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Bible Facts Little Understood by Christians


Spirit vs. Soul Salvation[1]


Salvation without Money, without Price


Eternal life is the free “gift of God,” obtained completely apart from works.  Nothing which man does — not one single act, either before or after he becomes a recipient of this life — can have anything at all to do with the fact that this life becomes the present possession of an individual solely by grace (that which God is able to do entirely apart from human merit) through faith (through believing on God’s Son [Ephesians 2:8, 9]).


Christ’s finished work at Calvary provides a salvation that fallen man can avail himself of only by receiving that which has already been accomplished on his behalf — through believing.


For by grace are you saved [lit., you have been saved] through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of GodNot of works, lest anyone should boast.

(Ephesians 2:8, 9)


Not by works of righteousness that we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us . . . .” (Titus 3:5a)


Unredeemed man is totally incapable of effecting any part of his salvation.  He is spiritually dead.  He is “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1).  And being spiritually dead, unredeemed man, before he can act in the spiritual realm, MUST come into possession of spiritual life, which can come only from God (Genesis 2:7).  Everything surrounding his passing from death to life MUST be accomplished on his behalf.


Thus, unredeemed man can only be completely passive in the matter.  The total inability of fallen, ruined man to act in the realm of redemption has forever been foreshadowed in Scripture at the very beginning by a prior ruin — the ruin of the material creation in Genesis 1:2a.


The material creation, as man, was brought into a ruined state through an act of Satan; and the material creation in this ruined state, as man, could undergo no change in and of itself.  This is the reason why the first thing we read in Genesis 1:2b, 3 concerning the restoration of the material creation is:


. . . . And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.  And God said: Let there be light,” and there was light. (Genesis 1:2b, 3)


This act of restoration was accomplished, in its entirety, through divine intervention.  And so it is with unredeemed man.  The Spirit of God performs a work in the individual, based upon Christ’s past and finished work.  The Spirit of God moves, God speaks, and light comes into existence.


Man passes “from death to life.”  A bringing forth from above occurs, and it is all based on the finished work of God’s Son at Calvary.


Salvation for fallen man is both free and apart from works, but the procurement of this salvation by God’s Son was by no means free and apart from works.  God’s Son provided this salvation through a vicarious sacrifice — the sacrifice of Himself; and fallen man can do no more than simply receive that which God’s Son has provided.  Fallen man is no more in a position to bring himself out of his ruined state than was the ruined material creation.  Divine intervention was/is required in both instances.


The former restoration sets the pattern for the latter restoration.  It is Gods unchangeable pattern, forever established in the opening verses of Genesis.  Man, a subsequent ruined creation of God, MUST be restored in exact accordance with the established pattern.


Note the words “not of yourselves” and “that we have done” in Ephesians 2:8 and Titus 3:5.  Both refer to the necessity of the complete absence of works on man’s part in relation to eternal salvation.  The work has already been accomplished; the price has already been paid.  When Christ cried out on the cross, “It is finished” (John l9:30), He announced the completion of a redemptive work that He alone could, and did, perform.


The words, “It is finished,” in John l9:30 are the translation of one word in the Greek text — Tetelestai.  This word is in the perfect tense and could be better translated, “It has been finished.”  That is, at this point, everything relating to the work of redemption had been accomplished.  Nothing more remained to be done.  Accordingly, immediately after Christ cried out, Tetelestai, “He bowed His head and gave up the spirit.”


The perfect tense in the Greek text calls attention to a work completed in past time, with the results of this work extending into present time and existing in a finished state.  This is the same verb tense used in Ephesians 2:8 relative to the present state of redeemed man — “For by grace are you saved . . . .”; lit., “For by grace you have been saved . . . .”  The person was saved during past time, with the results of the work surrounding salvation extending into and existing during present time in a finished state.


Redeemed man is in possession of a salvation (present) wherein everything has already been accomplished (past) on his behalf.  The Holy Spirit has performed a work based on Christ’s past, finished work.  The Spirit has breathed life into the one previously having no life, and the Spirit could perform this work only because of Christ’s past, finished work at Calvary.


