Is there any kind of immediate conscious life that continues beyond the grave? Discover the decisive truth.
Astronomer Carl Sagan once asked the Dalai Lama what he would do if modern science disproved one of the most fundamental principles of Tibetan Buddhism, reincarnation. The Dalai Lama replied “that if science could disprove reincarnation, Tibetan Buddhism would abandon reincarnation but it’s going to be mighty hard to disprove reincarnation.” Scientist may face difficulties in conclusively disproving reincarnation but what does God’s word say about the subject? And if we are not reincarnated, what does happen to us after death? The truth may surprise you. Join us on Beyond Today as we discuss the soul, death, the after life in Reincarnation, Will You Live Again?
What happens at death? Is there any kind of immediate conscious life that continues beyond the grave? Do we live again in another form?
Some scientist and theologians have made it their lives work to prove the validity of reincarnation, the belief that when we die our souls migrate to another body or form.
The late doctor Ian Stevenson founder of the division of Perceptual studies at the University of Virginia was probably the most prominent of these reincarnation focused scientists. He traveled the world over documenting the testimony of young children who relayed vivid accounts of a former life. Take the case of Sam Taylor, a young boy from Vermont who was the subject of one of these studies. When his father was changing his diaper, the toddler allegedly said to him, “When I was your age I used to change your diapers.” And so began a series of puzzling statements including, “I used to be big but now I’m small”, and “You know what? When we die God lets us come back again”. Based on these alleged statements and other bizarre incidences the general consensus in young Sam’s family was that he was the reincarnation of his paternal grandfather. And for Dr. Stephenson and others, Sam’s stories are objective scientific evidence that reincarnation is not only possible but probable.
The reincarnation route, according to many Eastern religions is determined by a person’s karma. A life of good actions leads to an improved future life, while a life of evil actions leads to a poor future life. The ultimate purpose of this progression is that the soul should continue to progress to higher and higher levels until it becomes one with the universe.
A Hindu Holy text, the Bhagavad-Gita, explains, as a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, the soul similarly accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones. While reincarnation is a leading tenant of Eastern religions like Hinduism and Buddhism, it is not limited to these religions alone. It features prominently in tropical African religions and was a central feature of the teachings of many great ancient philosophers including Plato and Sacristies.
What many may not realize is that the doctrine of reincarnation is becoming 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. While many professing Christians readily dismiss the idea of reincarnation, it would probably interest these same Christians to know the concept of reincarnation and traditional Christian teachings on life after death are variations on the same theme.
You see, foundational to a belief in both reincarnation and eternal life and a heaven or a hell is the idea of an immortal soul. The idea that the soul is an eternal entity, indestructible even when the physical body is destroyed. Both doctrines hold that when a human life ends, the soul continues to exist in one form or another.
This concept of an immortal soul is widely accepted as a basic tenant in virtually all religions including traditional Christianity.
While reincarnation teaches that the soul is reborn in a new body, conventional Christianity teaches that the soul eternally lives in heaven or in hell depending on whether the deceased accepted Christ. So while the destination of the soul differs from religion to religion the underlying concept an indestructible immortal soul remains the same. But is the concept of an immortal soul consistent with scripture?
The Bible states in clear, unequivocal terms that the soul is temporary, it’s mortal. The creation account reads this way, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul.” Notice something interesting here, Adam the first man was not given a soul, he became one. Adam was the arch type for all future members of the human race and he was himself a soul. God then went on to tell Adam that it was possible for him to die. He said, “The Lord God commanded the man saying 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 that day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
As we read earlier, Adam and his soul were one and the same therefore if it was possible for Adam to die it was possible for his soul to die. This biblical truth is essential to understanding the after life.
The soul is the human being and the human being is the soul. Soul is really just another word for a living being, one capable of dying.
