This teaching includes a free sermon outline to download for personal use, message preparation or Bible study discussion.
This is the second study in the series on Bible psychology, spirit and soul. We are following the outline which has been provided. Briefly I will recapitulate some of the ground that we covered yesterday and then move on from there. I pointed out to you yesterday that I believe there are three things man can only know by divine revelation, that is, the revelation of the Scripture. If man does not have divine revelation he cannot find out these three things. That is: the nature of God, the origin of man, and man’s own inner nature. Man is a mystery to himself until the light of Scripture by the Holy Spirit is shone upon his inner nature. I think you will agree from our study yesterday that man’s inner nature is closely related to his origin. He cannot understand his inner nature if he does not know his own origin because of all the creatures in the universe man has an absolutely origin. No other creature in the universe, as I understand it, was brought into being in the way that man was brought into being.
Turning to your outline and just glancing through it, we see that total man consists of spirit, soul and body. We are thus presented with a picture of triune man, three and yet one, created in the likeness of a triune God, a God who is three and yet one. We looked at the actual account of this creative act of God in Genesis 2:7, we saw the Spirit of God inbreathed from above, the clay molded from beneath. The union of that which comes from above, which is Spirit, and that which is from beneath, which is clay or flesh or body, producing a living soul. An individual personality, someone who can say, “I will” or “I will not.” Someone who is uniquely responsible for his own actions. That’s what a living soul is.
Probably there are no more important words than you can ever utter than those words, “I will” or “I will not.” There is something in you that is answerable for that and you cannot shift that responsibility onto anything or anybody else. That’s what it means to have a soul, to be an individual, to have to make decisions.
We saw that because of this background of man there is the built in possibility of inner turmoil and conflict. There’s something in him from above, something in him from beneath. There’s always the possibility of the tension, some part of him wanting to relate upwards, some part of him pulling downwards. I think every human being that’s walked the face of the earth from Adam onwards has experienced this tension. You study the writings of poets and philosophers, a great deal of their speculation is devoted to trying to account for this inner struggle that goes on within man.
The great philosopher Plato had his picture of the soul’s chariot with two horses. The white horse that was always seeking to go upwards, the black horse that was always pulling the chariot downwards. That was just a pictorial way of presenting this conflict.
Then we noticed the nature of spirit that it is the continuing, originating, outgoing breath of the Almighty. Elsewhere in Scripture the Spirit of God is called “the breath of the Almighty.” God originates everything. “Of him and through him and to him are all things.” God never received first and paid back; God is the originator and giver of all things. Spirit goes forth but soul is initially the recipient. Soul breathes in before it can breathe out. You remember the two Hebrew words ruach: spirit, the steady outgoing breath, and nefesh, the inbreathing before the out-breathing. There we see in the very words the fact.
Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:45 about the first Adam and the last Adam:
“The first Adam was made a living soul, the last Adam [Jesus] was made a life-giving spirit.”
Notice the three contrasts between first and last, between soul and spirit, between living and life- giving. Spirit is life-giving, soul becomes living through the life-giving Spirit.
Then we just looked briefly at the Greek words for spirit, pneuma. About the only common English word that we get from pneuma is “pneumatic,” which used to be a distinctive word to describe tires that were filled with air. Because all tires now are filled with air, we don’t use the word very much. Pneuma means spirit or wind or breath. Sometimes there’s a kind of play on the double meanings as in John 3 where Jesus says “the wind bloweth where it listeth,” or the Spirit breathes where He will. It can mean either, just as much the one as the other.
Soul, psyche. I don’t want to overdo this, but even in the Greek language you have the sound in the word. Pneuma, the steady outgoing breath. Psyche begins with an ingoing breath. Psyche, can you see that? Right built in language is this basic distinction between spirit which is originating, outgoing, continuing and soul which must receive in before it can give forth.
