Monday, 17 June 2013

When Body and Soul Must Part

We speak of keeping body and soul together, but the Scriptures show that a time is coming for all of us when body and soul must part. For the believer, this is not a matter for regret, but for happy expectation. As the great Puritan preacher and writer, Thomas Watson, said: 'At death all sorrows die.' The seventeenth-century poet, Richard Crashaw, wrote in his poem Temperance:

And when life's sweet fable ends,
Soul and body part like friends;
No quarrels, murmurs, no delay;
A kiss, a sigh, and so away.

But in our day, many think that the idea of two substances together - body and soul - making up human nature is 'scientifically untenable'. No doubt for that reason, 'Even many Christian philosophers and scientists assert that the human soul is just a complex property of the body and, as such, cannot exist apart from it.' This quotation is from John Byl's excellent book, The Divine Challenge (Banner of Truth, 2004). And here I would like to commend the chapter in that book entitled, 'Body and Soul', as the most satisfying brief account of this topic by a modern author that I have seen.

One aspect of this subject that is worth emphasizing is that, for all Christian believers who subscribe to the Westminster Confession, the Baptist Confession of 1689, the Belgic Confession, or the Heidelberg Catechism, denying or questioning the doctrine of human nature as composed of body and soul is not an option. Byl gives the relevant references.

'But', it will be objected, 'our authority is Jesus Christ, not creeds and confessions.' Yes indeed! Therefore let us listen to Jesus' words: 'Fear not them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul' (Matthew 10:28). These few words from him who is the Truth carry more weight than whole libraries of science, psychology, and philosophy, to those who believe in him, love him, and entrust the salvation of body and soul to him alone.

Hide me, O my Saviour, hide, 
Till the storm of life is past;
Safe into the haven guide; 

O receive my soul at last.
                        Charles Wesley


  1. Great article on a subject we all need to consider. You seem to be receiving grace for this time. Now that I have been introduced to your ministry I will put you on my prayer list for more grace to meet the lover of your soul. May God reveal that He is at your side all the time.
    Terry Mengle, Kent, Washington, USA

    1. Deaar Brother Terry, Thank you for your kind words of appreciation, and offer to pray. I am conscious of being upheld in answer to the prayers of the people of God.

      The Lord greatly bless you!

      In his love and grace,


  2. Great quote from Watson. Who do you think Matthew 10:28 speaks about? Many maintain that it is about satan but I think and I think traditionally Christians through centuries took it as speaking about The Lord.

    ~ Despeville

    1. Thank you, Brother. There are many more great quotes on the subject of the death of believers in his 'Body of Divinity' (Banner of Truth). I am sure the reference is to God, not Satan. The Lord Jesus never tells us to fear Satan, and the Scriptures never suggest Satan has this power.

      Is your web name from Calvin's pseudonym 'Charles d'Espeville'?

      Love in Christ,


    2. I think you are saying that only the Lord has the power to kill both body and soul. Satan can only kill the body. If that is what you are saying then I agree with you.

    3. Yes, but Satan can do only what he is permitted to do. In the Book of Job, he had to ask God specifically to go a stage further in putting Job to the test, and even then he was to stop short of taking his life. In the same way, men can only do to us what they are permitted to do. But my main point was that there is something they can never touch, the soul.

      Thanks for your comment,