The Apple Of God's Eye

June 21, 2009

Reincarnation: Myth Or Fact?

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Reincarnation is a concept which is common to many religious beliefs and spiritual practices. Those who believe in this theory teach that after death a person’s “soul” is reborn in a new body, which is sometimes referred to as the “transmigration of the soul” or metempsychosis.

The abundance of reincarnation myths around the world finds appeal in the idea that a fundamental part of themselves will live on after death, even though their bodies may decay.

The immortality of the soul doctrine (especially prevalent in the West) is basic to the belief in reincarnation. But, that doctrine is false! The classic inquiry “Who am I?” is being replaced by the puzzling question “Who was I?”. The Bible plainly shows that one’s soul is NOT immortal. Notice Genesis 3:19:

“In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust [not another body] shalt thou return.”

Also notice Ecclesiastes 3:19-20:

“For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast …. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.”

Psalm 146:4 states that when a man dies “his breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts
perish.”

We can further this concept for those who say the body is irrelevant to the concept of reincarnation by quoting Heb. 9:27, which states that  a man “is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment. In other words, he is NOT reborn to die over and over again.

So if this belief is not biblical, how did it start?

What is reincarnation?

“Reincarnation, literally “to be made flesh again”, is a doctrine or metaphysical belief that some essential part of a living being (in some variations only human beings) survives death to be reborn in a new body. This essential part is often referred to as the spirit or soul, the “higher” or “true” self, “divine spark”, or “I”. According to such beliefs, a new personality is developed during each life in the physical world, but some part of the self remains constant throughout the successive lives.” [wikipedia]

Answers.com terms reincarnation as rebirth of the soul in another body. Britannica Concise Encyclopedia terms it as the doctrine of the rebirth of the soul in one or more existences. Oxford University Press expresses it as existence of a soul that is periodically reincarnated in a body. And Columbia Encyclopedia references it as occupation by the soul of a new body after the death of the earlier body.

The teaching of reincarnation (a religion of the east) is making heavy inroads into Western society today. However, it is important to understand that it is in no way a scientific or religious truth.

Reincarnation in Hindu art

Reincarnation in Hindu art

The concept of this belief can be stated as follows: after death, the human soul leaves the body and passes into either 1) a plant body, an animal body, another human body, or even an extra-terrestrial body.

Belief in reincarnation has ancient roots. This doctrine is a central tenet within the majority of Indian religious traditions, such as Hinduism (including Yoga, Vaishnavism, and Shaivism).

It also appears in Jainism and Sikhism, two faiths that grew out of Hinduism and are still practiced in India. Jainism shares with Hinduism a belief in many gods. Sikhism, a monotheistic religion, combines some elements of Islam with Hinduism.

Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism all began in India, where the idea of rebirth first appears in texts dating from about 700 B.C. They share a belief in samsara—the wheel of birth and rebirth—and karma—the idea that an individual’s future incarnation depends on the way he or she lived. People who have done good deeds and led moral lives are reborn into higher social classes; those who have not are doomed to return as members of the lower classes or as animals. Only by achieving the highest state of spiritual development can a person escape samsara altogether. (Mythencyclopedia)

The idea was further entertained by some ancient Greek philosophers, the Egyptians and Greeks,  among the Celts and Druids, and in various “mystery religions” of the Near East. It spread somewhat among the Hebrews, before the time of Christ, and has survived among various Hasidic groups in the world today.

Many modern Neopagans also believe in it, as do some New Age movements, along with followers of Spiritism, practitioners of certain African traditions, and students of esoteric philosophies such as Kabbalah, and Gnostic and Esoteric Christianity. The Buddhist concept of Rebirth although often referred to as reincarnation differs significantly from the Hindu-based traditions and New Age movements in that there is no unchanging “soul” (or eternal self) to reincarnate.

People apart from ancient Israel had no concept of a personal God,  so  reincarnation took hold as a way of explaining many of the mysteries of this life. The perpetual state of karma (as a primitive form of retribution) supposedly helps to  “expiate’ the sins of previous incarnations.

Does the Bible mention reincarnation?

While the Bible does not mention the term reincarnation, it does condemn it in context in speaking of John the Baptist. In the Gospel of John, Christ is asked about a blind man: Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, for him to have been born blind? In other words, he must have done something wrong in a previous life, or he wouldn’t have been born with blindness. To which the Savior replied: Neither he nor his parents sinned…but that the works of God might be manifest in him (John 9:2-3r).Jesus Christ here clearly refuted the idea that the existence of evil can be explained by reincarnation. Why? Because reincarnation undercuts the gospel message in three ways.

  1. First, it assumes that God is impersonal and is therefore unknowable.
  2. Second, reincarnation denigrates the Atonement of Christ.
  3. Third, it denies the fact that Jesus physically resurrected from the dead.

