Dividing Soul and Spirit

“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (Heb. 4:12,13) NKJV).

Believer’s Bible Commentary observes that “[These] two verses contain a solemn warning that unbelief never goes undetected. It is detected first by the word of God. (The term used here for word is logos, the familiar word used by John in the prologue to his Gospel. However, this verse refers, not to the Living Word, Jesus, but to the written word, the Bible.) This word of God is:

  • living—constantly and actively alive.
  • powerful—energizing.
  • cutting—sharper than any two-edged sword.
  • dividing—piercing the soul and spirit, the two invisible, nonmaterial parts of man. Piercing the joints and marrow, the joints permitting the outward movements and the marrow being the hidden but vital life of the bones.
  • discerning—discriminating and judging with regard to the thoughts and intents of the heart. It is the word that judges us, not we who judge the word.”

[1]  Believer’s Bible Commentary by William MacDonald (red and bold font added)

3 D Sanctification

A devotional reading from Andrew Murray (1828-1917)

This highly respected church leader and author takes the text literally; man is spirit, soul and body.

“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify[you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.” 1 These. 5:23,24

WHAT a promise! One would expect to see all God’s children clinging to it, claiming its fulfilment. Alas, unbelief does not know what to think of it, and but few count it their treasure and joy.

Just listen. God, the God of peace—the peace He made by the blood of the cross, the peace that passes all understanding, keeping our hearts and thoughts in Christ Jesus—none other but Himself can and will do it. This God of peace Himself promises to sanctify us, to sanctity us wholly, in Christ our sanctification, in the sanctification of the Spirit. It is God who is doing the work. It is in close, personal fellowship with God Himself that we become holy.

Ought not each of us to rejoice with exceeding joy at the prospect? But it is as if the promise is too great, and so it is repeated and amplified. May your spirit—the inmost part of our being, created for fellowship with God—and your soul, the seat of the life and all its powers—and body, through which sin entered, in which sin proved its power even unto death, but which has been redeemed in Christ: spirit, soul, and body be preserved entire, without blame, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (emphasis added)

To prevent the possibility of any misconception, as if it is too great to be literally true, the words are added: “Faithful is He that calls you, Who will also do it.” Yes, He has said: “I the Lord have spoken it; and I, in Christ and through the Holy Spirit, will do it.” All that He asks is that we shall come and abide in close fellowship with Himself every day. As the heat of the sun shines on the body and warms it, the fire of His holiness will burn in us, and make us holy. Child of God, beware of unbelief. It dishonors God, it robs your soul of its heritage. Take refuge in the word: “Faithful is He that calls you, Who will also do it.” …Yes, He will do it; and He will give me grace so to abide in His nearness that I can ever be under the cover of His perfect peace, and of the holiness which He alone can give. 0 my soul, He will do it.

All things are possible to him that believes.” I believe, Lord; help my unbelief.” [1]


[1] An allusion to Mark 9:24

Biblical translation and spelling updated. From God’s Best Secrets, (Zondervan), April 26th reading.

Lifestyle of Worship

Dr. Brandon Park has developed a ten week discipleship curriculum with an app and optional workbook known as LifeCoach Discipleship. The series features five lessons per week with an accompanying brief video. http://ilifecoach.org/

On Day One of week five, the author recognizes man as spirit, soul and body as illustrated with this graphic:

The model of man and its implications for worship is explained on pages 114-118 in the workbook. The following is the video for this day:

How Can I Live a Lifestyle of Worship?

A Eulogy for Spurgeon

In 1892, the “Prince of “Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, died at age 57. At his funeral, 100,000 people filed past his coffin during to pay their respects and give thanks for his life and ministry at Metropolitan Tabernacle in London. Pastor Archibald Brown said these words at the graveside service:

“…Champion of God, thy battle long and nobly fought is over. The sword which clave to thy hand has dropped at last [2 Sam. 23:10]; the palm branch takes its place. No longer does the helmet press thy brow, or weary with its surging thoughts of battle; the victor’s wreath from the Great Commander’s hand has already proved the full reward. Here for a little while shall rest thy precious dust. Then shall thy Well-Beloved come, and at His voice thou shalt spring from thy couch on earth fashioned like unto His Body in glory [Phil 3:20,21]. Then spirit, soul and body shall magnify the Lord’s redemption…We praise God for thee, and by the blood of the everlasting covenant, hope and expect to praise God with thee. Amen.”

Note how Spurgeon was addressed as singular (personhood), as separate from his mortal body (dichotomy), yet with three distinguishable parts–“spirit, soul and body” (1 Thess. 5:23). This is another example of holistic trichotomy.

The Spiritual Man

The Spiritual Man is an extensive study of Christ-centered living written by Watchman Nee . “Watchman Nee (1903–1972) was a noted Chinese Bible teacher and Christian leader. He began his preaching ministry while still a university student. From 1923 to 1950 Nee founded 200 churches. Starting as small groups meeting in rented houses, these self-supporting congregations became strong spiritually and grew rapidly, continuing to develop after China’s Cultural Revolution. Nee was arrested on false charges in 1952 and found guilty; he was imprisoned until his death in 1972.” – CLCpublications.org, http://www.watchmannee.org
On online edition includes this chapter which deals explicitly with the nature of man:

