Just What Are Human Beings?
The apostle Paul considered there were three divisions that comprise each human being: the spirit, the soul, and the body (1 Thessalonians 5:23). When Christ Jesus came to earth He took upon Himself the full nature of a human being. Christ Jesus,
“made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
He left His former position in heaven and though He was the creator of heaven and earth, He came to earth to die for us. Look at the next Scripture that is important.
“Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil. ...
For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.”
These scriptures show that Christ Jesus was indeed just like any other human who ever lived on earth. This means that when He became flesh (John 1:14), He assumed the tripartite nature of all human beings: He had a body, a soul, and a spirit. The Bible refers,
Christ Jesus represented the full and whole nature of man.
We need to ask ourselves an important question. When the sins of all people in the world were put on Christ so that He could die in our place (“if one died for all, then were all dead” — 2 Corinthians 5:14), were those sins put on the whole man called Christ Jesus, or just on His body while His soul and spirit did not have any sins placed on them? Most preachers and theologians are willing to acknowledge all our sins were placed on His body and that His body did in fact die, but they hesitate in stating that the sins of humans were placed also on His soul and spirit. This is because if His soul and spirit were tainted with our sins, then both His soul and spirit as well as His body would have to die in order to pay for those sins on the soul and those sins on the spirit.
The Bible shows plainly that each of us humans can have sins in our fleshly bodies, and also on our souls and on our spirits. In the classic verse that informs mankind that humans are made up of the tripartite nature, Paul wanted the Thessalonians to be sanctified wholly —
“and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
1 Thessalonians 5:23
This means it was possible, in Paul’s eyes, for man’s whole tripartite nature to degenerate and that their spirits, their souls, and their bodies might be corrupted if they did not stay close to God. And while everyone realizes that sins can be in the body, as Paul stated clearly: “That in my flesh dwells no good thing” (Romans 7:18), some people balk when it comes to believing that sins can also be found on the soul and on the spirit of all human beings. But remember, the Holy Scriptures state: “The soul that sins it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4) and James in the New Testament said:
“Let him know that he which converts the sinner from the error of his ways shall save a soul from death, and hide a multitude of sins.”
But now we come to the nitty-gritty. Is it possible for the spirit of humans to have sins on it? Absolutely! The apostle Paul said,
“Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”
2 Corinthians 7:1
Without doubt, the spirit part of a person can be filthy with sins. Indeed, there are many scriptures that speak about such sins. John spoke about
and Paul said that one of the gifts of the Spirit was “the discerning of [false] spirits” (1 Corinthians 12:10).
Since it is clear that all humans possess the tripartite nature of body, soul, and spirit, and we all have committed sins in the body, the soul, and the spirit, it follows that Christ (Who also was made up of body, soul, and spirit) had to take our place in all three areas of His own tripartite nature. The only way that we could be cleansed of our sins in the body, soul, and spirit was for Christ to take those sins on His own tripartite nature and die in His body, in His soul, and His spirit.
But some might say: The body can die and Christ said that the soul could be destroyed (Matthew 10:28), but surely the spirit cannot die. Yes it can; and Peter even said that Christ, after dying on the tree of crucifixion, was made alive [quickened] in His spirit through His resurrection from the dead (1 Peter 3:18). The Greek actually says that Christ “was made alive in spirit” — not “by the spirit.”
Only after He “was made alive in His spirit” did He go to the spirits (the angels) in prison and preach to them (verse 19). He certainly could not have gone to the spirits in prison when He lay dead in the tomb. But note this. To be made alive in His Spirit means that His spirit had to be dead before it could be made alive! The spirit of a person can die just like the soul and the body can die. Look at the evidence in the next paragraph closely. It should clear up some scriptures that may have been obscure in the past.
