This is a very old debate and one which stirs passion in many folks. Certainly we who love our animals want to believe they shall be included in eternity. No matter our preferences, truth is not subject to our whims and fancies. However, the true essence of this quandary is found in differentiating the soul from the spirit, which is where this discussion invariably leads. I do not take a strong stance on either side of the issue of whether or not animals (living today) will be in heaven. Scripture clearly reveals that there will be animals in the "new earth". But whether they are newly formed after the new earth comes, or they are creatures who were previously alive in the old world is what we hope to learn.
If we aspire to knowledge of the truth and to rightly understand the word of God, we must come willing to learn, rather than to find evidence of our preconceived ideas, or to make it fit what we hope to be truth. Hence, a true humble, inductive exegesis of scripture is required if we are to properly benefit from its wisdom and guidance. But you already knew that, so I digress.
Yet, I have
intently to discover if by some chance, our sweet little doggie might be able to join us in the here-after. And yes, that's exactly what I personally would fancy if it perchance may be found within God's will. But I do know, if this is not the case, then I will not miss my little Gracie-dog to the point of sorrow, because there will be no more tears (after a certain point). God does not say there will never be any tears in heaven. He says that He will dry every tear! There must be tears for Him to dry them. After an initial sorrowing for all that are lost, our bliss will never end and our joy will be complete. HE is our consolation and joy! And we will not miss anything or anyone who is not with us in eternity! That's good news, amen?
I had intended to show off my knowledge here and take us on a tour of the original tongues, but once again my pride has been smashed, and God is leading in another direction. However, I'll throw in a couple word translations, of which some of you have already begun.
Please remember that the world in which we now live is sin cursed. In order for any creature to be included in the new world, they must be redeemed from the old one. Christ is our redeemer. Did He die also for the animals? One could argue that, since He died for the sins of the world, and the world is a broad term, often used in scripture as a metonymy for all that is in the world, that animals can also be redeemed, (If they confess Christ as Lord?) But scripture nowhere indicates this to be true, or false. I've even at one point, came up with the idea that God could possibly recreate the same soul of our pet in eternity. He can do all things correct? When God first created all life, He proclaimed it all to be "very good". But sin changed that, and the world outside of Christ, our ark, is now doomed for judgement.
It seems that the Lord is not going to permit me to enter the discussion I'd intended concerning, soul and spirit and the scriptures which speak of them, except for this: The same word for "life & soul"—"Nephesh" is used when God created animals and when He created man. The difference came when God blew into Mankind's nostrils, "Ruach" (breath, wind or spirit). Giving, "neshamah" (vital divine breath) Genesis 2:7. He, then, gave mankind dominion over all other flesh. Before this, in shaping our form and designing our person with certain divine attributes: free will, creativity, and God consciousness, etc, He created us in His own image. Not so for the other creatures of earth. There are vast and distinct differences between man and the other creatures of earth.
It is my belief that soul and spirit are not synonymous, thus giving the animals a body and soul, and mankind, body, soul and the crucial spirit. We are spiritual and eternal and they are not. However, that does not mean that God will not include them. The bible is silent on the issue of today's animal souls and any role they may play in eternity. God can recreate the same animal soul to be again perfect. Will He? Your guess is as good as mine.
PS- I wuv my doggie!
PSS- Would love a PM from you!
Sheldon Bass (Fullheart)