I venture to suggest to you that if this is new to you, if you meditate on it and turn it over in your mind it will become more and more real and more and more illuminating to you as you meditate in it.
The Greek word for body is soma. We have spirit, pneuma; soul, psyche; body, soma.
As we’re going to see this morning, unregenerate man knows nothing of the spirit. In most cases he’s not even aware that there is such a thing as a spirit. It’s very interesting that in the language of the world you find no words built up by the pneuma. But when you get to the word psyche, the soul, you get many, many words that begin with psycho because man is very conscious of the realm of the soul but ignorant of the realm of the spirit. You have words like psychology, psychiatry, psychic and all these are accurate, they relate to the realm of the soul. It’s very, very important for Christians to understand that psychiatry and psychology are in the soulish realm. They’re legitimate within their limits but they are limited to the soul realm. The word psychic, which refers nowadays to supernatural manifestations of satanic origin, also is very significant because they play on the soul, not on the spirit as we’ll see later.
Now we’re going on in the outline with the material that’s new for today and talk for a moment about the location of spirit and soul within human personality. The spirit is located in an area deep within man somewhere, I suppose, medically below the diaphragm and above the pelvis. There’s a kind of hollow area. In John 7:38 which we’ll look at a little later, Jesus said, “Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” The writer of the gospel says he was speaking of the spirit. It’s very specific. Out of the belly. The Greek word koilea, means “that which is hollow.” The same word is used to describe the concave arch of heaven. So, there’s something heaven-shaped inside man within his physical body that is the area of the spirit. The King James Version in John 7:38 says “belly.” I like to stick to “belly” because I want you to know that it’s out of your physical body. When we get so spiritual we have to say “inner being” that leaves us all vague and theological and really doesn’t relate it to anything.
Actually, when you get upset and nervous and you’ve got an important interview or a driving test, you tell people you have butterflies where? In your stomach, that’s right. That’s exactly where it is. Almost everything that really matters in your experience starts there. That’s the area that you’ve got to guard most carefully of all the areas of your personality.
Let’s turn to Job 32 and see some clear statements made there. Just verse 8 and then we’ll look at two verses further down in the chapter.
“But there is a spirit in man...”
That’s a very, very important statement. There is a spirit in man. I was a philosopher and a professor of philosophy and all the rest of it. For many years I didn’t know that. I knew I had a soul, I knew I had a body. I was absolutely unaware of the existence of a spirit. The Bible reveals this. There is a spirit in man. It’s something you need to know.
“...and the inspiration [or the inbreathed breath] of the Almighty giveth them understanding.”
The inspiration of the Almighty refers to the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God operates in man on the spirit of man. Through the context between God’s Spirit and man’s spirit comes understanding. In the Scripture understanding is almost always spiritual. It is not soulish. It isn’t mental ability, it’s something quite different. Here we’re told three very important facts in that verse. There is a spirit in man. On the spirit of man the Spirit of God acts. And, through the interaction of God’s Spirit and man’s spirit there comes that which is called understanding. Understanding is not education. Lots of highly educated people have no understanding at all.
You know who the people are creating the biggest problems in the world today? The educated fools. There’s no doubt about that. I think it was one of your presidents, I think it was Theodore Roosevelt who said, “If a man is uneducated he’ll steal a railroad car, but if you educate the same man he’ll steal the railway!” That, really, is something to ponder on.
Unregenerate, sinful man is more dangerous when he’s educated than when he’s uneducated. He can do more harm. So, the Bible is not talking about education when it talks about understanding. When I was in East Africa in Kenya I was in educational work. At that time the African people were just emerging out of the Stone Age into the Jet Age in one generation. They’d come to the place where they saw the white man had the edge over them. The white man could do things the black man couldn’t do. They had come to the conclusion they wanted to be able to do it themselves, they didn’t want white men there running their ways and their government and all these things. They felt, “We should be able to do it.” They asked themselves, What does the white man have that we don’t have that enables him to do what we don’t do? Their answer was education. Education really became their god.