Recall that when Christ spoke to Nicodemus, He said that a man must be born of the water and the spirit (John 3:5). People have wondered for centuries what Christ meant by being “born of water.” And though He told Nicodemus that the spirit itself was like the wind or the air (John 3:8), He associated water with the spirit. In fact, He made the direct comparison of water with the spirit. He said:
“He that believes on me, as the scripture has said, ‘out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.’ But this spoke he of the Spirit.”
The living water and the Spirit were the same thing. Not only did water and air represent the spirit, but so does blood. Remember that John made a major point out of the fact that both water and blood came forth from Christ’s body and spilled on the ground when the spear was placed in His side (John 19:34). Since divine revelation tells us that life is in the blood (Deuteronomy 12:23), it can be seen how blood represents life just as the spirit represents life. The spirit is recognized as “the spirit of life” (Revelation 11:11).
When a person compares scripture with scripture it will be found that these usages of water, blood, and spirit are talking about the same thing. And this is exactly what the apostle John tells us. “For there are three that bear record, the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three are one and the same thing [the meaning of the Greek]” (1 John 5:7–8 — avoiding the spurious section about the so-called Trinity in the King James Version). For this reason the apostle John also equated the spirit with water in John 3:5. The correct meaning of that verse is (and the Greek fully allows it): “Except a man be born of water, even [or, namely] of spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Thus, to the apostle John the water and the spirit with the blood were all the same thing (1 John 5:7–8). They were all equated with no difference in them.
This means that when Christ Jesus breathed His last breath and committed His spirit to the Father, He was returning the life-giving element of God that gave Him the ability to live. He, as a conscious personality, was not returning to the Father in heaven because three days later after His resurrection He told Mary “Touch me not; for I have not ascended to my Father” (John 20:17). When Christ let the spirit of life go back to God, He died! This happens to all humans when we die (Ecclesiastes 12:7).
This is further illustrated by the event of the soldier who pierced Christ’s side and out came the remaining water and blood (John 19:34). That water and blood fell to the ground and soaked the earth underneath while His body was still hung on the tree. These elements of the water and the blood were cardinal aspects of His spirit. This water and blood (or spirit) were not alive somewhere either preaching to the spirits in prison or up in heaven talking with God the Father.
Anyone with common sense ought to realize that the water and blood soaking the ground at the foot of the tree on which Christ died were the same as His spirit. Christ’s body, His soul, and the elements that made up His spirit (the air, the water, and the blood) were lifeless and remained dead for three days and three nights until God the Father resurrected His son. This is when, as the apostle Peter said in 1 Peter 3:18, Christ’s spirit was once again made alive. There is great significance to all this.
This means that though Christ had life resident within Himself (as the Father has life in Himself, John 5:26, and no one could possibly have killed Him unless He so allowed), Christ nevertheless gave up that life that would have lasted for the rest of eternity in order to bring you, me, the world, and the universe into a living, harmonious, and sin-free relationship with Him and the Father. He willingly laid down (or gave up) an “everlasting life” to pay the punishment for our sins and grant us “everlasting life” with Him and the Father. Notice what Christ said:
“As the Father knows me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life [the life that could have lasted for all eternity] for the sheep. ... Therefore does my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No man takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to take it again. This commandment I have received of my Father.”
This is glorious teaching and it is true! Christ knew that the Father would back up His words. And though He had an “eternal life” dwelling in Him, He gave that up and became dead — completely dead in body, soul, and spirit for three days. He had already said “Destroy this temple [His body] and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19). Christ had power to raise Himself up again. The Father backed Him up when He heeded Christ’s words and raised Him from the dead at the exact time Christ said. This New Testament teaching shows the oneness that Christ and the Father had with each other (John 10:30).