To emphasize this point, God states through the prophet Ezekiel in Ezekiel chapter 18 it says there that the soul who sins shall die. The first hint of the idea of an immortal soul in the Bible is introduced by none other than Satan himself. You know the story. Eve has just told the serpent that God has forbidden them from eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil lest they die. And Satan’s response is the first lie recorded in the Bible and one of its most devastating. He tells Eve, “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.” And ever since that fateful lie the false idea that we will not surely die has clung to man’s beliefs like a bad cold.
The teaching of this doctrine contradicts the foundational fact that it is God and God alone that possesses immortality as the Apostle Paul plainly tells us in the book of I. Timothy 6. It says
1 Timothy 6:15 1 Timothy 6:15Which in his times he shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;
American King James Version×He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords,
1 Timothy 6:16 1 Timothy 6:16Who only has immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach to; whom no man has seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen.
American King James Version× who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power.
The Apostle Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit to conclusively refute the false notion that human beings somehow have eternal life in the form of an immortal soul and he did so in very plain unambiguous terms. It is God and God alone who has immortality. To say that human beings have an immortal component trivializes the very divinity of God. And it flies in the very face of His plan for man kind.
Human beings have no inherent immortality. What they do have is the opportunity under the conditions that God has set down in His Holy word. Eternal life is a gift from God that He has not as yet distributed to any human being except one, the resurrected Jesus Christ.
So what does happen at death?
Will you live on in an after life or will you return as another person or another life form? As we have seen already, there are many different ideas on the subject. Does what people believe what you believe does it square with the Bible? What does the Bible teach? Well we’ll help you with that answer to those questions. We have a free booklet that we’re offering today, What Happens After Death? In this booklet, we examine the evidence and you might be surprised that the Bible reveals some astounding truths about the mystery of life beyond the grave. This booklet will help you understand the truth, the truth from your Bible. So request your free copy today of this booklet. You can click or you can call toll free 1-888-886-8632, 1-888-886-8632 or go online to BeyondToday.tv. It’s about time that you examine the truth about what the Bible really teaches about life after death.
In this free booklet, What Happens After Death? you will find answers to the questions that you’ve had about life beyond the grave. Is it possible that what you thought was the truth is not what Jesus actually taught? It does matter what you believe so request your free copy today. Click or call on line BeyondToday.tv download that booklet or order your free copy by requesting it at 1-888-886-8632 or go on line to BeyondToday.tv. And you could also follow us on Twitter or join our Facebook fan page for those of you that are into the social media technique today.
Still does it matter, does it really matter that much what one believes about the soul? Yes it does. It matters because how you view the nature of the soul determines how you view death and how you view death determines your interpretation of the greatest sacrifice of all, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Proponents of the immortality of the soul view death as a positive thing, they say that it allows the soul to access a higher state of living. This could not stand in starker contrast with what the Bible teaches.
Ancient philosophers viewed death as liberating. One theologian, Oscar Coleman, wrote in summation of Plato’s philosophy on this subject, He wrote, “Death is the soul’s great friend”. And yet the Bible depicts death as an evil thing. Actually an enemy that will be defeated. In fact Jesus Christ came down to this earth to destroy death through death. In the book of Hebrews we’re told this, in
Hebrews 2:14 Hebrews 2:14For as much then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;
American King James Version× Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,
Hebrews 2:15 Hebrews 2:15And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
American King James Version× and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
Death is the devils strongest power and when this power is taken away, God’s purpose for man kind will be complete. Paul wrote in
1 Corinthians 15:24 1 Corinthians 15:24Then comes the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
American King James Version× Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.
1 Corinthians 15:25 1 Corinthians 15:25For he must reign, till he has put all enemies under his feet.
American King James Version× For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet.
1 Corinthians 15:26 1 Corinthians 15:26The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
American King James Version× The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.
Jesus Christ did not face a peaceful death. Through the violent and bloody crucifixion impending, Christ stated that His soul was exceedingly sorrowful even unto death and that is His person was very sorrowful. Indeed! Again in the book of Hebrews we are told that Jesus in the days of his flesh offered up prayers, supplications with vehement cries and tears to Him that was able to save Him from death.
