Understanding God’s Salvation
Salvation — Spirit & Soul
Divinely Revealed in Genesis 1:1-2:3
Arlen L. Chitwood
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 the first chapter 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 which 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 which 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 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 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 shines “out 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 [Gk. 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 which cannot be crossed over (cf. Luke 16:26).
Salvation of the Soul
The preceding process is the manner which 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 which 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 which 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 two things: (1) that which occurred on each day, and (2) where the whole of the restorative process was leading.
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 man’s spirit, and that which occurred in the type on days two through six pertains to the salvation of man’s soul.
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 which 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 way. The 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. 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 to life” and has been instructed in the elementary truths (days one through three) — after he has been “born from above” and 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 into the Word and mine its treasures. He can look into the Word and understand that 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.