What is remarkable about all this is the fact that Christ gave the command to raise His own body before His crucifixion and death, but it was God the Father who brought the command to pass on Christ’s behalf. 1
Recall the inspired teaching of the apostle John that the spirit, the water, and the blood were all the same thing and that when the water and blood came forth at Christ’s crucifixion it was the spirit of life leaving Christ’s body and soaking the ground. This water in Christ’s body (as in ours) is not water that occupies the urinary tract. It is that water closely associated with the blood, a liquid with water as its base. It can be identified with the water in perspiration and saliva. It is no accident that Christ in His agony before the crucifixion sweat great drops of blood (Luke 22:44). In this case His perspiration was co-mingled with His blood when His spirit was so broken 2 and so sorrowful. 3
Even with us, when anyone has “a spirit of fear” (2 Timothy 1:7), the palms of the hands may become sweaty while the mouth can become dry. This relationship between the body’s water and the emotions (the central spiritual aspects that motivate mankind) was recognized in biblical times. Clearly, the apostle John was not talking about waters in the urinary tract that humans excrete as a normal body function. He was referring to waters of the body linked with the emotions and with life itself, the spiritual side of man.
John was telling people that when water and blood spilled out of Christ’s body, all of His emotional or spiritual attributes of life ceased to function. This was the time He became dead — absolutely dead — without any of the elements making up the spirit that engender emotional awareness. When these factors of the spirit leave the body of a human being (including Christ), all consciousness and emotional activities are terminated in the person and he or she ceases to exist as a living being. In a word, the person is dead. And this agrees with the teaching of the inspired word of God (Ecclesiastes 9:5; Psalm 6:5; 146:4). All humans who have died since Adam, except Christ, are totally dead! All await the resurrections.
Let us once again look at the Atonement that Christ performed for us. Since all Christians recognize that Christ took the penalty of our sins upon Himself, a problem arises in regard to the kinds of sins we humans have. Without doubt we are tainted with sins of the flesh (Romans 7:18), the soul (Ezekiel 18:4; James 5:20), and those that tarnish our spirit (1 Corinthians 7:1).
None of us is exempt from having such sins because Paul said twice that all of us have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23; 5:12). But thankfully, Christ has borne these sins in His person and He has undergone the punishments for all of them. And now for the “problem.”
It is obvious that Christ took our sins of the flesh, placed them on His fleshly body and died in our stead for us. Few dispute that Christ’s body did in fact die.
But what about the sins on our souls? Since Christ said the soul could indeed be destroyed (Matthew 10:28), then biblical evidence is clear that Christ’s soul could die for us. Therefore it is biblically reasonable that the sins of our soul could be forgiven and the proper punishment paid.
But what about the sins that are on our spirit? Paul said we ought to be cleansed “from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit” (2 Corinthians 7:1). Can our sins of the spirit be placed on the spirit of Christ so His spirit can pay the punishment of death for those sins? To those readers who agree with the scriptural teaching in this chapter there is no problem, simply because not only is it possible that the spirit can die, it was essential that the spirit of Christ had to die in order to pay the punishment for our spiritual sins.
If Christ did not die in body, soul, and spirit, then Christ still has our sins of the soul and spirit (and all the sins of the world) on His back.
Since death is the consequence of sins (Romans 6:23), then those who say that Christ’s spirit did not die at the end of His crucifixion but continued to have a living existence (for example, preaching to the evil angels in prison) need to recognize that He could NOT have paid the penalty for our spiritual sins. At best He only paid the penalty for our sins of the flesh and soul. He must still have our sins of the spirit on His person and Christ must be bearing those spiritual sins. Only by death are sins forgiven (Romans 6:23). Christ would still be bearing our sins of the spirit — all the spiritual sins of the world and those of the universe — if He did not die in the spirit.
This would be a dangerous situation to be in, if it were true. Our spirits could never be saved; only our bodies could have salvation. This conclusion would be disastrous to the truth. Indeed, our spirit is what connects us to God the Father. We must have a clean spirit, as well as a pure and unblemished soul and body.
