Given for the Saints at Medicalodge, Neosho, MO, on 7/3/05
"For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart" (Heb. 4:12).
"Soul power" and Spirit power" have been on my heart again, because I see that understanding the difference between them reveals the dividing line between religion and Life in the Holy Spirit. "Spirit" and "soul" are complex concepts, and I don't pretend to have all the answers on any subject, let alone one as profound as this. Only God can divide soul and spirit properly, as the verse in Hebrews indicates, but we have confidence that when we ask Him, He is faithful to lead us into all truth. I consulted Strong's and Theyer's Concordances, but they didn't reveal much of anything that we don't all know. Besides, one of my pet peeves is someone who, in an attempt to impress others with his expertise, explains the meaning of a Greek word without having studied the language itself. Webster's Dictionary gives as good an explanation of "soul" as any other: "the principle of life, feeling, thought, and action in humans, regarded as a distinct entity separate from the body."
In thinking about our topic, I want to make it clear, that "soul power" is not intrinsically evil. For the purpose of this writing, a good definition of "soul power" is "self effort." We've often written before about the futility of using self effort to please God, something that religious organizations have totally failed to grasp. Adam chose self effort over eternal life by ignoring God's warning not to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We all lost the battle with flesh that day, but since God is in charge of everything (Rom. 11:32), He ordained it to happen, always knowing that the cross would be the only antidote for the sin unleashed in the world by Adam's sin (Rev. 13:8).
Some believe that Adam was the first incarnation of Christ. That has never resonated with me, but I asked the opinion of Harry Fox, a theologian, who has been my mentor for over 35 years now, and he agreed that there is no scriptural basis for it. He said that Joseph Smith came to this belief by one of his many revelations, and when asked how Christ could have led mankind into sin, the Mormon leader squirmed around it by saying that Adam knew it was wrong but partook of the forbidden fruit so as to be a solace to Eve (who Paul said was deceived. See II Cor. 11:3; II Tim. 2:14).
To me, this far fetched theory is another example of taking metaphorical statements literally. I'm referring to Paul's declaration in I Cor. 15:45, KJV: "The first man Adam became a living soul" ; the last Adam (Christ), a life-giving spirit." Some take this to mean that Christ WAS Adam, but actually, this verse is in perfect harmony with the Apostle's declaration of the gospel truth, that "as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive" (I Cor. 15:22). It is clear that soul power (Adam) caused death, while Spirit power (Christ) brings forth life. Paul's thesis in Romans 5, is that sin entered the world through one man (Vs. 12), "For just as through the disobedience of the one man (Adam) the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man (Christ) the many will be made righteous" (Vs. 19). If Adam literally was the first incarnation of Christ, then everything said about the sinless life of Christ is false (II Cor. 5:21; Gal. 2:17; Heb. 4:15; 9:28). If Christ was Adam, He sinned big time, which I don't believe, and put that way, you probably don't either.
Adam represents "soul power" perfectly. He ignored God's mandate, and ate of the forbidden fruit, which was purported by the serpent to have the power to make them like God, knowing good from evil (Gen. 3:4). The Church has changed this lie slightly by saying that knowing good from evil will help us to live lives pleasing to God, but it's still a lie! Eating the fruit of that tree brings death. Period. End of statement: "but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die" (Gen. 2:17). Because of Adam, death reigned until Christ came! (Rom. 5:12-14).
By "Spirit power," God created the birds, fishes and animals (Gen. 2:20-26). By "soul power," Adam named them (Gen. 3:19-20). When God created Adam, He gave the man power to rule over the earth, the plants, the animals, the birds and the fishes. Psychologists tell us that human beings only use about 10% of our brain capacity. When I first heard that, I concluded that we lost 90% through Adam's sin. Because Christ came to restore that which is lost, even now, we have the mind of Christ; in Spirit then, we have available to us all that Adam lost. "In this is love perfected with us, that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so are we in this world" (I John 4:17).
Here are some examples of differences between "soul power" and "Spirit power." By "soul power," men built boats, attached cloth to a mast, and sailed across the sea; by "Spirit power," Moses parted the Red Sea and Joshua parted the Jordan River so that the Israelites could walk to the other side on dry land (Ex. 14:21-22; Josh. 3:5-17). By "soul power," men invade a sovereign nation, claiming they are bringing peace by means of bombs, stinger missiles, and fighter jets; by "Spirit power," sons of God are empowered to keep Jesus' commandment: "But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish" (Luke 6:35). By "soul power" Christians lay law and guilt on sinners and each other, keeping the flock in line by threats of rejection and punishment; by "Spirit power" men and women are able to keep the most important commandment Jesus gave: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another" (John 13:34).
Men and women have received inspiration from "Spirit power," enabling them to create the great and wonderful gifts science has achieved since the time of Christ, and yet, it takes a whole lot of "soul power" to bring these modern marvels to pass. It has been said that great works are achieved by 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration, which is why we cannot ever say that "soul power" is a bad thing. It's what gets things done, from working at a job one hates to feed his family, to making the beds, baking the bread, and frying the eggs. I believe that my musical ability is a gift of God, an example of "Spirit power." I don't play anywhere except Medicalodge, and they are very loving and accepting of me, no matter how many mistakes I make, but were I to do an actual performance, which assumes a lot, I would have to put considerable "soul power" into practicing, to avoid embarrassing myself. As it is, I smile my thanks to the Lord, when He helps me transpose a hymn into a lower key, "by ear," because our aging voices can no longer hit those high notes. I don't have a clue how it works, but I enjoy it, knowing it is God in me doing it.