You see, the law of karma is entirely incompatible with the teachings of the Bible. There is no mechanistic “wheel of re-birth” (as taught by Hindus, Buddhists, and their Western equivalents). Those who are now in the grave will NOT go to heaven, as “no one has gone up into Heaven, except He having come down out of Heaven, the Son of Man…., and neither will their consciousness leave the grave:

Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming in which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. (John 5:28-29)

Esoteric foolishness

Still, many tell of crackpot esoteric experiences which seems real to them, but they conveniently throw out the Scriptures to go with their own impressions and subjective opinions. Such people are attracted by superficial and grandiose nonsense about hallucinatory “memories” of previous lifetimes-often gained through “regressive hypnosis.” That might make for some exciting storytelling, and if good enough, maybe even land them an appearance on Oprah and guaranteed a few book sales. But it doesn’t make for good reality.

...according to the idea of reincarnation, if one is “saved” at all it is only after many lifetimes of working out the consequences of one’s sins. This is the cold and dreary legalism of the pagan religions which was totally abolished by Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross. (Hieromonk Seraphim (Rose): The Soul After Death)

The term “Christian” has been rendered nearly meaningless now with people of every bizarre belief and teaching claiming that their views can comport with Christianity. Ignoring the word of God and therefore avoiding being moved by the Spirit of God, such people circumvent the entire process of Christian growth. There is no spiritual maturity, because there is no growing where there is no knowing (II Pet. 3:18).

Christ told us that the way was narrow that leads to eternal life. Anyone who denies the clear teachings of Scripture about the afterlife denies Christ by his rejection of the Word of God.

Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

The real nature of man is something few understand. The teaching of the immortality of the  soul is simply un-biblical and cannot be substantiated by scripture. Those who try do so with limited understanding or false pretenses.

June 12, 2009

Is God Fair?

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dreamnepal.blogspot.com

Look at the world today! War, famine, pestilence! Poverty, inequality, hunger, want! Sickness, disease, suffering, death! Crime, graft, dishonesty, corruption! Insanity, degeneration, decay! Unhappiness, fear, wretchedness and woe!

How, so many are asking, can a supreme, all-powerful God of love permit such human woe? Why is He permitting civilization itself to crumble?

Is God Fair?

Listen! Some men are saying, “God isn’t fair!”—or “Is there a God, after all?” But what do you suppose men would say if God took away their right to think and do as they please? For God could never stop this awful carnage without forcing men to act according to His will—denying them a free will of their own!

It is men’s ways, so contrary to God’s ways, that have brought on this unhappy state. And they have brought on all the world’s sorrows and anguish in spite of the pleadings of God. He says, “Your ways are not my ways” (Isa. 55:8).

God’s ways, had they been followed, would have led inevitably to peace, happiness, prosperity and joy. God always has revealed to men His ways. Always He has pleaded with the human family. Suppose God had taken the only alternative.

Suppose He had forced men, against their wills, to have lived according to His laws?

Can’t you almost hear the defiant, rebellious, stiff-necked human race indignantly screaming at the Almighty: “You can’t cram your religion down my throat!” For it is a matter of religion. Can’t we see that had God followed that course, more than ever men would have shouted, “God isn’t fair!”

For six thousand years men have lived in defiance of God’s laws. Had God denied them this right to be wrong, men would have accused God of injustice, demanding freedom to follow their own ways.

God’s plan has for its purpose the creating of perfect CHARACTER in beings that are separate entities from God, yet members of the very family of God. Character cannot be created automatically by fiat—it must be developed through experience!

Nor could character be instilled without free moral agency. To achieve this great purpose—that of producing the supreme pinnacle of all God’s creation, sons of God having perfect character—man has to be convinced, of his own free will, that God’s laws are just, and that His ways are the only right ways for man! Man must turn to them, voluntarily! This lesson could be learned only by EXPERIENCE!

In the beginning, Satan appeared to contest the wisdom of God’s law. This law is, simply, love for God and love for neighbor, as defined in the ten broad principles of the Ten Commandments. A fundamental, spiritual, eternal law. The philosophy Christ taught is that it is more blessed to give than to receive. But Satan argued for the GETTING way. Competition, he argued, is the life-blood of activity. Self-desire provides incentive to endeavor. Vanity spurs to action. And so, in Satan’s philosophy, self-desire, competition, strife, provide the root-principle for accomplishment. The way of getting is the way of progress and advancement.

Had not God permitted this selfish way to be tried, tested, and demonstrated, God’s creatures could argue throughout eternity that they had been denied the better way.

The Devil’s Week

And so God turned over to Satan the first six days of one week, consisting of seven one-thousand-year days, in which to demonstrate the falsity of this way—the way of greed.

During the first six days of this week of seven thousand years Satan was permitted to retain dominion over all the earth. “Six days,” God said, “thou shalt labour, and do all thy work”—his work of deception and hate—”but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work.” Six thousand-year days have been permitted Satan for his labor of deception. Even then his dominion has been limited to the power of influence and suggestion. Never has God permitted even Satan arbitrarily to force men against their wills.