Without doubt, the whole doctrine concocted by the imaginations of men (mainly through Greek philosophical concepts), that Christ’s spirit could not and did not die, is not true! It is nonsense and it is time the doctrine is jettisoned from Christian teaching. The fact is spirits can die just like bodies and souls. There is nothing in the universe that cannot die.
Some may say that it is impossible for spirits or the spirits of humans to die. Oh? Where does the Word of God say such a thing? What it does say is that the wages of sin is death and no distinction can be made in this sentence between the body, soul, or spirit. Even angels can die. Indeed, God the Father Himself could die if He wished.
It is possible for any divine spiritual being to die. To some people it seems blasphemous to say such a thing, but the statement is true. If it were not, then Christ (as a member of God’s Family) would have been incapable of dying. But Christ was certainly a member of the Godhead before He came to this earth — see John 1:18 where Christ is called “the only begotten God” in the Greek. But Christ gave up His spirit-type bodily existence as the Firstborn Son and was made flesh (John 1:14) for the purpose of dying for sinners. Yes, even “God” can die.
“Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God. But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and made in the likeness of men. And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
An important fact to understand is that although Christ had been a spirit being, He became capable of experiencing death. This is exactly what happened to Him when He expired His last breath on the tree of crucifixion, and the blood and water exited from His body. He was reckoned as completely dead, in body, soul, and spirit. The spirit that kept Him alive returned to God who gave it, 4 and no longer did He have within Him a life-giving spirit. Without the spirit even the soul would die and of course the flesh would cease to have life.
It must be recognized that the spirit that returned to the Father at Christ’s death was not the living PERSONALITY of Christ. Had it been the personality that went back to the Father (with all the factors that constitute the conscious personality), then Christ’s statement after His resurrection three days later would be an utter contradiction. Christ said, “Touch me not because I have not yet ascended to my Father” (John 19:17). Christ did not immediately return to heaven.
The “spirit” that went back to the Father at Christ’s DEATH is easy to explain. It is that eternal life-giving spirit that springs from the continual existence of God the Father. All life in the universe, no matter what kind, is energized exclusively from the source of all life — the Father Himself. But if what Solomon called “the silver cord” be severed from a person (Ecclesiastes 12:6), that spirit no longer has a conducting agent to make the body alive with the life-giving spirit of God. When this severance of “the silver cord” takes place, the person dies. And when that eternal spirit (which we could appropriately call “the divine electricity”) returns to the Father, then the tripartite nature of a person (the body, soul, and the spirit within man) ceases to function. Any individual who does not have the eternal spirit of God energizing him or her will immediately die in body, soul, and spirit, and that person will no longer have a living existence.
A modern example can easily explain what happens. Let us imagine you go to a store and purchase a cassette tape recorder and a number of cassette tapes to play in the recorder. The recorder itself can be equated to a human body in the sense that it is made up of various chemicals from the earth fused together to form the recorder. The cassette tapes are made up of similar chemicals but on the tape itself are magnetic impulses arranged systematically by electrical energy. The magnetic impulses on the tapes are a type of “spirit” or electrical pattern that give you a program of music or speech previously recorded on the magnetic tapes. From the union of electrical or magnetic factors onto a plastic tape (also made up of chemicals from the earth), what results is what we could call “the soul” of a machine. It is proper to reckon it as “a soul” because if the recorder is hooked to an electrical outlet and energy is turned on (that is, electricity — like the spirit — energizes the recorder) then the cassette tape could produce the sound of a symphony orchestra. The “soul” of the machine would then come alive.
But, if you unplug the recorder or turn off its switch, the electricity ceases to activate either the recorder or the cassette tape and the equipment becomes as dead as a rock in the riverbed and has not the slightest capability of producing any sound. And while electricity may still be found in the wires of the residence in which you live, until that electricity enters the cassette tape recorder and the tape is inserted at the proper place, you will continue to have a “dead” machine in front of you. If the machine were thrown into the dust bin, carried to a dump and buried with the garbage, that recorder and the cassette tapes with their electrical or magnetic impulses would “return to the dust” just as a human body that dies. In similar manner the human body, soul, and spirit can be understood. This modern example is a perfectly proper one.