I was in the field of education training teachers and I used to tease them. I used to say, “You Africans, you’ve thrown away your gods of wood and stone because you found they didn’t work. You’ve got a new god.” They would look at me and I said, “Shall I tell you his name?” They said please. I’d say in Swahili, ?Eleemoo? which is Swahili for “education.” I saw that to reach them I had to break this hold of the god of education over their mind. This is true of many other areas besides Africa. I wrote a little pamphlet which I still have somewhere called, “You Are Striving After Education But Are You Also Finding Wisdom?” I pointed out this simple truth that it’s possible to be highly educated and very foolish. I think most countries in the world need to realize this fact. Education does not automatically solve your problems. There’s a difference between education and understanding. Understanding is in the realm of the spirit, man’s spirit illuminated by God’s Spirit.
Coming back to Job 32:8, there is a spirit in man and the inbreathed breath of the Almighty, the Spirit of God breathed into the spirit of man brings forth understanding.
Looking down a little further to verses 18–19. These are the words of Elihu. Elihu was one of the men who turned up to be present at Job’s tragic situation. He wasn’t one of the three comforters and he sat there, a rather younger man, and listened to these older men until he just couldn’t keep quiet any longer. In chapter 32 Elihu bursts into speech. This is what he says in verses 18–19. I’ll read the King James and then give you a more literal translation.
“For I am full of matter, the spirit within me constraineth me. Behold, my belly is as wine which hath no vent; it is ready to burst like new bottles.”
More literally, and if you have a marginal version you’ll see this. He said, “I’m full of words, and the spirit of my belly is urging me, pressing me.” That tells you very clearly where the spirit is, it’s in the belly. What he’s saying is, “I’m so pressed in my spirit I’m like a wineskin that’s got wine in it with no outlet. I’ve got to burst. I must speak, I’m full of words. The spirit of my belly must have expression.” We’re told again there where the spirit is, it’s in the belly. There is a spirit in man and it’s in his belly. And there comes a time when that spirit just must express itself. It expresses itself in words.
“Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.”
When you read the word “heart” in Scripture, do not think of the physical organ that pumps blood through the body. Think of the area that we’re talking about, the belly, and that’s what is denoted most times by the word “heart” in Scripture.
Let’s look at one other Scripture about the location of the spirit. Zechariah 12:1:
“The burden of the word of the Lord for Israel...”
God’s message for Israel.
“...saith the LORD...”
And then we’re told three things about the Lord.
“...who stretches forth the heavens, layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him.”
There are three mighty acts of God. Stretching out the heavens, laying the foundation of the earth, and forming man’s spirit in his midst. Again, it’s the same word. The same word is used in Isaiah 12 where it says, “Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion. For great is the holy one of Israel in the midst of thee.” It’s in the midst, it’s in this middle area, this hollow place, this special area set apart for something special. In that area God forms the spirit of man. The word “form” is the same word that we found used of the clay in Genesis 2:7: the careful fashioning of something that requires tremendous skill. So, it’s a very wonderful thought. God skillfully fashioned the human body but more skillfully yet, he fashioned, formed and shaped the spirit within the body.
Much of what God is doing in your life is done to form your spirit within you the way He wants it done. With the Holy Spirit, who is the finger of God, He molds your spirit within you.
So, those are the Scriptures that tell us so clearly the location of the spirit in man.
Now let’s look for a moment at the location of the soul. The Scripture that tells us this most clearly is in Leviticus 17:11. I’m going to make this statement and I know it’s true because it’s in the Scripture. If there are things about it that I do not understand, that doesn’t worry me. You could ask me questions about this that I might not be able to answer. That doesn’t embarrass me the least bit. What I do know I’ll tell you. I think it’s a basic Baptist principle, “Don’t preach opinions, preach facts.” It’s a very sound one, too.
“For the life of the flesh is in the blood...”
