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reincarnation

After the last conversation, one of my friends brought the book she said had convinced her of reincarnation. It was in Chinese, but it was a Chinese translation of a Western author, so I knew I could get the gist of it from Amazon reviews or even go read it at an English bookstore. Our class was just starting, though, and how to deal with it without having read it?

I knew that regardless of what the author's experiences were and what interpretation he put on those experiences, Jesus, on the other hand, had already demonstrated his credibility by rising from the dead. Assuming Jesus rose from the dead and has complete power over life and death, I figured he could be completely trusted on anything he had to say about the afterlife. Regardless of what any multitude of people may be able to say about "past lives" while under hypnosis, you can't beat rising from the dead, and being able to raise other people on command, for sheer authority on the subject.

I don't remember how much of this I communicated right away to my two friends but I did say, "Let's see what Jesus had to say on the subject," and took them to Luke 16:19-31, the story Jesus told of the rich man and the poor man who both died and went to Hades, but ended up on different sides.

"Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day. And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man's table ; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores.

"Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham's bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried out and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.'

"But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.'

"And he said, 'Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father's house - for I have five brothers - in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.'

"But Abraham said, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.'

"But he said, 'No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!'

"But he said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.'" (Luke 16:19-31, NASV)

Even if we assume for the sake of argument that reincarnation is true, it obviously doesn't work for some people, and you're still back to wondering if you'll get another chance or go straight to the bad place. You're NOT GUARANTEED A SECOND CHANCE.

(And yes, we reviewed how Hades is the waiting place before the judgment, and no humans have gone on to heaven or hell yet.)

Just in case someone still thinks this is referring to a temporary punishment between multiple lives on earth, Matthew 25:31-46 is something else Jesus had to say about the afterlife:

"But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.

"Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 'For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.'

"Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?'

"The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'

"Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.'

"Then they themselves also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?'

"Then He will answer them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.' These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." (Matthew 25:31-46, NASV)

Regardless of what you believe about reincarnation Jesus is still coming back at an event when every eye will see him and every knee will bow before him (Romans 14:10b-11). So even if reincarnation is true, when Jesus comes back, all those second chances run out. And there are still going to be some people on his right and some people on his left.

Furthermore, the punishment after that judgment is eternal and can not possibly be construed as some temporary punishment between lives. Considering that the earth and it's works will be burned up at the second coming, it would be a little difficult to reincarnate back to earth anyway.

(Another point I heard later but didn't get to share with them is that if the "eternal punishment" is temporary, then the "eternal life" would have to be temporary, as well.)

"So," I said, "I don't know what is in your book, but if Jesus wasn't a liar or mistaken, then you have to reconcile anything you read in that book with what Jesus said about life after death."

Then we read Paul's speech on Mar's Hill in Acts 17:

Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols. So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present. And also some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were conversing with him. Some were saying, "What would this idle babbler wish to say?" Others, "He seems to be a proclaimer of strange deities," - because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, "May we know what this new teaching is which you are proclaiming? For you are bringing some strange things to our ears; so we want to know what these things mean." (Now all the Athenians and the strangers visiting there used to spend their time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new.)

So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, "Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, 'TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.' Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you.

The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we also are His children.' Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man.

Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead." (Acts 17:16-31, NASV)

Once again it says he has appointed a day when someone will judge the world in righteousness, and he's given proof as to who it is by raising him from the dead. "Jesus, right?" said Friend 2.

Then we read the entire chapter of 1 Corinthians 15. The ending of it hadn't made sense until they'd read the whole interesting chapter (you can click there to read it), which, and this is why I love studying Bible with them, they were fascinated by. Here's just the conclusion:

Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, "DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. "O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 15:51-58, NASV)

Alas, that's about all the discussion I had time to jot down after class, but I remember we read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 as well:

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, NASV)

There were many more places I wanted to show them in the Bible but our time was up.

what standard

Last month I was having a free-for-all discussion with two very good friends I've known for years. These are the bits I could remember afterward. (Also, we were speaking in Chinese.)

