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UCG IA Bible Insights Thursday, June 23 2022

Reincarnation: Will you live again?

A fundamental principle of Tibetan Buddhism is the concept of reincarnation — the belief that when we die our souls migrate to another body or form. Based on this idea of karma, good actions lead to an improved future life, with the ultimate goal of becoming one with the universe, while evil actions lead to a poor future life.

by Darris McNeely & Steve Myers

While reincarnation is a central concept of Eastern religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism, it is not limited to these religions alone. This belief also features prominently in tropical African religions, and was a central teaching of many ancient philosophers, including Plato. Belief in reincarnation is also an increasingly popular philosophy in Western religious thought. According to a 2003 Harris poll, more than one in four Americans believe they previously existed as another person or in another form.

Foundational to traditional Christian teachings is the belief in an immortal soul with an eternal life in either heaven or hell. The doctrine of the immortal soul and the concept of reincarnation both promote the idea the soul continues to exist in one form or another after death. However the Bible plainly tells us: “All go to one place, all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again" (Ecclesiastes 3:20).

God explained to Adam and Eve it was possible for them to die: "...of every tree of the garden you may freely eat but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die" (Genesis 2:16-17). The Bible plainly states "the soul that sins, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:20).

The first hint of the idea of an immortal soul in the Bible is introduced by none other than Satan. After Eve told the serpent God had forbidden them to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil lest they die, Satan responded with first devastating lie: "...You will not surely die for God knows that in the day that you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God…" (Genesis 3:4-5).

The doctrine of an immortal soul contradicts the fact God alone possesses immortality: “He who is… the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power…" (ITimothy 6:15-16). Eternal life is a gift from God which He has not as yet given to anyone, except the resurrected Jesus Christ (John 3:13).

Jesus as a human being did not have an immortal soul. If He did He would not have died, and there would have been no sacrifice for sin. The false idea we already have eternal life of and by ourselves cheapens the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who had to have total trust in His Father to restore His life after He was crucified and died.

Job also knew he did not have an immortal soul when he posed the question: "If a man dies will he live again…” (Job 14:14). The simple answer to his question is yes. Every human being will live again, not reincarnated as an entirely different person, but resurrected as themselves. Their identities, thoughts and life experiences will be retained by God and returned to them at their resurrection.

Job answered his rhetorical question when he continued in the same verse, "...I will wait until my change comes" (Job 14:14). This change Job spoke of is the same change described by the Apostle Paul I Corinthians 15: “...We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible…For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality" (I Corinthians 15:51-53).

There will also be a second group that will be resurrected after those who are resurrected at Christ's return because they followed God during their physical lives. This second resurrection will consist of the millions who have lived and never had their eyes opened to God's way of life. (See the article below, Will Everyone Have A Chance For Salvation?)

Ultimately, every human being will be resurrected, taught God’s way of life and given the opportunity to obey God and spend eternity with Him. It's a future far greater than an endless wheel of reincarnations and it's all there in your Bible.