Eternity has often been compared to a ring. It is without beginning and without end. However, the Christian churches today say that man had a beginning at birth, but no end at death. He will live forever after he dies. According to them the spirit of man had a beginning but no end if he is saved.
But is this logical? Can there be no end when there was a beginning?
To illustrate one can take the ring, which is without beginning and end and put a cut in it. The ring then has a beginning and an end. But can one cut the ring in such a way that it has a beginning and no end? Think it through. Man is the same way. Either he is without beginning and without end or began at birth and all will enter oblivion at death. Either man is eternal as the word is defined or he is as a flicker of light between two eternities which is soon to be blown out, forever. The orthodox view of man having beginning but no end has no logical or scriptural support.
One has but two beliefs from which to choose. That, man's decisions are made because of chemical reactions within the brain or that man's spirit is independent of physical things and is eternal. I choose the later. One reason is I cannot conceive of a time when I did not exist nor a time when I will not be.
To understand eternity one must comprehend another basic law:
Anything that exists is eternal.
Matter occupies two basic forms of existence known to man. It can exist in the material state we see around us, or as pure energy which is interchangeable with physical matter. Some scientists believe that the hydrogen clouds from which worlds are formed are created from pure energy.
Thus according to theory we have a cycle: Energy > Hydrogen Clouds > Star System's > and back to energy again. This eternal cycle may take billions of years to complete and billions of cycles have taken place since matter never had a beginning.
(Note: This was written before "The Big Bang Theory" became popular.)
Science has proved that it is impossible to destroy matter. Its form can be changed as well as its chemical composition and atomic structure. Its state may even be changed into pure energy according to Einstein's formula E=mc2 but it does not disappear into oblivion. Since matter cannot be reduced to nothingness the opposite is true that it cannot be created from nothingness. Again common sense defeats another orthodox Christian view that God created everything from nothing. This is wrong, for God Himself is subject to laws and there are a number of things he cannot do. One of them is creating something from nothing. When God created the Heavens he brought them into existence from building blocks which have been around as long as he has. He is called omnipotent because all these materials are subject unto Him for he has mastered them and organized them into the present universe scientists observe through their telescopes. Indeed it appears hand carved.
It is important to establish the fact that everything which exists is eternal for it may greatly increase one's faith. Using this law we may figure that because we exist we are eternal. Therefore, we shall live after we die. The fact that you are real by itself is powerful evidence of life before birth and after death.
Scriptural evidence of the pre-existence is found in the Bible from the beginning to the end. After Moses described the creation he stated:
"These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens. And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. " (Gen 2:4-5)
Here we learn that the plants of field and the herbs were created "before" they were upon the earth, before they even grew here. This strongly indicates that man also had a pre mortal existence and spiritual creation. Remember when I write creation I do not mean to make something from nothing, but to organize from materials already present. Thus God organized all the things we see around us before the world existed in its material form. In other words, He drew up a giant spiritual blueprint myriads of years ago after which He would pattern the universe.
Genesis, Verse 7, in that same chapter is confusing to many people:
"And the Lord God formed man out of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."
Since the scripture states that Adam's soul was created along with his body many believe that this is evidence that the mind of man began at birth. Few, however, have contemplated exactly what the soul is.
The fact has been established by logic and shall be further supported by scripture that man had a pre-mortal existence with God. Because there are so many scriptural evidences that we lived before birth one must reason that since the soul began at birth it is not synonymous with the mind of man and the spirit. Paul understood the difference:
"For the word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of the soul and spirit." (Heb 4:12)
The conjunction "and" tells us that Paul did not think of the soul and spirit as being the same. Then if they are not the same one wonders just what the soul is. There can be only one conclusion.
Perhaps this example will clarify it. If one wants to create a letter he uses paper and ink. He cannot make the letter from paper alone nor ink alone for he needs both substances. Just because the letter was created at the time of the writing does not mean that the paper and ink did not exist beforehand. So it is with the soul. It is made of two ingredients: the spirit and body. The elements of the body existed before the soul as well as the spirit, and the soul was created when the two were joined together. Thus Adam became a living soul when God took his immortal spirit and placed it in his body.
Now we have gone through the soul let us move to the spirit itself, which requires a somewhat deeper explanation. Many people do not believe in an afterlife because at death they cannot perceive anything leaving the body. Because they cannot see the spirit or the spirit world many say it does not exist. But to say that something does not exist because it cannot be seen is extremely unreasonable. If to say such was proof that a thing does not exist then perhaps billions of people and things I have not seen do not exist either.
However unreasonable this seems to have been the nature of man all along. He has always wanted physical tangible proof, something which is felt by the five senses, preferably the sense of sight. For example man in ancient days believed that the surrounding air was made of nothing -- and why? Because he could not see it. Certainly, man at times felt the wind blowing against him, which activated the sense of touch, yet he remained unconvinced because it could not be seen. Finally, man invented scales, trapped and compressed the air, and weighed it. Then he could believe because he could see the results with his own eyes. But if he could have trusted his sense of touch he could have gained a knowledge of the air much sooner.