Friend 1: I believe in reincarnation.
Me: So you don't believe in hell?
Friend 1: Yes, I do.
Me: No because if you do wrong you have countless lives to get it right, why would you ever go to hell?
Friend 2: No you go to hell when you die, then you come back as an animal.
Me: So hell is only temporary?
Friend 1: That's what I've never understood. How could you learn to do better if you come back as an animal?
Friend 2: Animals have their own "right way" that they are supposed to follow.

........................................................

Friend 1: Why are you saying I can do all these good works and still go to hell [just because I'm not a christian]? It's not fair.
Me: It's a matter of authority. Who gets to define what good works are? God's just saying 1) let me define what true good is and what true bad is. And 2) let me tell you how to take care of your sin.*

* We had already talked about this in previous conversations: According to the Bible we were created for good works, so good works are only what we're supposed to be doing anyway, they can't make up for our lapses, anymore than you can tell a policeman "But look at all the traffic lights I didn't run!" or "I might have murdered, but I didn't steal!" It's not the good works that are the problem, it's the lapses if good works aren't allowed to cover for them. It's not for our good works but for our transgressions that Jesus came to be the solution.

And Jesus is not going to be the solution unless you accept his kingship, to tell you how to live your life after he saves you from death. I mean if you saved a murderer from death wouldn't you be sort of ticked off if he went back to murdering? It's easy to see this with a murderer but the least hint of crookedness presents the same problem to God.

We had also looked at the story of Cornelius. God saw all the good works he was doing, the alms he was giving to the poor, and sends an angel to ... tell him he's all right? No, to get him to send for Peter to come tell him how to be saved from his sins. Because it would have been a pity for Cornelius to go to hell after all his good works. It wasn't his good works Cornelius needed Jesus for, it was for his lapses. His good works weren't going to cover them.


........................................................

Friend 1: People have freedom of choice. There are all these different religions and standards out there. Don't be offended, but when you choose a particular religion, you close yourself off to all the rest. You have to say everybody else's way is wrong. But people have free choice. Why do you have to be the only ones right? ....
Me: .... You can say 2 + 2 = 4 without it cutting into anybody's free choice. Will suddenly murdering someone for no reason at all EVER be right?
Friend 1: No.
Me: There you go. It's possible to have an absolute without doing violence to anyone's free choice.

........................................................

Me: So you don't believe Jesus is God's only son?
Friend 2: I didn't say that. I believe he is.
Me: But you said you don't believe in a judgment. Jesus said there's going to be a judgment.
Friend 2: OK, maybe there will be a judgment.
Me: OK, then we need to ask this question: what standard is he going to use to judge us?

Here's the next conversation we had.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

(I realize this particular conversation did not address some rather pertinent questions - in random order off the top of my head:

Is Jesus the Son of God?
Does God exist?
Could we prove God exists?
Did God communicate with us?
Is there anything he wants to do?
Is the Bible completely accurate?
Is the Bible something man made up or God-inspired?
Did we evolve or was the universe created in seven literal days?

But we have or haven't discussed those things in the past and as it comes up in the future I hope to post about it.)

the transliteration of Eve

(on Facebook recently)

Sapphirelinger:

Just now learned how to write "Eve" in Chinese. They transliterate it which means they just choose characters for the similarity in sound rather than properly translate it. The characters they chose were "summer" and "baby" or in other words Eve was a "Summer Babe". This is too funny.

Aunt J:

I always suspected this of Eve, actually.

Gramma:

I am sure ONE man in the world thought so!!! Imagine what Adam must have thought the first time he saw that 'perfect' woman in front of him!!! A never before seen 'creature' - presented to him by the Creator of the universe, his 'good friend' and 'doctor' - proclaimed by that ONE - as WIFE!!!!! HIS WIFE!!!!! HIS COMPANION FOR LIFE!!!!
Marriage is wonderful and God given!!!!

Sapphireslinger:

Anybody who really knows Chinese, feel free to weigh in on this too.

