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Clarence Larkin :: Chapter 14. The Spirit World

The Scriptures are full of the "Supernatural." The only cure for the "Materialism" of the present day is to discover what the Scriptures reveal as to the "Spirit World." There is but a step from the "Natural" World to the "Spirit" World. The dividing veil is our "fleshy" bodies. The "Heavenlies" are peopled with Spirit Beings. They are of two classes, good and evil. They are classified as "Seraphim," "Cherubim," "Angels" (Good and Bad), "Principalities," "Powers," "Age Rulers of Darkness," "Wicked Spirits," (Eph. 6:12), "Thrones," "Dominions," (Col. 1:1-6), "Fallen Angels," (2 Pet. 2:4), "Spirits in Prison," (1 Peter 3:18-20), "Demons," "Seducing Spirits," 1 Tim. 4:1.

The "Seraphim" have three pair of wings. They are the attendants of the "Lord of Hosts" and call attention to His holiness. Isa. 6:1-8.

The "Cherubim" or "Living Creatures," as described in Ezek. 1:4-25; 10:1-22, have only two pair of wings, but they have "four faces" on their head, the front face that of a "Man," the right side that of a "Lion," the left side that of an "Ox" (calf), and the back that of an "Eagle." They also have the "hand of a man" under their wings on each of their four sides. They are the Guardians of the Throne of God.

The "Four Beasts" or "Living Creatures" of Rev. 4:6-8, differ from the "Living Creatures" of Ezekiel, in that each Beast instead of having four faces has but one. The first Beast having the face of a lion, the second that of a calf, the third that of a man, and the fourth that of a flying eagle, and each "Beast" has "six wings" and "eyes before and behind." The mention of a "Rainbow" by both Ezekiel and John (Ez. 1:28, Rev. 4:3) identifies the two visions as relating to the Throne of God.

The "Seraphim," "Cherubim," "Angels," and all other "Heavenly Beings" are created beings. They did not exist from all eternity. (Col. 1:16.)

The Angels are "innumerable in number." Heb. 12:22. They are "mighty in power" but not almighty. 2 Thess. 1:7. They excel in strength. One angel destroyed 185,000 of the Assyrian army in a night. An angel rolled away the stone from the Tomb of Christ, and one angel shall bind Satan and cast him into the "Bottomless Pit." They are "Glorious" beings (Luke 9:26), and have "great knowledge, but are not Omniscient. They neither marry nor are given in marriage. Matt. 22:30. That does not mean that they are "sexless" and have not the power of procreation. All the angels in the Scriptures are spoken of as men, and were so created in great numbers, and as they do not die (Luke 20:36), there is no need for "procreation," but that they have such power seems indisputable from Gen. 6:1-4, where we are told that the "Sons of God" (angels), had intercourse with the "daughters of men," and the result was a race of "Mighty Men." See Chapter two on the cause of the Flood. From this we see that the angels can sin.

The Angels are "Ministering Spirits" to them who are "heirs of salvation," (Heb. 1:13,14), and "Executioners of God's Wrath" on the "wicked." 2 Thess. 1:7-8. They will gather the "elect of Israel" from the four corners of the earth, (Matt. 24:31), and are commissioned to supply the physical needs of God's people. Matt. 4:11; 1 Kings 19:4-8.

The Demons are not to be classed as angels. They appear to be "disembodied spirits," some think of the Pre-Adamite Earth, the inhabitants being disembodied because of the sin that caused the Pre-Adamite Earth to become chaotic. This is plausible, because they seek to re-embody themselves in human beings. They are wicked, unclean, vicious, and have power to derange both mind and body. Matt. 12:22; 15:22; Luke 4:35; 8:26-36; 9:42. They are the "Familiar Spirits" of the Old Testament, and the "Seducing Spirits" of which Paul warned Timothy. 1 Tim. 4:1.

There are three prominent Personages spoken of in the Scriptures outside of the Triune God.

