Chapter 20

"Proofs" That Man Has An Immortal Soul?

The immortal soul myth is the false belief initiated by Satan that mankind is born with an immortal soul living within a physical body. Believers of this myth selectively point to scripture which they claim proves their erroneous belief. Let's review these "proofs" in this chapter.

The first and most often used "proof" was previously discussed in chapter 9 entitled Interpreting the Bible. However, it is worth reviewing here, as Bible scholars claim that Jesus' words spoken in Luke 23:43 clearly teach that after death the saved go immediately into Jesus' presence in heaven. These scholars believe the thief had an immortal soul that had to go somewhere.


1 - The Thief on the Cross Proof

The most often used proof of an immortal soul is the statement made to one of the thieves by Jesus as he hung on the cross:

And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise. (Luke 23:43)

There it is. That states exactly what they would have you believe. But what about the other three accounts of the two thieves? The ones you never hear:

The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth. (Matthew 27:44)

And they that were crucified with him reviled him. (Mark 15:32)

Where they crucified him, and two others with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst. (John 19:18)

It is wrong to select a particular verse while excluding others to prove one's point. If the scriptures are truly the inspired words of God, then all scriptures must be true! Luke claims that the thief went to paradise that day to be with Jesus. Most people assume that "paradise" refers to heaven. But if paradise means heaven, then the thief was not with Jesus because Jesus was not in heaven that day. He ascended to heaven days after His crucifixion. Also, how can those who believe that Christians go immediately to heaven upon their death explain the following verse:

And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. (John 3:13)

That is, the only man who ever lived and died on earth, and then went to heaven is Jesus. If the thief who accepted Christ on the cross did not go to heaven, then where is he and fellow Christians today?

For we which have believed do enter into rest... (Hebrews 4:3)

That is, believing Christians which have died are dead and buried. "Rest" and "sleep" are euphemisms in the scriptures for the dead:

And the Lord said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers... (Deuteronomy 31:16)

David, whom God loved, has not ascended unto heaven. So why would the thief?

For David is not ascended into the heavens...     (Acts 2:34)

Also, Jesus went to prepare us a place, and it isn't ready yet:

...I go to prepare a place for you.       (John 14:2)

The saved thief had no place in heaven prepared for him on the day of the crucifixion since Jesus had not as yet ascended and prepared it. When our place is prepared, we are not going to it, Jesus is bringing it back with Him:

And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven... (Revelation 21:2)

Jesus is bringing the reward for the saved with Him upon His return:

And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me... (Revelation 22:12)

What is the reward?

Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3:24)

Those who serve Christ will receive the reward of the inheritance. What inheritance? That of the New Testament:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:54)

Both thieves on the cross initially reviled Jesus if Matthew and Mark are correct. One thief changed and accepted Christ, if Luke is correct. His reward of the inheritance is eternal life which he will receive when Jesus returns. Until that time, he rests in peace in his grave. He will be born again as a spiritual body at the first resurrection since his name is included as an heir in the Book of Life. Countless other verses could be quoted to refute Luke 23:43. However, if the Scriptures are truly the inspired words of God, then Luke 23:43 was a true statement when originally written by Luke. How can that be? What happened?

The King James translators of the Bible into English obviously believed the immortal soul myth that they would not surely die. This is indicated by their translation of the Hebrew word "nephesh" differently depending on whether it referred to man or other animals. The New Testament was written in the Greek language, which did not contain commas. Given the translators innate human tendencies to believe they have a "soul" which lives for eternity, they would naturally punctuate Luke 23:43 as it is presented in the King James Bible today to perpetuate their belief. However, it cannot be a logically true statement with the remainder of the Bible. But if Luke 23:43 was punctuated as follows, it and all verses above are true without any contradictions:

Verily I say unto thee today, Thou shalt be with me in paradise.

That is, I am telling you today, that sometime in the future you will be with me in paradise. Notice that even the thief himself understood he and Jesus were discussing future events. Look closely at what the thief requested of Jesus:

And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. (Luke 23:42)

The thief's statement obviously describes a future event, not something which will occur that day! In the future, God's kingdom will come to earth and God's will shall be done on earth in the form of Jesus Christ at His Second Coming. This is an event which The Lord's Prayer instructs us to pray for. We are instructed to pray, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven." When this occurs in the future, the thief wants Jesus to remember him at that time.


2 - The Rich Man and Lazarus Parable

Another scripture that Christians believing the immortal soul myth point to as proof is the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke:

There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 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; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 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. 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. 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. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead. (Luke 16:19-31)

Those who believe the immortal soul myth will read these verses as if the event actually occurred. By that means, as soon as Lazarus and the beggar died, they were confronted with the Kingdom of Heaven and hell. This would confirm that man has an immortal part that must go somewhere immediately upon his physical death. In actually, these verses comprise a parable or story. We know this because Jesus is speaking in public and He always spoke to the public in parables so they would not understand:

And with many such parables spake he the word unto them, as they were able to hear it. But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples. (Mark 4:33-34)

Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. (Matthew 13:13)

This story did not actually occur. It could not because most of it occurs in the future after the Second Coming of Christ and the resurrection! The rich man and Lazarus have both died and been buried:

The beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; (Luke 16:22)

We are told that the rich man was buried. The beggar died and was buried also because we are told he was carried into Abraham's bosom. Abraham has long ago died and been buried. Therefore, Abraham's bosom is the grave:

The field which Abraham purchased of the sons of Heth: there was Abraham buried, and Sarah his wife. (Genesis 25:10)

Then the parable advances far into the future after the millennium and the second resurrection. The rich man has been born again as a physical body as his name is not written in the Book of Life. He has been cast into the lake of fire and is about to suffer the second death. Seeing Lazarus and Abraham not in the fire, he screams for Abraham to send Lazarus to dip his finger in water so as to cool his tongue. Abraham responds that there is a great gulf between those born again spirits and those born again as physical bodies and cast into hell. That great gulf is death! They cannot communicate in any way because those cast into hell quickly suffer the second death. So how is Abraham able to communicate with the rich man?

