MONEY, MONEY, MONEY
We may recall that Luke has been referred to as the gospel of womanhood (see notes at the commencement of chapter 8). There are at least a dozen women who only appear in Lukes account. This chapter, however, records two separate narratives about four men that are not recorded in the other gospel accounts. Note that these two incidents took place for the scripture speaks of a certain man in both verses 1 and 19. Parables they may be but these men actually existed and we are even given the name of one man. Sandwiched between these events is a small section describing the derision of the Pharisees directed against the Lord Jesus and His response.
There is little question that the parable of the unjust steward in Luke 16.1-13 is one of the most difficult to interpret of all the Lord Jesus' parables. An unjust steward appears to be commended for dishonest behaviour and made an example for the Saviours disciples. On the face of it he squandered his masters goods and then diddled him out of goods that were due to him. The commendation is not for dishonesty but for shrewdness. Like the unjust steward we are encouraged to show practical wisdom. This is not to be in a devious way as with the steward but in an honest and trustworthy way so that being trusted in small things we may become trustworthy in larger matters.
The steward never owned the property. He was its manager, its steward on behalf of the owner. The word translated steward is the Greek word oikonmos and it is easy to see the connection with our word economy. The word comes from two root words oikos meaning house and nemό meaning to arrange. So the man was a house steward. He looked after the house and its goods. Money, together with all that we 'own' is only our property for the time being. It entrusted to our care to use wisely and well. Eventually all that we have amassed down here will be passed on to another but in the meantime how do we manage the goods that have been placed in our trust? If we cannot be trusted in material things then why should we be trusted with true riches? If we have been unfaithful in that which belongs to another then why do we think that we will be given anything to manage for ourselves? We are not to become servants of mammon but to be faithful stewards in the matter of mammon. There is a line between the management of money and the desire for it so that we become subservient to it and it becomes our master.
The few verses running from verse 14-18 arise out of this first parable that was directed to the disciples. The parable had given a warning to those identified with Him of the dangers of covetousness.
The second and final parable in the chapter is addressed to the Pharisees. There is no real break from verse 18 and there is no text to describe to whom it was that the Lord Jesus spoke. It must be assumed then that the Pharisees were still the listeners.
Verses 1-13 Mammon
16 And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods.
2 And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward.
3 Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed.
4 I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.
5 So he called every one of his lord's debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord?
6 And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty.
7 Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore.
8 And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.
9 And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.
10 He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.
11 If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?
12 And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?
13 No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
The Parable of the Unjust Steward or Shrewd Manager
The unjust steward did what the prodigal son had done (Luke 15.13) in that he wasted his masters goods & had nothing to show for it. When the owner was informed he commanded the steward to give an account of stewardship an exact statement of the actual condition of that with which he was entrusted. The object was to expose clearly the extent of his wastefulness and disorder into which the steward had brought the business and to enable a successor to take up his work. The owner did not suspect the steward of conscious dishonesty but thought he had merely been irresponsible and extravagant in his management. So he did not arrest and punish him but only informed him that he could not be his steward.
The waster, who had been spoiled by a life of plenty and ease, saw no chance of accepting a strenuous or humiliating work to make a living (I cannot dig, to beg I am ashamed), however, he had enough cunning and adroitness to devise a plan to look after his own interests in an easy (although a dishonest and underhand) manner.
So he sent for those persons who had formerly, when he was a steward, raised loans or bought goods on credit in the business of his master. He spoke to them one by one, separately, and let them destroy their written acknowledgement of debt and draw up and sign new ones in which the amounts owed by them was considerably diminished. He thereby robbed his master deliberately and disgracefully, but gained the favour of the debtors whose load of debt had been lightened by him.
The owner came to know how the dishonest steward had set about providing for his own future by treating the debtors in such a manner that they would, after his dismissal, receive and maintain him in their homes. As the shrewd steward had spoken to the debtors one by one and separately and had destroyed the old acknowledgement of debt, the master had not the necessary proofs or witness that could enable him to take legal steps against him. All that he could do, therefore, was to acknowledge that he had acted very cleverly. He did not praise his unjust and fraudulent act as such, but the worldly wisdom with which he had acted towards the debtors.