Obviously, Jesus did not look forward to His death but He was dreading more than the excruciating way in which it would come about. He realized that at the moment of His death He would cease to exist totally and completely. For the first time in all eternity He would be separated from His Father, the One who had existed with since before time began.
Jesus as a human being did not have an immortal soul. If He did He would never die. And if He never died there is no sacrifice for sin. And if there is no sacrifice for sin Christianity is an empty meaningless hoax.
But Jesus did die as we’re told as did His soul. It ceased to exist just as He ceased to exist. As we’re told in Isaiah 53 God made Christ’s soul an offering for sin. Without the death of Christ’s soul there could not have been an offering for sin. Jesus Christ had to have total unfettered trust in His father’s ability and His willingness to restore His life because once He lost that life He would be gone and so are all of us when we die. Resurrection is a divine act, a divine act of creation, it is something from nothing, it is making something new.
Revelation 21:5 Revelation 21:5And he that sat on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said to me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
American King James Version× Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.”
Making all things new is the end goal for God’s plan for humanity. The resurrection of Jesus Christ was the first step in God’s plan to make everything new.
The doctrine of the immortal soul—the false idea that we already have eternal life of and by ourselves—actually demeans and cheapens the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
With no immortal soul we are forced to ask the same question posed by Job so many thousands of years ago which is this, “If a man dies will he live again?” This is a question for the ages. It is one that man has tried to satisfy with various responses, everything from reincarnation to heaven and hell with countless variations in between.
The simple answer to Job’s question is yes. Every human being will live again after the end of their physical life however not reincarnated as an entirely different person but instead resurrected as ourselves. Our identities, our thoughts, our life experiences will not be lost in some grand cosmic void, but they will be retained by God and then returned to us with our renewed consciousness.
While every human being will be resurrected as the Apostle Paul tells us in I. Corinthians 15. This doesn’t just happen randomly. It will happen in a precise order.
First resurrected is Jesus Christ as the first fruits of the dead followed by those who are His. These are the men and women who were the true Christians during their time on earth, in other words, men and women that belong to Christ. An individual that belongs to Christ is one that has received God’s spirit and is lead by that Spirit. Paul tells us this when he writes in
Romans 8:9 Romans 8:9But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
American King James Version× But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.
Romans 8:14 Romans 8:14For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
American King James Version× For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
There is a biblically prescribed formula to obtaining this Spirit which we find clearly spelled out in
Acts 2:38 Acts 2:38Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
American King James Version× Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Thus a true Christian is one that is convicted of their sinful state which is a violation of God’s eternal law. They truly repent of this state and are baptized in the name of Christ as a result they receive the Holy Spirit, a gift from God. These are like Christ, a type of first fruits that according to your Bible would be the first human beings to obtain immortality.
Paul explains this again in
1 Corinthians 15:51 1 Corinthians 15:51Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
American King James Version× Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—
1 Corinthians 15:52 1 Corinthians 15:52In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
American King James Version× 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, and we shall be changed.
1 Corinthians 15:53 1 Corinthians 15:53For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
American King James Version× For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
Contrary to traditional Christian thought, men and women of God do not go to heaven when they die. God tells us plainly where our physical bodies, our souls will be going.
Genesis 3:19 Genesis 3:19In the sweat of your face shall you eat bread, till you return to the ground; for out of it were you taken: for dust you are, and to dust shall you return.
American King James Version× In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return.
Ecclesiastes 3:20 Ecclesiastes 3:20All go to one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.
American King James Version× All go to one place: all are from the dust, and all return to dust.
Earlier we referenced Job’s rhetorical question, “If a man dies will he live again?” He continued with the cryptic, “I will wait until my change comes.” The change spoken about by Job is the very same change explained by the Apostle Paul where mortal puts on immortality, exchanging a physical body for a spiritual one.