SECTION ONE, CHAPTER ONE
AN INTRODUCTION CONCERNING THE SPIRIT, THE SOUL, AND THE BODY

“Most men today consider man as being made up of two parts: the soul and the body. The soul is the invisible part, the psychological part within man, and the body is the visible part, the outward form of man. This is man’s fallen concept. Although there is some ground to it, it is not accurate. Outside of God’s revelation, no ideas in this world are reliable. It is, of course, true that the body is the outward shell of man. But the Bible never mixes the soul with the spirit or considers the two as the same thing. In addition to being different terms, the soul and the spirit are actually two different substances; they are not the same. The Word of God has not divided man into two parts, the soul and the body. Rather, it has divided man into three parts: the spirit, the soul, and the body. First Thessalonians 5:23 says, ‘The God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly, and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete.'”

continue reading…

In another blog, I reaffirm that Nee was an orthodox evangelical
https://elcmatters.org/2018/12/14/watchman-nee-an-orthodox-evangelical/

 

Life Principles

Dr. Charles Stanley’s preaching and books continue to minister abundant life in Christ to countless viewers, listeners and readers. He teaches from a perspective of the new covenant, and the believer’s union with Christ. Stanley’s messages clarify biblical applications through the spirit/soul/body understanding of man. This is a note on 1 Thessalonians 5:23 in his Life Principles Bible.


Life Lessons

1 Thess. 5:23May the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Every person is composed of a spirit (the innermost part), a soul (the inner man), and the body (the outer component). Unfortunately, unsaved people cannot relate to God through any of these aspects because they are sinful and limited. Although they may have some general knowledge about the Lord, they cannot fellowship with Him. So Jesus died to save every part of us—so that we can know Him fully, even as we are fully known (1 Cor. 13:12).

Spirit, Soul and Body: Illustrated

At a popular level, Andrew Womack has been teaching on the benefits of discerning man as spirit, soul and body. His ministry has produced a DVD in which lessons are illustrated by animated graphics, and highlighted Scripture with his vocal teaching. The resources is described this way:

“Have you ever asked yourself what changed when you were ‘born again’? You look in the mirror and see the same reflection – your body hasn’t changed. You find yourself acting the same and yielding to those same old temptations – that didn’t seem to change either. So you wonder, Has anything really changed? The correct answer to that question is foundational for receiving from God. If you lack this basic understanding, you’ll forever ask yourself doubt-filled questions like: ‘How could God love somebody like me?’ and ‘How can I possibly expect to receive anything from the Lord? I don’t deserve it, I’m not good enough!’ Spirit, Soul and Body will help you to eliminate those and other doubt-filled questions that destroy your faith. This message has been made into a series of special illustrated videos that make it easier to understand than ever before!”

Although he places the conscience in the soul (instead of being essentially a spiritual faculty) and makes applications on guaranteed physical healing, the simplicity and visual animations have been helping many find more clarity and freedom.

Experiencing Jesus

John VanGelderen of Revival Focus Ministries just published an excellent small volume titled,  Experiencing Jesus. He accurately clarifies the soul/spirit distinction in explaining God’s provision for sanctification by faith. “Would you like to go from being regularly defeated and surprised by occasional victory to being regularly victorious and surprised by a rare defeat? Discover the possibility of experiencing Jesus–the reality of the Christ life, the Spirit-filled life–in a new way. This truly is life again–revival on the personal level. Watch a profound 3 minute video introduction here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xrPZSH3BVIw&feature=youtu.be

Your Source

We have appreciated the ministry of Jim Cymbala over the years, having visited the “Tab” and hearing him speak with Daniel Henderson at a renewal day in Knoxville.

In a sermon posted on February 13, 2018 Pastor Cymbala uses four scriptures as a starting point for this challenging message about experiencing real change in the Christian life (John 8:28-29; Romans 6:5; Romans 8:5; Galatians 2:19-20). The audio message, Your Source, can be heard online or downloaded here: https://www.brooklyntabernacle.org

Additional clarity is included when pastor Cymbala makes the biblical distinction between mind (soul) and the believer’s spirit (1 Cor. 6:17),

The Way of Agape

Not only do Bible commentators and evangelical theologians endorse man as spirit/soul/body, but many leading Bible studies have this perspective. One prominent example is Nancy Missler’s study, The Way of Agape. (“Agape” is the New Testament Greek word for unconditional love.) These truths are not only gleaned from Scripture; they were confirmed in her personal journey and public ministry.

From The King’s High Way Ministries:

After God healed Nancy Missler’s marriage, she prayed for three years, asking the Lord to show her from Scripture what He had done. She not only wanted to understand what had happened, but also needed be able to explain it to others. The Way of Agape details that answer. In short, Nancy learned:
1. What God’s Love is and how it differs from human love. Most of us, even as Christians, are still functioning only on human love and this is why so many of us have become confused and disheartened.
2. What it means to love God with all our heart, will and soul and learning the difference between each of these terms. Learning what quenches God’s Love in our hearts and how practically to yield these things over to Him.
3. And, finally, what it means to love our neighbors as ourselves and how to put their will and desires above our own.
The only way we can do this is to love God first; to totally give ourselves over to Him. The Way of Agape is a completely new way of loving. It’s a way of loving that is opposite from the way the world teaches and probably very different from the way you have been used to showing love, even as a Christian.
Our human love is based on what we think and what we feel, what our circumstances are, and how that other person responds to us. God’s Agape Love, on the other hand, is an unconditional, two-sided, freeing and other-centered Love. If we are Christians, we have this type of Love in our hearts. The key is learning how to cleanse our hearts moment by moment so that we see that Love flow freely.
In essence, The Way of Agape shows us how we can transform the failures of human love into the victories of God’s Agape Love.