The Saviour did not continue the parable so as to relate as to what happened next. It was His object (as appears from the last words of verse 8) to use the parable to call attention to the wise and diplomatic manner in which worldlings generally act towards their fellow men in order to achieve their own selfish aims. In contrast with the diplomatic, clever conduct of such people, those who are members of the kingdom of light too often act unwisely and undiplomatically towards others. Instead of behaving in such a manner that they bind others to themselves, they act so that people are un-necessarily repulsed like the Pharisees who by their attitude of self-righteousness and self-exaltation repelled publicans and sinners instead of attracting them and making them willing to receive their teachings.
The Saviour Himself in verse 8 calls the dishonest steward unjust, and as He unconditionally condemned throughout, in word and act, every suggestion of fraud, there was no danger that His hearers interpreted His words as though He was recommending dishonest methods. Thus it is totally unjustifiable to launch attacks against the Saviours ethical standards and against the NT on the basis of this parable.
In the parable there was a reference to material possessions (not merely to money), and as a result the Saviour adds words as an express command in connection with the right use of material things (summarised under the metaphor of the mammon of unrighteousness). He calls worldly possessions the mammon of unrighteousness, because injustice is so often involved in the accumulation and use of earthly possessions but the Saviour nowhere teaches that material possessions as such are sinful and unclean. It is mens sinful attitude and conduct in connection with the worldly goods (money in particular) that make things a curse. While in general in the world earthly possession are rightly designated as the mammon of unrighteousness, it must be quite different in the case of His followers. They must be so free from the low, selfish and covetous motives that dominated the unjust steward of the parables that they will use the worldly goods entrusted to them by the Father in a manner that will bring blessing to others and be conducive to their own eternal welfare. Especially does it mean that they should be so free from avarice and so inspired by real unselfish love that, as God leads them, they will whole heartedly share their material possessions with persons who need them. In this way they will gain for themselves imperishable treasure in heaven.
In the hereafter those who were helped by them in life by the right use they made of their worldly goods will, as it were, welcome them and testify in their favour. A sharp contrast is formed between this future welcoming of the faithful in the eternal dwellings where they will be with God, and the fate of the unjust steward who (suffering under the weight of a guilty conscience) would be received in the homes of fellow-sinners, and this only for a short time as long as his benefactors remained well disposed towards him and he remained alive.
A mans character does not depend on the quantity of goods entrusted to him but on the real disposition of his heart. If a person is unfaithful or unjust in the small things of life then he is essentially false and therefore also unfaithful in the great things of life. Consequently, if one is unfaithful in the acquisition and use of worldly goods, how can a responsible task in connection with the eternal and true riches (the things of the highest value) be entrusted to him? Whosoever is unfaithful and false in ordinary life, although he may pose as one who is extremely pious, is also false and unfaithful spiritually, and so no spiritual gifts and blessings can be entrusted to him.
Verse 12 Everything that a man possesses on earth (talents, privileges, money, etc.) belongs primarily to the Creator, who lends it so liberally in order that it may be a blessing to man himself and to his fellow-men and that it should be used to the honour of God. If anyone is unfaithful in connection with these borrowed goods how can he expect to receive Gods eternal riches?
Verse 13 In order to be able to serve and love God truly, man must be free from the servility accompanying avarice and attachment to material possessions. For although worldlings may labour under the delusion that they are free and independent, everyone who makes the accumulation and enjoyment of earthly goods the main object of life is under the dominating power thereof and is every day performing servile labour for Mammon. We may have money but money becomes a danger to us only when we become its slaves.
Do we use our worldly possessions in such a manner that there will be persons in eternity who will be glad to receive us? Or will there be numbers who will point accusing fingers at us because we neglected or injured them through our unfaithful conduct in connection with the earthly goods entrusted to us?
