in the same experience
forever. It is truly difficult to understand when all we know is life in
this body, on this earth; but it is not at all pleasant, that we know
for sure. I don't want to go to Hell, or the Lake of Fire.
I don't want
eternal life without Christ.
Is It Fair?
Is it fair?
To live a hard life on this earth, and then go into an eternity of
torment? It is not a happy prospect, but it is fair. "That be far
from [God]...to slay the [righteous with the wicked ... Shall not the
Judge of all the earth do right?" (Gen. 18:25). Of course He will.
His judgments will be the very epitome of justice and honesty, with a
great deal of mercy and compassion, too. But He must judge, and He will.
There would be no justice at all in life, without the judgment of God.
There certainly is little enough in the police and legal systems of this
stubborn, willful, and rebellious against God all of your life. You
lived almost completely selfishly. You called evil good, and good evil.
You thought that religious people were impractical fools, and you
gloried in the flesh, not the spirit. You were proud of your sins—you
laughed at your little mischief-making, and thought yourself quite
clever. You worshipped gods of metal and stone, or the beauty of the
human body, instead of the One who created you. You felt that you could
question God Himself, and challenge His Word according to your own
standards. You took a little here and a little there, from each
religion. You were smarter than all of them, you were a little God
yourself, making up your own religion! You never bothered to look
seriously into the claims of Jesus Christ, in all your life. It would
have taken a few short days or weeks to read the Bible, and find out for
yourself, instead of judging Christianity by what others said, or by the
hypocrisy of a few so-called Christians. You lived your life as you felt
best, not as God commanded, and you took your chances on eternity,
gambled with the future of the most important thing of all, your own
living soul! Is it fair? Of course it is—you chose it yourself.
Is It God’s Will?
For this is
good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who will have all
men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there
is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
who gave himself a ransom for all.
1 Timothy 2:3-6
Here is where
we part company with many of the great religions of the world. Man is
not at the mercy of fate, or the will of the gods, but rather, he has
the power to choose his own destiny. A man that goes to Hell is not
there because of the will of God, but because he chose in this life, for
himself, to resist God's will. God wants to be your Saviour, not your
Judge. He wants all men everywhere to be saved from Hell and eternal
punishment, and He has provided a way for it to be done.
is the chief reason that man is doomed to this miserable existence, God
has graciously provided a way to pay for the sins of every man, woman,
and child. He has sent His only begotten Son, the very One who breathes
into us the eternal soul, to redeem us, not only from Hell, but from the
meaninglessness of life on this earth, as well. The Son took on the
flesh of man, born of a woman, and lived a normal human life. He ate,
slept, worked, and suffered pain and loss. He became every bit a man,
that He might justly and perfectly stand in man's place at the crucial
time of death and judgment. He was different from the rest of us in only
one respect—He was completely without sin.
He paid the price of sin. He died a shameful and agonizing death,
execution by the old Roman method of being nailed to a cross. He faced
the judgment of God, where the sins of all mankind were placed upon Him.
Then He rose triumphantly from the grave, crushing the power of Death
and Hell forever. He ascended physically into Heaven, where He now
awaits the fulfillment of this age.
He was our
sacrifice. I believe every religion in the world has some system of
sacrifice, that of another life being offered to pay for one’s sins
against God. This demonstrates the instinctive knowledge of our living
soul, that there actually is a sacrifice that can make things right
between us and God. The blood of animals cannot cover the sins of man;
your own penance and suffering does not avail, either; for you are
sinful yourself. A perfect man had to be offered. The divine life of
Heaven itself had to come to earth and pay the price for man’s
disobedience. "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he
loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins," (I John
4:10). "God commendeth his love toward us,
in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us," (Rom. 5:8).
He is your
sacrifice. You now have a choice before you. You can accept the
sacrifice of Jesus Christ and live for Him; or you can continue on as
you are, and eventually end up at the judgment seat and the Lake of
Fire. To make Christ's sacrifice effective for you personally, you need
only to repent and believe. Repent means to turn away from the selfish,
sinful way in which you now live. Don't worry, He can give you the power
to live righteously. Believe means to accept His sacrifice as done for
you, and to serve the true God from this day forward. Will you do it? He
loves you so much that He actually died for you. Will you return that
love by giving your heart and life to Him? You can have a satisfying
spiritual life right here and now, and eternal life in Heaven with
Jesus... or you can have eternal life without Christ...
from you all your transgressions... for why will you die...? I have no
pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God. Wherefore
turn yourselves, and live.
Ezekiel 18:31, 32
2005, Kim Harrington, Masterbuilder
Ministries. All rights reserved
Scripture quotations from the King James Version, unless otherwise