The “spirit” energizing all life in the universe is the eternal spirit that has God the Father as its source. When “the silver cord” that supplies that eternal spirit from God is broken and the spirit returns to God who gave it, then no more life will exist in any creature whether it be human, animal, microscopic bacteria, or even invisible viruses. The spirit within each living person is indeed eternal, but it does not mean that the person made alive by the spirit (the life-giving energy that comes from God) is himself eternal. Of course not! The spirit (or the “electricity”) that makes all persons alive is eternal because its source is the eternal Father in heaven, but that spirit can be taken from a person (or anything that is alive in the universe) and when this happens the person dies.
So, at the crucifixion Christ simply yielded up the spirit that made Him alive. In a word, He died and this means in His body, in His soul and, with no more spirit within Him to sustain His life, He died in spirit as well. Now this teaching of scripture does not set too well with what has become known as “orthodox” Christianity, but it is nonetheless true according to the divine Word of God. The simple fact is, when Christ yielded up the spirit to the Father in heaven, that spirit was not the conscious personality of Christ returning to God the Father.
The personality of any individual (including Christ) is the union of spirit, soul, and body (like the cassette tape in a tape recorder). To make you alive again, God can place the “cassette tape” that possesses all your personality traits, memories, etc., into a safe place until the resurrection when He will re-attach “the silver cord.” Once again you will become a living soul with a spiritual body and all the personality characteristics you possessed while in the flesh. Your “memories” will be placed in you again.
This is exactly the way it was with Christ at His death and resurrection from the dead. God the Father simply cut “the silver cord” that allowed Christ to be alive because God’s eternal spirit was then within Him, but that eternal spirit returned to the Father at Christ’s death. Then Christ’s “soul” (the “cassette tape recording” that preserved His personality traits, memories, etc.) was put in a safe place as a protection against destruction. After a period of three days the Father then replaced that “cassette tape recording” back into Christ’s renewed body, re-energized Him, and He again had a renewed spiritual existence.
The apostle Paul said: “The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam [Christ] was made a quickening spirit” (1 Corinthians 15:45). If Christ was made to be a life-giving spirit, it means that for a time Christ was not such a spirit. Christ was dead and without the spirit for a period of three days. He was dead, just as we will be when we die and return to dust.
This procedure is similar to what will happen to us when we are resurrected from the dead. Christ has the capability of creating for us a new spiritual body and then place within that new body all the personality traits, memories, etc., preserved by the Father on our individual “cassette tape recordings.” We will live once again.
The Atonement that Christ legally effected for us is a simple doctrine to understand if one applies the basic teachings of the Old and New Testaments on how God deals with sins. Had mankind not adopted the false teaching of “the immortality of the soul” or “the immortality of the spirit” principally from Platonic philosophy, the Atonement would have been understood long ago. But man has not wanted the teachings of the Scripture to prevail in this matter. They want to believe the first lie of the serpent that man would not die if he sinned. Of course, God said just the opposite (Genesis 2:17) and man has been dying in body, soul, and spirit ever since. We all die in the same fashion as did Christ Jesus.
Because most Christians adopted the pagan teaching of the inherent immortality of man, and that the soul and spirit cannot die, they believe the unrepentant sinner (the one who does not accept Christ’s sacrifice in their stead) will go to hell-fire and burn for the rest of eternity. Death is the wages of sin (Romans 6:23) and not some kind of everlasting punishment in a hell-fire. It is easy to understand what the atonement of Christ is all about. The truth makes sense and it gets rid of ridiculous and unbiblical concepts taught by the majority of preachers and theologians in today’s world.