Here’s where you must get behind the translation, because the word “life” is nefesh, which means soul. What the Bible says is the soul of the flesh is in the blood. There are many, many other passages in the Mosaic law that make the same statement. If you want to know where your soul is located within your physical body while you live, it’s in the blood.
Let’s go on looking because this is a tremendously prophetical verse.
“... for I have given it to you [the blood] upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls ...”
Notice, it’s the same word “soul” there that’s translated “life” in the beginning of the verse. You see, it’s a soul for a soul. It’s the soul that’s the substitute for the soul. Do you follow what I mean? It’s a life for a life, a soul for a soul. This is the whole principle of the law. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a soul for a soul.
“... for it is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul.”
If you translate “soul” all through that verse it’s much more clear in its meaning than if you use the word life at the beginning. Let me do it that way. “For the soul of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you—the blood and the soul in it—upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” That is not merely a statement of Mosaic law; it’s a prophecy of Calvary for on the altar of the cross the same Lord that was speaking there gave His own soul through His blood to make an atonement for the souls of the human race.
If you turn to Isaiah 53:12, which is the climax of the great prophecy of the atonement, you’ll find the parallel truth. I must assume that you realize Isaiah 53 is the great Old Testament prophecy detail by detail, scene by scene of the atonement of Jesus on the cross. It’s summed up in verse 12:
“Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto the death...”
When did Jesus pour out His soul unto death? When He poured out His lifeblood unto death. The soul is in the blood. Jesus gave His divine, eternal soul, a substitute, an atonement, for the souls of all men. He gave it when He poured out His blood on the cross.
When you want to unite those two verses, study them for yourself. Leviticus 17:11 and Isaiah 53:12. They perfectly correspond, the one to the other.
There are things that I don’t understand and that doesn’t bother me. I don’t think I’m alone, I think there are some other people that don’t understand everything, too. Let me point out to you—and remember now, you’re looking at a medical orderly, class 2, of the British Army so I’m almost a, quote, “expert.” There’s a strange relationship within the body between the breath and the blood. The main organ that handles the breath is the lungs, isn’t that right? The main organ that handles the blood is the heart. As you know, I’m sure many of you do, your blood is pumped out of your heart, down the left side through the arteries, down to the extremities, turns around and comes back through the veins. When it goes out it’s fresh red and when it comes back it’s a dark bluish color because it’s laden with impurities. But every time it comes back passing through the lungs by the oxygen in the lungs it is purified and becomes bright red again. So, the breath in the lungs is, let me say, the counterpart of the spirit. The life is in the blood.
When do you stop living? Two things happen. You stop breathing and your blood ceases to circulate, it coagulates. The life element has gone. I think what God’s little parable is telling us is this, that it’s the spirit that purifies the soul and if the soul isn’t in contact with the spirit, there’s nothing to purify it. It’s the oxygen in the lungs that purifies the blood, keeps the body functioning. I have no question in my mind that God planned this as a parable of spiritual truth.
I’m going to take a look at the condition of man before and after regeneration. If you don’t know what regeneration means, it means rebirth, being born again. First of all, let’s look at man as he is in his lost, sinful condition, alienated from God through sin. Ephesians 2:1. Paul is speaking to believers in Christ and says:
“You have God made alive...”
That’s supplied by the translators, it isn’t important for the time being.
“...you who were dead in trespasses and sins. ”
Notice these people were not physically dead, they were alive. But, they were dead spiritually, their spirit was dead. Their soul went on functioning, their body went on functioning, their spirit was dead. Spiritually dead, cut off.
In Ephesians 4:18 this is again stated even more clearly. We must read verse 17 to get the whole picture. Ephesians 4:17–18:
“This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk...”
This is how the nations of the world walk who are not illuminated by the word of God.
“...in the vanity [or the emptiness or frustration] of their mind, having the understanding darkened...”
