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      What are we? There is little talk in the news about what we are. We, as a race, assume we have ourselves figured out. When was the last time you talked about “what it means to be human” over lunch? Have you ever sat and pondered what, exactly, you are?

     We don’t talk about this too much. Maybe for one of two reasons: one, we think we know ourselves, so the mystery is absent. Or two, the mystery is so vast we dare not venture into it for fear we will not be able to know ourselves as we truly are, and that truly does scare us. So what are we? Can you give a good answer to that question? Do you have a soul? Are the soul and the mind one? Are we body, spirit, and soul? Are we just body and soul? Are we body mind and spirit? What are we?

     Solomon knew there was a bit of a mystery, at least in the way we are made. He says in Ecclesiastes 11:5, “As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything.” Think about that! When does the soul conjoin to the bones and flesh in the womb? Conception? During the first trimester? A few weeks ago, Colette and I were able to see a full body scan of little Jonah. We could see the four chambers of his heart as we heard it beat, count his fingers and toes, and even get a glimpse of his face. Our doctor made an announcement every time he zoomed and clicked on a frame, “Here is his leg, kidneys, stomach, nose, ears, etc.” But one thing our doctor has never said, because he cannot know, is, “Here is your baby’s soul.” There is no progress report on the soul in the womb. There is no soul-a-gram. How can we even know there is a soul in there?

      My first semester at Seminary, our class was asked to write a paper on abortion and make a biblical case for or against (not that anyone chose “for”; it was an exercise). We each had to read our paper in front of the class and then let the class try to demolish our logic and research with questions. After reading my anti-abortion paper, one genius (I use this term sarcastically) asked me this, “If you knew that your wife was going to give birth to Hitler would you abort it?” I did not even answer the question. Rather, I argued that the question had no serious relevance because we cannot know!

     We can’t know. Now, we know that life in the womb is valuable for a hundred biblical reasons. But do we know when the soul has entered the womb? This should make us stand in awe of God. We do not know; He does. But one thing is for sure, we are different than anything else on this planet. We are souls.

      Understand this: you have a body; you do not have a soul. God did not give you ears, a nose, then legs, and then a soul. You do not have a soul; you are a soul. You have a body. Get it?

     I first heard it put this way at the Oxford in Asia Conference last fall. Ravi Zacharias said it. It was so important I posted it on my Facebook wall that day. People have long forgotten that post, but that thought has lingered in my mind. “You do not have a soul; you are a soul. You have a body.”

            So what do we do with this? We rejoice! REJOICE!

        The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 15:50, “I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.” Our body will one day be laid into the ground as a seed in fertile soil. Those who believe will be raised and raised with an imperishable body. This is good news!

      You need to take care of your body, but understand this: you cannot keep your body from the grave. It will go there, it must. “But someone will ask, ‘How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?’  You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.  And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. (1 Cor. 15:35-37)” Your body is not what makes you. You are not your body. You simply have a body for the time being. One day that kernel will be raised to imperishability.

       I say this to remind you to be careful how you sew. Remember what you are. Remember what is eternal. Your soul is eternal. One day Jesus will speak and the dead will rise, and “those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment. (John 5:29)” Everyone will experience eternity somewhere. Everyone is a soul; everyone has a body. What are you doing with yours?

For His Glory,
Nathan
nathan@ibc.org.hk
www.ibc.org.hk

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