Conversations with a JW: Military Service

11/19/15… this convo went much better than usual, God has been showing me some things.  Would anyone here be interested in a closed discussion blog in regards to evangelistic work?  LMK.

The Christian and Military Service

It is understood throughout the Bible that part of the existence of governments includes armies, and warfare.  That reality may be an unfortunate one, because of the Fall, but it’s still reality.

Israel was held up as an example to the world… and they had an army.   Here are some of their rules of warfare:

Deuteronomy 20: 1 “When you go out to battle against your enemies and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt, is with you.2 When you are approaching the battle, the priest shall come near and speak to the people. 3 He shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel, you are approaching the battle against your enemies today. Do not be fainthearted. Do not be afraid, or panic, or tremble before them, 4 for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.’ 5 The officers also shall speak to the people, saying, ‘Who is the man that has built a new house and has not dedicated it? Let him depart and return to his house, otherwise he might die in the battle and another man would dedicate it. 6 Who is the man that has planted a vineyard and has not begun to use its fruit? Let him depart and return to his house, otherwise he might die in the battle and another man would begin to use its fruit. 7 And who is the man that is engaged to a woman and has not married her? Let him depart and return to his house, otherwise he might die in the battle and another man would marry her.’ 8 Then the officers shall speak further to the people and say, ‘Who is the man that is afraid and fainthearted? Let him depart and return to his house, so that he might not make his brothers’ hearts melt like his heart.’ 9 When the officers have finished speaking to the people, they shall appoint commanders of armies at the head of the people.

David, a man after God’s own heart, was a valiant warrior.

Acts 13:22 After He had removed him, He raised up David to be their king, concerning whom He also testified and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My heart, who will do all My will.’

Jesus Himself used force during His mortal life.

John 2: 14 And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. 15 And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; 16 and to those who were selling the doves He said, “Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business.”

Jesus praised this centurion’s faith, and did not urge him to put down his sword – nor did his faith interfere with his military service (to as corrupt a government as can be imagined).

Luke 7:2 And a centurion’s slave, who was highly regarded by him, was sick and about to die. 3 When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders asking Him to come and save the life of his slave. 4 When they came to Jesus, they earnestly implored Him, saying, “He is worthy for You to grant this to him; 5 for he loves our nation and it was he who built us our synagogue.” 6 Now Jesus started on His way with them; and when He was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to Him, “Lord, do not trouble Yourself further, for I am not worthy for You to come under my roof;7 for this reason I did not even consider myself worthy to come to You, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 8 For I also am a man placed under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.” 9 Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled at him, and turned and said to the crowd that was following Him, “I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith.”

Jesus used war in one of His parables.

Luke 14:31 Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.

Great love can be found on the field of war.

John 15: 13 Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.

Power in this world is allowed by God.

John 19: 11 Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.”

Proverbs 8:15 By me kings reign, And rulers decree justice.

The Christian is directed to be obedient to those who are in rightful authority over him.

Ephesians 6: 5 Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; 6 not by way of eye service, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. 7 With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, 8 knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free.

Which includes governments.

1 Peter 2: 13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, 14 or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. 15 For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. 16 Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. 17 Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.

Romans 13:1 Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. 3 For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; 4 for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. 5 Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. 7 Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.

The first Gentile convert was a centurion.

Acts 10:1 Now there was a man at Caesarea named Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian cohort, 2 a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, and gave many alms to the Jewish people and prayed to God continually. 3 About the ninth hour of the day he clearly saw in a vision an angel of God who had just come in and said to him, “Cornelius!” 4 And fixing his gaze on him and being much alarmed, he said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and alms have ascended as a memorial before God.

…15 Again a voice came to him a second time, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.”

… 19 While Peter was reflecting on the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. 20 But get up, go downstairs and accompany them without misgivings, for I have sent them Myself.” 21 Peter went down to the men and said, “Behold, I am the one you are looking for; what is the reason for which you have come?” 22 They said, “Cornelius, a centurion, a righteous and God-fearing man well spoken of by the entire nation of the Jews, was divinely directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and hear a message from you.” 23 So he invited them in and gave them lodging.

…34 Opening his mouth, Peter said:“I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality,35 but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him. 36 The word which He sent to the sons of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all)— 37 you yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed. 38 You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. 39 We are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They also put Him to death by hanging Him on across. 40 God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He become visible, 41 not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. 42 And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead. 43 Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.”

44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. 45 All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46 For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered,47 “Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?” 48 And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay on for a few days.

Military service, has in most times and places, not been optional.  Christians, as those subject to laws – including laws of conscription – are required to obey rightful laws except where they specifically contradict God’s clearly stated law.  And in that case, Christians are expected to pay the price for disobedience, and have done so… which is why the early Christians were martyred in droves, and why our Christian brethren continue to be martyred to this day in countries around the globe.

