It is doubtful that there is any single belief Christians have that is so deep-seated and so taken for granted as those regarding heaven. For those of us who base our beliefs on the Bible, not on the Christian church, there are still very few who dare to re-examine the issue of heaven, or to compare what they believe with what is written in the Scriptures. Long before one comes to a saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the idea that “good people go to heaven when they die” is solidified in the mind. When one becomes a believer, that might transfer a bit to “those who believe in Jesus Christ go to heaven when they die,” but other than this change, this belief really is never reconsidered or examined in the light of God’s Word.

Perhaps there is no one view out there so in need of study and thoughtful examination in the light of God’s Word than this view regarding heaven. Yet there is also probably no view out there which so few would ever be willing to reconsider. The idea of heaven is taught to most of us from almost the time we can talk by our parents, whether they were true believers or not, and it is one that has so much emotion tied to it that few would even be open to any changes regarding it whatsoever. The fact that we claim loyalty to the Bible makes no difference regarding this. It has always been believed by most that the Bible teaches about people going to heaven, and this idea has been so brainwashed into the minds of men that they never would even consider going to the Bible to see if this is really so.

That said, the true student of Scripture should not shy away from subjecting any teaching or belief, no matter how foundational or obvious in the minds of the majority, to the revealing light of the Word of God. If we desire to be believers in the Scriptures rather than just more traditionalists, it is beliefs such as this one that we most need to subject to a Biblical examination. And perhaps there is no better way to do this than the method I have demonstrated before in examining the subjects of the spirit and the soul. That method is to take the Hebrew and Greek words involved, and to examine every occurrence of them to see how the Spirit of God uses them in the Word of God. Then and only then can we get God’s teaching on this subject, rather than man’s.

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We have but one book left of the Pentateuch or Torah to examine in order to have studied all the occurrences of the word “soul” in these first five books of the Old Testament. In our previous articles in this series, examining the word nephesh or “soul” in Genesis through Numbers, we discovered eight possible meanings for this word, which are as follows:

1. Any living creature of the land, sea, or air.

2. Any of the above creatures after they are dead.

3. What man is as a product of his body and his breath of life being mixed together.

4. The blood of men, or something connected to the blood of men.

5. People.

6. A person’s self or being.

7. A dead person.

8. The emotions, strong feelings, and desires of men.

So now we continue our study into the book of Deuteronomy. Let us see if these eight definitions continue to cover all the occurrences of this word, and what else we can learn about souls from this last book of Moses.

Deuteronomy 4:9. Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren,

They are to take heed to themselves and diligently keep their souls. The danger is that they will forget the things they have seen the LORD do for them, and they will depart from their hearts all the days of their lives. To diligently keep their souls is to diligently keep themselves, and to ensure that the things the LORD has done for them remain in their memory. The nephesh is the person, and is here connected with the memory and the heart. The emotions and desires of a person, if they are not focused on the LORD and diligently maintained, can cause him to forget what he should remember and can remove from his heart the things that should remain there.

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I would like to remind my readers that I am a regular column contributor to the “Word of Truth Ministry” Bulletin. This last Bulletin, my article was on “Love and the Truth,” discussing the fact that the progress that the truth makes in our lives should result in us having and displaying a greater and greater love for our Lord and Savior, Who is the truth. Read this article at:

http://www.seedandbread.org/images/stories/bulletins/Dec13Bulletin.pdf

I received the following questions:

What was the name of the person that wrote codex sinaiticus?
and a man OR a woman wrote this codex?
he or she learned the bible from whom?what was the name of the person that taught the bible to the author of this codex?
r u 100% sure u can reconcile the narrative birth of jesus in matthew 1 and 2 and luke 1 and 2?
and
r u 100% sure u can reconcile the genealogies in matthew 1 and luke 3 and 1 chronicles 3?
some try to reconcile this contradiction by saying luke 3 records the genealogy of mary.is there evidence from the bible for this claim?or is this answer a guess?

some try to reconcile by saying well jacob and heli were brothers and heli married then died childless then jacob married the same woman so heli was joseph’s legal father and jacob was joseph’s biological father.Is there evidence from the bible that backs up this claim?or is this answer just a guess?
if the answers are just guesses then the contradiction remains
do u believe this is a real contradiction?

I am afraid you are entirely off base here. Who “wrote” the Codex Sinaiticus? Who is its “author”? The Codex Sinaiticus is a COPY of the Greek New Testament, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, and some other, apocryphal Greek writings. No one “wrote” it or was its “author.” If I copy down John 14:9:

9. Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

Can I now say I “wrote” John 14:9, or claim to be its “author”? Of course not! All I did was copy it. The only author it has is the person who originally wrote it. A copyist is not an author. Read the rest of this entry »

I received the following questions:

How can the father and the son of the father be ONE God?

How can the sender and the one the was sent be ONE God?

How can 3 divine beings be One God?

How can 3 separate independent speakers be One God?

How can God and His son be One God?

if the father and jesus are One God this means the father did and said what jesus did and said because u say they are the same God,One God
this means the father also took a human flesh
u can not say the father did not take a human flesh because u say the father and jesus are one god the same god

I am happy to answer your questions here.

