Does Reincarnation Fit in with Christianity?
I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation. 2 Corinthians 6:2
Reincarnation has been defined as “the transmigration of the soul,” and, according to the teaching of some eastern religions, you may have had a previous existence in a lower form of life, and as the result of your personal goodness, you move up the ladder in each successive rebirth towards heaven.
Does Christianity embrace reincarnation? And if not, why not? In answering that question, may I remind you that there is a great deal of difference between Christianity and the religions of the world. Religion is man’s search for God, but Christianity is God’s revelation to us through the person of His son, Jesus Christ. There is a great deal of difference.
Both Judaism and Christianity stand together in declaring that the Bible says nothing to even suggest a previous existence which some think of as reincarnation, nothing to imply that you were someone else before you were born, or that if you don’t behave yourself, in a future existence, you may be born as a horse who pulls a calesa in Manila’s Chinatown. The Bible, though, does make some pointed statements which deny what reincarnation teaches.
Like what? First–it tells us that mankind was made in the image of God–first generation. He took the dust of the ground and made the first man, Adam. This was the pattern, with no suggestions of an evolution from lower forms of life to a higher one, either physically or spiritually.
Then, the Bible teaches clearly that at your death, your eternal state is fixed. This is good news for believers in Jesus Christ. On two different occasions, Paul talked about dying and going immediately into the presence of the Lord. Writing to the Philippians he said, “I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body” (Philippians 1:23,24). And the Greek text makes it clear that “departing” and “being with Christ” takes place at the same time — disallowing any migration of the soul towards heaven (Also see 2 Corinthians 5:8).
The Bible stresses the fact that life now is your opportunity to make preparation for eternity. Paul puts it, “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).
But what about a second chance after you die? Doesn’t God believe in second chances? In answering that question, may I tell you a true story?
When I was speaking in Britain, a pastor told me of a man who had come to his church week by week for many years but never became a Christian.
One day the man told the minister, “Pastor, you don’t have it any more. You used to preach and it scared me to death. I would clutch the pew in front of me and hold on with white knuckles, but now you preach and it doesn’t bother me in the least.”
It wasn’t the pastor who had changed or grown ineffective; the man who came to church and rejected the message week by week had become calloused and indifferent. God’s Spirit can be quenched, and the voice of His Spirit can finally be stilled.
God is a God of second, third, and fourth chances, but there is a limit to His grace and His patience. No wonder God said, long ago, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts” (Hebrews 4:7).
The real issue is not reincarnation; it is whether the Bible is the revelation of God, whether or not it is true. If it is, it becomes clear that the focus of concern should be our lives now, because what we do now settles our destiny for eternity.
Resource reading: 2 Timothy 4:1-8.