Verses 14-31 Beware of self sufficiency
14 And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him.
15 And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.
16 The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.
17 And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.
18 Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.
19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:
20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,
21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.
27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house:
28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.
30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.
31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
While the truth has to be spoken what has to be said from verse 14 must be said with sensitivity and sensibility for we must remember that there are young ones here when we come to the final parable and many older ones have been affected by the matter of divorce within their wider family circles.
The few verses running from verse 14-18 arise out of this first parable that was directed to the disciples. The parable had given a warning to those identified with Him of the dangers of covetousness. The word for covetous (philarguros)there means lovers of silver. The Pharisees had heard Him speak. They were with the disciples according to Luke 15.2. They were eavesdropping in effect. This was not intended for them but it had touched a raw nerve as they were clearly covetous and, consequently, they derided Him. Perhaps they thought that His poverty precluded Him from speaking as He did of riches. It would have been far better for them had they not got involved but just walked away. They saw to it that He was derided. The word is ekmuktrizό and it means that they turned their noses up at Him. Muktr is the word for nose. Muktrizό means to mock with the prefix ek intensifying the word. The same word is used in 23.35, And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of Godand is only translated as deride in these two places. What impertinence. They should have bowed the knee not turned up their noses. There was a message given to another group of people and their consciences were stirred as they realised that they were covetous. It is often the case that when our sin is brought to our attention (in this case by being somewhat nosey) then we go on the offensive.
All this posturing only served to bring out a greater condemnation from the Saviour that was directed to the Pharisees and is seen in the few verses that both precede and include the second parable in the chapter. The Pharisees are accused of justification before men as none, Pharisee or non-Pharisee, can justify themselves before God. It was a self-justification in which they delighted. A man can only justify himself before a tribunal composed of those who judge by appearance for that is all that they can do. Man looketh upon the outward appearance but the Lord looketh upon the heart is not a derogatory statement about man. It is a fact of life. That is all that we can go on. We can only work on the external and cannot read minds and hearts. The word used for outward appearance means eyes. Man looks on a persons eyes of necessity. The Lord looks upon the heart. Man cannot search the heart. God is the only one who can justify.
He followed this up by stating the permanence of the law. The law and the prophets were there until John (making him the last of the prophets). Since John (and he had been beheaded sometime earlier) the kingdom of God had been preached by the Lord Jesus and there were many storming into it. The RV has entereth violently. The scripture says that every man was pressing into it. The reputation of the Pharisees may wither and decay, but not one tittle of the law shall fail. The word tittle means a little horn (keras means horn and the word is keraia) and it denotes the small stroke distinguishing one Hebrew letter from another.
They were covetous and being covetous did not just mean desire for money (though as we have seen this was the true meaning of the word that was used) but also the desire for that which was out of bounds according to a law that preceded the law of Moses and that is referred to at the beginning of Romans 7 in relation to the woman in a marriage. The marriage bond is only severed by death. There is no exemption clause given in Luke 16 on purpose. It is death and death alone that releases a person from the marriage bond notwithstanding what is said by the Lord Jesus in Matthew 5, 19 and Mark 10. Divorce was never in Gods mind for His creatures (not just Jews and not just Christians) and divorce and remarriage while the partner is still alive is a grave sin. The sad thing was that the Pharisees wanted to circumvent this law as shown in both Matthew and Marks accounts of what was another occasion. The Lord Jesus knew of the liberal attitude that existed even way back then and espoused by some Pharisees. There is no question raised by Pharisees here only the condemnation by the Lord Jesus of those, and He had Pharisees in His mind who had turned their noses up at His mention of the dangers of mammon, who had more than just money that they wanted to covet. They had no business looking elsewhere.