The second group to be resurrected after Christ’s return will be those that never had their eyes opened to God’s way. There is no partiality with God. Everybody will have a part to play in God’s plan. We are told that those who choose to rebel against God will be ashes at the feet of the righteous. Think about it, ashes, ashes are not a living thing. These souls would have ceased to exist forever.
Well there is much more to discuss on this topic. Up next we’ll be talking to the Beyond Today panel but first I have a special offer for you today, its the Good News magazine. This magazine contains important articles on how to make sense of today’s confusing world news. It will help you understand what the Bible teaches about the most vital questions concerning your life, your marriage and your family, why it is important to have a relationship with your God. It will help you comprehend the Creator’s amazing plan for all man kind and for you personally. That’s why you need your free subscription to the Good News magazine. It’ll you with all the answers, the basic questions and answers of life. So click or call toll free 1-888-886-8632. You can visit us on the web at BeyondToday.tv and there as well you can watch dozens of Beyond Today programs and our weekly Beyond Today commentary. On line at BeyondToday.tv or call 1-888-886-8632. Get your free subscription now. The Good News not only examines world events in light of the Bible but will also help you with your life. Get your free subscription today and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter or join our Facebook fan page.
We’re joined with Steve Myers, one of our fellow hosts on the Beyond Today program to have a discussion to further take this to another level.
Steve, why the fascination with reincarnation among so many different people today, especially in the Western world?
Well I think in a lot a ways, first of all the Western world? I think we are interested in all kinds of things; we’re interest in what is life all about? We want to hear all these different ideas, different concepts, different philosophies, and I think that’s because we’re interested in staying alive. We want to know what happens after death there must be something more than just this life. If life ends, well what happens next? I think there is this desire that is sort of built into us that we want to persevere. I think there is this self preservation within each of us that is kind of embedded there that there that there must be something more. So if my life hasn’t been so great then maybe I can come back as something better. Or if I have a great life well then we want it to keep going. So I think that kind of concept is in our minds.
So there really is this strong desire to probe as thinking there has to be something more than just this life.
It’s like the old song you know is there all there is. Is that all there is to life? I think in a sense God built that into us to have that yearning to have that desire for more because we don’t have immortality, we’re not going to be reincarnated, the Bible is very clear on that. But I think God has instilled that sense, that yearning that desire, that want for something more, the desire for eternal life that can only happen through Him.
You know you research a subject like this you find all kinds of stories about what people think about reincarnation and who they may have been in some past life. I read one story of an individual who thought he was the reincarnation of President John Adams. I read that and I thought to myself, you know most people don’t pick some pauper or peasant from some past age. They pick some famous personage to be reincarnated as.
That’s probably the desire that we all have that boy we’d like to be somebody important, we’d like to be some star or celebrity.
I don’t know how that figures in some of the other thinking regarding reincarnation. Why is death man’s enemy?
Well I think even in these thoughts we talked about at the moment, we want to keep living, we want life to go on. If you look at it from God’s perspective, God wants to spend eternity with us. And this physical life wasn’t designed for that purpose so ultimately when we die life ceases. That’s it. Ecclesiastes tells us when you die the dead know nothing. Our thoughts perish. And so it’s an enemy because it’s a stop, life is over, it’s done. And so because of that it proves we are not immortal. We are not immortal, we are not made to live forever. We’re made temporary so this is just a temporary step and yet it’s a step in Gods plan. And part of that plan is so that we learn to rely on Him, His plan, His way, that we need a sacrifice for sin and that what we deserve is death. We’ve earned death by our actions and we need a Savior, we need the sacrifice of Christ to pay for those sins. So we’ve got to be obedient to Him, we’ve got to follow Him; we’ve got to be committed to God’s way of life, because that death is an enemy that interrupts that opportunity for immortality.
You know I have had to deal with this subject of death in a number of cases with individuals as most people eventually encounter it in life and it is a very, very sad wrenching affair to deal with it when it hits your family, when it hits people that you are close to and you have to go to the house of mourning as the Bible describes it. What is it you think God wants us to understand about death?