George Frederick Handel wrote "Messiah," one of the most glorious pieces of music ever written, in only 24 days! I was a child when I first heard the "Hallelujah Chorus," and I remember thinking that the church I grew up in was wrong when they said the Holy Spirit went back to heaven when the last Apostle died. Clearly, the Holy Spirit anointed Handel's efforts. Someone quoted him as saying, "It wasn't my fingers writing, but God using my fingers."
"Soul power," depends on man's will, while "Spirit power" flows from the will of God, and that any fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil brings spiritual death. It is obvious that the problem with "soul power" comes when men substitute it for "Spirit power." Christians do it all the time. Jesus was a mystic, who spoke from the Father's heart. He was addressing people before the cross, of course, who were still living by the Law of Moses, but Fundamentalists don't make any allowances for that, i.e., that we now live by grace. They take every word He uttered and make an iron clad law of it. For example, on the night of the Passover, He broke the bread, blessed it and the wine, and said, "Do this in remembrance of me" (Luke 22:19; I Cor. 11:24-25). In the church I grew up in, the communion service, otherwise known as "The Lord's Supper," is a commandment that dare not be ignored. In addition to the five steps of salvation (hear, believe, repent, confess, and be baptized), you must take communion every Sunday or risk hell.
One day as I was reading First Corinthians, this verse jumped off the page and into my heart: "For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes" (I Cor. 11:26). I saw in a flash, that communion celebrates the DEATH of Christ. My Catholic friends tell me that the entire Mass is based upon remembering His death. I do not wish to offend anyone, but my spirit cried out, "NO, He's alive. My Lord is alive! And He has already come!" "We serve a risen Savior; He's in the world today" are the beautiful words of a hymn we love to sing, but apparently, many do not believe this. My sins are nailed to the cross, but the Lord is NOT THERE! Inside the Garden Tomb in Israel is a simple rustic wooden sign on the door over the exit. It reads: "He is not here. For He is risen." Amen! Spirituality is never achieved by listening to men ("soul power") but only to God ("Spirit power").
The Law of Moses is the perfect example of "soul power," which God gave to frustrate people who were trying to live by the knowledge of good and evil. It showed them and us the futility of self effort, because "through the law we became conscious of sin," Paul declared (Rom. 3:20). The truth is that even if men could have kept the law, "it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins" (Heb. 10:4). This is another instance where "With men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God" (Matt. 10:27). The longer I walk with the Lord, the more I see that He wants us to acknowledge that He alone is sovereign; we must know that nothing good comes from us alone. We finally see that only that which comes from His Spirit is pleasing to our Father.
Men try to do the righteous thing, but the end of self effort is always despair. Peter learned this lesson the hard way when Jesus told the disciples, "that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. "Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to you!" Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men" (Matt. 16:21-23). When Jesus equates the things of men with Satan, it puts a sobering slant on our good ideas and grand plans, doesn't it?
The lesson continued: "Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matt. 16:24-26). Many religious creeds are built on this concept of self sacrifice, but rather than telling the men that losing their lives was something they had to do, He was prophesying that this is what the Spirit would bring them through. This idea won't sell very well on Main St. In fact, a lot of Christendom is hot after the idea that we won't have to struggle, or do without, if we only have faith, and confess our power over the world, the flesh and the devil. This doctrine would have amazed and angered the early Christians who were thrown to the lions, killed in the arena for Roman pleasure, and denied even basic civil rights. They didn't do any of it by themselves, no hair shirts or self flagellation for them; it happened because they confessed the Name above all names.
They gave their lives with joy and thanksgiving because they experienced the glory of God in their lives, not by "soul power," but by the power of the Life Giving Spirit! Instead of mouthing platitudes or quoting scripture to win approval of others, they confessed His name in the face of torture and death, and like Stephen, when they looked into heaven, they saw the Son of Glory, high and lifted up, welcoming them home.
Father, we thank You that everything we need to live an overcoming life is ours in Christ. What a gift! What a treasure! What a Father we serve! In Your time and in Your way, send us to those who do not know You, and flow through us in Your power and glory that the world may know You as You are. In Christ we ask it, Amen. Jan Antonsson
Editor's note: There were five lessons on Soul Power in 2004, which are linked below.
Jan and Lenny Antonsson
17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snai l Mail)
"Abraham's DNA, Soul Power II,"
"Faith or Works? Soul Power III,"
"Ambassadors for the Kingdom, Soul Power, IV,"
"Three Blind Mice, the Guilt Factor, Soul Power, V,"
"That Tree, Soul Power, VII"
"The Far Country, Soul Power VIII"
The Glory Road
We're always glad to hear from you!
This page was uploaded to the web on 6/28/05
by Jan Antonsson, Webmeister,
and last edited on 10/14/08.