One common element of many man-made religions is the belief in reincarnation. Reincarnation – or the understanding that the essence of who we are, our soul, comes back in a new body on earth once we die – is the natural outcome of the belief that time moves in cycles. Most cultures in the past understood time this way and many still do today. To try and grasp this concept, think about time as a circle. No matter where we are at in the cycle, we will ultimately end up starting over and repeating the cycles again and again.
The Bible, however, has always taught (in fact, was the first document to teach) that time is linear. In other words, there was a starting point to time as we know it (what the Bible refers to as “in the beginning” and science refers to as the Big Bang) and there will be an ending point as well. Time has not always existed and time will not always exist. It had a definite starting point and it will have a final ending point. To understand this, think about time as a line rather than a circle. There is no going back, no repeating time in our universe.
Because this is how the Bible views the world in which we live, it states plainly that there is no reincarnation. In fact, the Bible says…
And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment Hebrews 9: 27 [ESV]
Of course, the Bible does teach that our soul (what is often referred to in scripture as our spirit) is eternal. It will outlast our current earthly body; it just won’t enter into another earthly body.
and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. Ecclesiastes 12: 7 [ESV]
Time does not cycle or repeat and humans are not reincarnated into different earthly bodies as new people. The implications of this are:
-Once this life is completed, our final judgment awaits. We do not get any do overs or second chances in the next life
-Those who are healthy or successful today are not being rewarded for good deeds in past lives and those who are struggling or suffering in this world are not paying for the sins of past lives
-Therefore, we should treat all people the same, lending a hand to those in need and not assume we should let those suffering continue to suffer as it must be their unalterable fate or karma from a previous cycle of life
Andy’s book, Clear Vision: How The Bible Teaches Us To View The World, can be purchased here.