Look! I am sending my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. Then the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to his Temple. The messenger of the covenant, whom you look for so eagerly, is surely coming,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. Who will be able to endure it when he comes? Who will be able to stand and face him when he appears?
“Our Christian faith is a relationship religion that tells us about where we are going and what we will be doing in the after-life, or the life eternal. That is, to prepare us for something without end, or something after this world that is not of this world. If we think only about this world and ourselves in it, our vision is very limited, and we cannot see or know the possibilities and promises that eternal life can offer. In this vacuum, we cannot know where we came from, and we cannot see where we are going. And, if that is the case, then what is the purpose of life? When we finally seek the truth about the beginning and the end of things we find out what the whole of life is about. We truly find Christ, and if we find Christ we now have learned the truth about eternal life. What we have done is to discover that we not only have life eternal, but a soul to help us get there. We learn for the first-time, that to prepare for eternity we must fill our soul with the eternal truth and goodness of God. The soul is a collection center for all things true, all things good, and all things eternal. To think for just a moment that we humans have been designed with an actual component to our being that longs and lives for eternity is profoundly enlightening. Yet to know that we know and have done so very little in this life about it is absolutely frightening. If this has not happened, then our hearts are foolish, our minds shallow, and our souls empty.”
steve isaac 1996
Today we can take some important time to consider our soul. Our soul is not something that we talk or meditate on too often – but that might change. Our Advent theme is of course Prepare, and we cannot prepare for the coming of Christ without considerable and essential participation of our soul. The bible tells us that the soul never dies, that it is first and foremost part of the human make-up – our soul is eternal, and God designed us that way. Because God is eternal, then our soul is that part of us that is most like Him. Let’s look at how you and I can connect ourselves to the biblical truths and spiritual depth of our soul, and how we can prepare it for the eternal life promise of Jesus to return for us. We need to know that we can find very specific and practical commands to raise our level of eternity consciousness to fill our soul with the goodness and truth of God’s word and plans for our eternal destiny.
The soul of a human is mysterious, and by most modern writers loosely defined. Because of that, many Christians do not pursue a full understanding or give conscious effort to grasp God’s intentions for the soul as it relates to the ultimate outcome of our life. The bible is however not mysterious about the nature of the human soul or its significance to our eternal destiny in Christ. In the bible, the term or word soul was used in original text in the language of both Hebrew – (nephes); that which lives on, and Greek – (psuche); possessing life. And of course, you can’t leave out soul in its most commonly used text of Latin; (anima) meaning; the center of life’s movement.
The Bible is also very clear that as people of faith in God and belief in Christ, that we should wisely use our time here in this life to prepare our soul for eternal life, the hereafter, life after death, or eternity. As I said earlier, Bible is also very specific about what must be done in order for us to do that. Our soul must be nurtured, fed and filled, much like our physical being. The difference obviously is that our soul is nurtured, fed, and filled with eternal truth, the goodness and virtue of God, and the humble surrender of our human will to the divine and sovereign will to that good God. Sadly it is also true that the soul left unattended and starving can become damaged in which case the soul can stumble, fall, reject, rebel, and end up eternally apart from our Creator. This is not the outcome that we want for our soul, and more importantly neither does our great God. But it does happen, and will continue, as long as humanity seeks to feed its fleshly and ungodly desires. The flesh is not eternal but temporal – it cannot prepare or soul for eternity and the life hereafter. The apostle Paul had a complete understanding of the flesh and its destructive impact and energy to our soul.
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
If Paul’s words are not fully appreciated and accepted, they are at the very least pretty clear… I love the clarity there. If I feed my flesh I am starving my soul, even though the scripture plainly says that my soul longs for God. My soul longs to be nurtured and fed the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. So to prepare our soul for the return of Jesus we must choose to think, speak and do those things that feed our soul and raise our spirit.
So, what is meant by the term “soul”? Soul, based on the original biblical and Christian tradition is the connective center of the inner powers of a person. As the ancient biblical command calls us to “love the Lord God with all our soul” would be for us to fully respond affirmatively to God from that connective center of our entire being. That is a big idea – but it is an idea that is a big deal not only to God as our Creator, but to us as His creation. We can remember Job speaking of his soul in crisis as it was poured out in tears, or when his soul was forced by personal tragedy to wait patiently for God in his test of endurance. Our soul is a deep-seated reflection of what we feel, know, and will, those things which animate the body to life. Regardless of what we think, the soul (our soul) lives out of God – in either obedience or rebellion. It is also true that the soul’s timelines transcend the boundaries of human mortality. Finally, we need to know that the soul is the place where spiritual truth is revealed (by the Spirit) to us all. This revelation is preparation for our soul, and is what we use to set the course for the outcome we desire most for ourselves and ones we love in this life.
There is a soul and we all have one.
And now, what does the Lord your God require of you, but I to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good? Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it.
Jesus said… So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
Our soul has a divine nature to desire and seek God.
As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me continually, “Where is your God?” These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival. Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.
When we seek, honor, and worship God our soul is filled and prepared for the advent of Christ.
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south. Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to a city to dwell in; hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He led them by a straight way till they reached a city to dwell in. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of men! For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.