ETA:  Elspeth reminded me that I had failed to state the JW position.  In short, it is that he who lives by the sword shall die by the sword.  Because all the leaders of the world will die during Armageddon, they extend that to all the members of all the armies, and to every armed serviceperson.  Upon conversion/baptism to JW, the person is expected to no longer serve in the military, as an active policeman (no one who carries a gun – evidence technicians and such are allowed), or to hold employment with any company that produces arms.  JW do not vote, and hold themselves neutral on all geopolitical issues.



Am I less than the dust beneath my husband’s chariot wheels?

And if I were – would that be what God wants me to be?

Around the ‘sphere, discussions have popped up about some popular books on being a good wife – Created to be His Helpmeet and Fascinating Womanhood in particular.

While we can glean useful information from these books and articles, there is often an undercurrent of manipulation.  “If you display this behavior, your target will respond in X fashion”.   “If your target is failing to display the desired behavior, then you are somehow failing in your own display”.

I’m not saying that the instructions never work – far from it.  What I am saying is that these instructions rely upon the “clean up the outside” method of self-improvement.  And that method is neither Scriptural or useful in the long-term.

Scripturally, we are told to submit to the process of sanctification, as we are given a new heart at the time of salvation, and as the Holy Spirit works through us, changing us from the inside out.  We become harder workers for the sake of Christ, we are given the spiritual gifts of agape love and joy and faith and peace, we learn to rely upon the Lord our strength and our shield.

I have been this woman… the woman who idolizes her husband, and puts on the outer garments of godliness in order to acquire her husband’s approval.  The woman who lies in order to avoid displeasing her husband. The woman who gets stomach cramps because something happened that day that won’t please him.   The woman who casts herself down and makes herself small, in a pathetic show of submission.  The idolater.

Not only was that woman clearly in sin, she didn’t make any points with her husband!  My husband HATES that.  He hates lies, he hates dissembly, he hates it when I hedge… heck, he doesn’t even want me to wait until he’s unwound from work before I tell him what random little thing broke that day.    And God?   God knew my heart, and knew who I was really trying to please – and that I would sacrifice my relationship with Him in order to get it.  Do you think I was making any points with God?  Oh – but those books, those BOOKS told me I was doing things right.  And I could take pride in doing things “right”… couldn’t I?

When we make ourselves small, we lie about who we are.  We lie about what we are capable of doing.  We cheat our husbands of our full resources of strength, intelligence, courage, resourcefulness, and wisdom.   We are poor stewards of the gifts that God created us with.  We fail to bring Him glory.  We are the third servant in the parable of the talents – the one so afraid of his master that he hid his talent rather than investing it and putting it to use and increase.   Do you remember how the master treated that servant?

This is not to say that having worked as hard as we are able, we are not then to lay our produce at the feet of our husbands.  No.  The Bible says that it is my husband who is leader of this household.  Whatever increase I can manage – even if it’s better skill with the needle – is a benefit to my husband.  Why?  Because I obey God by submitting myself to my husband.  I do not make myself smaller … I kneel.  You can say that those are the same thing, and you’d have a point.   But when I hear “lower yourself” I hear, “make yourself less”.   I hear the advice in all those books, much of which involves acting like you have the brains of a grapefruit and the backbone of a squid.

Truly – what do you want of the one who is your helpmeet?  Would you not want someone who did everything to be as good at things as she could be, so that all the skill she found, she could then turn to the good of your family, your household?  Is not a skilled worker more valuable than a fool?

Now.  There are those who have bought our culture’s paradigm of womanhood so thoroughly that they don’t understand the joy of giving themselves utterly to their husbands, and that whatever they can acquire is not for their *own* glory, but for the glory of their husband, for the glory of God.   These women need a reality check.  They need a heart change.

Reading a book about being a better wife, looking for what she can glean to fine-tune her behavior, asking her husband for guidance… if those things come from a heart that has already surrendered, then they can be of great effect.  But if the one reading the book is looking for ways to manipulate her situation, it’s all trash.

At the end of the day… if I work hard to become the smartest, strongest, most loving, wisest woman I have the potential to become, maybe MAYBE I’ll be half the wife my husband deserves.  The very last thing I need to do is make myself less, make myself smaller.

All that I have is his, because all that I have is God’s, and God has given him dominion over me and responsibility for me.  That doesn’t lower me.  Obedience doesn’t lower anyone.

It is my honor to submit to my husband, and I do not consider myself “lessened” thereby.


Compassionate Evangelism

It was JW week again this week, and I applied some things that I’ve learned from some recent reading and the online sites to my prepared paper – and to my attitude and commentary.

Although it’s not difficult to sense the hatred waft off of her in waves when certain groups are mentioned, I didn’t know that hatred of those groups was taught to Witnesses, as a positive thing.  It is.  (Clergy, Jews, Adam & Eve – to name a few).

Although I had heard her discuss the persecution of JW, I thought she was using it as a selling point.  Maybe she is – but it, again, is something they emphasize to themselves.  As is their “free gift” of study time.   I had no idea it was such a big deal…. after all, I study with women all the time who “freely give” each other their time.