The onus is definitely upon men throughout this chapter and even in this verse but it applies equally to women in relation to the marriage bond. What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. 10 years, 20 years, thirty years married does not mean immunity from these things for we are seeing that this thing which used to be the domain of the rich, famous and film star touching all walks of life. The wise man said, Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well. A mans wife is his greatest treasure this side of eternity and, sadly, it is only when the well runs dry (using the analogy in Proverbs 5 i.e. his wife passes away) that many realise how much they miss their wives. We must not take our wives for granted. We must not take each other for granted. Greed for money is dangerous but, furthermore, we are not to covet in this respect. We are to grow old together and are to rejoice in the wives of our youth. We are still quoting the wise man, Be thou ravished always with her love.
Now to the parable remembering that there is no indication that the Lord Jesus was speaking to anyone other than Pharisees. He used this parable as an answer to their upturned-nose attitude towards Him. The picture is powerful. There was a certain rich man who is unnamed. He was clothed in fine linen and purple. He fared sumptuously is a colourful phrase that lets us know that this man lived in luxury. He was well dressed and he ate good food. He could as he was rich. There is no mention of how this mans wealth came to him. It may well have been that he inherited money. There is no sin in that. In fact sin is not mentioned here at all. Many sordid practices that are not there are read into Luke 17.27, They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all by the over zealous preacher. The important truth that the Lord Jesus highlighted in Luke 17 was that people continued with life regardless of God. The same is true here. There is no mention of fraudulent behaviour or any kind of sin whereby the mans wealth was obtained and it must not be read into the text. The man was wealthy and that is all we need to know. It is the danger of riches per se. As far as we are told the attitude that took this man to hell was that he had a disregard for God and the things of God in his life. He thought that mammon was all that he needed but he forgot to take care of the afterlife. He lived life to the full but he neglected to concern himself with what lay beyond life. We can live without God but woe betides us if we try to die without Him. It was not neglect of others, bad though that was, that took this man to the bad place but neglect of God.
We know that there was another man and we are given his name and we are told that the rich man knew his name (verse 24). Was he in the same family? We are not told. He could have been. That could have been the reason for his knowing his name. Perhaps he was conscious of Lazarus at his gate in life and he chose to ignore his needs. This seems probable. There is no condemnation given, however, that confirms this. It just appears that he had no pity on the poor man. There were those who laid him, or, as the word (ἐβέβλητο) may mean, cast him down at the rich man's gate. There is, likewise, no condemnation of these people that brought their friend or, perhaps, family member and laid him at the entrance to the rich mans house. Perhaps they had means, not maybe as much as the rich mans, but means enough to save this man from having to beg for crumbs. They may not have had the wherewithal to help as far as the sores were concerned but they may at least have had the means to feed his belly.
The point here, and we suppose it churlish to assuage the rich mans guilt by saying that his neglect only applied to him, was that there was opportunity. The opportunity was plain to see. He had the means to improve this mans quality of life but he did not possess the motive to do so. Society separates between rich and poor and we that have means often have opportunity, dare we say it, thrown upon us. The poor we have with us always. Presumably the rich man was hard-hearted. Luxurious living had no doubt made him so. God has not left us with any excuse for hard-heartedness. He brings the world's needs to our very door.
Pitiful Lazarus was on the pitiless rich mans doorstep but it was the dogs that took more interest in him than any caring human being. We leave that point there but there is much to say on it. By the way we are not told that Lazarus was carried there daily. As far as we read there is only one occasion that he was laid at the rich mans gate. It may be argued that the implication of the luxurious daily living and the fact that Lazarus was a beggar is that he was at the rich mans gate day in day out but it would be hard to argue that from the KJV text. He had a desire to eat the crumbs that fell from the rich mans table. Presumably (again) it was someone other than the rich man, a servant perhaps, who would have been responsible for bringing any such crumbs of comfort to Lazarus.
The day came when Lazarus died. There is no mention of his burial. He was carried by the angels into Abrahams bosom. What is Abrahams bosom? Firstly we must state that we only have these scriptures to go on. It is a place of rest and contentment, paradise if we like, within hades, the place of departed souls. This is not the permanent condition of the soul as Revelation 20.13 tells us that death and hell (hades) are to give up the dead which are in them. It would appear that the righteous occupy an abode or compartment of their own which was distinctly separated by a chasm from the abode or compartment to which the souls of the wicked are consigned. We must remember that this is prior to the work on the cross and that believers of this age go to be with Christ which is far better rather than living in this world. We do not believe that Christians are carried by angels into their heavenly abode.