1. Michael.

He is mentioned three times in Daniel (Dan. 10:13,21; 12:1), where he is called a "Prince" who stands for Daniel's People the Jews. He is called in Jude 9 the Archangel. In Rev. 12:7 he is seen in command of the Angelic "Army of Heaven." His work seems to be to deliver God's people, particularly the Jews, from the power of Satan, and finally to oust him and his angels from the Heavenlies, and cast them down on to the earth. Rev. 12:7-9. He also has something to do with the resurrection of the dead, for he is associated with the "Resurrection mentioned in Dan. 12:1,2, and he contested with the Devil the resurrection of Moses, (Jude 9) and the "voice" of the Archangel that will be heard when the "Dead in Christ" shall rise, (1 Thess. 4:16), will be the "voice" of Michael, for he is the only Archangel mentioned in the Scriptures.

2. Gabriel.

He is mentioned by name four times. In Daniel twice and in Luke twice. He seems to be associated with the redemptive work of God. He appeared to Daniel (Dan. 8:16; 9:21-27), to inform him as the "time" of Christ's "First Coming," and when the "time had come" he announced to Zacharias the birth of Christ's "Forerunner" John the Baptist, and later to Mary the birth of Jesus. Luke 1:19,26,27. His position in heaven is lofty, for he said of himself to Zacharias "I am Gabriel that Stand in the Presence of God."

3. Satan.

We speak of Satan last not because he is the least of the three, for in many ways he is the greatest, but because of his evil character. He is the source of all the anarchy and rebellion in the Universe. See the Chart and Chapter on "Satan" for his history.

Let us now consider man's relation to the Spirit World. Man in his physical and spirit makeup, was made for two worlds, the Physical and the Spirit world. Writing to the Thessalonians Paul says,

"I pray God your whole 'Spirit' and 'Soul' and 'Body' be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Thess. 5:23. Writing to the Hebrews he says-
"The Word of God is quick (alive), and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of 'Soul' and 'Spirit,' and of the 'Joints and Marrow' (body), and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." Heb. 4:12.

From these references we see that man is a Trinity, and is composed of a "Body," "Soul," and "Spirit." Man was made in the "Image of God" and God is a Trinity. The difference between plant and animal life is, that the plant has not "conscious" life, while the animal has a "living (conscious) soul." The difference between animal life and human life is, that while animals have a "living soul" man has more, he has a "spirit."

While man differs from a beast in having a "spirit," yet he is as to his "body" only an animal. That is, his body, as to its functions, is like the body of an animal in its vital processes of respiration, digestion, assimilation and general makeup; so when the Apostle speaks of the "Natural" body he refers to the "animal" body of man. And when he speaks of man's "Spiritual" body, he means a "body" not some "ethereal substance," but a body with form and shape, but controlled and regulated by spiritual rather than natural laws. In other words both our "Natural" and "Spirit bodies" are composed of "matter," the only difference being that the matter of our "Natural" bodies is adapted to this "Physical" world, while the matter of our "Spirit" bodies is adapted to the "Spirit" world. It makes the subject clearer to speak of a "Spirit" body, rather than a "Spiritual" body, for the word "Spiritual" refers more to the "religious" attribute of a body, than to the material.

The "Threefold Nature of Man" may be illustrated by the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle was a tent surrounded by a court, which court was enclosed by a curtain fence. (See diagram of the Tabernacle.) The tent was divided into two parts, one twice the length of the other, by a "veil" or curtain. The larger part was entered from without by a curtained doorway, and contained the "Table of Shewbread," the "Altar of Incense," and the "Seven Branched Candlestick." This part was called the "Holy Place." The smaller part was entered from the "Holy Place" through the "veil" or dividing curtain, and contained the "Ark of the Covenant," on the lid of which, between the "Cherubims," God took up His residence in the "Shekinah Glory." This part was called the "Most Holy Place." There were no windows in the Tabernacle, and the only entrance was through the curtained doorway into the "Holy Place."

The Tabernacle and its Courtyard is a type of the "Threefold Nature of Man." The "Courtyard" represents his Body, the "Holy Place" his Soul, and the "Most Holy Place" his Spirit, and as there could be no communication between the "Courtyard" and the "Most Holy Place," only through the "Holy Place," so there can be no communication between a man's Body and Spirit only through his Soul.