Usually my prepared stuff isn’t bad, but then when I talk, I’m just me.  So I need a little help to get into people’s backgrounds, get into their heads, learn the rules of their culture, so that I can communicate to them more effectively.  With JW, in particular, there are several red-button topics to avoid like fire.  Our chat this week went much better (and I was able to present the gospel) because I avoided those topics completely.

Some folks, like my husband, are able to entirely rely on their gift of gab, and their communication with the Holy Spirit.  Well, the Lord gives where He will – I’ve had the gift of words on occasion – but day to day?  The good Lord gave me the gift of research – and He expects me to use it.

I got two books the other day, and I think they’re incredibly valuable for evangelizing.  The Kingdom of the Occult and The Kingdom of the Cults, by Walter Martin (and family).  Nice thick books – I devoured the one in a few days, the other I read the bits that I found needful for now, and will keep the rest for reference.  I’ve read other books about the JW – I found the proof texts had become quickly outdated (they’ve changed their theology since publishing).  You can also hit online and get some good data – is a good site for JW, if a bit on the bright side.  CARM has a good list of articles.  But one does want to access more than one set of information!

So, why go to all this trouble for the annoying people who knock on your door in their best clothing when you’re in your Saturday scrubbies, trying to enjoy a nice cup of coffee or get on with your day?

Because they’re people.  Souls.  They are *not* our enemies.  Humans aren’t our enemies.  They are potential brothers and sisters in Christ.  That was the best bit about the Kingdom of the Occult, it reminds the reader constantly that we have a duty to evangelize, even to evangelize the people who are trying so hard to be scary and icky.  (Second best bit was reminding yours truly that the best evangelism is done on the knees).

If we truly believe that we are held accountable for the opportunities we have been given, how can we NOT evangelize those who *knock on our doors wanting to talk about Jesus*.  That’s an opportunity!  We could choose to show the love of Christ, we could choose to give them the gospel.  They *expect* to be persecuted, to be turned away and offered rudeness.  If, instead, we offer kindness and agape love …. thereby obeying our Master… how are we messing with their heads, their programming?

John 13:34-35

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love oneanother; as I have loved you, that ye also love oneanother. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

I know they aren’t part of the “one another” – but it’s always Christian’s LOVE that has set us apart.  When did we stop?  Yes, they’re playing for the other team – but so are the agnostics, the atheists, the nominal Christians, the Buddhists… etc.  Are we going to be frightened (in the case of the Wiccans or the Satanists) or annoyed (in the case of the JW or Mormons) into failing to give them the gospel?

The time when we could assume that every human had that basic Bible teaching somewhere in their background is *over* – they don’t.  And if they haven’t heard the Word, how can they come to faith?

Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

We have a duty… let us do it well, and with the Love that we have been given, by virtue of being indwelt by the Holy Spirit.  Let’s make our Abba proud of His kids!

(I’ll post the latest JW data in a couple of days, so it doesn’t bury this post).

Bema Seat and some rambling

Maeve had something to say here in regards to different rewards in Heaven.  I’ve been listening to Chuck Missler’s Q&A recently and he’s clearly been convicted on getting his “report card” ready for the Bema seat judgement.  And then my own pastor mentioned it… sort of as an aside, in a sermon on Acts 17.  Whenever I get the same message from several angles, I have to wonder what’s up.  (To be fair, my pastor might well listen to Missler, but I doubt that Maeve is.)

1 Corinthians 3:What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own [b]reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s [c]field, God’s building.

10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. 11 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

The Christian isn’t worried about his sins being judged, those have been covered with the blood of Christ – but our works?  Well.  Will they burn, or will they endure?

It’s always really God who does the work, so there’s that.  I don’t think we as humans are capable of judging our works – we don’t have enough information.  I know that what we do for our ego is stubble, even if the world at large thinks it’s the most Christian thing ev-ah.  And I know we’re to do all things to the glory of God, so even the smallest chore might end up being a jewel.

That said, there are better and worse things to do with our time.

And here’s where the rambling starts.  I’m not so worried about my rewards in Heaven, as long as I’m pleasing my Lord.  He’s just.  I *do* want to please Him and do my best, though.  (Does the difference make sense to y’all?)

I’m coming up on a year, not too far from now, when the job I’ve been doing for this last 15 years will be complete.  I’ll be 45 the year my youngest child starts HS, by which time I could nicely be working PT (and this is considered desirable by my husband).  So, what will I do, when I’m no longer mostly on Mom Patrol?  What happens four years later, when I’m no longer doing Mom Patrol at all?

  1. I could go back to the office.  I *hated* working in an office.  I’ll do it if nothing else presents itself, but I really, really, REALLY hate it.
  2. I could get a small business off the ground and producing income.  I have a talent, whether I can turn it into cash flow is another question.  (If you’re interested in my musings in that direction, check out my other blog, HRG).
  3. I could go back to school and get my degree in Christian Counseling, which would work off of one of my spiritual gifts.  I am loath to go back to school, not because I don’t enjoy school (I do) but because I feel like it’s very much my husband’s turn.
  4. I could start a small business and make it pay for school, which sounds impossible but fun.

