Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Significance of Easter: Resurrection vs Reincarnation

I woke up in a panic. Fear and darkness were pressing in on me.
I went into the living room in full panic and shook as I sat on the couch.
I had made only three tiny fly bodies out of black thread.
It was up to me to make the bodies for my next life.
Then it hit me: “How will I make bodies for subsequent lives when I am a fly?

As I called out in prayer,


split the darkness

and spoke emphatically to me,

“. . . I am the Resurrection

and the Life;

he who believes in Me . . .will never die.”
(John 11:25-26)

Although not a perfect representation of reincarnation, my dream left me with the angst and hopelessness of dying - to live & die - again & again. It also highlighted the aspect in the cycle of reincarnation, that it is up to the individual to prepare for the "next life."

Many people in the West are adding the idea of reincarnation to their belief system. It sounds a bit like resurrection on the surface. You die, then you come back, hopefully in a “higher” life. But, this is where the comparison ends. Reincarnation is a cycle of death. You live, then die, to live and die again. The highest state in Hinduism and Buddhism is to attain Nirvana – or the state of nothingness. This is the place where you have finally graduated from the physical cycle of death and have merged with the life force (or the one spirit that flows through all living things). The goal is to escape the body (any body) to exist without a body as spirit (not a spirit). Individuality is gone. (You are "assimilated" into the life force).

By contrast, Resurrection is when person dies they are given an eternal body. They go live with God and never die again. In the book of Hebrews chapter 9:27 we are told “it is appointed for men to die once” (physically). There is no circle of life, death, life, and death. Also, in Resurrection, one does not escape the body and merge with one spirit, but rather each person remains unique, living in an eternal body that God has prepared for them. The Bible also indicates that we recognize one another and will be recognized by others. There is no loss of individuality.

The Resurrection of Christ is the most important event in Christianity. You see, for Christ to have risen from the dead, He had to conquer death and sin. The fact of the Resurrection(1) of Christ, a) demonstrates His sacrifice satisfied the Father’s judgment against sin,(2) b) demonstrates his power over death, c) demonstrates His deity, and d) gives us confidence that we will also will live with Him as He said.  We have confidence: “[because] the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set [us] free from the law of sin and of death.” ( Romans 8:2) On the other hand as the Apostle Paul said, “. . . if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.” And “. . .if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.” (1 Corinthians 15:14,17)

The hope Christians have as a result Jesus’ Resurrection, is in His ability to make us new – body, soul and spirit. For example: we are told, "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away ; behold, new things have come." (2 Corinthians 5:17) This indicates the resurrection power of Christ is changing us inside and out. The Apostle Paul also wrote, "Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man (physical body) is decaying, yet our inner man (soul and spirit) is being renewed day by day." (2 Corinthians 4:16)  For those of us who are experiencing the changes in our desires, actions, attitudes, etc - we experience the power of Christ's resurrection daily.

By the same power, when anyone believes in (surrenders to) God and acknowledges he/she are a sinner (not perfect). God has promised to forgive each person's sins and to cleanse them from all their unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)  In other words, when we surrender to God in this way we are made alive in Christ (spiritually). Secondly, we also begin to be sanctified (cleaned up) daily (in our soul/personality), and that when we die (physically), our dead bodies will be replaced with eternal ones. Although I won't give all the references here, we are saved spiritually at salvation, our souls are being saved as we daily walk with God & allow Him to change us, and we will be saved physically at death.(3)

In conclusion, the resurrection of Christ is the most important event in Christianity.  He is alive, and the grave is empty. This event alone separates Christianity from all other "religions," whose leaders have died, and whose graves are visited by their adherents. Our God is the Living God. He offers us ever lasting life.

This weekend I challenge you to consider what God has done for us. He sent His Son in human flesh (incarnation) to die for our sins, that we who receive Him might live with God. One incarnation for individuals to be made whole – not a series of personal reincarnations to “lose” our selves forever.
(1) We can look at the evidence for the resurrection at another time.
(2) ". . .but now once . . .He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself." (Hebrews 9:26b)
(3) There are many passages that speak to this, but I am not going to list them all here.
Next week: How Big is Your God?

No comments:

Post a Comment