ONE LIFE OR MANY?
During my childhood I did not go to any particular church and my parents did not try to influence me toward any particular religion or philosophy. Therefore, as I look back I see that my earliest thoughts on life were those of a little child forming his most natural conclusions.
One of those natural ideas I formulated was that if God is indeed good as everyone had said then he must give us all the chances we need to gain all the experience we want and to live full abundant lives. I thought of how much I looked forward to growing up and making my mark on the world, then of how terrible it would be if some accident took my life. I thought that surely God would provide some way for me to come back and have the opportunity to fulfill my hopes and dreams.
One day a visiting neighbor was telling my mother about a book she had read entitled: The Search For Bridie Murphy and she explained the theory of how we are born again and again into this earth life. I was immediately attracted to this idea for it blended in with my natural thoughts and I continued to believe it until I became active in a conservative church about the age of thirteen.
Around this period I mentioned my belief in reincarnation to one of the brethren. He seemed shocked and said: “You’ve got it all wrong. Reincarnation is the doctrine of the devil. We only live one life, then we are resurrected to die no more.”
I asked him if there was anything in the scriptures about having only one life.
At that point he turned to Hebrews 9:27 and read: “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.”
I then looked at the verse and read it several times. Sure enough. The Bible did seem to say that we live only once. There fore, there could be no reincarnation. I was very disappointed. It seemed unfair that many people are cut off and unable to enjoy the full fruits of mortality.
On the other hand, I was told by the brethren that the next world was better than this one and it was really a blessing to die early to escape trials and tribulations. This idea did not help, however, for I looked forward to whatever trials this life may have to offer and, furthermore, I noticed that my fellow church members did not look forward to ending their life either. None seemed anxious to enter that better “other world”; instead, I heard comments such as: “I hope Jesus doesn’t come till I am older and I get a chance to do a few things.” Or: “I hope I live until I can raise my family.” Often they would express an interest in living until they are a certain ripe old age.
Nevertheless, I reluctantly accepted the idea of the one life “because the Bible said so” and held to it faithfully for about
fourteen years. But during this period I did not feel satisfied with the answers I had to the questions of: Where did I come from? Why am I here? and Where am I going? The church had pat answers, but they left many unanswered questions they called mysteries that were not important to our salvation.
The unfairness of orthodox doctrine is what bothered me most. What about people who die with dreams unfulfilled? What about babies that die with no chance of participating in mortality? What about those who are killed before accomplishing their heart’s desire?
The mindless answer that God would take care of things just left me vacant and helped to keep my mind open to greater light and truth.
It was my study of regression, however, that caused me to seriously consider reincarnation again. It has long been known that a person can be guided back to any time in his past and relive it as if it were occurring all over again. This can be done through hypnosis or by merely directing the mind to return.
I did many experiments with regression and watched with fascination as people returned to their early childhood, even the day they were born to recall events verified by older family members. I was often tempted to take individuals back beyond the date they were born, but for a long time I almost felt it was sacrilege,. I also found myself being somewhat fearful and apprehensive of what I may find.
Nevertheless, one can only suppress curiosity so long and eventually I did take someone back before birth.
The first person I regressed to a previous life was a young lady. I was quite surprised at the ease and familiarity with which she went back. She recalled a life over one hundred years ago in the North east of England and began speaking in an English accent recounting events from that life. Anyone listening would have been amazed at the accent coming from one who had never been to England in this life. However, I was particularly startled because I had spent several years in Britain and most of it in the area she described.
Anyone who travels England becomes acutely aware that most of England does not speak the “Queen’s English”, but there are numerous dialects. There can be a noticeable accent change in a distance of fifty miles. However, there is a marked difference between the way the people in the North and South of England speak. I believe it is a greater difference than the accent change between the North and South of the United States.
What amazed me is that this young lady said she had lived in the northeastern part of England and her accent exactly duplicated the dialect in that area. We must take into consideration that the Northeast British accent is much more difficult to imitate than the Queen’s English which is usually used by movie stars.
In America one rarely hears a North British accent over the media and I was 99% sure that the female involved had never even once heard a North Englander speak – at least in this life.
Another time I was attending a church party and decided to liven it up somewhat. I told the group that I could take people back to any point in their lives, even the day of birth, and have them re call it. People seemed interested in this and the first volunteer was a newly married lady whose husband was out shopping for some snacks for us.
