This is a very important subject! Millions of people believe that the soul is immortal and can never die. A pamphlet put out by "The American Tract Society" makes the following statements: "Man has a soul. The body dies. The soul never dies. The souls of the good will be happy in heaven. The souls of the wicked will be miserable in hell."
We believe we are safe in saying that this is the sincere belief of a vast majority of the religious world today. The great English clergyman, Robert South, said, "The soul is immortal. This is a foundation truth. Remove it, and religion falls to the ground."
The doctrine of the immortality of the soul is true or false. Christadelphians believe it is false. If souls are immortal they could never die, yet the Bible says "the soul that sinneth it shall die." (Ezekiel 18:4).
Please consider carefully the testimony of a few men on the subject under discussion. William E. Gladstone said, "When arguments are offered for the immortality of the soul, they are rarely derived from the Scripture." The historian Gibbon declares "The doctrine of the immortality of the soul is omitted in the law of Moses." (Vol. I, Pl 53O-1) A noted English theologian, J.N. Darby said, "I cannot show from scriptures that man is naturally immortal. I can only deduce it. The idea of the immortality of the soul has no source in the gospel; it comes, on the the contrary, from Platonists, and it is just when the coming of Christ was denied, or lost sight of, that the doctrine of the immortality of the soul came in to replace that of the resurrection." Note carefully that this person admits that the doctrine of the immortality of the soul was not originally taught in the church but that it came later.
In the 1940's the Archbishop or Canterbury and York, recently appointed a committee on Evangelism entitled, "Towards the Conversion of England." This report was published in June, 1945. Please note carefully what is said on page 33, "The idea of inherent indestructibility of the human soul (or consciousness) owes its origin to Greek, not to Bible sources. The central theme of the New Testament is eternal life, not for anybody and everybody, but for believers in Christ as risen from the dead."
This quotation shocked many who read it but Christadelphians are glad to quote the above for it is what we believe and teach. Tyndale, who translated the Bible into English said, "In putting departed souls in heaven, hell, and purgatory, you destroy the arguments wherewith Christ and Paul prove the resurrection, which we be warned to look for every hour. The true faith putteth the resurrection; the heathen philosophers, denying that (i.e. the resurrection) did put that souls did ever live. And the pope joineth the Spiritual doctrine of Christ, and the fleshy doctrine of philosophers together, things so contrary that they cannot agree, and because the fleshy minded pope consenteth unto the heathen doctrine, therefore, he corrupteth the Scripture to establish it........If the souls be in heaven, tell me why they be not in as good case as the angels be, and then what cause is there for the resurrection?"
If the soul is immortal and lives on and on after the body dies, where does it go? All will agree that it must go somewhere. Religionists have three locations for the soul after it has "shuffled off this mortal coil" as Shakespeare put it. Souls of good people go to heaven, souls of the wicked either go to hell or purgatory. People who think often ask sensible questions such as Tyndale asked asked. You have doubtless heard questions such as these: "If a good soul has been in heaven for 4,000 years and the resurrection time comes, the theory is, that soul and body are reunited, and the judgment takes place. What for? To determine the destiny of the soul that has enjoyed heaven for 4,000 years." The same argument applies to those who go to hell or purgatory. Let's suppose that some poor soul has been in hell for 4,000 years and is brought out to judgment to see whether it should be sent back to hell. Surely there is something radically wrong with such reasoning.
Martin Luther placed the doctrine of the immortality of the soul among "The monstrous fables that form part of the Roman dunghill of decretals."
Back to the Bible-
Since chaos reigns supreme in many parts of the world, nearly all denominations are sounding out the cry, "Back to the Bible." To this we heartily agree and we believe the Bible gives the correct answer to our question, "Does man possess an immortal soul?" Some will be shocked when they learn that the Bible is silent on this question. The words "immortal soul", "immortal spirit", "never dying spirit" are never found in the Holy Scriptures. "What!" says one, "Do you mean to tell me that the Bible does not speak of immortality?". Does not the bible use the word soul in many places? To the first question we can say "yes", the Bible speaks of immortality and in Romans 2:7 we read: "To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life." Why seek for something if you possess it by nature? In Genesis 2:7 we read, "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul." Man breathes by inhaling the breath of life, (Genesis 7:22) and are called "living creatures", (Genesis 2:19). If man is immortal because he breathes the breath of life, by the same process of reasoning animals are immortal. What then is the difference between man and the animals?