I’m not asking y’all for input, although if you have some, feel free.  I am asking for prayer – and actually going to do the sane thing and spend some time this week praying for direction.  I’m not done with Mom Patrol, and actually pretty well in the trenches right now … but I’m also not so much a fool that I don’t know that this few years will vanish.  If I set things up, get in the right direction, do my foundation work, I’ll be in good shape to hit the ground running.

And while I’m at it, y’all might pray that I don’t have my head so much in the clouds of tomorrow that I don’t keep my eyes firmly on the tasks of today!  :)  I *am* in the trenches, and as always, “I have plenty to do”.  (I have no idea why women want to run the church or teach men – seriously.  I have stuff to do, I don’t need MORE).

Making a good salary and bringing it home to my husband might just be stubble on the heap of life – I know it will burn.  But it’s useful papery stuff for this life… if I use it right.  The time I’ve been given is precious, I want to steward it well.  My good brain with an endless appetite for theology, my heart for counsel, my eyes for color – they’re all gifts.  I want to use them well.  I want God to say, “well done”.

How can I best use the talents and treasure that have been lent me, so that one day, my Master will approve of my stewardship???

The Parable of the Talents

14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants[a] and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents,[b] to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.[c] You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Book Review: The Invisible War

The Invisible War:  The Panorama of the Continuing Conflict Between Good and Evil by Donald Grey Barnhouse

Rating:  5 stars

Summary:  A thorough, Biblical treatise on the war of Satan against believers and his rebellion against God.

Comments:  I went into this book thinking it would be a book about spiritual warfare, which it is not.  I went into this book thinking it would be relatively light reading, which it is not.  I went into this book as someone who believes in free will – and this book is hard-core Calvinistic.  I don’t agree with everything the author posits.

All that said – this book is incredible.  Starting with creation (Gap theory) through the last word on the last page, the Invisible War is explained, given a good thread of history, and there is so much to chew over.  Theological concepts that I’ve studied under Dr. McGee and Dr.  Missler are brought together as a whole.   Others are added and well argued.  And you get other thoughts, just thrown in there, that make you want to sit down with a concordance and get your study on.

An example:  Could the other folks who were resurrected at the time of Jesus’ resurrection have been His first-fruits?  There *is* a Jewish feast of first-fruits, which “happens” to be on the day Christ was resurrected.   That was a *throw-away* paragraph, and I’ve never heard anyone who had a theory about what was up with those folks.

I didn’t agree – quite strongly didn’t agree – with any amount of the Calvinist arguments, but the arguments were well supported.   This isn’t the kind of book that’s ruined if you don’t agree, this is the kind of book that is *better* in the spots you don’t agree, because you’re going to go think things through.

I’ll have to read this book again and again to really dig into these arguments.  This is an extremely well-written, well-thought-out, well-argued book.  I give it highest recommendations, and I strongly suggest reading it if you’re wondering how the thread of history fits together from a Biblical view.

Soul vs. Spirit: Ongoing with JW

Today was frustrating… I feel like I’m talking to a brick wall.  But you can throw this in your notes (this is my THIRD discussion about the immortality of the soul) if you have JW coming to visit you.    The word study was very nice, I really enjoyed contemplating God breathing His Spirit into us…  I enjoy the research and study, I don’t enjoy the debate.  As the Lord wills.  :p  I share these because I hope they will be of use to someone.  Maybe you have the gift of rhetoric and not the gift of research, maybe you want to be stronger in your own faith.  I don’t know why I’m compelled to continue this relationship (and yes, I’m feeling more than a little drained right at the moment, any and all atta-girls are appreciated) but … may it bless YOU.

First challenge:  She told me (some time ago) that the concept of the immortal soul, and its awareness was something that Plato developed, and didn’t appear prior to NT times.  She walked backwards of that a bit *today*, saying that she meant that only in regards to Christianity/Judaism.  But my research was both.  May I say that the Mayans had a particularly nasty afterlife?  :p

Doctrine of Eternal, Immortal Soul/Soul Awareness, its historicity (general) and specific to Christianity

OT Biblical

1 Samuel 28, the witch of Endor – Whether or not this was actually Samuel or if God used another spirit to speak to the witch, both she and Saul *believed* that souls lived after death, conscious and able to chat.

Gen 35:18  And it came to pass,H1961 as her soulH5315 was in departing,H3318 (forH3588 she died)H4191 that she calledH7121 his nameH8034 Benoni:H1126 but his fatherH1 calledH7121 him Benjamin.H1144

  • Soul is nephesh, as seen in our other research
  • Departing here is : yatsa, which means “to go or come out”
  • Her body died, her soul *left*.

NT Biblical:

Matthew 22:32 I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.  {Does God then stop being God at any time?  I think not.}

Matthew 17:3-4 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.

4 Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

{Chatting people are soul-alive, regardless of their bodily aspect}.

John 11: 23-27 Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.”  “Yes,” Martha said, “he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day.” Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life.* Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?” “Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.”

 {Note:  Never.Ever.Die.  Either our Lord is lying… mistaken… or our souls do not die – because our bodies certainly do}.