Notice where the realm of understanding is? It’s in the realm of the spirit. When the spirit is cut off it’s dark, the understanding is darkened.
“... being alienated [cut off] from the life of God ...”
Not in the soul, not in the body, but in the spirit. The contact between man’s spirit and God’s Spirit has been severed by sin. Man is cut off from the life, he’s in darkness and he’s blind because of the blindness of the heart. Spiritually he is blind, he cannot see, he’s in the dark, he’s dead. That’s the condition of unregenerate humanity. It’s very, very important to understand.
There are many people today, many cults, many cases—this is the teaching of Unity—that do not emphasize the lost condition of unregenerate man. Man is lost, he’s dead, he’s cut off, he’s in the dark, he’s blind. All his intellectuality and religion and reasoning cannot change that condition. It must be done by sovereign creative intervention of Almighty God. There is nothing else that meets man’s need.
Look at what cut man off. This is a very important Scripture. Isaiah 59:1–2. It’s spoken to the most religious people on earth, the Jewish people, who had a religion given them by divine revelation of whom came the prophet. But this is what their own prophet says to them.
“Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy that it cannot hear: but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you...”
What separates between God and man? Only one thing, sin. And sin invariably separates. It’s most important to see that.
If you want to look at the moment of spiritual death, turn to Genesis again. Genesis 2:17. When God created man with free will and placed him in the Garden, there had to be an opportunity for man to exercise his will either for or against God. Otherwise, free will would have been a mockery.
You know, many of us bring our children up like that. We say, “You can’t do what you please, but you’ve got to do what I tell you.” Your child grows up inwardly a rebel. Don’t be ignorant about that fact. One day about the age of 16 or 17 he’s going to burst the bonds and break loose, kick up his heels and start making his own decisions. And never having been given the privilege of making decisions, he’s going to make some foolish ones. Every parent is obligated to start very young training his child to make his own decisions. Let them be valid decisions. Let your child do something wrong every now and then if that’s necessary. Don’t do it all for him because that’s what he resents more than anything else.
We are bringing up—she isn’t here today—a little African girl. Of course, being a black girl brought up by white people there are obviously problems ahead. Well, my wife and I say, “That’s the Lord’s problems, not ours. The Lord gave her to us.” We deliberately encourage her to make her own decisions because someday she’s going to have to make very difficult decisions. It isn’t fair to plunge a child at the age of 16 suddenly into the decision-making process without any preliminary training. Many parents are doing that. They make all the decisions, they set all the rules, there’s very little communication, there’s not much real valued discussion. It’s just, “Do it because I say so,” or “the church says so,” and that’s what people do. Believe me, my dear friends, what you are doing is training a rebel. One day you’ll be astonished at the sudden outburst of rebellion. God didn’t do that. God said to Adam, “You’re here. You’re in charge.” Isn’t that remarkable! “You dress the garden, you keep it, you look after it, you name the animals. And, you’ve got two choices. Of all the trees in the garden you can freely eat. There’s one tree in the middle of the garden that you must not eat of. You can, but I want to tell you what will happen when you do.” Let’s read these words. Genesis 2:16–17:
“The LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat...”
But of one. You just think about human nature. You go out and leave your children at home and say, “You can open every drawer in my desk except the bottom one.” Which is the drawer they’re going to go for? The bottom one, isn’t it? That’s one sure way to get human beings to do something is to tell them not to. We’ve got a little poodle at home named Sammy and he’s a character. At night when we want Sammy in the bedroom he won’t come in. So I used to stand there and call him and he would sit outside and look at me. I don’t do that anymore. I go inside and close the door. One minute later he’s scratching at the door to get in! Sometimes God has to deal with you and me that way.
I think that’s true about prayer groups. You know. Don’t invite the world in, tell them to stay out. That’s the way to get them in. There’s a little book somewhere that’s called When You’ve Tried Inviting All The Neighbors, Then Seek God. I believe myself—I’m getting distracted—but I believe a home prayer group should be by invitation. That’s the difference between a home and a public assembly. Make it a little difficult to get in, don’t let everybody come waltzing in. You’ll have quite a different kind of home prayer group, believe me.