The rich man also died. It does not say that this was at the same time as the beggar. The timing does not matter for there is no annihilation and the scripture is clear that this mans torment was continuous. The scripture lets us know that he was buried. The implication is that he thought that this was the end. As far as we can see he had lived life with no thought of an afterlife, an eternity to face. How dangerous it is to live like that. Good living is a most dangerous habit when it constitutes any man's raison dtre.
We are informed of his destination after death it was hell (hades). In life he had the best and the beggar the worst; in the afterlife the rich man had torment and the beggar had blessings untold. Their states were reversed. We are not told but there must have been a time in life when the beggar placed his trust and confidence in his God for his souls salvation. We are given his name which means God is my helper and we take it that he lived up to his name.
We are told that the rich man could see. He could also talk (though the word is cried). He could feel pain. He could recognise (how did he recognise Abraham when he had been born 2000 BC?). He could remember and here is a difficult one he had a tongue just as Lazarus had a finger. Surely that was buried when his body was buried? His soul must have been unclothed. As yet he was not reunited with his body but he could see and do all these other things. There is no such thing as soul sleep. Soul sleep is a belief that after a person dies, his/her soul sleeps until the resurrection and final judgment. The concept of soul sleep is not biblical according to passages like Luke 16.19-31. Sleep can only apply to the body.
It has been very properly observed that in Abraham we have a rich man in blessedness, in contrast to another rich man in torment. Abraham believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness. It was faith in the God who could justify that secured his place of blessing. The rich man of Luke 16 only ever experienced earthly and temporal blessings.
There is a great gulf fixed. None can pass from the place of blessedness to the place of torment nor would they want to. The reverse is also true in that none can pass from the place of torment to the place of rest and security though they undoubtedly would like to. The gulf is fixed. There is no chance to retrace our footsteps on the other side. We pass from time into eternity and we pass to a destination in which we will abide, in one state or another, for all eternity.
Verse 27 the rich man realised that it was futile to try to change his own eternal condition and position. It is far too late to try to retrace our footsteps in eternity. Five minutes after we die is too late to get right with God.
I pray thee, father (so he was a Jew), that thou wouldest send him (that is Lazarus) to my father's house. It is far too late to have concern for others in eternity. He was concerned for his five brothers. He did not want them in the place where he found himself. He did not want them suffering torment nor this extra torment of not being able to warn the living. We take it that is the experience of all who pass out from time into a lost eternity. God lifts the lid on eternal suffering to show that it is something to be avoided at all costs.
The answer is unequivocal. Moses and the prophets testify to them. Let them hear these witnesses. We take it that Moses and the prophets did not so much focus on the perils of a lost eternity but on presentation of the one who came to deliver from eternal judgment even the Lord Jesus.
It was futile to ask for any to go back into time from the eternal realm for that was the request. He did not ask that this person be himself Lazarus would be able to bring the message that he wanted conveyed to his brothers. He thought it far better to receive a messenger from the place of bliss than the place of torment. This was not to be either. They might not have realised it but each person that wants to be saved has to do so that what takes place in the here and now determines where we will spend the there and then. There were those who rose from the dead in the Saviours time not just one person but three people. Did the raising of the dead change the way that they felt about Him for salvation can only come when we realise who He is? It is in Johns account that we read of the raising of another Lazarus. Many of the Jews believed that day but some went their ways to the Pharisees. No sooner had this been done than a council was convened and the upshot was that from that day forth they took counsel together for to put Him to death resulting in the Lord Jesus no longer being able to walk openly among the Jews.
God has gone to great pains to reveal the torment of a lost eternity. We talk of being saved. While it is conceded that salvation is to something that is better, we focus more on being saved from something that is worse even the place called hell. We are happy to talk of heaven but is it conceivable to have a heaven without a hell? To what does salvation refer?