You know as a minister we perform funerals and we deal with death; we deal with families that are faced with death. Death is a sorrowful thing, it’s an awful thing, it is an enemy because it interrupts relationships it interrupts and puts a stop and it just seems like the end of life, everything is over, so what’s the point. I think what people miss is the fact that it is a part of the plan of God. It proves the Bible to be true. The soul that sins shall die. The individual, the person, that living being who dies is ceasing life and because of that they don’t understand the plan.
So death is really a part of God’s plan, right?
Because it says that it is appointed unto man once to die.
All are appointed to die once and then there is the hope of the resurrection. And so it’s interesting when you see what the Bible says. Romans 6:23 Romans 6:23For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
American King James Version×says the wages of sin are death. But on the other hand when we realize we’re made temporary and this is a step in God’s plan then we can look forward to the time when we will be resurrected because death isn’t the end of the story and I think that is what a lot of people miss.
The wages of sin is death; the gift of God is eternal life.
Is, eternal life. So there is a gift we look forward to and reincarnation skips over that gift and doesn’t even account for it.
So it’s really a necessary step toward the resurrection.
That’s right and it’s a step in the plan because we look forward to the return of Christ, we look forward to time when we can be resurrected.
Doesn’t Paul cover that in the resurrection chapter, I. Corinthians 15, where he talks about the analogy of the seed must die in order to be transformed to another type of life?
Absolutely! When you look at what it says in that whole chapter, what an amazing chapter. I. Corinthians 15 talks about that, that it is a temporary step this physical life and yet when Christ returns at the resurrection, that last trumpet this world is going to be in a turmoil.
So that’s when the resurrection takes place?
Absolutely! You get to the end of the story; we get to the point when mankind has undoubtedly no control over circumstances we cannot solve our own problems and its going to take Jesus Christ to step in when He returns. I. Corinthians 15 says at the last trumpet. That trumpet will sound, Christ will descend from heaven and he will establish the Kingdom of God and that’s when this will happen, that’s when death, the resurrection will take place and those that are Christ’s will be resurrected from death. What an awesome time! And Revelation 20 talks about that time, we will reign on earth with Jesus Christ for a thousand years and so we’ll see that death then will begin to be put away. It will be an awesome time. So that death is just a step in God’s time.
This really just opens up then for another subject on the resurrections because as we’ve briefly touched on there is different resurrections, there is a plan and a process.
That’s right; there is a lot to the story. And it is an amazing story that helps us to place our faith, right there in God where we need to.
Well today’s program is drawing to a close but that doesn’t mean it’s time to stop learning. Throughout the course of this episode we made two different literature offers, What Happens After Death? This free booklet, as well as the Good News magazine. Now both of these publications contain a great deal of information that you’re going to want to set down with. Whether you are looking for answers about the after life or the present life these are the materials that you need. So give us a call at 1-888-886-8632 or visit our website at BeyondToday.tv to request or to download your free copies of these publications. There is no reason to wait; the material is free and vital to your understanding of this life as well as the next. So again 1-888-886-8632 or BeyondToday.tv and of course you can follow us continually on Twitter or join our Facebook fan page.
An immortal soul is the lynch pin in the ideas of both reincarnation and an after life and heaven or hell. But as we’ve seen today the soul is anything but immortal. It is as temporary and fleeting as we are because we are souls. So what happens after death? The Bible tells us in very plain terms, nothing. When a human being, a soul dies and is buried it’s the equivalent of dust returning to dust. All consciousness ceases. As we read in
Psalms 146:4 Psalms 146:4His breath goes forth, he returns to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.
American King James Version× His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.
But neither is death the end. Every human being will be given the opportunity to become an immortal member of the family of God. It’s a future far greater than an endless wheel of reincarnations or an eternity in the clouds and its all there in your Bible. Check it out for yourself.
For Beyond Today, I’m Darris McNeely, thanks for joining me.