What assurance if any, do you have concerning the next life? What certainty is there of paying off karmic debt? How can we be certain this path is the right one?
If you wanted to know if a building is safe you would ask the builder who built it so that you could safely inhabit it. If you needed reassurance that a vehicle was reliable, you would want to speak to the engineer who designed it. Concerning matters of the soul, it makes perfect sense to ask our Creator.
The Creator of heaven and earth
God has revealed Himself through the Bible which explains who God is, what He is like, why we were created, why there is suffering and how we can be reconciled to Him and have union with Him.
The first verse of the Bible tells us “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1).” Something cannot originate from nothing. God is the First and the Last and in Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:31). God is greater than the universe and separate from it because He created everything. His creation was perfect.
Concerning His attributes, God is omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, eternal and immutable. Regarding His character, Moses tells us “For all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He (Deuteronomy 32:4).” God is entirely good and is not dualistic in nature and is neither capricious, arbitrary, inconsistent nor remote or ambivalent. He is jealous for His name and will not share His glory with another.
God knows us intimately and created us in His image and placed Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. God created a wonderful garden for them consisting of many trees. They were allowed to eat from every tree, other than the tree of the knowledge of good and evil for in the day that they ate of it they would surely die (Genesis 2:17).
Satan tricked Eve into eating from that tree and by saying that she wouldn’t die and that if she did eat from it, she would be like God! Adam also ate from the tree and since then, sin entered the world and we still experience the effects of sin tainting the whole world. Although we see astonishing beauty and irreducibly complex design, it is all too apparent that we live in a broken and corrupted world. Realistically, the problem of sin is beyond our ability to fix because sin separates us from God.
The problem of sin is within and we cannot save ourselves. Sin is lawlessness and falling short of God’s standard. It is derived from an archery term which means to ‘miss the mark’, failing to hit the target and even the board completely. How many of us can say that we never lied, dishonoured our parents, blasphemed, coveted anything or lusted after anyone? We have all broken God’s law and whoever has broken one law is guilty of breaking the whole law (James 2:10). God is a perfect and just judge. Imagine pleading ignorance or unbelief in front of a judge and jury. We have to face the facts and recognise that we need God’s forgiveness.
How can I be free?
Most people try to free themselves in many different ways through their own efforts. Some try to live a good life in the hope of a better reincarnation in the next life with the eventual hope of paying enough karmic debt and eventually attaining nirvana. Nonetheless, they have no certainty of a better reincarnation or being freed from an endless cycle of rebirths.
Some follow the paths of works, devotion, knowledge or sacrifice and try to live the right actions, efforts or thoughts. Others view the problem of suffering as a penalty for bad deeds in a previous life or believe that meditation, a noble lifestyle and by removing the desire, they will eventually be absorbed into nothingness.
The love of God
What sure and certain hope is there of a better life? The most famous verse in the Bible, John 3:16, tells us “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
God’s Son is the Lord Jesus (Yeshua the Messiah) who is fully God and fully Man and who dwelt amongst us. He is the promised Messiah and lived a perfect life, never sinned and He suffered in our place to reconcile us to a holy God. Since God is holy, He cannot behold sin. The only means of atonement was through the sacrifice of His Son to make us righteous. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in (Messiah) Jesus our Lord (Romans 3:23).”
Though Yeshua (Jesus) was entirely innocent, He took the weight of the world’s sin upon Himself. He knew what it meant to suffer. Not only did He experience the pain of betrayal and an excruciating crucifixion at the hands of those whom He came to save, but His Father turned away at that moment since He who knew no sin, became a sin offering for us that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Not only did Jesus die, He rose again the third day according to the scriptures. This makes Him unique. Many gurus, teachers and founders of religions have come and gone though the resurrection of our Lord is the guarantee of our resurrection. He died that we might live. We can be certain of our resurrection because Jesus died and rose again and has gone ahead of us.
How can we be certain of the next life and how many lives are there? The book of Hebrews expounds the finality of the Lord’s sacrifice and also states “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgement (Hebrews 9:27).”
This changes the whole emphasis concerning our salvation. It is no longer what ‘I do’, it is responding to what He has ‘done’. When Jesus died on the cross He said, it is finished (it is done). Salvation is by grace which is unmerited favour. We cannot climb our way to heaven through our works. Instead, we need to turn to Him and trust only Him as Lord and Saviour.