Many years ago someone had been reading and hearing words like these and was so concerned that he wrote a letter to a national newspaper in which he condemned the very mention of the word hell. He argued that these words belonged to a bygone age. He supposed that these words were for the dark ages, for the medieval times, For Dante and Dore, were outdated and that we were educated enough to know that they were barbaric and had no place in modern society. He finished his letter with one sentence comprising two words and a question mark. Why hell? A believer saw this lengthy letter and replied,
Dear Mr. X,
This is the point. If there is no hell there was no need for Calvary. The Lord Jesus may have told these words to Pharisees whose attitude to money affected their attitude towards Him. Silver lovers became scoffers and they had to be reminded of where their silver loving and their scoffing would end. There is a hell. It is not that the Lord Jesus wants folks to go to that place else He would not have come from heaven to give warning against going to such a place. He did, however, not just come from heaven to give warnings such as these (thank God He did for what sort of god would punish us without giving us warning that punishment would take place?) but to pay the price for sin that enables sinners to be given the opportunity to be free from the condemnation that will take them to a lost eternity.
A few extra thoughts on body, soul and spirit
Firstly let us establish that man is made up of three parts - body, soul and spirit according to 1 Thessalonians 5.23. Writing to believers the apostle Paul said, And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. There are many who see no distinction between soul and spirit. Hebrews 4 confirms the truth of I Thessalonians 5 that there is a distinction, For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
The fact that I am made up of three parts sets me in contrast to the animal creation. They only consist of two parts - body and soul. Where is the scripture for that? Well, it is the principles involved throughout the scripture to which we can refer. An animal has no God consciousness. In fact when men's consciences are hardened and they give themselves over to lasciviousness etc., God says that they exist as natural brute beasts. What does He mean? He means that men act as animals with no thought of God. We believe it is for this reason that the Christian can never believe in evolution. A God consciousness is not developed over a period of time. It is something that is created.
A fellow worker was discussing the things of God. He was an atheist or so he claimed and of course an evolutionist. Christianity was merely a mental crutch and although he admitted that in some ways some animals had superior intelligence to humans, he could not explain why no animal had yet dreamed up a god as he supposed humans had done, and sacrificed upon an altar to that which was unseen. There is a distinction between the animal creation and humans. An animal may fear dying but he never, like humans fears what comes after death. These are important principles to establish. We are told something at the beginning of Genesis that is true of humans but is not said of the animal creation. God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul.
Job 32 puts it this way, There is a spirit in man and the breath of the Almighty giveth them understanding. Why put it in that terminology? He says it that way, we believe, to place men in contradistinction to animals. Man has a God consciousness, a spirit but the animals have not.
Then what is the function of each? The body, whether of an animal or human, links it with what is seen, what is in the world around. Thus it uses its senses to touch the things that are seen, to see them, to hear them, and so on. The body links me with the seen and the temporal. But what of the soul? We believe that to be the real me, the ego, that which drives my emotions, feelings desires. An animal has all these things. It has a personality, that is, something which it possesses which is distinct from the rest of its kind. They, too, have their own personalities. In the case of the animal, his feelings and desires can only be expressed through one channel and there is his body he can only communicate and respond to that which is seen.
The human being has another faculty. He is able to respond to God and to communicate with God. That is, his emotions, feelings, his desires, he himself can be in contact not only with that which is seen but that which is unseen. He not only can express himself through that which is the temporal but through that which is eternal as well. He does so through his spirit. The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord. It is through the spirit that we are able, that we have the potential to receive light and illumination from God. Thus although an animal is a creature of time alone, man is a creature of time and eternity.
