The Truth About the Soul Matters
“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”—JOHN 8:32.
1. Why is it important to examine our beliefs about the soul and death?
BELIEFS regarding death and the Hereafter are largely a result of one’s religious and cultural background. As we have seen, they range from the conviction that the soul realizes its final goal only after numerous rebirths to the idea that a single lifetime determines one’s final destiny. Consequently, one person may feel confident of finally merging with the ultimate reality upon dying, another of achieving Nirvana, and yet another of reaping a heavenly reward. What, then, is the truth? Since our beliefs influence our attitudes, actions, and decisions, should we not be concerned with finding the answer to that question?
2, 3. (a) Why can we put confidence in what the Bible says about the soul? (b) As stated in the Bible, what is the truth about the soul?
2 The oldest book in the world, the Bible, traces man’s history back to the creation of the first human soul. Its teachings are free of philosophies and traditions of men. The Bible clearly states the truth about the soul: Your soul is you, the dead are completely nonexistent, and those in God’s memory will be resurrected in his due time. What can knowing this mean for you?
3 “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free,” said Jesus Christ to his followers. (John 8:32) Yes, the truth is liberating. But from what will the truth about the soul set us free?
Freedom From Fear and Despair
4, 5. (a) What fear does the truth about the soul dispel? (b) How did the resurrection hope impart courage to a terminally ill teenager?
4 “Most people fear death and try to avoid thinking about it,” says The World Book Encyclopedia. “The word ‘death’ itself has become almost unmentionable in the West,” notes one historian. And in some cultures such euphemisms as “passed on” and “passed away” are commonly used to describe a person’s dying. This fear of death is actually a fear of the unknown, since to most people death is a mystery. The knowledge of the truth about what happens when we die alleviates this fear.
5 Consider, for example, the state of mind of 15-year-old Michaelyn. She had leukemia and faced a tragic death. Her mother, Paula, recalls: “Michaelyn said she didn’t mind dying because she knew that death was only temporary. We talked a lot about God’s new world and all those who will be resurrected in it. Michaelyn had tremendous faith in Jehovah God and the resurrection—not an ounce of doubt.” The resurrection hope freed this courageous young girl from an overwhelming fear of death.
6, 7. From what despair does the truth about the soul free us? Illustrate.
6 How did the truth affect Michaelyn’s parents? “Our little girl’s death was the most painful thing that has ever happened to us,” says Jeff, her father. “But we trust implicitly in Jehovah’s promise of the resurrection, and we look forward to one day holding our dear Michaelyn in our arms again. What a reunion that will be!”
7 Yes, the truth about the soul frees a person from the hopeless despair that the death of a loved one may bring. Of course, nothing can completely eliminate the pain and sorrow experienced when a loved one dies. The resurrection hope, however, tempers the mourning and makes the pain far easier to bear.
8, 9. From what fear does the truth about the condition of the dead free us?
8 The Scriptural truth about the condition of the dead also frees us from fear of the dead. Since learning this truth, many who were once shackled to superstitious rituals concerning the dead no longer worry about curses, omens, charms, and fetishes, nor do they offer costly sacrifices to appease their ancestors and prevent them from returning to haunt the living. Indeed, since the dead “are conscious of nothing at all,” such practices are ineffectual.—Ecclesiastes 9:5.
9 The truth about the soul, found in the Bible, is indeed liberating and trustworthy. But consider also a unique prospect that the Bible holds out to you.
[Blurb on page 29]
The truth about the soul sets you free from the fear of death, fear of the dead, despair over the death of a loved one