Luke 23: 43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise. {Today *you* – which is the soul, as it is certainly not referring to the body, will be somewhere).

Revelation 6:9-10  And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?

(souls crying – not embodied, but with opinions)

Historical references, Judaism:  (Note – I don’t believe that these are Truth, but we were discussing whether or not the concept of an after-death soul that is aware had occurred prior to the Greeks and their concept of the Olympian gods)

Josephus (who was a Jew) gave a very traditional understanding of Hades/Sheol and the doctrine of the immortal soul.  Find it here:

Pharisees (who believed that there is an eternal soul) vs. Sadducees (who do not)

Historical, other religions:

Egyptian, ancient:

Throughout the underworld journey, the deceased’s spirit would have to contend with gods, strange creatures and gatekeepers to reach Osiris and the Hall of Final Judgment. Here they would plead their case for entry into the afterlife.

The Upanishads, the ancient set of Hindu religious texts, postulated an eternal, changeless core of the self called as the “Atman.” This soul or “deep self” was viewed as being identical with the unchanging godhead, referred to as Brahma (the unitary ground of being that transcends particular gods and goddesses). Untouched by the variations of time and circumstance, the Atman was nevertheless entrapped in the world of “samsara” (the cycle of death and rebirth). Unlike Western treatments of reincarnation, which tend to make the idea of coming back into body after body seem exotic, desirable, and even romantic, Hinduism, Buddhism, and other southern Asian religions portray the samsaric process as unhappy. Life in this world means suffering.


 To the Maya, the afterlife was a journey of the soul toward paradise; but there was no guarantee at all that one would reach one’s destination. At death, the soul went down to the underworld, a dark and frightening place called Xibalba (or Metnal) which was populated by terrifying deities with names like Bloody Teeth, Flying Scab, and Bloody Claw. In perpetual darkness, the underworld had rivers of blood and pus and the trees were dead, the landscape barren. The Lords of Xibalba were just as apt to steer a soul in the wrong direction on its quest as the right one. Having arrived in Xibalba, one needed to not only navigate one’s way across it but, then, ascend the nine levels to reach the middle world (earth) and then thirteen more levels before arriving at Tamoanchan (paradise). Once one attained the realm of the gods, one would then descend to a lower level, on the earth or just above it, to live in eternal happiness. The only souls considered exempt from this journey were sacrificial victims, women who died in childbirth, those killed in warfare, suicides, and those who died playing the ball game Pok-a-Tok.

Ancient Celts (ie druids): What is known about the afterlife beliefs of the Celtic peoples is sketchy and often contradictory. The classical authors are unanimous in declaring that the Celts held an unshakable belief in a happy life after death. It made them fearless in battle and was so strong that debts were said sometimes to be deferred until the next life. While this belief in personal survival is well attested, there is much less agreement on the details of the fate of the dead.

Ancestor worship:  Various cultures, worldwide.  If you’re worshipping (offering sacrifices to, praying to) your ancestors, obviously they’re aware and able to do something – or at least you think they are.

Modern Jewish thought is varied – extremely varied – but does believe in something after death. Excerpt of interest:  The resurrection of the dead will occur in the messianic age, a time referred to in Hebrew as the Olam Ha-Ba, the World to Come, but that term is also used to refer to the spiritual afterlife. When themessiah comes to initiate the perfect world of peace and prosperity, the righteous dead will be brought back to life and given the opportunity to experience the perfected world that their righteousness helped to create. The wicked dead will not be resurrected.  [ This seems, to me, to be very similar to the position that you as a Witness have expressed].


Second challenge:  I have to give it to her, I was being sloppy in reference to soul and spirit, and she called me on it.  So, here’s the the word study on soul vs. spirit, which was quite enjoyable.  I’ve left on all the (fairly dull) citations.

I am comfortable defining …

Soul:  Seat of “self”, emotions.

Spirit:  “Vital principle” with some interesting aspects of “air”. 

Genesis 2: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.

Breath of life here = נשׁמה



From H5395; a puff, that is, wind, angry or vital breath, divine inspiration, intellect or (concretely) an animal: – blast, (that) breath (-eth), inspiration, soul, spirit.

Soul here is nephesh, see attached.

So God formed man’s body (flesh) and animated it with spirit, and man became a living soul.

Short definitions culled from below details:


OT Soul:

a soul, living being, life, self, person, desire, passion, appetite, emotion

NT Soul: (a) the vital breath, breath of life, (b) the human soul, (c) the soul as the seat of affections and will, (d) the self, (e) a human person, an individual.

OT Spirit:

air (2), anger (1), blast (2), breath (31), breathless* (1), cool (1), courage (1), despondency* (1), exposed (1), grief* (1), heart (1), inspired (1), mind (3), motives (1), points (1), quick-tempered* (1), side (4), sides (2), Spirit (76), spirit (127), spirits (3), strength (1), temper (2), thoughts* (1), trustworthy* (1), wind (98), winds (7), windy (2), wrath (1).

