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16th March: After Death

It was appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment... Hebrews 9:27

The idea of karma and reincarnation is one which is deeply embedded in many religions with theirs roots in Southern and Eastern Asia. It is one of the fundamental doctrines of Hinduism and of the different religions which have sprung up from it, such as Theosophy and Buddhism. The Hare Krishna people have propagated it widely in many western countries in recent years.

Briefly, the teaching is this. During its residence in a body, a soul does good and bad deeds: from the good deeds it accumulates merit, from the bad deeds it accumulates sin. At death, the soul passes into another body, of a kind determined by the ratio of accumulated merit and sin. If the soul has accumulated much merit, it will have a good birth, such as a man of the upper class, or a cow, or a monkey; if sin predominates, it will have a bad birth, such as a dog, or a pig or a woman. All misfortune of any kind is seen as the consequence of sin, often in a previous existence. There are some variations in the teaching, but this is the general picture. Salvation is seen as final deliverance from the cycle of endless births and rebirths in different bodies to be absorbed into deity, as a river is absorbed in the sea.

We need to understand very clearly that this is not what the Bible teaches. A man dies once, and then stands before God's judgment seat. The new birth is not the soul passing into a new body, but a spiritual chance which takes place when a person puts his or her trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour, and receives from him the gift of eternal life. Christian doctors who work in cultures where the idea of karma is widespread -- and this is now true of the West as well as the East -- need to be very clear in their own understanding of the teaching of the Bible on this issue, so that, as opportunity occurs, they can share it with those with whom they come in contact.

Lord, I thank you for your Word, the Bible, I thank
you for what it shows me about yourself, and about myself.
I pray now for each patient with whom you are going to
bring me into contact today. Many of them may know
nothing of the wonderful truths revealed in your Word.
Give me opportunities to share with others the things
you have given me the privilege of knowing.

Further reading: 2 Cor 5:1-10.


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