Hebrews 9:27-28 Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
This passage says some very important things. In the first place, it demolishes the idea of reincarnation with a simple statement. Hinduism, and Buddhism which grew out of it, both posit reincarnation as a way for beings to atone for their sins. That is such an essentially hopeless idea that the Buddha said the ideal was nothingness, gaining such a state of enlightenment that you wouldn’t be forced to be reborn as someone or something else. That’s a source of what has been called “Eastern fatalism,” because if you’ve got it really rough, you just hope for a better hand the next time. Christian faith is linear, going from birth to death to judgment, and this makes that perfectly clear. We don’t get a do-over! Jesus was born once, as we are getting ready to celebrate, he died once as an atonement for all our sins, and when He comes again it will be as the climax of history, not as a recurring bump in the cycle, so to speak. Believers through the centuries have actively looked forward to Christ’s return, but we can say definitively that each one who had that hope and expectation experienced its fulfillment in less than 100 years. We aren’t to fear physical death (nor are we to seek it) but rather understand that it is a transition from the material to the spiritual, and for those who have believed in Jesus as Lord, what awaits on the other side is glorious indeed. For those who have rejected Him, choosing to rely on themselves, the judgment that awaits is genuinely fearsome.
Ministering in Japan as I do, I find the idea of reincarnation to be sadly powerful in dulling people’s awareness of their need for salvation. If you’re just going to go around again, why do anything special this time? That’s why I’m convinced that reincarnation isn’t a merely human construct, but rather the devil twisting the truth of being born again by the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-8) into something to keep people from that very act of salvation. Japanese like the term, “reborn,” and they apply it to such things as remodeling a building or a musical group getting back together. I am not to give up, but keep speaking the truth in love. I have never liked “hellfire and brimstone” preaching, but I’ve got to let people know where their current course leads, so that they may repent and believe in the only One who can save them.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Christmas is one of the best opportunities for evangelism in the whole year. May we make the use of it that You intend, not simply to have a packed house on the 24th, but so that Your truth may penetrate into many hearts and minds, setting them free to repent and believe for their salvation, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!