NT Spirit: a current of air, that is, breath (blast) or a breeze; by analogy or figuratively a spirit, that is, (human) the rational soul, (by implication) vital principle, mental disposition, etc., or (superhuman) an angel, daemon, or (divine) God, Christ’s spirit, the Holy spirit: – ghost, life, spirit (-ual, -ually), mind.






OT:  Genesis 2:7 


Nephesh H5315




Strong’s Concordance

nephesh: a soul, living being, life, self, person, desire, passion, appetite, emotion

Original Word: נָ֫פֶשׁ
Part of Speech: Noun Feminine
Transliteration: nephesh
Phonetic Spelling: (neh’-fesh)
Short Definition: soul

NAS Exhaustive Concordance

Word Origin
from an unused word
a soul, living being, life, self, person, desire, passion, appetite, emotion
NASB Translation
any (1), anyone (2), anyone* (1), appetite (7), being (1), beings (3), body (1), breath (1), corpse (2), creature (6), creatures (3), dead (1), dead person (2), deadly (1), death (1), defenseless* (1), desire (12), desire* (2), discontented* (1), endure* (1), feelings (1), fierce* (2), greedy* (1), heart (5), heart’s (2), herself (12), Himself (4), himself (19), human (1), human being (1), hunger (1), life (146), life* (1), lifeblood* (2), lives (34), living creature (1), longing* (1), man (4), man’s (1), men* (2), mind (2), Myself (3), myself (2), number (1), ones (1), others (1), ourselves (3), own (1), passion* (1), people (2), people* (1), perfume* (1), person (68), person* (1), persons (19), slave (1), some (1), soul (238), soul’s (1), souls (12), strength (1), themselves (6), thirst (1), throat (2), will (1), wish (1), wishes (1), yourself (11), yourselves (13).



NT:  Matthew 12:18 Psuche





From G5594; breath, that is, (by implication) spirit, abstractly or concretely (the animal sentient principle only; thus distinguished on the one hand from G4151, which is the rational and immortal soul; and on the other from G2222, which is mere vitality, even of plants: these terms thus exactly correspond respectively to the Hebrew [H5315], [H7307] and [H2416]: – heart (+ -ily), life, mind, soul, + us, + you.

Strong’s Concordance

psuché: breath, the soul

Original Word: ψυχή, ῆς, ἡ
Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine
Transliteration: psuché
Phonetic Spelling: (psoo-khay’)
Short Definition: the soul, life, self
Definition: (a) the vital breath, breath of life, (b) the human soul, (c) the soul as the seat of affections and will, (d) the self, (e) a human person, an individual.

HELPS Word-studies

5590 psyxḗ (from psyxō, “to breathe, blow” which is the root of the English words “psyche,” “psychology”) – soul (psyche); a person’s distinct identity(unique personhood), i.e. individual personality.

5590 (psyxē) corresponds exactly to the OT 5315 /phágō (“soul”). The soulis the direct aftermath of God breathing (blowing) His gift of life into aperson, making them an ensouled being.

NAS Exhaustive Concordance

Word Origin
of uncertain origin
breath, the soul
NASB Translation
heart (2), heartily (1), life (36), lives (7), mind (1), minds (1), person (1), persons (3), soul (33), souls (14), suspense* (1), thing (1).

Thayer’s Greek Lexicon

STRONGS NT 5590: ψυχή

ψυχή, ψυχῆς, ἡ (ψύχω, to breathe, blow), from Homer down, theSept. times too many to count for נֶפֶשׁ, occasionally also for לֵב and לֵבָב;

