Rev. Milton Gardner
The writer of Genesis says, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life: And man became a living soul.” What is the soul? The answer to this question has through the centuries been elusive and difficult. It is like trying to explain the Holy Trinity, eternity and predestination versus the free will of man. All of these are difficult doctrines . . . but, what about the soul?
In the Bible, the concept of the soul has a variety of meanings. In the Old Testament, the word soul is used in a general sense. Usually it means life or lives if used in the plural. The Revised Standard Version translates the above quoted passage, “and man became a living being.” The Hebrew word in nephesh and means literally, “a complete person.” When the Hebrews thought of the soul they thought of it as the whole man.
In the New Testament, the concept of the soul has three meanings. Sometimes, it means the life principle, sometimes the reason and sometimes the spirit-in-flesh that is bound by the Gospel to the eternal God. The soul then is more than life, for the lower animals have life. It is the essence of being manifested by the ability to reason and to trust in supernatural reality such as God. I believe, too, the soul is eternal in the sense that it is not subject of the forces of physical death, but lives in fellowship with God in Heaven or separated from God in hell.
Daniel Webster said: “If we work upon marble, it will perish. If we work upon brass, time will efface it. If we rear temples, they will crumble to dust. But if we work upon immortal souls, and embue them with just principles, the fear of God and the love of their fellow men, we engrave on those tablets that which will brighten all eternity.”
Each person has a soul. I believe we ought to remember where our soul originates and that remembering God has given us our most precious possession, we should seek daily to live in such a way that some day our soul may return to Him.