After the completion of the Tabernacle it remained empty of the "Presence of God" until the "Spirit of God" descended and took up His abode in the "Most Holy Place." So a man may be complete as to body, soul and spirit, but his spiritual nature will remain unregenerate until the Holy Spirit enters and takes possession of the "spirit" compartment of his nature. This happens when the "New Birth" takes place.

When a man dies his soul and spirit separate from the body, and the body is laid in the grave, but the "spirit" is not "bodiless," it has what Paul calls its "Psychical" or "Soulish" body. This may be illustrated by a peach. A peach is a trinity. It is composed of the "flesh of the peach," the "stone," and the "kernel." Let the "flesh" correspond to the "body" of man, the "stone" to the "soul," and the "kernel" to the "spirit." Remove the "flesh" of the peach from the stone, and the "kernel" still has a "body," the "stone." So when a man's "body" is separated from his "soul" and "spirit" at death, the "spirit" is not "bodiless," it still has its "Soulish body." As this "Soulish body" can hear, and speak, and think, and feel, it must have some "tangible" form. It is not a "ghostlike" structure. There are doubtless limitations in its use, or there would be no need for it to recover its physical body at the Resurrection.

That there is such a thing as the "Soulish Body" is brought out in the story of the "Rich Man and Lazarus." Luke 16:19-31.

The story is not a Parable, but a description by Christ of something that really happened in the other world to his own personal knowledge. It declares that both Lazarus and the "Rich Man" died and were buried. That is, their bodies were left on the earth. What happened to them in the "Underworld" then, is descriptive of what happened to them in their "disembodied state." In that state they were conscious and the Rich Man recognized Lazarus, which he could not have done if Lazarus had not a body, not his "physical" body, he left that on the earth, but his "Soulish" body. This is proof that the "Soulish" body is not simply a body, but that in its outward form and appearance it conforms to the earthly body of the owner, otherwise he would not be recognizable in the other world.

Again the "Rich Man" could see, and feel, and thirst, and talk, and remember, proving that he possessed his senses and had not lost his personality. This proves that there is no break, as "Soul Sleep," in the Continuity of Existence, or Consciousness, in passing from the "Earth Life" to the "Spirit Life." The one life merges into the other, just as the "infant life" merges into the "boy life," and at the Resurrection the "Spirit Life" will merge into the "Resurrection Life," just as the "boy life" merges into the "man life." I am just as much myself when I am stripped of my clothing, as when I had it on. So death, though it strips me of my "material" body, only changes my environment but does not destroy my Personality or BODILY FORM.

Sleep in the Scriptures always refers to the "body," not to the soul, and the expression, "Asleep in Jesus" refers to the Believer only.

The "Threefold Nature of Man" is clearly brought out in the Diagram.

"The Threefold Nature of Man."

The outer circle stands for the "body" of man, the middle for the "soul," and the inner for the spirit, or what Paul calls the "Carnal" (1 Cor. 3:1-3); the "Natural" (1 Cor. 2:14); and the "Spiritual" (1 Cor. 3:1); parts of man.

In the outer circle the "body" is shown as touching the Material world through the five senses of "sight," "smell," "hearing," "taste" and "touch." The soul uses the "Five Senses" of the body as its agents in the exploration of the phenomena of matter and historical research, and for its self expression and communion with the outside world. The "Gates" to the soul are "imagination," "conscience," "memory," "reason" and the "affections." The "Gate of Imagination" of the soul corresponds to the "Gate of Sight" of the body, being the "eye" by which the soul sees. The "Gate of Conscience" corresponds to the "Gate of Smell," by which the soul detects the presence of good and evil.

The "Gate of Memory" corresponds to the "Gate of Hearing," by which the soul recalls what it heard. The "Gate of Reason" corresponds to the "Gate of Taste," permitting the soul to compare facts as the taste compares foods. The "Gate of the Affections" corresponds to the "Gate of Touch," being the hand by which the soul feels the person of the one it loves.