People today are the same way with spiritual things. Despite the number of times spiritual influences blow against, brace, and touch the human heart man refuses to believe and trust in them, thus denying himself valuable knowledge -- until a much later time -- most probably after death.
Just as sure as the spirit does exist is it must made of something. One good reason why many educated men do not believe in an afterlife is because most religions believe that the spirit is made of nothing. A true scientist could not accept that because if it is made of nothing then it does not exist. If at death nothing leaves the body then there is no afterlife. Many say that science and religion conflict but few realize that true science cannot help but disagree with false religious concepts. For example, during the dark ages religion taught that the earth was the center of the universe. Contradictions between science and religion generally occur because of people's own wrong ideas. Often the differences come from wrong idea conflicting with wrong idea.
An idea as to the likeness of the spirit may be gained from the scriptures. Christ appeared to the apostles after his resurrection and "when they saw him they were terrified and affrighted and supposed that they had seen a spirit." (Luke 24:37) Likewise, when they saw him walking on water they exclaimed "It is a spirit." (Matt 14:26) Now why would the apostles mistake figures appearing in the form of men to be spirits unless, of course, a spirit is in the form of a man? Judging from the number of supernatural experiences they had one would have to be obstinate to infer that the apostles did not know what a spirit was.
Saul's experience with the Witch of Candour is another evidence that man continues in the same form after death. When he called up Samuel through a medium (called a witch at that time), he asked her "What form is he of?" She replied, "an old man. [...] and Saul, perceived that it was Samuel...." (1 Sam 28:14)
Here one is plainly told that a spirit is in the form of a human and it can be perceived or recognized after death because it resembles the body before death.
The only argument against this is that Saul was perhaps deceived by the witch, that it was an evil spirit in disguise. However, Moses and Elias who appeared to Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration were certainly not deceivers. From the context of Matthew, Chapter 17, one can only draw the conclusion that they appeared in the form of two individual recognizable persons.
A final scriptural proof that the spirit is in the form of a man is related by Paul as he tells of his "visions and revelations of the Lord." He states:
"I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body or out of the body I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven." (2 Cor 12:2)
The context of Chapter 12 reveals that it was Paul who was caught up to the third heaven. Paul wrote more about the spirit and spiritual things than any prophet in the Bible and he knew that his spirit body was in the express image of his physical body. He realized that it was made of something and it was so real that at death, or when caught up in a vision when the spirit leaves the body, there seems to be little change for he can still feel that he exists in the same form. Thus he was led to say he could not tell when he was in or out of his body. He felt this was important for he repeated the fact in the next verse.
So far we have concluded that the spirit does exist and it survives death. It must be so then that it exists in us while we are yet alive. The scriptures again back up logical thinking: "But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding." (Job 32:8)
There it is in simple undeniable language.
There is a spirit in us which is sensitive enough to receive understanding from God. To those who say that all the spirit consists of is breath, let me ask how our breath can receive understanding?
Zechariah confirms this belief: "[...] Saith the Lord [...] which formeth the spirit of man within him." (Zech 12:1)
And that form is that which is viewed each day in the mirror.
Another interesting fact is that God is the "God of the spirits of all flesh." (Numbers 16:22 & 27:16) Thus man alone does not possess a spirit, but all flesh possesses such.
This is further pointed out by the fact that animals have souls:
"And levy a tribute unto the Lord of the men of war which went out to battle: one SOUL of five hundred, both of the persons, and of the beeves, and of the asses, and of the sheep." (Numbers 31:28)
Since beeves [translated plural for beef], asses and sheep have souls why not cows and pigs, and so on? Since they have souls then they also have eternal spirits for the soul does not exist without the spirit. Thus according to the Bible all flesh is in possession of a spirit which is presided over by God, and more astounding yet plants themselves have spirits for every plant was created before it was in the earth. (Gen 2:5). From this one may conclude that all living things have a spiritual counterpart, and the spirits of these living things are eternal. (1 Cor 4:18)
The ancient Jews went a step further. They believed that every natural creation that exists is an imperfect counterpart of a perfect spiritual model. In other words, the earth would have a spiritual counterpart or a spirit itself.
The Book of Hebrews backs up this belief. The author is talking about the high priests "who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed thee in the mount." (Heb 8:5)
The Amplified Bible published by Marshall, Morgan & Scott put it this way:
"But these offer service merely as a pattern and as a foreshadowing of what has its true existence and reality in the heavenly sanctuary. For when Moses was about to erect the tabernacle, he was warned by God, saying, See to it that you make it all exactly according to the copy (the model) which was shown to you on the mountain."
In other words, the things mentioned here are a "shadow of heavenly things" that are done. Everything we see about us is a shadow, however imperfect it may be, of things in heaven. The tabernacle which Moses was commanded to build was a "copy" of one already made in heaven.
If the tabernacle was copied from a heavenly image why not other things? Did not John say, "A man can receive nothing except it be given him from heaven."? (John 3:27)
As sure as this statement is true then we received every invention, modern or ancient that science has produced, from heaven: the wheel, the light bulb, the radio, houses, and all things were inspired from heaven for they were first created there, and the inventions we have today are a "shadow of heavenly things."
Copyright © 2009 by J.J. Dewey, All Rights Reserved