Thus, redeemed man is presently in possession of a salvation wherein everything was accomplished in past time through divine intervention, with everything extending into and existing during present time in a finished state.  And this work, completed in past time through divine intervention — whether Christ’s finished work at Calvary, or the Spirit breathing life into the one having no life — is not only something that unsaved man cannot have a part in but it is also something that saved man cannot change, add to, or take from.


Man is powerless to act in this complete realm.  The matter is as Jonah stated immediately prior to his deliverance from the sea:  “Salvation is of the Lord” (Jonah 2:9b).


Man can do no more than simply receive that which has already been done.  That’s why Scripture states,


Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ [put your trust, reliance, in the one who has accomplished everything on your behalf], and you will be saved. (Acts 16:31)


Salvation — Spirit & Soul


The Bible is a book of redemption; and basic, unchangeable teachings surrounding redemption are set forth in Scripture, at the very beginning, revealing a purpose in view.


In chapter one of Genesis, God sets forth the unchangeable manner in which He, in His infinite wisdom and knowledge, restores a ruined creation.  There is a restorative work that follows a specific pattern, and the matter is accomplished entirely through divine intervention.  And within this unchangeable pattern set forth at the very beginning, God reveals how any subsequent ruined creation would, of necessity, have to be restored.  It would have to be restored after a certain order, entirely through divine intervention, over a six-day (six-thousand-year) period.


Thus, to establish correct thinking relative to the fundamentals of salvation, one must begin in Genesis.  If all those holding erroneous views had begun in Genesis chapter one and understood and adhered to that which God set forth at the very beginning concerning how a ruined creation is to be restored, not a single erroneous view concerning salvation would exist today.  Such couldn’t exist.


And, going to more specific thoughts concerning salvation, the preceding would equally apply to not only the salvation of the spirit but the salvation of the soul as well.  Within the structure of this foundational framework, the salvation of the spirit (the salvation that we presently possess) is realized at the very beginning of the six days; but the salvation of the soul (a salvation occurring at the end of one’s faith, or as the goal of one’s faith [1 Peter 1:5, 9]) is an on-going process and is to be realized only at the end of the six days, on the seventh day.


In this respect, the unchangeable basics pertaining to redemption in relation to the whole of that which, in reality, is the man himself (both spirit and soul) have been set forth at the very beginning of Scripture, in Genesis 1:1-2:3.  And if a person would understand salvation within its correct perspective, avoiding all error, he must begin here.  Here — and only here — can a person see the unchangeable foundation, setting forth the unchangeable basics, laid down at the very beginning.


Salvation of the Spirit


Hebrews 4:12 reveals a division being brought to pass between man’s soul and his spirit.  And this is a teaching drawn from the very opening verses of Genesis (as seen earlier in this same section in Hebrews relative to the “rest” set before “the people of God” [vv. 4, 9]).  The Spirit of God moves in Genesis 1:2b, and God speaks in Genesis 1:3.  In relation to man’s salvation, it is at this point (in what would be referred to as the foundational type) that a division is made between man’s soul and his spirit (in what would be referred to as the antitype).


In the type, the Spirit of God moved, God spoke, and light came into existence.  Genesis 1:2b, 3 records the initial act of the Triune Godhead in bringing about the restoration of the ruined material creation, an act in which the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit each participated — the Spirit moved, God spoke, and then note that nothing can come into existence apart from the Son (John 1:3).


In the antitype, within the framework of man’s salvation experience, the matter is identical.  There must be an act of the Triune Godhead, for this is how God worked to restore a ruined creation in the Genesis account, establishing an unchangeable pattern for a later work.  Thus, as in the type, so in the antitype — the Spirit of God moves, God speaks, and light comes into existence.


