If in our soul we were “citizens of heaven” as Paul said, the whole idea of how to live and what is suffering would be turned on its head.
But first, what is soul. The word “soul” in the Bible is a translation of the Hebrew word neʹphesh and the Greek word psy·kheʹ. The Hebrew word literally means “a creature that breathes,” and the Greek word means “a living being.”* The soul, then, is the entire creature, not something inside that survives the death of the body. That's important to distinguish.
The soul is our senses, thoughts, and feelings, simply who we are. Through acceptance of Christ, we “turn (Matthew8:13),” have metanoia (to repent in Mark Chapter One), change, become a “new creature” (2 Corinthians5:17). We exist in a wholly different—repeat, wholly different—paradigm than those who are not believers, see from an entirely different perspective. Everything appears the same but everything is different. Death has totally lost its sting, if we have the eyes to see. Would you like to see a really bad movie or a good one? That is the simple difference between earth and heaven, respectively.
For the “citizen of heaven,” The Way is so radically different than conventional wisdom, so contrary to worldly values that no one who has yet to experience it would wish something so awful on themselves or others; it seems so, well, un-human. Things are seen in a whole new light and angle. Our POV is the kingdom of God.
The “awful mercies of God”--our calamities, sorrows, pain, tribulations, defeats and so forth—are to better purify the soul. How do you know when silver in a cauldron is refined properly? It reflects an image. For us, that image is God. The unbeliever will see the hard times and bad times as unjust, or if they are not yet fully in Christ, as punishment from God. God defines “discipline” only one way: encouragement to grow.
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