Janet Weaver Smith © 1-8-16 [revised 7-17-2021] gardenministries.org
In the realm of timeless eternity, can a future flesh-and-blood human function and interact as a free will, choice-making spirit-being in heavenly fellowship with the Godhead, before they are birthed in their physical human body on earth? The issue in question about this controversial teaching is not that humans pre-exist in the heart of God through the Word before they become birthed as human beings. Multiple scriptures describe a pre-human existence: Ephesians 1:4-5,11; Romans 8:29; Jeremiah 1:5, 2 Timothy 1:9; 1 Peter 1:20, to name a few.
The issue in question is how, and in what state, does the human spirit exist and do they fellowship with the Godhead and make free-will decisions in this state of being? In other words, prior to their birth as physical human beings on earth, do future human-born spirits have activated, free-will, choice-making souls in heaven and can they express themselves in ways that enable them to initiate, interact, and communicate with the Father [or the Godhead] and make free-will choices? The short answer is No and here is why.
The first time we learn about human freewill awareness and the ability to make independent choices is in Genesis 2:16-17 [CSB] 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree of the garden, 17 “but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die.”
When God issued the command not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is when the Bible tells us that humanity could exercise their free will to make obedient or disobedient choices. Since the Bible does not say that humans can converse with God and make freewill choices BEFORE their flesh and bone birth on earth, we cannot say they can.
The Bible tells us when humans could initiate relationship with God and interact with their created surroundings. This came AFTER Adam was formed from the dust of the ground and AFTER God breathed life into Adam’s full-grown body and he became a living soul and AFTER God issued his command to “not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”
Genesis 2:7-8 [CSB] Then the Lord God formed the man out of the dust from the ground and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and the man became a living being [“being” in Hebrew: nephesh meaning “soul”]. 8 The Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he placed the man he had formed.
The only existence humans have before they are God-breathed into their earthly, clay-formed human body is that which exists within the Word of God who is Christ Jesus Himself. In this way, humans exist as beings of intent who are pre-purposed in Christ before the foundation of the earth.
Ephesians 1:3-5, 11 [CSB] Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in love before him. 5 He predestined us to be adopted as sons through Jesus Christ for himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, … 11 In him we have also received an inheritance, because we were predestined according to the plan of the one who works out everything in agreement with the purpose of his will,
The Bible tells us that God does the only initiating and the choosing prior to our human birth and does not tell us anything more about humanity’s pre-physical existence. Because nothing is said otherwise, we cannot prove through scripture that humans have an activated soul with a free-will personality that can initiate relationship, make choices, and communicate with God BEFORE becoming physically born.
The idea of spirit beings having free will, choice-making, activated personalities who interact and communicate with the Godhead BEFORE their physical human-born earth existence is not found in scripture and can’t be taught as if it were so.
Some Christian prophetic speakers have taught that humans lived a long time as spirits in the Father before they were sent to earth. They teach that spirits are said to have petitioned God to become a part of redemption’s story and can eagerly asked the Father to, “Send me, send me!” This narrative implies that human spirits have a free-will ability to initiate with God and to make personal choices and decisions about their destiny BEFORE they are formed in the flesh as human beings.
John 15:16 counters the idea of such an ability to initiate the choosing process, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit; fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.”
The suggestion or teaching that spirits can make free-will choices and have activated souls before they become human-born, inadvertently promotes the possibility of a direct, initiating-and-responding relationship with Heavenly Father outside of or apart from Jesus Christ.
While those who teach this idea most likely don’t mean to say that, they may not have thought the idea all the way through to its end and have not seen where the line must be clearly drawn by scripture. Splitting hairs here is important in the long view.
The ability to initiate and communicate with God through a human voice using vocalized words prior to becoming physically born on earth is not scriptural. He first loved us. He first chose us. And the only way to the Father is through Christ. We do not chose Him, He chooses us and that is our starting point.
Scripture does tell us that we exist in the heart of God through the Word, Who is Christ Jesus, prior to being breathed into our human flesh. However, our Creator God initiates and chooses when to breathe life and soul in our human flesh and impart life and the power to choose or deny self. Our human birth on earth is the beginning of a life of conscious, free-will choosing. This power to choose is given so that we can choose to love God from our free will and deny self from our free will in the context of our created purpose which is the purpose God intended in creating human beings in the first place.
Colossians 1:15-17 [CSB] He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For everything was created by him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and by him all things hold together.
As we enter a new era of growing in the knowledge of God and revelation of His Word unfolds, it’s a good reminder to take an idea all the way through to its end and look at the fruit to determine the Truth of it before we suggest or teach it. The fruit either points to the centrality of Jesus Christ or ever so slightly, points away from Him. This focal point determines whether something can be safely included as an extra-biblical point in our teaching or if it is actually non-biblical and is even unbiblical.
Extra-biblical stories and prophetic experiences won’t contradict biblical principles and never conflict with the centrality of Jesus Christ. They serve to bring a story line through which we can better relate to the Word of God. The prophets’ personal and subjective experiences help us bridge the complex differences between heaven and earth, but they never lead us outside of His will through misinterpretation or applications of these experiences. The Lord builds and releases revelation of His Word–line upon line and precept upon precept.
The idea that humans can pre-exist as free-will, choice-making spirits who can initiate communication with God doesn’t help or elevate how we walk out our life in God on earth today. If we have no ability to recollect any of that existence, how are we to accurately draw from it? If we are left to simply imagine it with no scriptural basis to ground these imaginations, we are likely to delve into the subjective area of vain imagination that does not develop and grow our hearts and minds in the true knowledge of the Son.
The human’s ability to imagine is different than engaging in fellowship with the Holy Spirit and receiving His revelation. When we spend time communing with the Holy Spirit while we meditate on scripture, the Spirit will reveal the truth of Jesus Christ in deep and meaningful ways. Self-centered imaginations are unfruitful bunny trails. Father looks for worshipers who worship Him in Spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24). We cannot imagine that scripture says something it doesn’t say.
For those learning how to scripturally develop and ground revelation, imagining things without solid scriptural footings can lead toward thinking and believing what many world religions teach: that humans can have an eternal, life-giving relationship with God or Heavenly Father outside of and apart from accepting and believing that Jesus Christ is our only entry point to the Father.
Heresy happens when we depart or stray from the centrality of Jesus Christ as humanity’s only Redeemer and only way to the Father and to eternal life.
John 14:6 [CSB] Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
James 1:16-18 [CSB] Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 By his own choice, he gave us birth by the word of truth so that we would be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.