  1. breath(Latinanima), i. e.
  2. the breath of life; the vital forcewhich animates the body and shows itself in breathing: Acts 20:10; of animals, Revelation 8:9 (Genesis 9:4;Genesis 35:18; ἐπιστραφήτω ψυχή τοῦ παιδαρίου, 1 Kings 17:21); so also in those passages where, in accordance with the trichotomy or threefold division of human nature by the Greeks, ἡ ψυχή; is distinguished from τό πνεῦμα (see πνευαμ, 2, p. 520a (and references under the word πνεῦμα 5)), 1 Thessalonians 5:23Hebrews 4:12.
  3. life:μέριμναν τῇ ψυχή, Matthew 6:25Luke 12:22; τήν ψυχήνἀγαπᾶν, Revelation 12:11; (μισεῖν, Luke 14:26); τιθέναι, John 10:11, 15, 17John 13:37John 15:131 John 3:16; παραδιδόναι, Acts 15:26; διδόναι (λύτρον, which see), Matthew 20:28Mark 10:45;ζητεῖν τήν ψυχήν τίνος (see ζητέω, 1 a.), Matthew 2:20Romans 11:3; add, Matthew 6:25Mark 3:4Luke 6:9Luke 12:20, 23Acts 20:24;Acts 27:10, 22Romans 16:42 Corinthians 1:23Philippians 2:301 Thessalonians 2:8; in the pointed aphorisms of Christ, intended to fix themselves in the minds of his hearers, the phrases εὑρίσκειν,σῴζειν, ἀπολλύναι τήν ψυχήν αὐτοῦ, etc., designate asψυχή in one of the antithetic members the life which is lived on earth,in the other, the (blessed) life in the eternal kingdom of GodMatthew 10:39Matthew 16:25Mark 8:35-37Luke 9:24, 56 Rec.; ; John 12:25; the life destined to enjoy the Messianic salvation is meant also in the following phrases ((where R. V. soul)): περιποίησις ψυχῆς, Hebrews 10:39;κτᾶσθαι τάς ψυχάς, Luke 21:19; ὑπέρ τῶν ψυχῶν (here A. V.(not R. V.) for you; cf.
  4. below),2 Corinthians 12:15.
  5. that in which there is life; a living being:ψυχή ζῶσα, a living soul, 1 Corinthians 15:45; (Revelation 16:3 R Tr marginal reading) (Genesis 2:7; plural ); πᾶσα ψυχή ζωῆς, Revelation 16:3 (G L T Trtext WH) (Leviticus 11:10); πᾶσα ψυχή, every soul, i. e. everyone,Acts 2:43Acts 3:23Romans 13:1 (so כָּל־נֶפֶשׁ, Leviticus 7:17 (27); ); withἀνθρώπου added, every soul of man (אָדָם נֶפֶשׁ, Numbers 31:40, 46(cf. 1 Macc. 2:38)), Romans 2:9. ψυχαί, souls (like the Latincapita) i. e.persons (in enumerations; cf. German Seelenzahl): Acts 2:41Acts 7:14;Acts 27:371 Peter 3:20 (Genesis 46:15, 18, 22, 26, 27Exodus 1:5;Exodus 12:4Leviticus 2:1Numbers 19:11, 13, 18; (Deuteronomy 10:22); the examples from Greek authors (cf. Passow, under the word, 2, vol. ii, p. 2590b) are of a different sort (yet cf. Liddell and Scott, under the word, II. 2)); ψυχαί ἀνθρώπων of slaves (A. V. souls of men (R. V. with marginal reading ‘Or lives’)), Revelation 18:13 (so (Numbers 31:35); Ezekiel 27:13; see σῶμα, 1 c. (cf. Winer’s Grammar, § 22, 7 N. 3)).
  6. the soul(Latinanimus), a. the seat of the feelings, desires, affections, aversions (our soul, heart, etc. (R. V. almost uniformlysoul); for examples from Greek writings see Passow, under the word, 2, vol. ii., p. 2589b; (Liddell and Scott, under the word, II. 3); Hebrew נֶפֶשׁ, cf. Gesenius, Thesaurus ii, p. 901 in 3): Luke 1:46Luke 2:35John 10:24 (cf.αἴρω, 1 b.); Acts 14:2, 22Acts 15:24Hebrews 6:192 Peter 2:8, 14; ἡἐπιθυμία τῆς ψυχῆς, Revelation 18:14; ἀνάπαυσιν ταῖςψυχαῖς εὑρίσκειν, Matthew 11:29; ψυχή, … ἀναπαύου, φάγε,πίε (WH brackets these three imperatives), εὐφραίνου (personification and direct address), Luke 12:19, cf. Luke 12:18 (ἡ ψυχήἀναπαύσεται, Xenophon, Cyril 6, 2, 28; ἐυφραίνειν τήνψυχήν, Aelian v. h. 1, 32); εὐδοκεῖ ἡ ψυχή μου (anthropopathically, of God), Matthew 12:18Hebrews 10:38; περίλυπος ἐστιν ἡ ψυχήμου, Matthew 26:38Mark 14:34; ἡ ψυχή μου τετάρακται, John 12:27; ταῖς ψυχαῖς ὑμῶν ἀκλυόμενοι (fainting in your souls (cf.ἐκλύω, 2 b.)), Hebrews 12:3; ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ ψυχή σου, with all thy soul, Matthew 22:37; (Luke 10:27 L text T Tr WH); ἐξ ὅλης τῆς ψυχῆςσου (Latinex toto animo), with (literally, from (cf. ἐκ, II. 12 b.)) all thy soul, Mark 12:30, 33 (here T WH omit; L Tr marginal reading brackets the phrase); Luke 10:27 (R G) (Deuteronomy 6:5; (Epictetus diss. 3, 22, 18 (cf.Xenophon, anab. 7, 7, 43)); Antoninus 3, 4; (especially 4, 31; 12, 29); ὅλῃτῇ ψυχή φροντίζειν τίνος (rather, with κεχαρισθαι), Xenophon, mem. 3, 11, 10); μία ψυχή, with one soul (cf. πνεῦμα, 2, p. 520a bottom), Philippians 1:27; τοῦ πλήθους … ἦν ἡ καρδία καί ἡψυχή μία, Acts 4:32 (ἐρωτηθεις τί ἐστι φίλος, ἔφη. μίαψυχή δύο σώμασιν ἐνοικουσα, (Diogenes Laërtius 5, 20 (cf.Aristotle, eth. Nic. 9, 8, 2, p. 1168b, 7; on the elliptical ἀπό μιᾶς (namely,ψυχῆς?), see ἀπό, III.)); ἐκ ψυχῆς, from the heart, heartily(Ephesians 6:6 (Tr WH with Ephesians 6:7)); Colossians 3:23 (ἐκ τῆςψυχῆς often in Xenophon; τό ἐκ ψυχῆς πένθος, Josephus, Antiquities 17, 6, 5).
  7. “the (human) soul in so far as it is so constituted that by the right use of the aids offered it by God it can attain its highest end and secure eternal blessedness, the soul regarded as a moral being designed for everlasting life”:3 John 1:2; ἀγρύπνειν ὑπέρ τῶν ψυχῶν, Hebrews 13:17;ἐπιθυμίαι, αἵτινες στρατεύονται κατά τῆς ψυχῆς, 1 Peter 2:11; ἐπίσκοπος τῶν ψυχῶν, 1 Peter 2:25; σῴζειν τάς ψυχάς,James 1:21; ψυχήν ἐκ θανάτου, from eternal death, James 5:20;σωτηρία ψυχῶν, 1 Peter 1:9; ἁγνίζειν τάς ψυχάς ἑαυτῶν, 1 Peter 1:22; (τάς ψυχάς πιστῷ κτίστῃ παρατίθεσθαι, 1 Peter 4:19).
  8. the soul as an essence which differs from the body and is not dissolved by death(distinguished from τό σῶμα, as the other part of human nature (so in Greek writings from Isocrates and Xenophon down; cf. examples in Passow, under the word, p. 2589{a} bottom; Liddell and Scott, under the word, II. 2)): Matthew 10:28, cf. 4 Macc. 13:14 (it is calledἀθάνατος, Herodotus 2, 123; Plato Phaedr., p. 245 c., 246 a., others;ἄφθαρτος, Josephus, b. j. 2, 8, 14; διαλυθῆναι τήν ψυχήν ἀπότοῦ σώματος, Epictetus diss. 3, 10, 14); the soul freed from the body, a disembodied soul, Acts 2:27, 31 Rec.; Revelation 6:9Revelation 20:4(Wis. 3:1; (on the Homeric use of the word, see Ebeling, Lex. Homer, under the word, 3, and references at the end, also Proudfit in Bib. Sacr. for 1858, pp. 753-805)).


