The unbreakable link between body and soul

The Sanctity of Life and the Resurrection - Third in a Series

When we think of the deterioration of the body after death, we may think of it as erasing the link between the human soul and body. But there is no breaking of that link; body and soul remain integrated despite appearances.

A Scripture that may help to demonstrate this truth is found in 2 Kings. Elisha, God’s prophet, had died and been buried. Moabites invaded Israel the next year. A man was being buried when those in charge saw them approaching, so they cast the man into the tomb of Elisha. And as a man was being buried, behold, a marauding band was seen and the man was thrown into the grave of Elisha, and as soon as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood on his feet. (2 Kings 13:21) A resurrection took place, and was perhaps Elisha's final miracle. (He also resurrected the son of the Shunammite woman. (2 Ki 4:32-35))

Obviously, though Elisha’s soul was at rest and his body had disintegrated except for his skeleton, those bones retained his person in some way that we cannot define. That is hard to grasp but something to think about before you sign your driver’s license.

Can we be sure we will never again need our heart, our lungs, our kidneys? Will our resurrected bodies have different parts or merely different qualities? When you drink and eat at the marriage supper of Jesus (Rev 19:7; Mat 26:29), will it be your mouth and tongue, your body? Job, whom we meet in the Bible before the book of Psalms, would say, Yours.

If we had to select one Scripture or passage that best relates the concept of the eternal integration or unity of man’s soul and body, it might be Job 19:25-27:

For I know that my Redeemer lives,
And He shall stand at last on the earth;
And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God,
Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!

(New King James Version)

In the depths of his misery, Job prophesied about Jesus Christ, and that he knew he would see him on the earth, in his very own body, with his own eyes, even though his body were long since perished, it would nevertheless be true.

The King James translation says: though after my skin worms destroy this body, a more graphic picture of corruption. There is no way to prettify the process of deterioration. Thankfully, given enough time, a body will become invisible. But does that mean that it has disappeared from the realm of life? We cannot see God either, but by faith we believe he exists as the everliving One.

Can an invisible body materialize? Some stories and TV shows come to mind. Those are only fictions, but just as surely as matter can neither be created nor destroyed, a new day will dawn and a human soul will again be clothed his or her body. A temporary disintegration of the body does not break the link between a human body and its soul.

The Bible explains that our resurrected bodies will be glorified. “Sown in corruption,” they will be raised in incorruption (1 Cor 15:42) What will that new body be like? In a word, like Christ’s. The Bible reveals that Christ will transform our humble condition into conformity with the body of his glory. (Phil 3:20-21)

How does the Bible describe Christ's resurrected body?

It was physical:
“See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” (Luke 24:39)
More than 500 people saw him. (1 Cor 15:6)
And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. And he took it, and did eat before them. (Acts 10:41)

You may wonder about this, since Paul stated: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. (1 Cor 15:44) However, theologians point out that this does not mean made out of spirit, but directed by the Spirit.

It was his body:
Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. (Jhn 20:27)
Since Thomas was invited to thrust his hand into Jesus’ side, we understand that the resurrected body has new qualities. Evidently Jesus was no longer bloody yet his wounds were apparent; it was his body, not a newly created one.

It was different in some aspects:
Our glorified bodies will be capable of new states:
And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. (Luk 24:30-31)
Additionally, they are not sexual in the same way as they once were:
For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven. (Mark 12:25)

A 17th century theologian, John Gill, wrote, “If the body was reduced to nothing by death, the resurrection of the body would not be properly a resurrection, but a creation of a new body… This is no other, nor better, than a transmigration of souls into other bodies.” But Christians do not believe in reincarnation. We believe in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.

The Bible teaches there is integration of body and soul

The Sanctity of Life and the Resurrection - Second in a Series

What do we mean by Sanctity of Life and can the concept be related to a dead person?

For Christians, the phrase means that human life made in the image of God deserves protection from conception to natural death. Perhaps that statement ought to be qualified in this way: “For pro-life Christians.” Some say Christians can be pro-choice, and that is only one of many arguments in today’s Church.