Abraham is on the opposite side of the gulf! I suppose in a parable one can say anything. But be assured, it did not actually happen. Soon the gulf separating the rich man from the saved will widen even more, as he dies the second death. The dead know not anything. So this communication occurs before the rich man suffers the second death. Actually, it is while his death is in progress!

Helping him being impossible, the rich man then asks that Lazarus be sent to his father's house to warn his five brethren about what is happening to him, lest they suffer the second death also. He does this not knowing it is already too late. If he is in hell about to die, his five brethren have died on earth long ago. He has no sense of the time which has passed because he has been dead, or resting. Abraham now reverts back to the time of the rich man's life on earth when he states:

They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. (Luke 16:29)

But the rich man reasons that if Lazarus was sent from the dead, surely they would believe and repent. Abraham's response is:

If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead. (Luke 16:31)

In actuality, Abraham can make that statement as a fact at that time, as that is exactly what happened. That is, between the death of Lazarus and the rich man and their resurrection, Jesus was crucified and raised from the dead, and many still did not believe and repent.


3 - Paul's Desire to Die and Be With Jesus

Those who believe the immortal soul myth point to Paul's letter to the Philippians in which he expresses his quandary over whether it is better to remain alive or die and be with Jesus. The implication is that when a Christian dies, he goes immediately to be with Jesus, thus he must have an immortal soul which is released when he dies:

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labor: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. (Philippians 1:21-24)

Paul's mental debate with himself is easy to understand. He believes it far better that his physical body dies and he goes to live with Christ. However, he realizes he is more valuable alive so that he can preach the gospel to the Philippians and others. Being an apostle, it is certain that the Holy Spirit was in Paul, and his understanding of the mysteries of the scriptures was opened as was done by Jesus for the twelve disciples before He ascended to heaven:

Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures. (Luke 24:45)

Thus, if Paul understood the scriptures, he knew he would not go anywhere but to his grave when he died. Like Einstein, Paul also understood relativity. That is, from his perspective, he would go immediately to be with Christ! After his death, his next consciousness would be that of being born again as an immortal spirit at the resurrection and meeting Christ in the air. This is regardless of whether the resurrection occurred one second or thousands of years after his death. It would seem instantaneous to Paul. Why? Because the dead know nothing. They don't even know that they are dead:

The dead know not anything...         (Ecclesiastes 9:5)

Time has no meaning to the dead. It is not there. If you have ever awakened from a deep sleep, you probably had no sense of the time when you awoke or how much time had passed. Death is similar. It will seem to every Christian that the very instant they die, they are being born again as a spirit and seeing Jesus. Paul understood this mystery! Most Christians today do not as we erroneously believe we live forever. We have been taught that we possess a spirit, or "soul," which lives forever. Therefore, it must go somewhere when our physical body dies. This begins a long string of additional myths which must be created to defend the original myth. The original myth is that we live forever, "Ye shall not surely die."


4 - Jesus Talking With Moses And Elijah At The Transfiguration

Some theologians point to the following verses in Luke as proof beyond any doubt that men are born with immortal souls:

And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistening. And behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elijah. (Luke 9:29-30)

Both Moses and Elijah are from Old Testament times and had died many hundreds of years earlier. If they were truly alive and talking with Jesus in Luke, then they must have an immortal soul which survived after the deaths of their physical bodies. Luke is one of the four New Testament gospels. This same story is related in two of the other gospels, in Matthew(17:1-3) and Mark(9:3-4), and are basically identical with the story in Luke.

Reading around these verses you will find that they were on a high mountain, Jesus's raiment was shining and whiter than snow, two people who died hundreds of years earlier appeared, a cloud overshadowed them, a voice came out of the cloud, and suddenly Moses and Elijah disappeared. Luke 9:32 describes Peter, James, and John as being "heavy with sleep." Could what they saw actually be an illusion, vision, or apparition? As they descended the mountain, Jesus warned the three disciples to tell no one what they had seen. In Matthew, Jesus describes the event as a vision:

And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen from the dead. (Matthew 17:9)

So Jesus Christ described what Peter, James, and John saw as a vision. I believe Jesus! To be other than a vision, many other scriptures would have to become false. For example, for two dead men to talk, the following verse cannot be true:

For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing... (Ecclesiastes 9:5)

Since Jesus describes what occurred as a vision and not an event, Moses and Elijah were not truly there alive at the time. They were a prophetic vision of the future. After the Second Coming and their resurrection, Moses and Elijah will be able to talk to Jesus on the earth. Until that time, they are both resting in their graves awaiting their resurrection.

Proceed to the next chapter.                                                               Print this chapter

Return to Myth One home page.                                                         Email us questions or comments.

Short Subject Articles