Teaching Notes are Bible studies we taught before GraceLife Ministries began publishing articles online in 1995. Some were presented as sermons, others as group studies.

Our hope is that these older studies will be a blessing to you in your life and ministry. Please use them in any way God leads you.

These teaching notes are from a series of studies about Christian Apologetics. If you have not read the first part of the this series, we invite you to look at it here.

[Podcast version available at the end of this post.]

[These notes are from a study presented 45 years ago.]

Soul Sorrow

Since Dr. Carnell has already outlined his book An Introduction to Christian Apologetics, I will use it as a basis for the skeleton, but will add my own meat and summary.

The practical predicament facing every human being is that fine line between the “ideal and the real.” We must face the pleasures and the pain of physical reality. We must also face the sadness and sorrow of the soul (mind, emotions, intelligence, will). Dr. Carnell stated the truth well when he wrote, “Peace of mind is the highest form of human happiness.”

I. The Sources of Soul-Sorrow

Man is both limited and unlimited. He is a physical creature of time and space and a spiritual creature of eternity.

A. The Problem of the Body

The problem of our body is that we one! If I had no body, I would know no pain or sorrow. However, such is not the case and I must live on. Not only must I live in this body, but I must also die in this body. The body is a major source of sorrow.

B. The Problem of the Universe

The universe seems bent on making man miserable.

  1. The discovery of the telescope demonstrated the smallness and puniness of man.
  2. The philosophy of universal mechanicalism places man in a purposeless existence. We are a small cog in a large machine that is nowhere, is going nowhere, has been nowhere.
  3. The advent of the theory of evolution took man from the plateau of possibilities to the pit of pity. We could have been, but we aren’t. We are not the crown of creation, but the slime of the sea.
  4. The Second Law of Thermodynamics says that energy is diminishing throughout the universe. The time is coming when nothing will exist. Why then do anything? Someday it will just all stop. Life is nothing — all is vanity.

II. The Nature of Soul-Sorrow

A. The Union of the Real and the Ideal

Can these be united? Can we live in idealistic realism or realistic idealism? Can we have what we want without wanting for having? All of our hopes will one day heap into decay. The failure to unite the one with the other brings the futility to understand.

B. The Fear of Death

In the midst of death is born the desire of life — the Fountain of Youth, the happily ever after, the never ending soap-operatic scripting were the characters never age or wither. Etched deep in my soul re the initials TLF — To Live Forever. Written in my body is STST — Sorry, Three Score and Ten. The constant fear of encroaching death steal the fibers of life leaving body and soul to anxiety and despair.

III. The Cure for Soul-Sorrow

A. The Four Alternatives

  1. I could commit suicide
  2. I could ignore the problem and pretend meaning
  3. I could make the best of a bad situation
  4. I could question and make investigation of the whole matter

B. The Ingredients of the Cure for Soul-Sorrow

  1. Hope lies at the base and center of cure. We can live forever — reality can unite with the ideal! The foundation of this hope is found in John 3:16. The gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23) brings purpose, which brings peace of mind, which brings joy.
  2. This peace and purpose must of course be borne up through universal reality and intelligent logic.
  3. This purpose, peace and joy must be structured upon truth.

IV. Recapitulation

A. The Problem

Death is real and lonely.

B. The Solution

Christ is real and forever!

Comparing Books

In the first chapter of Dr. Carnell’s book, he deals with the predicament of man. Dr. Ramm in his book Protestant Christian Evidences seems to deal more on the predicament of science and philosophy. Dr. Carnell spend that first chapter seemingly for the lost man, while Dr. Ramm spends his first and other chapters for the saved man.

Where points overlapped there was agreement. However, each man seems to take a different approach at the outset.