God the Father contracted with His firstborn Son, Jesus Christ, for Jesus alone (one person acting in the place of all of us) to be punished on behalf of all humans on earth. It was through His grace and works, not through any works that we humans perform that we are saved through Christ (Ephesians 2:8–10). What Jesus did on the tree of crucifixion was to absolve all humanity from their sins and their pollutions that have separated them from God the Father from our first parent, Adam.
“Therefore by the offence of one [Adam] judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one [Jesus, the last Adam] justification [the act of being made righteous] came upon all men unto life.”
Romans 5:15 (adjusting the KJV
italicized words not in the text)
This means (along with many similar scriptures) that “all men” will share in the justification (being made righteous) that Christ, the last Adam, performed for them through His grace. Jesus in His life and death on earth was a federal representative for all humans (individually and collectively). We are thus assured the resurrection because of what Christ did on our behalf. The human race has been fully redeemed in a federal sense, but this redemption trickles down to include every single individual ever born of Adam and Eve, our first parents. Even a person five seconds old is saved.
This substitutionary role was done through His grace and the grace of God the Father. Mankind is not required to do anything (not the slightest work) to gain the acceptance from God the Father that Christ secured for us. And though we humans should, and one day will, repent of our sins and begin living correctly, no works of repentance were necessary on the part of mankind to secure the salvation that Christ Jesus gained for us by His death on the tree of crucifixion.
Do not misunderstand. Repentance by all humans is absolutely necessary if people hope to experience the salvation that the Father has granted us by Christ’s death. We all must certainly repent of our evil ways. We must confess that Jesus is our Savior. We must also express faith and have a firm and heartfelt belief in Christ and in the teachings of the Gospel and also practice them. If we do not do these things, we will not be saved. That is the precise teaching of the divine Scriptures (Romans 10:8–13). Yes, we must do these virtues. But how?
What many people do not understand is that our personal repentance is not energized by motives within our own minds or coming from forces initiated by ourselves. We should realize that our own willpower is too weak and too inefficient to perform the essential virtues for salvation demanded by God and in the way acceptable to Him. We of ourselves can in no way satisfy the ultimate and perfect actions God demands in order to achieve salvation. 5
The deeds of repentance, confession, having faith, and belief in Christ all require God to perform the energizing within us, by His power and His grace. The fact that you and I even have the ability to repent is a pure gift from God. This is the truth. The essential things we need to do for salvation are not placed into action in us by our own wills independent of God. 6 The fact is, we must have God’s own spiritual powers working in us to produce those good fruits (Philippians 2:13). The apostles were all knowledgeable enough to realize that it is God who “grants repentance unto life” to each of us (Acts 11:18).
When we confess Christ with our mouths before people, it is the Holy Spirit granted to us by God that prompts us to state that confession; it is not our own will that produces the avowal that Jesus is truly the Christ and our Savior (1 Corinthians 12:3). Even when we exercise belief in Christ, it is not ourselves who do this necessary act, but it also is something that God grants to us by His grace. Note the scripture:
“It is given in behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake.”
As for the faith that we must express to be saved, we are told
“for by grace are YOU saved through FAITH: and that not of yourselves, it [the faith] is a gift of God.”
Yes, even the faith that each of us avow in Christ is something that God has supernaturally bestowed upon us (and in us) as a gift.
Even the will you express through your own mind, and all the efforts you perform to show your good works (and that you love and worship Christ and the Father), ARE NOT the results of your own WILL and EFFORTS. Note the divine words of God:
“For it is God which WORKS in you both to WILL and to DO of his good pleasure.”
That is right. God is the center of all our being. True, we are created to be actively engaged in “good works” (Ephesians 2:10), but it is still God who grants to you and to me all these attributes of His Spirit that allow us to do “good works.” They are God’s divine gifts to you and me through His grace. We did not initiate any of the virtuous attributes such as repentance, confession, belief, or faith in Christ that people witness in your personal life and that led you to your salvation. Christ is responsible for giving us these virtues. Even your own “will” is God‘s “will” (Philippians 2:13).