The reality of God is something that is not entirely comprehensible from the human standpoint. We cannot fully understand God because He is above us and greater than we. If we could fully comprehend God, that would mean He was small enough to be fully understandable by human intellect, which would not be very impressive for God, do you think? Read the rest of this entry »

I received the following question:

Have you studied life before the fall and flood? What was the purpose of the tree of life before the fall? I am questioning some of the interpretations I have grown up with on the topic of physical death versus spiritual death at the fall.

I would say that it is inherent in physical bodies that they can be damaged. That is, just because a body does not have sin and death working in it so that it would never wear out or grow old, does not mean that a sharp enough blow could not break bones, and so forth. The tree of life, then, would have promoted rapid, proper, and complete healing to any damage a human body might have taken.

As for spiritual death versus physical death, I think the LORD’s words in Genesis 2:17 provide a clue as to what the tree of life would have done.

17. but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (New King James Version)

The words “you shall surely die” are literally in Hebrew “dying you shall die.” (see Young’s Literal Translation, “dying thou dost die.”) The scholars will say that this is a Hebrew figure of speech expressing the idea of “surely die.” Yet I would argue otherwise. The phrase as it stands in the Hebrew seems to be completely accurate. What happened the day Adam ate the fruit is that it poisoned his body and started death working within him. Whereas until he ate from the tree, he had had only life working in him, from the moment he ate the fruit, death was working in him as well. In other words, from the time he ate the fruit, he was dying. Eventually, the activity of death would overpower the activity of life within him, and then he would die, death having come to its culmination within him. Read the rest of this entry »

I received the following comments:

In ______________ we had a small farm. One of my pet animals was a goat that followed me everywhere I went. Sometimes on my way to school, he would follow me to school and I had to bring it back and lock him in the corral. One day I returned from school and my goat was hanging down and his blood was being drained to make blood sausages.

The painful experience was that I looked at the goat as a pet while my grandparents looked at it as food. I agree with you, that some things have to die, to give us life for the cycle of life to continue.

It is hard thing when children make a pet of an animal and the parents fail to acknowledge that. I suppose if a child was in the habit of making a pet of everything, there would be nothing a farmer could do. But in the case of one animal being “special,” it would be nice if the parents could be sensitive to that. I suppose part of it would have to depend on how poor the parents are, and whether or not they can afford to be gracious to the child. Perhaps this is one advantage of the American habit of having animals that actually are “pets.” A child can be given one of these to pour love into, and hopefully not start to love an animal meant for eating. Pets can be great for teaching children good lessons, but they can also teach very bad lessons. Having a pet slaughtered for food seems like a better candidate for teaching bad lessons than good ones. The good lessons would hopefully include compassion for things weaker and subservient to you. The bad lessons could include a callousness towards subservient and weaker beings. Both these lessons could spill over into how one treats and interacts with humans, not just animals. I hope at least your parents didn’t make you eat any of your pet.

I received the following question:

In Acts 21:21 when Paul addressed the mob in Hebrew, I thought He was speaking in a Hebrew dialect we call Aramaic, which the Lord spoke to the crowds. Ancient Hebrew which the fathers spoke was long forgotten. But correct me if I am wrong.

I would tend to think that Paul was speaking Aramaic, not Hebrew, when he spoke to the crowd in Acts 21:21. Paul probably could have spoken Hebrew, but very few in the crowd would have known what he was saying, so their angry response to his comment about being sent to the Gentiles would be unlikely. It seems much more fitting to say that he was speaking in Aramaic. That, they all would have understood. The Bible probably calls it “Hebrew” since it WAS the language of the Hebrews at this time, actual Hebrew having died out and been forgotten.

I received the following question:

Hi Nathan, Just wanted to comment about Adam’s sin vs faith. It seems to me Adam showed faith in what God said-they both would die. You seemed to think Adam had a lack of faith in that God wouldn’t love Eve enough to help her/save her. Did God say this? Am I missing something? I see Adam as sinning and Eve as being deceived as you stated but not any lack of faith on Adam’s part.

Thanks for the great question! I think what you are missing here is that faith is not just internally agreeing that a thing is true, but rather it is taking God at His word and responding accordingly. Also, it is always believing the totality of what God has said, not just some part of it. It did Adam no good to believe that the fruit would kill him if he ate it if he didn’t also believe the command, “you shall not eat.” Adam did not believe this. He thought that the results would be better if he ate than if he believed God and did not eat. Yes, he believed that eating the fruit would kill him, but what good did believing that part do him when he did not believe the other part, about not eating? Read the rest of this entry »

I received the following question:

I have a quick question.  This morning in our work devotional we read 1 Kings 1 and we were wondering about verse 13 where it talks about Nathan reminding Bathsheba that David made an oath to her that her son Solomon would be heir to the throne and king after him.  Where do we see this promise in scripture?

We see this promise right here, as well as in verse 17, and nowhere else. This is clearly a promise that David made to Bathsheba at some undisclosed time between the birth of Solomon and this event, but we have no other record of it than right here. How Nathan found out about it is hard to say, though it may not have been a closely guarded secret. Clearly Nathan was in on the secret councils of David, and knew that this was David’s intention.

Sometimes the Bible will do this, letting us in on previous events only when they come up at a later time. This is a style of writing that is certainly not unique to the Bible. In fact, in real life we often find out about conversations between other people after the conversation is over. God does not need to repeat Himself by telling us an event happened, and then telling us how it was important later. Instead, He can combine telling us about it and how it was important, as He did here.

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