Spirit OT Genesis 41:8



From H7306; wind; by resemblance breath, that is, a sensible (or even violent) exhalation; figuratively life, anger, unsubstantiality; by extension a region of the sky; by resemblance spirit, but only of a rational being (including its expression and functions): – air, anger, blast, breath, X cool, courage, mind, X quarter, X side, spirit ([-ual]), tempest, X vain, ([whirl-]) wind (-y).

Strong’s Concordance

ruach: breath, wind, spirit

Original Word: ר֫וּחַ
Part of Speech: Noun Feminine
Transliteration: ruach
Phonetic Spelling: (roo’-akh)
Short Definition: spirit

NAS Exhaustive Concordance

Word Origin
from an unused word
breath, wind, spirit
NASB Translation
air (2), anger (1), blast (2), breath (31), breathless* (1), cool (1), courage (1), despondency* (1), exposed (1), grief* (1), heart (1), inspired (1), mind (3), motives (1), points (1), quick-tempered* (1), side (4), sides (2), Spirit (76), spirit (127), spirits (3), strength (1), temper (2), thoughts* (1), trustworthy* (1), wind (98), winds (7), windy (2), wrath (1).






From G4154; a current of air, that is, breath (blast) or a breeze; by analogy or figuratively a spirit, that is, (human) the rational soul, (by implication) vital principle, mental disposition, etc., or (superhuman) an angel, daemon, or (divine) God, Christ’s spirit, the Holy spirit: – ghost, life, spirit (-ual, -ually), mind. Compare G5590.

Strong’s Concordance

pneuma: wind, spirit

Original Word: πνεῦμα, ατος, τό
Part of Speech: Noun, Neuter
Transliteration: pneuma
Phonetic Spelling: (pnyoo’-mah)
Short Definition: wind, breath, spirit
Definition: wind, breath, spirit.

HELPS Word-studies

4151 pneúma – properly, spirit (Spirit), wind, or breath. The most frequent meaning (translation) of 4151 (pneúma) in the NT is “spirit” (“Spirit“). Only the context however determines which sense(s) is meant.

[Any of the above renderings (spirit-Spirit, windbreath) of 4151 (pneúma) is always theoretically possible (spiritSpiritwindbreath). But when the attributive adjective (“holy”) is used, it always refers to the Holy Spirit. “Spirit” (“spirit”) is by far the most common translation (application) of 4151(pneúma).

The Hebrew counterpart (rûach) has the same range of meaning as 4151(pneúma), i.e. it likewise can refer to spirit/Spiritwind, or breath.]

NAS Exhaustive Concordance

Word Origin
from pneó
wind, spirit
NASB Translation
breath (3), Spirit (241), spirit (101), spirits (32), spiritual (1), wind (1), winds (1).