I not only took her back to her youth, but before the entire non believing crowd I took her back into three past lives. In two of them she knew her current husband. One life was back in prehistoric times when they had no names and the other was in the days of the Roman Empire. She said she was married to a Roman senator named Marcus Aurelius who was later killed in a battle.
The details she gave certainly awed everyone there, but the best was still to come. When her husband came home everyone insisted that I take him back also. He was a good subject and regressed to prehistoric times and described the same surroundings that his wife had. But then, amazingly, he went back to the days of the Roman Empire and said his name was Marcus Aurelius, a Roman senator who was killed in Battle.
Everyone was so stunned at this that they began to doubt their belief in the church and I found myself being the one to reassure them that the church was correct and not to let this bother them for I still felt that there must be some logical explanation besides reincarnation. Even this and other amazing regressions did not make me cast aside my church’s doctrine in the one mortal life.
I will not make the effort here to recall how, time after time, I was presented with evidence that there is more than one mortal life, but each time I refused to believe it until I was hit with an explosive piece of personal evidence that had no other explanation than reincarnation. I found myself face to face with reality. I had to either deny the logical process completely and doubt my own ability to come to a truthful conclusion, or open my mind and sincerely ask myself if I could have been wrong.
Then the thought occurred to me: If reincarnation is a true doctrine I should be able to find evidence of it in the Bible. I will “search the scriptures” with an open mind and see what is truly there.
As I started my search I realized that I knew of only one scripture that seemed to refute reincarnation and that was the one previously quoted from Hebrews 9:27: “And as it is appointed unto man once to die, but after this the judgment.”
The “once to die” sounds like an absolute statement not open to debate until we realize that it is boldly contradicted by the Bible itself: “They (the dead) were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. THIS IS THE SECOND DEATH. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast (to suffer a second death) into the lake of fire.” Rev 20:12-15
The book of Revelations has quotes from John, an angel, and Jesus Christ, all using the phrase “second death” so we know there has to be one. Thus it is quite obvious that if Paul were writing the truth he did not literally mean “once to die” except perhaps once per lifetime, or that there is one general mortality passed upon all mankind.
There are other scriptures that are quite deceiving if they are read with a black and white state of mind: A pertinent one was made by Paul again. He said: “I die daily.” I Cor 15:31 He also said: “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience…It is a shame for women to speak in the church.” I Cor 14:34-35 Paul also advised the saints to remain single as he was (I Cor 7:7) and if they were married to not have sex (I Cor 7:29).
Jesus told us to cut off our right hand if it offends us (Matt 5:30) and talked about making oneself a eunuch (literally a castrated person) for the kingdom of heaven. (Matt 19:12)
If we do not read difficult passages like these in their correct context and with some knowledge of the customs and beliefs of that ancient era we may reject the whole Bible as being the work of madmen.
Let us examine the verse that precedes the “once to die” scripture: “But now once in the end of the world hath he (Christ) appeared to put away sin by sacrifice of himself.” Heb 9:26
If we read this verse laterally we are led to believe that Jesus appeared only once at the end of the world to sacrifice him self. Two thousand years has passed since then so those who thought Paul was talking about the real “end of the world” were wrong. Also, Jesus did not appear once but appeared many times to many people.
To interpret this scripture accurately one has to read it in its correct context as well as examine the Greek from which it was translated.
In examining the Greek we find that the word “world” is a mistranslation. It comes from the word AION. The modern English word “eon” is derived from this and it means “an age”. Thus we see that Jesus came once at not the end of the world, but the end of the age. We realize that his “one” coming refers to his general life (with all his numerous appearances counted as one) at the end of one age and the beginning of a new one.
Here we see that Hebrews 9:26 cannot be interpreted in a black and white literal manner. How about the next verse? Does it mean what it seems to mean? Are we really appointed only “once to die” or is there more meaning here below the surface? Are there many deaths within the one death as there were many “comings” within the one general first coming of Christ? Is it talking about physical death or spiritual death? If it is talking about spiritual death, then that would leave open the possibility of more than one physical death.
In examining this scripture there are three words that are generally overlooked: “men”, “but”, and “judgment”. We’ll quote this scripture one more time emphasizing these: ‘And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” Men comes from the Greek ANTHROPOS which in this context indicates the human race as a whole.
The word “but” here is quite interesting. It comes from the Greek ALLA which literally means contrariwise. In other words, it indicates that the information that is forthcoming may contradict that which has just been said.