Everything is based on the Son’s finished work at Calvary.  The Spirit moving and God speaking are both based on that which occurred almost 2,000 years ago.  When the Son cried out from the cross, “It is finished [lit., It has been finished]” (John 19:30; cf. Luke 23:46), He meant exactly that;  and when the Word of God reveals that we have a salvation of divine origin, based entirely on the Son’s finished work, the Word of God means exactly that.


When man sinned in the garden, he died spiritually; and when unregenerate man, “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1), is made alive today, he is made alive spiritually.  The movement of the Spirit (Genesis 1:2b) and God speaking (Genesis 1:3) in order to restore the ruined creation are simultaneous events.  It is the Spirit using the God-breathed word to effectually perform a supernatural work in unredeemed man.  It is at this point — through the inbreathing of God — that life is imparted to that which previously had no life.  God breathes into dead man (the Spirit using the God-breathed Word, based on the finished work of the Son), and man is “quickened [made alive]” (Ephesians 2:1, 5).


At this point, light shinesout of darkness” (2 Corinthians 4:6), a division is made between the light and the darkness (Genesis 1:4), and the darkness has no apprehension or comprehension of that which is light (John 1:5; cf. 1 Corinthians 2:14).


It is at this point in man’s salvation that the spirit is separated from the soul.  The “spirit” in unsaved man is dead.  It is a part of the totally depraved man, with his “body of . . . death,” in which there dwells “no good thing” (Romans 7:18, 24).  With the movement of the Spirit, using the God-breathed Word, man’s spirit is made alive and, at the same time, separated from his soul.


The “soul” remains within the sphere of darkness, which is why “the natural [Greek:  psuchikos, soulical] man” cannot understand “the things of the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:14).  That which remains in the sphere of darkness can have no apprehension or comprehension of that which has shined out of darkness.  There is a God-established division between the two that cannot be crossed over (cf. Luke 16:26).


(Note that the preceding forms a foundational part of the reason why Christ becoming one’s Lord [cf. Luke 6:46] cannot be an integral part of salvation by grace.)


Salvation of the Soul


The preceding process is the manner that God uses to deliver the spirit from its fallen state, resulting from Adam’s sin.  And because the spirit has been delivered, there can once again be communion with God.  Man can now comprehend spiritual things, and there can now be a progressive, continued work by the Spirit of God within man so that he can ultimately be delivered to the place that God has decreed that he occupy at the end of six days, at the end of six thousand years.


Within the framework of the type in Genesis chapter one, this is the very first thing that is foreshadowed.  This had to be set forth first, for man has to first be made alive — he has to first pass “from death to life” — before anything else in the restorative process can occur.


Thus, this is foreshadowed at the very beginning of the six days that God, in accordance with the established pattern, would use to bring about man’s complete restoration — spirit, soul, and body (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:23).


To briefly illustrate how God’s complete restoration of man is patterned after God’s complete restoration of the material creation in Genesis chapter one, note three things:


1)      Where the complete restorative process began (on day one, as previously mentioned).


2)      That which occurred on each of the succeeding days (two through six).


3)      Where the whole of the restorative process was leading (the seventh day, the Sabbath, a day of rest following six days of work).


Within a type-antitype framework — pertaining to man’s salvation in the antitype — that which occurred in the type on day one pertains to the salvation of mans spirit, and that which occurred in the type on days two through six pertains to the salvation of mans soul, with the whole of that revealed leading to the seventh day.


The salvation of the spirit is an instantaneous event where one passes “from death to life,” but not so with the salvation of the soul.  It is a progressive event.  It is an event that begins at the point one is made alive spiritually, and it will not be completed and realized until the end of that foreshadowed by the six days of restorative work — 6,000 years of restorative work.


(The issues of the judgment seat of Christ at the end of the present dispensation — which will occur at the end of the six days, at the end of the 6,000 years — will have to do with issues surrounding the salvation [or loss] of the soul/life.  It will be at the judgment seat — not before — that man will realize [or fail to realize] the salvation of his soul/life.)


