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Body, Spirit and Soul

The Bible teaches that we are body, soul and spirit. “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 being” (Gen. 2:7). The Lord created man out of the dust of the earth but without the spirit and soul, the body is dead. Then God breathed breath into the soul and spirit the dead body became a living person. When we are conceived we have a single one-cell human body. Then God places a living soul and spirit into that body and the baby becomes a living being. Even though we are not completely sure when this takes place, we know that it is very soon after this human cell is created. Many believe this take place at the time of conception.

Because the spirit and soul were placed into a physical body it can also be removed. When we die the spirit and soul simply leave the body leaving it dead. The spirit and soul do not die – they just move from one realm to another realm. We live in a time when we can experience the spirit and soul leaving the body and then returning. This is what happens with some death-bed and out-of-body experiences. When the body is completely dead (biological death), the spirit and soul do not return to it. At that time, the soul and spirit are part of the spiritual world around them. What happens next we only have glimpses from various experiences. The Bible says that the righteous are escorted into heaven and thus protected from the evil spirits surrounding them. It may well be that some of the unrighteous (not saved) who have out-of-the-body experiences are under the authority of God’s visions so they can learn the truth and thus return to their bodies as believers. However, the death process of the unrighteous is controlled by the evil spirits and their final destiny is hell.

The medical community defines death two ways. There is clinical (reversible) death where the heart stops and biological (irreversible) death where the brain dies. Most out-of-body experiences occur between clinical death and biological death. This is the period of time when someone can be resuscitated. This leads to an interesting question. At what point does the soul and spirit leave the body when someone who is brain dead and the heart is kept beating by a machine?

Based upon the above conclusions, a person who is lying on a bed with a machine keeping the heart beating may be biologically dead and the soul and spirit may have already departed the body. I read of a vision once that supports this view. A young woman’s child was dying and was being kept alive by a machine. She went outside and as she looked up, she saw Jesus taking her child to heaven. She went back into the room and asked the doctors to remove the machines and let her child die.

Many have asked the question, where does the spirit and soul reside in the human body? Medical studies have tried to determine this. Dr. Melvin Morse reports, in his book “Closer to the Light” (pp 115), about the neurosurgeon, Dr. Wilder Penfield, studies of the brain. Dr. Penfield discovered that if he touched the area of the brain known as “Sylvian Fission” with an electrical probe that the patient began to have the sensation of leaving his/her body. This was also confirmed by a Chilean medical team approximately the same time. The “Sylvian Fission” is located just above the right temporal lobe of the brain.

Dr. Morse summarized the brain study with these words “I have documented that we have an area in the brain, the right temporal lobe, that some researchers describe as the seat of the soul. It is connected to the hippocampus, which serves as the brain’s master control, sorting out thousands of pieces of sensory input and deciding which of them should be acted upon. It contains our unconscious desires and our ability to dream. Without this area, we would be like robots, unable to initiate purposeful activity and not caring about the passage of time” (pp 198-197).

Many have speculated regarding the time when the soul and spirit are created. Most of us assume that they are created at the time they are placed into our bodies. However, there have been various views stating that they were created prior to this time. Plato, Jewish rabbinical writings, at least two of the church fathers believed and the Mormons still believe that the soul and spirit pre-existed prior to conception. This is an area of great speculation as the Bible is somewhat silent on this subject.

However, the Bible does teach that God foreknew us. This is what He said to the prophet Jeremiah: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations” (Jer. 1:5). The Apostle Paul wrote these words: “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love” (Eph. 1:4). It is interesting that some Jewish writers have written that God created all souls when He created the universe.

There is a danger of speculating too much about the idea of pre-existing souls and it has led some to believe in transmigration of the soul or re-incarnation which is absolutely in conflict with Biblical teaching. As we are all aware, the Hindus, other Eastern religions and the New Age theology teach re-incarnation. But the Bible states clearly in Hebrews 9:27 that it is appointed unto man once to die and after that the judgment. Therefore, we die once and are not reincarnated but judged.

For more information on the body, spirit and soul read my article “In The Image of God” .