That would mean that “after this the judgment” may have an opposite meaning to “it is appointed unto men once to die”. It would indicate an exception as in the sentence: “I rise every morning at 8:00 A.M., except when the alarm doesn’t go off.”
“After this the judgment” does not sound like it contradicts or has an opposite meaning to “once to die” so let us look closer to see what the original language says. Judgment comes from the Greek word KRISIS. This is one of the most misunderstood words in the entire Bible. Translators don’t quite seem to know how to handle it and seem to render it according to their bias rather than the actual meaning. In the King James version they have rendered it: accusation, condemnation, damnation, and judgment. These words all have diverse meanings, but none of them are an exact translation.
The modern English word “crisis” (which is derived from the Greek KRISIS) is a more accurate rendering than the Bible translations. The actual Greek word implies a decision that brings correction. If it is used in connection with the word “judgment” the idea of a corrective judgment should be implied.
Another mistranslation in this verse is the phrase “to die”. It is more correctly rendered “to be dying”. Let us now take into consideration these corrections and render the verse as close as possible to the Greek: “And as it is reserved for mankind once tr. be dying, but on the other hand, after this [after the state of dying is over we have] the judgment [or KRISIS the decision to correct the state of death].
The verse could be describing either a spiritual death, physical death or both.
The word KRISIS is used in another very interesting scripture:
“The hour is coming in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation (KRISIS).” John 5:28-29
Notice here that John tells us that there are two resurrections: (1) The resurrection of life, and (2) the resurrection of damnation or KRISIS.
“Damnation” is an incorrect word for translators to use. The second resurrection should more appropriately be called “the resurrection of correction” or “the resurrection which forces correct decisions”.
The word “resurrection” comes from the Greek ANASTASIS which literally means “to stand up again” or “to come to life again”. The word does not imply that the new life will always be an immortal one as indicated by the following scripture: “Women received their dead raised to life again (from the same Greek word ANASTASIS): and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection.” (ANASTASIS) Heb. 11:35.
The reference “women received their dead raised to life again” refers to miracles performed by Elijah and Elisha where the dead were revived to a mortal existence. Here the word ANASTASIS refers to something other than an immortal life.
Here is another interesting scripture spoken by the Christ years before his resurrection: “The Son can do nothing of him self, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise…For as the Father RAISETH UP THE DEAD, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.” John 5:19h21
Here we are plainly told that the dead were raised to life again by the power of the Father BEFORE the resurrection of Jesus.
On the other hand Paul said that Jesus was “THE FIRST that should raise from the dead.” Acts 26:23.
This seems like a paradox. On one hand we are told that there were resurrections before Jesus and that both the Father and the Son raised up any of the dead that they wished. On the other hand it is written that Jesus was the first to raise from the dead. How is this to be explained?
It is quite simple. There are two resurrections. Jesus was the first to attain to the resurrection of life. But the second type of resurrection, the resurrection of KRISIS or correction has been occurring since the beginning.
The resurrection of KRISIS or correction can refer to one being revived to mortal life in the same body as Lazareth was, or it could refer to being “born again” in a new body with a new life experience giving us an opportunity to “correct” our imperfections.
Jesus was not the first to attain the resurrection of KRISIS, but he was the first to gain the resurrection of life.
It was the resurrection of life that Paul spoke of when he said that it was something he had to attain: “If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after.” Phil 3:11-12.
Paul indicates that we must be “perfect” to “attain” this resurrection. He can only be referring to the resurrection of life for Jesus said that all the evil ones go to “the resurrection of correction” while they who have done good attain the “better resurrection”.
This makes sense doesn’t it? We are sent again and again to the resurrection of correction to live life after life on the earth and then when we have corrected our errors and become without sin as was Jesus we “attain” unto the resurrection of “life” and “this mortal must put on immortality”. I Cor 15:53.
How do we avoid the resurrection of correction? The Lord tells us: “He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation (from KRISIS, the resurrection of correction): but is passed from death unto life.” John 5:24
The scriptures plainly tell us that by hearing, believing, and doing the words of God so that we are perfected leads to escaping the resurrection of Krisis and “attaining” the resurrection of life.
With this knowledge in mind we can place still another interpretation on Hebrews 9:27: “And as it is appointed unto men once to die (in this present age), on the other hand after this comes the resurrection of correction” (where we will be born and die again in a future age.)
Copyright by J J Dewey