Man was placed under law, the animals were not. God gave Adam a law, saying, "Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat; But of the tree of knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." The penalty for breaking the law was death. Adam broke the law and God pronounced the sentence upon him, "Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife and hast eaten of the tree of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it; cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it; cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it; cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life. Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread till thou return to the ground; for out of it wast thou taken; for dust thou art, and unto dust shall thou return." (Genesis 3:17-19). The serpent, endowed with speech said, "Ye shall not surely die." If the soul is immortal the serpent told the truth. Adam was still in the garden after God pronounced the death sentence upon him. Then why was he driven out of the garden? When you can answer this question sculpturally, you will begin to see God's love and mercy. You'll never again believe in the immortality of the soul. Adam was still in the garden after the death sentence had been passed upon him. The ground had been cursed. He is a sinner, a transgressor of law; the tree of life is in full view. Now note carefully why Adam was driven out of the garden. Genesis 3:22,23- "And now lest he put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat and live forever; therefore, the Lord God sent him forth from the Garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken." If man is going to live forever anyway in heaven or hell, hasn't God made a failure in driving him way from the tree of life? God does not want immortal sinners. If people do not take advantage of the offer of eternal life through Christ, they perish. (See John 3:16). "The wages of sin is death." (Romans 6:23). The word "immortal" is found just once in the Bible, "Now unto the King Eternal immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory forever, amen." (I Timothy 1:17). The word "immortality" is found five times. In I Timothy 6:16 "Who (God) only hath immortality dwelling in light which no man can approach unto"- This refers to God. Man is not included. In II Timothy 1:10 we read of the "appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel."
It was in God's plan and purpose for Jesus to yield himself a willing sacrifice for sin. He was obedient unto death, and being faithful unto death, God raised him from the dead and "death hath no more dominion over him." (Romans 6:9) Jesus could now say, "I am He that liveth, and was dead and, behold I am alive forevermore." (Revelation 1:18) We see God's meaning of Bible immortality, a change of nature, being made alive forever more. In I Corinthians 15:53 we have two words "incorruption" and "immortality." They mean the same thing, then why two words? Those who die and go back to corruption must be resurrected before judgment, they must come out of their graves, those living and mortal, also stand with those who went back to corruption. Now, listen what Paul says: "For this corruptible must put on incorruption (i.e. immortality) and this mortal must put on immortality." The one who is brought out of the grave can say "O grave where is thy victory." The other can say, "O death where is thy sting?" both can say "But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
The word "soul" is used over 600 times in the Old Testament and over 100 times in the New Testament but not once do we find Moses and the prophets, Christ and his Apostles using the words "immortal souls." The Bible speaks of souls being born (Exodus 12:19), of souls being in the grave (Psalms 89:48), of souls being raised from the dead (Acts 2:31), or souls being slain with the sword (Joshua 10:28-30), of souls having blood (Jeremiah 2:34) and man other similar expressions but do we ever read of an immortal soul? No!
God in his love an mercy has offered us immortality through Jesus Christ and if we refuse this gift of God, eternal life, we perish. Let us "fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life;" (I Timothy 6:12) for in so doing we are following the admonition of Paul and rejecting the Platonic doctrine of the immortality of the soul. People who think and rightly divide the word of truth will tell you that souls mentioned in the Bible cannot be immortal. Consider carefully: "My soul chooseth strangling and death rather than life." (Job 7:15). "To deliver their souls from death, and keep them alive in famine." (Psalms 33:19). "He spared not their soul from death." (Psalms 78:50) "None can keep alive his own soul." (Psalm 22:29). "Thy soul longeth to eat flesh." (Deuteronomy 12:20). "Every living soul dies in the sea" (Revelation 16:3), "shall save a soul from death." (James 5:20).
Christ is our example of the future life. He is the "first-fruits of them that sleep." (I Corinthians 15:20). The Platonic immortal souls is supposed to be invisible, and intangible. The immortality manifested in Christ is that of a changed body, one alive forevermore (Revelation 1:18). One who was seen as he ascended to heaven (Acts 1:11). O that we may so live that our mortal bodies may be fashioned like unto His glorious body when he Comes to make up his jewels.