Does every man get in contact with God? Or perhaps we should ask, Can any man get in contact with God? The potential is thereto do so. Of course we must go back to first principles and see Adam in the garden. He could commune with God. He could appreciate things around him. Sin entered in and as God said at that time man became dead to God. That meant he became spiritually dead. There was no communion with God. How is communion with God restored? It is only as that spirit is born again or born from above. It is dead in trespasses and sins and it needs to be quickened and made alive. That's why the New Testament talks of regeneration. Why? Were it to speak of rejuvenation it would refer to the bolstering up of the life that already existed. Regeneration means giving the similar life as was given originally but has since been terminated. To restore men to communion with God needed regeneration for God now gives a new life that is eternal and supersedes the life that Adam forfeited in the garden. This new life is a life which means that what Adam enjoyed in the garden is restored; communion is restored with God. And yet that life that is given on new birth also lasts for eternity not merely on earth but also in the heavenly glory. The dead spirit needs to be reborn before I can get in contact with God.
It is the soul that is spoken of in scripture as being saved or redeemed so we must consider the important subject of what happens when we die. We have to go back to the Lord Jesus to see what happened to Him. Some say, You can't do that. He was perfect. We know that this is true and in some ways there are differences. Number one - He never needed to die and we cannot avoid it. Number 2 - His body saw no corruption because of its perfection. I Corinthians 15 teaches us that we have to go back to the principle of what happened to Christ and His resurrection to see what will happen to our bodies.
When Christ died upon the cross it was not by natural means that He laid down His life for the sheep. He had power to lay it down and He had power to take it again. We have no such power for Ecclesiastes 8 says, No man hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit neither hath he power in the day of his death. There was only one who did and that was the Saviour. When we look at the cross we note that He said, Into thy hands I commend my spirit. The Saviour commended it, gave up the ghost or the spirit. Stephen at best could only ask God to receive it. When I turn to Acts 7 I note that Stephen says, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. So we see that His spirit went to be with the Father.
Where did His soul go? Acts 2, Thou wilt not leave my soul in hades neither will thou suffer thine holy one to see corruption. His soul went down into death. He never slept. It was very much alive for He said to the thief, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise. When it uses the term hades in Acts 2 it gives a slightly wrong impression. He went into the realm of death but we do not believe that He went down to the flames. We believe that His soul went to the Garden of God.
But what of His body? That is easy to understand. It went into the heart of the earth after it was dead. So in summary - His spirit was with the Father; His soul was in Hades; His body was in the earth.
What happened at resurrection? It was the same body, the same spirit, the same soul that were reunited. Thus in body, soul and spirit He rose from the dead a tripartite being. There is one difference between before death and after He was raised from the dead. The body in which He died was the same as the one in which He rose but it was altered, it was changed. The life principle governing the body before death was blood. The life principle governing the body after His resurrection was eternal for He lives in the power of endless life. It was not an extended life as in the case of Lazarus. An extended life would've depended upon the natural blood system. The body is changed to a spiritual body. That is the principle in I Corinthians 15 with us. We have a natural body but it will be changed whether we sleep (that is we die) or not. When we die our spirits go to be with the Father. We believe that all spirits of men return back to the God who gave them according to Ecclesiastes 12.7. When the body goes to the dust my soul goes to be with Christ which is far better. My body goes into the ground. On resurrection, though, my body is brought to life and reunited with my soul and spirit as in the case of the Saviour. What is more just as He had a spiritual, glorified body, our bodies will be changed to the life principle that governs His. We will have a changed, glorified body and no longer a body of humiliation and suffering. Well have the same capabilities of living forever as a glorified man as He has and well live in the power of an endless life.
What of the unbeliever? I read nothing of his spirit being given back to him when he is raised at the last day. Revelation 20 makes me to believe along with the expression that the Lord Jesus uses, Fear not him that is able to destroy the body but cannot destroy the soul but fear rather him that is able to destroy both body and soul in hell that it is the soul and body of the unbeliever that is totally punished. Although man will have a memory in hell (Luke 16.25) we do not believe that he will have a God consciousness. He will have no spirit, no capacity for getting in touch with God. There will be no opportunity given then for a man to contact God.
What of the animals when they die? There are merely creatures of time and not of eternity as well. They will die and will neither go to heaven or hell are they not fitted for living eternally.