The salvation of the soul is probably the most misunderstood concept in Christianity today. This may sound incredible, since virtually every church-going Christian thinks that his understanding of soul salvation is correct, but only a handful of Christians has bothered to check out the Scriptures to see what soul salvation really means. It matters not what preachers say about soul salvation, if the Scriptures say something different. Spirit and soul are not the same in the Bible. The following Scripture clearly establishes that soul and spirit are not the same:
1 Th 5:23 (KJV) And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
This confirms that man is a triune being, just as God is a Trinity. It also helps to confirm that spirit salvation differs from soul salvation. Spirit salvation is by faith in Jesus Christ plus nothing. The following Scripture about Paul and Silas confirms this:
Acts 16:30-31 (KJV) (30) And (the Philippian jailer) brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? (31) And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
Spirit salvation is very simple. One simply believes that Jesus Christ died for his sins. One can do nothing to earn this salvation. It is a gift from God, and the Holy Spirit even provides the faith. However, the Scriptures go into great detail regarding soul salvation, which should occur after spirit salvation. The Scriptures are also clear that effort or striving is necessary for soul salvation. The following Scripture confirms this:
James 1:21 (KJV) Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
James 1:21 (ASV 1901) Wherefore putting away all filthiness and overflowing of wickedness, receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
This Scripture is addressing believers and it states that a believer can save his soul by getting rid of sin in his life and studying and obeying the Bible. This requirement differs from Acts 16:30-31. Spirit salvation and soul salvation are not the same.
The difference between spirit salvation and soul salvation is the difference between grace and works. The spirit is saved by faith in Jesus Christ, while the soul is saved by faithfulness to Jesus Christ. Soul salvation does not determine whether a person enters heaven, but it does determine his reward in heaven. Some Christians will enter heaven with no reward because of unfaithfulness to Jesus. The following Scripture confirms this:
1 Cor 3:13-15 (KJV) (13) Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. (14) If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. (15) If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
The following Scripture also confirms that soul salvation is the result of works:
1 Pet 1:7-9 (KJV) (7) That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: (8) Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: (9) Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.
This Scripture is addressed to believers who have faith that has matured, and when tested at the return of Jesus, will be found to be as precious as gold resulting in praise, honor and glory from the Lord Jesus Christ. This results in the saving of their souls or reward for being faithful.
In the following Scripture, Jesus explains the requirement for soul salvation:
Mat 16:24-27 (KJV) (24) Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. (25) For whosoever will save his life (psuche) shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life (psuche) for my sake shall find it. (26) For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul (psuche)? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul (psuche)? (27) For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.
Please note that the Greek word for life and soul is the same word psuche throughout this passage of Scripture. Jesus is telling His disciples about soul salvation and how it determines their reward for successfully crucifying the old flesh nature. This passage of Scripture clearly establishes that soul salvation is according to works.
Spirit and soul are not the same. The soul is what a person is in regard to his character or his person. It is possible for a person to be totally changed as a person and in character. The reason for this is that the soul is a person's mind, emotions, intellect, will and heart. It is what kind of person he is in life. This is why the Greek word psuche is alternately translated as life or soul.
It is possible for a person to lose his soul in this life and be a totally different person. This happens when a person lives according to his new spirit nature, which never sins (1 John 3:9), instead of his old flesh nature, which can do nothing good. Therefore, the Christian who loses his soul in order to save it is the faithful, spiritual Christian who will receive a reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ when the Christian's works will be tried by fire. The souls of Christians who continued to live according to their old flesh nature will be lost (i.e., they will perish or be destroyed), and they will receive no reward. Their spirits—which are born of God—will still be saved, and they will still receive a redeemed body. The redeemed body will live in complete submission to the spirit, so the soul (i.e., personality, character and mind) of these believers will be totally different in heaven. Their souls will perish, but they will be completely and totally redeemed.
There will be Christians who will be disqualified as the Bride of Christ, and they will lose their inheritance as a coheir with Jesus Christ. They will still be in heaven, and they will be totally forgiven for all their sins. Christians who had lived their lives as gluttons will no longer be gluttons. Christians who had lived lives as busybodies and gossips will no longer be that way. Christians who were liars will no longer be liars. Christians who were pharisaical and self-righteous will no longer be that way.
In like manner, Christians who were drunkards will no longer be drunkards. Christians who were homosexuals will no longer be homosexual. Christians who were adulterers will no longer be adulterers. Christians caught up in seeking after wealth and material possessions will no longer be worldly minded. All of these Christians will have lost their souls, but they will have new souls. Simply stated, their lives will be totally different, but they will have no positions of honor and glory in the millennial kingdom of Jesus Christ.