The phrase is also a political and legislative term used by pro-lifers, religious or not, to encourage respect for life.

In general the concept does not extend to the human after death, but it is applicable to end-of-life matters, forbidding euthanasia, assisted suicide and neglect of elderly and coma patients.

However, fairly recently the conceptual framework was enlarged to include aborted fetuses. The “baby body parts” scandal that erupted when David Delaiden exposed Planned Parenthood’s routine of selling baby parts and aborting babies in specific ways to facilitate harvesting of organs, sparked Congressional investigations. Why?

The combination of the voiceless child, the revising of the abortion procedure to neatly sever particularly valuable organs for research purposes, and the profit motive, stunned the public. We cried out for respect for these innocent victims. They deserved the protection of the law, even though dead (not to mention that the aborted woman was endangered further by revising the procedure to prevent damage to the baby body parts).

It is unclear how all these pieces of the controversy logically adhere. The end of the age is confusion itself. But in any case, in the USA it is not legal to sell organs, and the concept of the Sanctity of Life tenuously was extended to lifeless humans in the second decade of the 21st century, though probably some would argue that the legal rights were for the live fetus, not the dead one.

In the not very distant past, the Sanctity of Life did include the dead person without question or controversy. Christians accepted that at death the soul was received into heaven and the body should rest undisturbed awaiting the Day of Resurrection, because even in death the Christian’s body is united with Christ.

Question 86 of the The Westminster Larger Catechism asks: What is the communion in glory with Christ which the members of the invisible church enjoy immediately after death? The answer is:

The communion in glory with Christ which the members of the invisible church enjoy immediately after death, is, in that their souls are then made perfect in holiness, and received into the highest heavens, where they behold the face of God in light and glory, waiting for the full redemption of their bodies, which even in death continue united to Christ, and rest in their graves as in their beds, till at the last day they be again united to their souls.

Not everyone who may read this blog would consider any church confession or catechism relevant to their faith in Jesus Christ, but most probably would acknowledge the historic influence of such documents on the church as very significant.

Those who penned the Westminster Confession were the brightest minds of that day. (If any would want to read more about them or their work, see here.) Their grasp of Scripture was magnificent and they stated that only Scripture could explain Scripture.

They understood that the resurrection of our bodies was essential to Christ’s full work as our Redeemer. (1 Thess 5:23) We wait for our adoption as God’s sons and daughters which will occur at the Resurrection when our bodies are reunited with our souls. (Rom 8:23) These would be some Scriptures that reveal that a belief in eternal life assumes Sanctity of Life for the individual person, dead or alive, because the Scripture teaches there is an integration of body and soul that death cannot break.

So, the first Scriptural reason why belief in the doctrine of the Resurrection means a Christian should not share body parts and should be buried, not cremated, is that there is an integration of the human body and soul. This may be inferred from numerous passages and we hope to look at more of these in the next post.

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...and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind ... the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind ...the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. -Genesis 1

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A SistersSite eBook

Flesh and Bone and The Protestant Conscience is an e-book on Amazon.com. It is 99¢ and in the Amazon lending library as well. The book description follows.

Would you let your conscience be your guide?

Does God care if the skin and bone of the dead are passed along to the living for medical uses? Is organ donation OK with God? Should you sign a Living Will?

Did you know that dead organ donors are often anesthetized before their organs are removed? Do you know the current definition of death? The conscience cannot function without facts.

As we ponder the ethics of in vitro fertilization, stem cell research and man-made chimeras, our thoughts trail off. How then should we live? (Ez 33:10)

How should a Christian think about euthanasia by starvation when doctors and the state attorney general all agree it is time to withhold feeding from a brain injured patient? Some things are family matters, but someday it may be our family.

Here is a small book to help you think about whether you want to sign your driver's license, donate a kidney, cremate your loved one, and many other practical questions that may arise in the course of your healthcare decisions or watch over others.

It offers a special focus on the doctrine of the Resurrection that is related to such decisions. Sunday School classes and Bible Study groups could use this book to facilitate discussion about the issues covered.