The essential thing for us to recognize is the biblical truth that Paul consistently stated that “this mortal” body of ours “must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:53). Of all humans who have ever lived on earth, only Christ Jesus has now obtained any immortality. “Who [Christ Jesus] only has immortality dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto [because man has no immortality yet]” (1 Timothy 6:16). We have no immortal soul!
All three elements of mankind’s tripartite nature — the body, the soul, and the spirit — are mortal (each factor can and will die). Mankind has no “Immortality of the Soul” (or “Spirit”) dwelling in him. True, the spirit of God that makes us now alive is immortal, but that is God’s Spirit, NOT ours! We must keep in mind that when we die, God’s spirit returns to Him and our bodies, souls, and our own spirits remain dead and in an unconscious state (knowing NOTHING of the world about us or the heaven above us) until our resurrections from the dead that occur at the Second Advent of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:20–28).
Even now in the flesh it is not our own spirit, or our faculties of mind, or powers of reasoning that decide to accept Christ and His teaching. No, we cannot prompt ourselves to do such things. The Scriptures plainly teach that it is God (by His grace) who gives us the desire to repent and accept Christ and the Gospel (John 6:44, 65). God provides these positive attributes of His grace to us because we are a special group He loves supremely.
These attributes of grace are often difficult for some to comprehend, but they are a cardinal part of the Gospel of Christ for the redemption of the human race. We need to understand that God’s grace (all aspects of it) is necessary on our behalf in all human activities if we hope to achieve the predestined salvation that we all have in Christ (2 Timothy 1:9). We have no immortality of ourselves, but will receive it only in the resurrection. In the meantime, we must always accept God’s grace in our lives. When God’s grace comes into the picture, it means that none of the works that we do (whether good or bad) have any relevance.
What we find in the Holy Scriptures is the fact that even the will that each of us express in all the good deeds we do is actually the will of God (Philippians 2:13). God’s own will unites with our will to perform God’s own purpose in our lives. He supersedes our own faults with a will that graciously and indelibly infuses our own wills with His divine will. This is mysterious, but true. And it sustains our love for Him and our love for all the human race created by Him.
1 See Romans 4:24; Colossians 2:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; and 1 Peter 1:21 where this is made clear. ELM
2 See examples in Psalm 51:17; Proverbs 15:13; 17:22. ELM
3 See example in 1 Samuel 1:15. ELM
4 See Ecclesiastes 12:7; Matthew 27:50; Mark 15:37; Luke 23:46; and John 19:30. ELM
Recall the type of heart God has placed in us from birth (and that He allows
us to have at the present). It is not the type of heart that can make proper
judgments on vital issues as repentance, confession, belief, forgiveness,
and living righteously. What kind of a heart has God given to humans? Let us
see God’s appraisal of the gift, “your heart,” that He bestowed on humanity.
Look at Jeremiah 17:9.
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can
know it?” The word “desperate” in that verse in Hebrew means
“incurable” as in Jeremiah 30:12. When the desires of the human heart (yours
and mine, or any one) are put into action, what is the result? An example
is, “And God saw that
the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of
the thoughts of his HEART was only evil continually”
(Genesis 6:5). And Christ said,
“For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts,
murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies”
This is the kind of “heart” God has placed in us. So, before any of us start bragging how good we are (even though I am one of the nicest guys I know), let us be aware of our true condition. Only a change in our nature will solve the problem of the human heart. But thanks be to God, He promises to change even our hard hearts into being like God’s own heart and mind. He is the only one who can do it. We cannot. Our own human repentance of itself is worthless! ELM
6 This is where most Catholics and Protestants make some of the biggest mistakes possible in trying to understand God and His teachings. Most of them think it is OUR OWN repentance, faith, belief, and confession that are essential in bringing us to salvation in Christ. In no way is this true. ELM
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