The Spirit receives impressions of outward and material things through the soul and body. The "Sense Faculties" of the spirit are the "Spiritual faculties" of "Faith," "Hope," "Reverence," "Prayer," and "Worship." In his unfallen state the "spirit" of man was illuminated from Heaven, but when the human race fell in Adam, sin closed the window of the spirit, and pulled down the curtain, and the "chamber of the spirit" became a Death Chamber, and remains so in every unregenerate heart, until the "Life" and "Light" giving power of the Holy Spirit floods that chamber with the "Life" and "Light" giving power of the NEW LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS. We see then why the "natural" man cannot understand spiritual things. He cannot understand them until his spiritual nature has been renewed.

But the spirit of the Natural man is not only darkened, his "Will" stands as a "guard" at the door, and prevents the entrance of the Holy Spirit, and it is not until the "Will" surrenders through the power of the "Sword of the Spirit," the "Word of God," that the Holy Spirit can enter and take up his abode in the "spirit" of man.

The battlefield of "Good" and "Evil" is in the "soul" of man. It is not enough that the Holy Spirit should take up His residence in the "spirit" of a man, He must have access to the "soul" and "body," as shown on the Diagram. Not until then can a man become "Sanctified"; for "Holiness" is conditioned on a "Spirit Filled" spirit, soul and body. A healthy soul and spirit need a healthy body, and if the body is given over to carnality and the lusts of the flesh, even to fasting that weakens it, the soul and spirit suffer, and the whole man becomes spiritually sick.

Let us now trace the life of the soul and spirit after they have left the body. In the story of the "Rich Man and Lazarus," we have a description of the "Underworld." We find that it is made up of two compartments, "Paradise" and "Hell," with an "Impassable Gulf" between. At the bottom of the Gulf is the "Bottomless Pit" or "Abyss." This is a place of temporary confinement for "Evil Spirits" (Demons). It has a King "Apollyon," but is kept locked by God, who commissions an angel to open it when He so desires. Rev. 9:1-11; 17:8; 20:1-3. Study in this connection the charts on "The Spirit World" and "The Resurrections and the Judgments."

Before the resurrection of Christ the soul and spirit of the righteous dead went to the "Paradise" compartment of the Underworld. There Christ met the "Penitent Thief" after His death on the Cross. On the day of His Resurrection Christ's soul and spirit returned from the Underworld, but He did not return alone, He brought back with Him all the occupants of the Paradise section and locked it up, and He now has the "Keys of Death and Hades." Rev. 1:18 R. V. Here "Death" stands for the "grave" and "Hades" for the Underworld. Some of those who came back from the Underworld with Christ got their "bodies," and rose and ascended with Him as the "First Fruits" of the resurrection "from among the dead." Matt. 27:52,53. The rest were taken up to the "Third Heaven," where Paul was caught up, 2 Cor. 12:1-4. Paul called it Paradise. There all the Righteous dead that have died since Christ's resurrection go, that they may be "With the LORD." Phil. 1:23. 2 Cor. 5:8.

There the souls of the Righteous dead shall remain until the time comes for the resurrection of their bodies, then when Christ comes back to meet His Church in the Air, He will bring back the souls of the Righteous dead from the Paradise of the "Third Heaven," for we are told that He will bring them who "Sleep in Jesus" WITH Him (1 Thess. 4:14), and they shall continue on to the earth and get their "bodies" from the grave, and then ascend again with the "Translated Saints" to meet Christ IN THE AIR.

So far as we know the souls of the "Wicked Dead" are still in the "Hell Compartment" of the Underworld, and will remain there until the Second Resurrection, when they will return to the earth and get their bodies, and then go to the "Great White Throne" Judgment. After, judgment they will be sentenced to the "Second Death," which means that they shall die again, in the sense of losing their bodies again, and as "disembodied spirits" be cast into the "Lake of Fire," (Gehenna, the "Final Hell"), to suffer in flames forever. As soul and spirit are impervious to flames, this explains how the wicked, after being disembodied again by the "Second Death," can exist forever in literal fire.

When the earth is "Renovated by Fire," Satan and all the "Evil Powers" of the Heavenlies will be imprisoned, and the heavens will be "cleansed" of all evil and rebellious spirits. In the New Heavens and Earth man will be restored to the condition Adam was in before the Fall, and the "veil" between the Natural and Spirit Worlds will be removed.

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