We’re going back to Genesis 2:16–17:
“Of every tree in the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”
When will you die? Which day? The day you eat it. Adam ate. Did he die physically? Not for many, many years. He died spiritually because his rebellion separated him instantly from God. From then on, he was dead in trespasses and sins. He was a rebel by nature and every descendant of Adam is born with a rebellious nature. We won’t go into that.
Let me point out one other very interesting fact that doesn’t directly relate to our study. Who told Eve that she was not to eat of the tree? Well, I believe somebody did. It wasn’t the Lord. It was Adam. See what I’m at? God said to Adam, “In the day that thou eatest thou shalt die.” He was only speaking to one person. But Eve said, “We may eat of every tree except ...” Who told Eve? Adam. That’s a very far- reaching principle, too. Whose responsibility is it to give spiritual instruction to the wife? The husband. Where do most wives get their spiritual instruction today? Shall I tell you? Brother Prince’s tapes. I don’t know the way around it, but there must be a way. It isn’t right.
What’s the situation in America today? Wives are getting more and more spiritual and husbands dropping further and further behind. I went to one home, it embarrassed me. The wife said, “I want you to meet my husband.” He said, “You know, I sit by the hour and listen to your tapes.” I wish I’d never been there. This poor wife was making this man listen to my tapes by the hour. He certainly wasn’t a candidate for my ministry, I’ll tell you that! There’s a very, very far-reaching truth. The wife should get her spiritual instruction from her husband. You say, that’s only the Old Testament. Oh, no, friend, it isn’t!. In 1 Corinthians 14, which is the gift chapter, for all you Charismatics, if the wife wants to know anything what is she to do? Ask her husband at home. I can see you all telling me right now with your eyes, “But my husband doesn’t know!” Shall I tell you what to do? Keep asking, put the pressure on. Say, “It’s your responsibility. Come on, I want to know.” I tell wives this: Don’t get in front of your husbands and pull them in, get behind and push them. That’s again, by the way—but as I say, there’s no extra charge for it.
Notice then what happened when man disobeyed God. He died spiritually that instant because sin separates from God. He didn’t die in his soulish realm; he didn’t die in his physical realm but he was spiritually dead. That’s the condition of the human race: alienated from God, cut off, in the dark, ignorant, blind, without feeling, without response.
I think I should give you another Scripture about that because it’s very important to see it. There’s a lot of people in the Charismatic movement trying to bypass this issue. If you turn to Psalm 14—and if you can’t find Psalm 14 turn to Psalm 53 because the first 3 verses of each psalm are the same. Verses 1–3. Here is God’s picture of unregenerate humanity.
“The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men...”
In Hebrew, the sons of Adam. This is the entire Adamic race.
“... to see if there were any that did understand ...”
Notice the word “understand”: spiritual.
“... and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy, there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”
Notice there’s not one descendant of Adam that naturally will understand and seek God.
For many years I deceived myself after I was saved. I said, “I know I was a sinner, but at least there was one good thing about me, I was seeking God.” One day I read that Scripture and the Lord said very clearly to me, “Don’t deceive yourself any longer. You weren’t interested in seeking Me the least bit until I began to move upon you by My Spirit. It started with Me and not with you.” Any impulse to do good or seek God in man originates with God and not with man. There is the condition of the human race apart from the grace of God and the moving of the Spirit of God. They do not understand, they do not seek God, they are all become filthy, there is none that doeth good. We must hold on to this truth because otherwise we’re going to depart from the whole truth of the gospel. The gospel depends upon the need of man for its validity. Man in his religious pride and stubbornness is always trying to evade the issue of being totally dependent on God’s grace. Now let’s look and see what happens at regeneration, the rebirth. Clearly, from what I’ve said to you, I believe it’s obvious that it’s the spirit that is regenerated, born again, made alive. Let’s look in John 3, that famous conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus. We won’t read all of it, just verses 3–6:
“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again ...”