Since the salvation of the spirit cannot occur apart from an exact duplication in the antitype of that which occurred in the type during day one of the restoration in Genesis, it should be evident that the salvation of the soul and its relationship to that which occurred on days two through six must be looked upon the same wayThe latter must follow the pattern to the same degree as the former.  There can be no difference in this respect.


And since this is the case, note what occurred on days two through six in the restoration of the ruined material creation in Genesis.  Then, to see the overall picture of that which must be done to bring about the salvation of redeemed man’s soul, these same events can be viewed in relation to God’s present continuing restoration of man, a subsequent ruined creation.


Events on days two and three (as events on the first day) have to do with divisions.  On the second day God established a division between the waters (vv. 6-8), and on the third day He established a division between the dry land (with its vegetation) and the waters (vv. 9-13).


Then events on days four through six belong together as another unit, depicting things beyond the divisions previously established.  On the fourth day God placed lights in the heavens to give light upon the earth (vv. 14-19), on the fifth day He created birds that could soar above the earth and marine life that could move throughout the depths of the sea (vv. 20-23), and on the sixth day He created the land animals, which included great creatures capable of roaming the earth (vv. 24, 25).


And, as previously noted, the whole of God’s restorative work relative to the material creation in Genesis foreshadows the whole of God’s restorative work relative to man today.  After man has “passed from death to life,” wherein the spirit is separated from the soul — wrought entirely through divine intervention — redeemed man finds himself in a position and condition where a continued divine work not only can occur but must occur if he is to realize the salvation of his soul.  And only through this continued divine work can the whole of God’s restorative work, as it pertains to man, be realized.


(Man, as the material creation, must be completely passive in relation to the salvation of the spirit [he is dead, rendering him incapable of acting]; and, man as the material creation [“And the earth brought forth . . . .”], must be active in relation to the salvation of the soul [he now has spiritual life, allowing him to act in the spiritual realm].  But, as in the restoration of the material creation, the entire salvation process [spirit and soul, and ultimately the body] is a divine work.  “Salvation is of the Lord” [Jonah 2:9].)


Events occurring during the first three days in Genesis chapter one would point to elementary things or the basics in one’s spiritual life and growth.  Events occurring during day one would point to a division between the soul and the spirit, having to do with the impartation of life.  Then events occurring during days two and three would point to divisions and distinctions as one begins to progressively grow within the framework of the new life brought into existence on the first day.  One would learn to distinguish between the soulical and spiritual, spiritual and carnal (fleshly), Jew, Gentile, and Christian, the dispensations, etc.


Only when one learns the divisions and distinctions depicted by that which was brought to pass on days two and three is he in a position to move on into the things depicted by that which was brought to pass on days four through six.  On these three days, light was restored to the sun and moon (day four, vv. 14-19);  sea life and the birds of the air were created (day five, vv. 20-23);  and then God created all the living creatures that roam the earth, followed by His creation of man (day six, vv. 24-27).


That depicted by the work of the Triune Godhead during these three days points to things beyond elementary truths in the antitype.  After one has passed “from death unto life” and has been instructed in the elementary truths (days one through three — after he has grown to a degree in his Christian life — he can then begin to view with understanding deeper spiritual truths of the Word).  He can then begin to view with understanding those things in the Word depicted by events on days four through six of Genesis chapter one.


An individual in this position can begin to sink deep shafts down into the Word and mine its treasures.  He can look into the Word and understand that which is depicted by the lights in the heavens.  He can, in the true sense of the Word, “mount up with wings as eagles . . . run, and not be weary . . . walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31), as he scales the heights; or he can scale the depths of the Word, as the sea creatures plunge to the depths of the sea; or he can roam through the Word, as the land creatures roam the earth.


Christian maturity and spiritual victory — bringing to pass the salvation of the soul — go hand-in-hand.  And the entire process of God’s restoration work throughout the six days is with a view to that which lies beyond, on the seventh day.  It is with a view to the Sabbath rest awaiting the people of God.



[1] Salvation by Grace through Faith by Arlen L. Chitwood, The Lamp Broadcast, Inc., 2005, pages 43-52