Sapphireslinger:

The romanization for Eve's name is "Xia Wa" or "Hsia Wa" depending on which system you use, (that's Shyah Wah for Americans). If this same "wa" is repeated twice it becomes the word for "doll". So was Eve also a "Summer Doll"?

Sapphireslinger:

Meanwhile don't quote me in any church bulletins :)

Gramma:

Um, gets better by each comment you make!! And the climate in the garden would definitely fit the name AND the picture!!!

Sapphireslinger:

The transliteration "Xia Wa" may not sound like "Eve" but I'm guessing they were trying to match the sounds of the original Hebrew, not the English. After all, the Chinese "Ye Su" (yeh-soo) sounds a lot more like the Hebrew "Yeshua" than the English "Jesus".

Sapphireslinger:

I never realized until now why the Chinese word for Jesus was "Ye Su".

Gramma:

The Cherokee word for Jesus sounds so much like the Chinese, but then the American Indian IS Asian in ancestry! That is interesting!

Gramma:

Remember singing in Cherokee when Granddad preached for the church there?

Sapphireslinger:

It was all Greek to me.

Sapphireslinger:

If the Chinese and the Cherokee were both trying to approximate the Hebrew sounds at translation time then those words would all be similar.

Gramma:

Yes, but beautiful 'Greek' - those words were very phonetically poetic!

Sapphireslinger:

And don't we often put an English "J" for Hebrew "Y"s and vice versa? Like Jehovah for Yahweh and Jesus for Yeshua. So if you discount the J-Y mix-up, they would be more similar than at first glance?

Sapphireslinger:

Something else to consider about the name Xia Wa: in my experience when somebody comes to that name who is reading that story for the first time, they often go, "Xia Wa ... oh that's just like Nu Wa the first woman." So they have their own story of the first woman passed down from when they split off from Noah, and the names are similar.

Sapphireslinger:

But don't ask me what the story is, or what the Chinese characters are for Nu Wa. I do hope somebody knowledgeable chimes in. Ask Joyce.

Sapphireslinger:

At least I think it's Nu Wa. Getting increasingly fuzzy here.

Joyce:

wow.. 夏娃

Sapphireslinger:

夏 is summer and consists of these two pictographs: 1. 頁 (which now means a page (in a book) but originally meant a person walking because it is itself made up of two pictographs abbreviated - 首 meaning head and 儿 being 2 legs) and 2. This second pictograph I can't find to copy and paste but it means to walk slowly. In other words the word for summer is represented by a person walking slowly (because of the heat is how I remembered it) or it could be sauntering to enjoy a beautiful summer day.

Sapphireslinger:

娃 (Wa or wah) is baby and consists of two pictographs: 1. 女 meaning woman and 2. 圭 which is two 土 (earth/dust) pictographs stacked on top of each other and originally meaning feudal lands but the dictionary says 圭 is used mostly for the phonics of it, which I couldn't understand at first because 圭 is "gui" but then I saw many other words with 圭 in them are also pronounced "wa". So if you think about it the word for baby is represented by a woman with a "Waaaah!" beside her.

Gramma:

I think you are wrong on this statement:

'So they have their own story of the first woman passed down from when they split off from Noah, and the names are similar.'

They had the same language when they split from Noah. It wasn't until the tower of Babylon that their language changed. Remember? However, after that, there may have been similarities in the different languages as they expressed the words for Adam and Eve.

However, if that is what you meant, you were right.

Sapphireslinger:

You're absolutely right. I should have said Tower of Babel.

** ** ** **

Footnotes:

These are only some of the comments.

I took two words out of the comments to redact a name.

If you want to friend me after reading this, I'm sort of trying to keep Facebook for people I've actually met face-to-face, because I'm more likely to let my mouth run away with me if I can delude myself that only my relatives will notice. If it's any good, I'll gladly post it here on Sapphireslinger.

It also works the other way around. If an article is born full-fledged I'll post it here right away and merely use Facebook to alert people.