What is life? In essence, mankind has only three designations. In his physical state, he is either born or unborn. And, in his spiritual state, he is either regenerated or lost
We all know that life begins at conception. But, is that the end of the matter? Should we stop there and ask no more questions? Of course not! Shouldn’t Bible Believing Christians who claim the Bible as their standard of truth and science, at the very least, look in the BIBLE for the answers to their questions? Yes, we should! We should look in the Bible for the answers AND we should look in the Bible for the QUESTIONS, too. We should ask ourselves, “Is that question even a Bible question?” The truth is, before someone can get to the right answer they must first get to the right question. For example, when someone asks the question, “When does life begin?” it should send up for us red flags right away because that question falls short of a far bigger question someone should be asking – a better question – a more biblical question. And, since God has the right answers and more importantly the right questions, this study will seek to answer this subject from the very beginning with the right question, “When does man become a living soul?”
Keeping in mind that God is The Author of life – all life – both physical and spiritual; the purpose of the following chart is to present the biblical view of the controversial subject, “When does man become a living soul?” Being a man becomes a living soul at birth, whatever your present view, we do NOT advocate abortion of any kind. We advocate life! And, unless God deems fit to take that life away, no one has any warrant to interrupt it in any stage. Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life.” (John 10:10) We advocate birth for the unborn and a new birth for Adam’s fallen race. (John 3:1-8) Of the three natures of man, none stand alone. The fact is, prenatal life is needed for physical birth, physical life is needed for the new birth, and Eternal life is needed for the Believer’s glorification. Hence, life is needed in every stage of man.
Man: A Living Soul
In essence, mankind has only three designations. In his physical state, he is either born or unborn. And, in his spiritual state, he is either regenerated or lost. Jesus gave us the key to understanding all this, when He said,
“Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. …Except a man be born of water[the first birth] and of the Spirit [the second birth], he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh [the first birth] is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit [the second birth] is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” (John 3:3-7)
This study will deal specifically with the three conditions of man:
- Physically UNBORN, in darkness, in his mother’s womb.
- Physically BORN, in light physically, in darkness spiritually.
- Physically BORN, in light physically and spiritually.
In a three minute conversation with Jesus, Nicodemus mentioned the first condition of man…
“How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” (John 3:4) The first condition of man is inside his mother’s womb.
Jesus added the other two conditions…
“Born of water” (womb) – natural birth and “born of the Spirit” –spiritual birth (John 3:5 and 6)…
That translates to three natures:
- UNBORN nature
- UNREGENERATED nature
- REGENERATED nature
Just as physical conception, with natural seed, generates physical life, a spiritual conception, with spiritual seed (I Peter 1:23), generates spiritual life.
According to Jesus, if there is no natural life without a natural birth, there will be no spiritual life, without a spiritual birth. (See note below.)
So, the question still remains, what determines when a man becomes a living soul? Jesus answered that in the next verse of our main text…
“The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)
Jesus likened spiritual birth to wind – blowing air. If “every one that is born of the Spirit” breathes spiritually for the first time at their new birth, then it stands to reason, that everyone who breathes naturally for the first time, does so at their physical birth.
Adam became a “living soul” when, “the LORD God formed man ofthe dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life” (Genesis 2:7), and the soul of the widow’s son of First Kings seventeen came “into him again” after he received “breath” (vs. 17).
“As God liveth, who hath taken away my judgment; and the Almighty,who hath vexed my soul; All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils….” (Job 27:2-3)
“The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.” (Job 33:4)
“And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them. Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind [Remember; Jesus likened wind to being born of the Spirit – John 3:8], Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.” (Ezekiel 37:8-10)
Here is the KEY to understanding this subject. Remember, the question is, “When does man become a living soul?”…
Like a man’s spirit and soul leave a man at death (which leaves a FULLY DEVELOPED BODY), so too, at this stage (see first chart below – “Begins Birth”) you have a FULLY DEVELOPED BODY THAT IS LIVING (totally dependent on its mother for life), in anticipation of birth where it receives a spirit, and becomes a living soul.
PHYSICAL LIFE is generated at CONCEPTION, and completed at BIRTH – where man becomes a LIVING SOUL* that breathes on his own, for the first time ever. And, SPIRITUAL LIFE begins at CONCEPTION** and completed at BIRTH – The NEW BIRTH – where a living soul has been regenerated into a SAVED SOUL that is breathing spiritually, for the first time ever.
* When God created man, He created him as a COMPLETE being. God, as a triune being, made man in His own image. In that sense, man looked like God, with a “spirit and soul and body.” (I Thessalonians 5:23)
** See I PETER 1:23 and Mark 4:8a, 20a – The seed of the word of God implanted in “good ground.”
** When God created man, He created him as a COMPLETE being.
Note: Spiritually speaking, a man might conceive the seed of the word of God, but he is not breathing (spiritually), according to the Lord Jesus, UNTIL he is born again. It is no different in the physical realm. A woman receives corruptible seed that produces a corruptible body that has to grow to maturity, in order to be born and breath on his own.