Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 23, 1961
NUMBER 29, PAGE 8-9a

From A Preacher's Note-Book

James W. Adams, Oklahoma City, Okla.

The Soul

The Jehovah's Witnesses, so-called, have a clich that is an integral part of their presentation of materialism concerning the nature of man. They say, "Man is a soul; man does not have a soul." With statement number one, we are in full agreement. Statement number two, we emphatically deny. Man is a soul, and man has a soul. However, we think a better way of putting it might be: Man is a soul and has a body.

The word "soul" is variously used in the Scriptures. Its meaning can only be ascertained in a given text by the context. It is used in at least three senses.

(1) The word "soul" is sometimes used to mean "person" or the whole man. "Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water." (1 Pet. 3:20) It is quite evident, even to the casual reader, that the writer of this verse is simply saying, "Eight persons were saved by water."

(2) The word "soul" is sometimes used to mean the "animal life." In this sense, it is not to be confused with the "immortal spirit" of man. Paul says, "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." (1 Thess. 5:23) It is clearly seen from this verse that the terms "soul" and "spirit" are used to refer to different things. David said to Saul, "Yet thus huntest my soul to take it." (I Sam. 24:11) The meaning of the word "soul" is undoubtedly "life" (animal life, the life of the body) in this verse. Jesus pictures God as saying to the rich farmer, "This night thy soul shall be required of thee." (Lk. 12:20) This is simply to say that the rich fanner was going to die, hence that his life would be "required of him."

(3) The word "soul" is also used to refer to man's "immortal spirit which dwells in the body, manifests itself through the body, but is no part of the body and that can live consciously apart from the body. Note several passages which illustrate this use of the word: "But his flesh upon him shall have pain, and his soul within him shall mourn." (Job 14:22) "I, Daniel, was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body ...." (Dan. 7:15) "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." (Mt. 10:28) Note that Job said the "soul" of man would "mourn." Daniel said "his spirit was grieved." To "grieve" and to "mourn" are the same emotions. One inspired writer predicates this emotion of the spirit and the other of the soul. Hence, the term "soul" is sometimes used to refer to the "spirit" of man. Jesus, in the passage above teaches that man can kill the body, but is not able to kill the soul. The word "soul" is used in this passage in the sense of the "spirit." Man can both destroy the body and the animal life of the body. The term "soul" in this passage, therefore, can refer to neither, hence refers to man's immortal spirit. Materialists are wrong. Man is not wholly mortal.


Probably as many offenses are committed against God in prayer by people who are supposed to know better, as in any other activity. Preachers are often the worst offenders.

Once in Northern Arkansas, we were attending a debate between one of the brethren and D. N. Jackson, Baptist. The Baptists were in the affirmative that night, hence in charge of the opening exercises. After the singing of two or three songs and the making of announcements, the man who presided looked at his watch and said, "It is now seven minutes until time to begin the discussion. We will call on brother Blank to lead us in a word of prayer." Exactly seven minutes later "brother Blank" said, "Amen l" We wonder if his mind was on God or his watch.

Then, there was the time several years ago (Actually, more years than we like to remember) when a new man and his family moved to the community where we were preaching and came to services. This man had a small business and preached on Sundays. Desiring to be friendly, to make the man and his family feel at home among us, and to recognize his status as a preacher of the Word, we called upon him to direct the prayer in the morning worship. We were on the rostrum and kneeled to pray. We took knee about until both were worn out, then kneeled on both and finally squatted until the brother concluded his discourse. Surely, this man had never heard the old adage, "A prayer or sermon does not have to be eternal to be immortal." The brother had prayed fifteen minutes. Many preachers would do themselves and the good brethren a favor if they would occasionally have the "better-half" time them when they are called upon to pray in the services of the church. We recently read a joke in Nuggets that struck a responsive chord with us. It seems that a backwoods church member was boasting in town on Saturday about his new preacher. "We've got a wonderful preacher," he said, "He asks the Lord for things the average preacher don't even know He's got."

Verbosity is not within itself evidence of superior intellect, knowledge, or ability, in prayer or in anything else for that matter. The model prayer which our Lord taught his disciples to pray (Mt. 6:9-13) is a study in brevity. We are not "heard for our much speaking."

On Changing Views

Upon reading the confessional column in the Gospel Advocate from time to time, in which is contained the groveling of certain preachers who have previously stood against the current apostasy, we have been reminded of a political joke in Nuggets. It seems that a politician who had changed his views rather radically was congratulated by a colleague. "I'm glad you've seen the light," he said. "I didn't see the light," came the terse reply. "I felt the heat " (Anderson, S. C., Independent)

Pressure can be marvelously persuasive when it is properly applied. The "rack" of days gone by produced no greater agony than the psychological pressure among the churches these days inflicts upon any who dares to lift his voice against current trends. The most unusual thing, too, about this state of affairs is that the extreme pressure emanates from sources which loudly affirm that the whole thing is a "matter of opinion." How do brethren justify such a course of conduct in pressing for that which according to their own testimony, is based solely on "human opinion?"

"Walking In Darkness"

"If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." (1 John 1:6, 7)

Certain of the Gnostics of John's day taught that a theoretical profession of religion was all that was necessary to eternal salvation, much as do Calvinists today. As now, so then, unrighteous, impure living resulted among professed Christians from such teaching. John wrote to correct the teaching and to rebuke such conduct. He argues in our text and its context, under the figures of darkness and light, that God is a God of absolute, infinite purity. Darkness represents wickedness, and light represents purity and righteousness in his argument. He argues that God is "in the light" — a God of absolute purity, hence those who walk in darkness — live sinful lives — are not in fellowship with God, and "lie" if they say they are! Conversely speaking (vs. 7), he argues that baptized believers (children of God) who live pure lives — "walk in the light" — have "fellowship with God" and the "blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth them from all sin." The "fellowship" of this verse is between man and God, not man and man. The "light" of these verses is righteous living, not the word of God. Preachers often err in expounding them.

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Who Causes The Trouble In The Church?

Poor objector! He it is who always receives the blame for whatever trouble may arise in the church. This is not a new phenomenon. It is at least as old as the time of Elijah. Ahab, king of Israel, was one of the wickedest kings who ever sat on the throne of Israel. Elijah, God's prophet, assumed the role of objector, crying out again and again against the evil of his day. On one occasion, when Ahab met Elijah, he said, "Art thou he that troublest Israel?" Today, in the church, those who cry out against apostasy are styled, "Troublemakers!" Men can week after week, month after month, year after year, promote among the churches their human schemes and devices without censure. Let, however, some devoted servant of the Lord raise his voice against such unscriptural practices, and he immediately becomes a "trouble-maker." This reminds us of a joke we read in Nuggets, December, 1960: Sandy, a young Scot, went to London for a holiday. On his return a friend asked how he had fared. He answered cautiously, "All right, but they're funny people down there." "How's that?" is friend asked. "Well," replied Sandy, "one night very late — it must have been about two in the morning — a man came banging on my door. He shouted and yelled and was in a nasty temper. At two o'clock man!" "And what did you do?" Sandy's friend asked. Said Sandy, "I didn't do anything. I just went on quietly playing on my bagpipes." Poor Sandy, like our promoting brethren, he was just the victim of another "anti" and "troublemaker."