St. Paul, in `1 Thes. 5:23`, prays God…”Your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless,” etc. If not, kindly enlighten fully (J.W.C.)
<ANSWER>–In his prayer, St. Paul evidently distinguishes between spirit, soul, and body. We should bear in mind that his letter was addressed to the Church collectively, and not so much to individuals. We can be quite sure that the Apostle did not refer to individuals, for whatever interpretation we may put upon “soul and spirit,” we are in the singular, not the plural number. St. Paul expresses his earnest desire that until the Lord’s return the Church might be preserved entire, without schism, in the unity of the spirit and the bond of peace. In `Acts 4:32`, we read that “The multitude of them that believed were of one heart and one soul,” and in `Eph. 4:4`, the Apostle points out that there is one BODY AND ONE SPIRIT. As in the creation of Adam, with the entrance of the breath of life, man became a living soul, an intelligent, sentient being, so with the New Creation. Inspired with the Spirit of the Lord, the Holy Spirit, the members of the Church, which is His Body, should work in unity and harmony in doing the will of the Lord and witnessing to the truth of the Gospel.
Do you mean to say that the spirit of the Thief, who died upon the cross when the Lord Jesus was crucified, remained in the grave with his body? If so, do the spirits of our dear friends, who turned to Christ in this life, remain with their bodies in the grave until the Lord’s return? (D.D.)
<ANSWER>–The inspired writers of the Bible tell us just what became of the spirit of the thief who died upon the cross. And they also tell us what becomes of the spirits of those who were devoted followers of Christ and were faithful even unto death. It would not do for us to say what became of these spirits. Too many so-called leaders of religious thought have theorized and speculated as to what became of the spirits of the departed dead and have set forth the results of their vain imaginings. Let us not add to the awful confusion by presenting ideas of our own, but let us hear what the Scriptures declare, recognizing that the Lord God is surely able to guide us into the knowledge of the Truth. We read, “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” (`Eccl. 12:7`.) This text reminds us of the original sentence of death pronounced upon Adam for disobedience. He had been formed of the dust and therefore he should forfeit his life and return unto dust. He died. The breath of life (the spirit), the energizing of life principle, was removed from the body and returned to God, who is the source or fountain of all life. The living soul, the intelligent being, died. As the Bible says, “The soul that sinneth it shall die.” (`Eze. 18:4`.) From these scriptures it is evident that the spirit of the thief and of all who die returns to God. This animating principle (spirit), called life, is to be given to all of the faithful and obedient in the resurrection.
What is meant by these words, “The Spirit and the Bride say come?” (`Rev. 22:17`.)
<ANSWER>–The Spirit clearly refers to Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom. His Bride is to be the Church glorified. (See `Rev. 21:9`; `Rev.19:7-9`.) The marriage, or union, referred to in the last Scripture, takes place at the second coming of Christ (`John 14:3`). The reign of Christ (Bride and Bridegroom) follows, and then the message will go forth to the world, inviting all to come and obey Christ and receive eternal life; and the obedient shall live. And the obedient will be privileged to repeat the invitation to others, that “whosoever will may come and take of the water of life freely.” The Church of Christ in its present condition of development is referred to by the Apostle as “the chaste virgin, espoused to one Husband” (`2 Cor. 11:2`). She will not become the Bride of Christ until at the time of the Bridegroom’s presence, when the marriage of the Lamb shall take place and the marriage supper shall follow (`Rev. 19:9`). Evidently, from the fore-going, it is manifest that the expression “whosoever will does,” not apply to all at this time, and will not be true until the wedding is consummated.
What is a spirit being?
<ANSWER>–According to the Scriptures, it is a creature, or personality, inhabiting the spiritual plane of existence, a higher plane than that of the human or earthly creatures. Just as the Divine nature, the nature of God, is the highest order of the spiritual realm, so man is of the highest order of the animal or earthly existence. Angels are spirit beings (`Psa. 104:4`) and we read that man was created “a little lower than the angels.” (`Psa. 8:5`.) A change of nature is promised to all of those who will be of the Church of Christ; those who “make their calling and election sure” and who eventually will be associated with their Lord and Savior in the glories of the Kingdom as His “joint-heirs.” This “change” of nature is wonderfully described by the Apostle in the fifteenth chapter of `1 Cor. 15:42-52`. Those who will experience this transformation of nature are said to be “born of the spirit” and this will take place in the resurrection. These then will be powerful, and invisible to mortal eye, just as the angels are all around and Jehovah’s messengers in past ages, yet unseen. Jesus described this matter of the “wind” to picture the condition of those who shall be born of the spirit in the resurrection morning, `John 3:6-8`.