And so for nearly six thousand years men have been left free to accept the self-seeking competitive philosophy of Satan, or to follow the golden rule of God. And for six thousand years Satan has labored. And mankind has fallen for his delusion!

Satan’s philosophy is the philosophy of the world today. On it our present civilization has been built. A civilization men love and cherish, and for which they patriotically sacrifice their lives! A civilization developed on desire for self-gain, competition, strife! In it success is determined by how much a man has been able to get, not on how well he has served.

God has never left men in ignorance of the true way of life. Always He has made known the true values—the way of His spiritual law of love! Continually God has pleaded, with patience and in love. He pleaded through Noah in the days before the Flood. He set up a nation of His own on earth that pledged to follow His laws, dedicated voluntarily to God’s ways of life. But ancient Israel turned from God’s ways, and persecuted and killed God’s prophets!

God sent His only begotten Son to point men back to the true paths. And Him, too, men rejected and killed.

During these six thousand years since Adam, men continually have spurned God’s love, rejected His law, turned a deaf ear to His prophets and His true ministers. They have built a world after the false philosophy of Satan, replete with its pagan customs, traditions and beliefs. Today people are hopelessly engulfed in these false ways, but, being deceived, realize it not at all!

Satan is revealed as the “god of this world” (II Cor. 4:4). The original inspired Greek should properly be translated, “the god of this age.” And this worldly civilization worships its God. The appalling fact unrealized by the world is that Satan, not the Eternal, is its god! The Creator God “is not the author of confusion,” we read in I Corinthians 14:33. Its real author is Satan, the world’s god! And so he has his many denominations and sects, all striving in a babylon of confusion!

The Devil’s Work

Today the people of organized religion refuse to hear the law of the Lord (Isa. 30:8-11). They demand that their ministers preach the soft and smooth things—the deceits! They have turned away from the truth, and are accepting and believing fables (II Tim. 4:2-4).

Yes, Satan has organized religion. He himself appears, not as a devil with horns and a tail, bearing a pitchfork, but “is transformed into an angel of light” (II Cor. 11:14). His ministers are transformed as the ministers of righteousness, appearing AS the apostles of Christ! (Verses 13, 15.) But they are preaching “another Jesus” (verse 4), in the power of “another spirit,” and deceiving men with “another gospel” than the true gospel of the Kingdom which Christ brought and Paul and all the apostles preached! (Gal. 1:6-7.)

Satan’s congregations go in for much form. “Having a form of godliness, but denying the POWER thereof: from such turn away,” plainly warns God’s Word! (II Tim. 3:5.) The present worldly order—its competitive principle, its customs and traditions, its political systems—are upheld by false churches within every land! Truly, all nations are deceived! (Rev. 12:9; 17:2; 18:3.)

Jesus Christ appeared 1900 years ago as a messenger bearing a message from God. He brought to an unhappy world steeped in false ways the “good news of the KINGDOM OF GOD.” A Kingdom now, soon, to replace these crumbling governments on earth!

That Kingdom today is near at hand—even at the doors! (Luke 21:31.)

Thank God, we are near the end of the six working days allotted to Satan’s dominion. God’s thousand-year Sabbath day is just about to dawn!

There is a saying that it is darkest just before the dawn. Now we see on every hand the final fruitage of men’s ways. Written in unerasable blood, in human misery, anguish and despair is the six-thousand-year record of experience!

Even now men will not heed this horrible lesson—not until they are forced to see it!

But, as Satan’s sixth “working day” closes, God is about to step in and supernaturally interfere!

The coming seventh millennium—typified by the Feast of Tabernacles—shall see Satan restrained. Christ will return to rule the earth with all the power of God. God’s new order for the next thousand years will restore peace, happiness, and joy.

Then men may look back over this present world, and compare! Never will God force a single human being, against his own will, into salvation and eternal life.

But, with the seven-thousand-year record of experience set plainly before seeing eyes, do you think anyone will want to return to these ways we seem now to love? Not many, you may be sure of that! Yet some, even then, will rebel.

Finally the world shall acknowledge, of its own free volition, that God’s ways are right. Christ, says the scripture, “learned obedience by the things which he suffered” (Heb. 5:8-9.) Even He who never did wrong! “And being made perfect”—through experience—”he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.”

Some day we shall look upon God’s plan with breathtaking admiration and awe! The suffering of this present time shall have faded completely from mind. The lessons of experience we shall have with us for eternity! Finally humanity shall accept God’s ways of life, knowing that they are right ways. The happiness and joy we shall then experience cannot be conceived by our minds today! Through all eternity we shall worship and praise the Eternal God for His wisdom, His mercy, His love!

Do you think anyone, then, will look back and say, “God isn’t fair”?

Source: Plain Truth, January 1978

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