The Greek word “from above” meaning either from above literally or a totally new start. Luke uses the word in the introduction to his gospel when he says he’s had a perfect understanding of all things from the very first. It’s the same word Luke uses. It means a totally new beginning and a beginning that originates from God. You see, the Spirit of God always comes into man from above.
“Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Notice he cannot see because he is spiritually blind, he’s in the dark.
“Nicodemus said unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
The rebirth is the rebirth of the spirit. The physical body was born out of the physical body but the spirit of man is reborn by the Spirit of God from above.
Ephesians 2:5, we get the other aspect of this transaction. Life in place of death. We have to read verse 4 to get the full sentence.
“But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins ... [God loved us even when we were dead.] ... hath quickened us [made us alive] together with Christ.”
We were dead but we are now alive. We have been made alive by the Spirit of God. It’s regeneration, it’s being made alive.
The great picture of this in the parable, of course, is the prodigal son who left home, turned his back on the father, broke and severed his ties, went as far and as low as he could, ended up amongst the swine and then repented, made a decision and said, “I will arise and go to my father.” He turned around and started on the road back. You know, of course, the story. He was determined to say, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee, and am not worthy to be called thy son.” But his father was waiting for him, ran and met him, fell on his neck and kissed him and never let him say, “I am not worthy to be called thy son.” He let him confess his sin and stopped him there. He brought out the best robe, put shoes on his feet, a ring on his finger, killed the fatted calf and said, “Let us make merry. For this my son was lost and is found, was dead and is alive.” That’s rebirth. That’s regeneration. That’s coming back to the Father, that’s making contact again with God. You were lost and in the dark, you didn’t even know where you were going, you couldn’t see your way. Now you’re found. You were dead and now you’re alive. Bless God, that old religious elder brother found himself on the outside looking in. There they were, there was music and dancing, feasting. The elder brother wasn’t even part of it.
God forgive me, but so many Pentecostals are like that today. The Charismatics are coming in, the Catholics, the Baptists and all the rest of them. Making merry and dancing. Some people that have said, “We have it all” find themselves on the outside looking in.
A lot of sermons are preached on the prodigal son, somebody should preach on the older brother. He had it all, but he wasn’t living it. His father said, “All that I have is thine but you’re living like a beggar instead of like a son.”
You know, there’s one phrase in that parable that I like. It says, “They began to be merry.” I like to put that together with Acts 2:4. “They began to speak with other tongues.” If you want to speak with other tongues you’ve got to begin, did you know that? We had a lady here three nights ago, Sunday night, she just wouldn’t begin, that’s all. She was bubbling, fluttering, sobbing, but she wouldn’t begin to speak. And if you don’t begin to speak you won’t speak, that’s all there is to it. You’ve got to begin.
Lots of people say, “Well, Brother Prince, I’d like to be free in the Spirit, I’d like to dance, I’d like to enjoy myself.” Do you know what you’ve got to do? You’ve got to begin. You just have to begin. Some people know that I sometimes indulge myself in a little dancing. Some people are surprised. I do it. I do it, do you know why I do it? Because I begin to do it. Other people sit there and say, “I wish I could do it.” You’ll never do it unless you begin. There is such a thing as beginning. I don’t feel super-spiritual when I begin, I just begin. If you want to be merry, some time in your life you’re going to have to begin. Turn loose, forget the traditions. They say, “They don’t do it in my church.” Somebody said, “That’s why we’re not in your church!” So, it’s all right for you to begin.
The nature of the regenerated spirit. Do you know what I think? I think we better stop there. This is a completely new and a tremendous theme. You’ll get a great deal more out of tomorrow’s study if between now and then you read through these Scriptures that are outlined here.