How Many Choices Do You Get?

by Andy Wood on August 26, 2008

in Five LV Laws, Principle of Eternity

You're closer to death than ever.

You're closer to death than ever.

Jeff, a very gracious and thoughtful reader, made the following comment on my post about the LifeVesting Principle of Abundance:

I have been seeking God’s truth for a while now and many of the things you said here coincide with what has been revealed to me. Except one- that we have one life. I’m not here to dispute anyone else’s faith or beliefs. Whatever one person feels about God is probably necessary for that person’s spiritual growth. However, i just feel compelled to say that one thing that I have come to understand is that we have many lives. Again, if you truly believe we have “one shot”, then I am not here to judge your faith. I just think that those who read this should at least explore the possibility of reincarnation. I think that the idea that God would give us one chance is contradictory to his nature, and his plan.

Jeff’s ideas and request (that we should at least explore the possibility of reincarnation) actually speaks to a fifth principle of LifeVesting – the principle of Eternity.  For the sake of review, The first four “Laws of LifeVesting” are as follows (they’re built around the acrostic, Get A.L.I.F.E.):

Abundance: I live in an abundant universe, created by an abundant God, who wants me to have an abundant life.

Legacy:  I have the power to influence and bless others long after my life on earth is over.

Increase:  I will receive an increase on my life choices in proportion to my willingness to invest and wait.

Freedom:  I will be served by the people and things I invest in and serve.

The Principle of Eternity says:  I have the opportunity to affect the quality of eternity by the choices I make.

I would be interested to know your thoughts about Jeff’s comments; here are mine. First, I think it’s awesome when anybody says they’re seeking God’s truth.  I have found that God willingly embraces anybody who is seeking to understand His person and His ways.  One important thing to note, however, is that it matters where you take that search.  For me, that search begins and ends in God’s revealed Word, the Bible.  There are a lot of things about the Bible that I may interpret differently from someone else, but in the end, I believe it is God’s revealed Word to His people.  I believe the Holy Spirit can apply it to different situations in different peoples’ lives.  But ultimately His truth is His truth.

Second, while the idea of reincarnation is intriguing, Scripture presents a completely different understanding of issues related to death and eternal life.  Here’s where my understanding may lag behind my writing (a scary thing), but I would suggest the following differences:

  • While reincarnation is based on the idea of all life having the same essence, biblical Christianity presents humans as the ultimate in creation and uniquely created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27).
  • While reincarnation is based on the idea of eternal life through repeated life-on-the-planet life forms, biblical Christianity presents eternal life as the result of reanimation – the resurrection of physical bodies of humans from the dead (1 Corinthians 15).
  • While reincarnation is an evolutionary process of getting it “right” as we progress (I know I’m not presenting it well at this point), biblical Christianity is about God making us right by applying the loving sacrifice of His Son to our sin and guilt, then receiving us into His eternal home.
  • With reincarnation, we die repeatedly.  With biblical Christianity, we die once (Hebrews 9:27).  You and I have an eternal destiny, shaped by our choices, and a singular appointment with death, should the Lord Jesus continue to delay His return.

“How does a man benefit,” Jesus asked, “if he gains the whole world and loses his soul in the process?” (Mark 8:36, LB).  That doesn’t strike me as the potential experience of a person who has multiple opportunities to “get it right.”  Moreover, in describing God’s nature, to which Jeff referred, here is what Jesus promised:

“Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24, NIV).

The reference I made to “one chance” means one lifetime, among which there are myriads upon myriads of choices. And each of those choices has some kind of eternal impact.

Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”   Sometimes we get this comic book picture of judgment, when all it means is receiving what’s due.

One other thought:  Jesus talked about the difference between rewards on earth (“they have their reward”) and rewards in heaven.

Your life is one long benefit event.  You’ll be collecting a payday somewhere – either here or there.  What could you do today, assuming you already have a relationship with Jesus, to impact eternity?  And if you don’t have a relationship with Him, nothing else matters until you do.  Jeff is right about one thing – you may, indeed, get more than one opportunity.  But the day will surely come when you’ll get your last one.  And neither you nor I have any clue when that is.

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