Other Available Materials

Truths That Transform, Dr. James Kennedy, Fleming Revell Co, 1974 (Chapter on the depravity and hopelessness of man without Christ, the salvation of God and the promise of everlasting life)

Man’s Total Depravity, A.W. Pink, Moody Press, 1969 (Pink deals with the whole question of man’s helplessness in life and hope through Christ)

The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Alfred Edersheim, Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1971 (He deals with all the teachings of Christ on earth including those of the human predicament)

Historiography: Secular & Religious, Gordon Clark, Craig Press, 1971 (He writes about the way man views man through many secular and religious philosophies)

Three Types of Religious Philosophy, Gordon Clark, Craig Press, 1973 (He deals with the philosophies of Rationalism, Empiricism, Irrationalism, and Dogmatism)

Scientific Creationism, Henry Morris, Creation-Life Publishers, 1974 (He writes about evolution, the fall and curse of man, and the laws of Thermodynamics)

Lectures in Systematic Theology, Henry Thiessen, Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1949 (He deals with non-Christian worldview of life, the fall of man into a hopeless state and the solution to this predicament in Christ)

Balancing the Christian Life, Charles Ryrie, Moody Press, 1969 (He writes on the predicament of man and the only solution is Christ)

Abstract of Systematic Theology, J.P. Boyce, American Baptist Publications Society, 1887 (He deals with the predicament of man and the solution in Christ. He also wrote about death and the soul’s immortality)

A Handbook of Christian Truth, Harold Lindsell and Charles Woodbridge, Fleming Revell Co., 1953 (They wrote about the human predicament and its solution in Christ)

Christianity Rightly So Called, S.G. Craig, The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1946 (He deals in some chapters with the human predicament and its solution through Christ)

Old Paths, John Ryle, Clarke & Co. Ltd., 1972 (He wrote on the human predicament and its solution through Christ)

Bible Truth, Oliver Greene, The Gospel Hour, Inc., 1968 (Several chapters deal with the predicament of man and the solution through Christ)

Christ Our Sufficiency, Oliver Greene, The Gospel Hour, Inc., 1965 (Deals with Christ as the sufficient solution to the human predicament)

Law or Grace, M.R. DeHaan, Zondervan Publishing, 1965 (He wrote about the human predicament and its solution in Christ)

Genesis and Evolution, M.R. DeHaan, Zondervan Publishing, 1962 (He deals with the question of man’s origin)

The Atonement, Archibald Hodge, Baker Book House, 1907 (He wrote about the human predicament and its solution in Christ)

The Twilight of Evolution, Henry Morris, Baker Book House, 1963 (He deals with the whole subject of evolution)

Right With God, John Blanchard, The Banner of Truth Trust, 1971 (He wrote about the human predicament and its solution in Christ)

The Plague of Plagues, Ralph Venning, The Banner of Truth Trust, 1669 (He deals with the human predicament and its solution in Christ)

I also have scores of booklets, pamphlets and tracts which deal with the problem of fallen humanity and the solution in a risen Christ. All of my Christian commentaries also deal with the subject.

Practical Application

The treatment of a study about the human predicament and all its ramifications is constantly brought up in counseling sessions with saved and unsaved alike.

I believe that the term soul-sorrow is a good one to use in this area of life’s predicament. I use these truths and principles in my preaching, teaching and counseling. Everyone experiences soul-sorrow to some degree. Even when I am at peace with God and mind, I never seem to be at peace with my body.

The study about the problem of the universe is a good reminder for all of us. The four alternatives to and three ingredients for the cure for soul-sorrow are a powerful visual for discussion about escaping the human predicament. Praise God there is hope!

How To Build A Human From Scratch GraceLife Blog

  1. How To Build A Human From Scratch
  2. GraceLife Thoughts – God Values You
  3. Living Christian In ‘This Present World’ (Part 8)
  4. Teaching Notes: The Healthy Family
  5. GraceLife Thoughts – The Christian’s Position and Mission

Next Time

In the next part of our study on Christian Apologetics, we will look the Problem of and Arguments for Immortality.