We’ve all heard the jokes.
“When I die, I’m coming back as a man. They have it easy!”
“I wanna come back as a cat. I’m my own master, I make my own rules, no one’s gonna make me do anything.”
“I don’t care who or what I come back as as long as it’s not Bill Maher [or Bill O’Reilly or any other (in)famous person].”
These jokes are all based on the concept of reincarnation. It’s the basic idea that after death the soul can come back in a new form. The better you live your life, the better the form you get. If you’re crappy in life, your new form is going to be crappy too. Hindus, Buddhists, Celts, Greeks, and Taoists all had some belief in death and rebirth. The rules governing the form are culturally based.
Christians (at least those who accept that the Bible is God’s Word in its entirety even if we can’t clearly understand or comprehend its application to our lives) reject the notion of reincarnation. We have two primary verses on which we base this belief, one in Hebrews and one in Romans.
Hebrews 9:26-28 [International Children’s Bible]: Then he [Jesus] would have had to suffer many times since the world was made. But Christ came only once and for all time. He came at just the right time to take away all sin by sacrificing himself. Everyone must die once. After a person dies, he is judged. So Christ was offered as a sacrifice one time to take away the sins of many people. And he will come a second time, but not to offer himself for sin. He will come again to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
Further, we gain additional support for Christ’s single death in Romans 6:9-10 [International Children’s Bible]: Christ was raised from death. And we know that he cannot die again. Death has no power over him now. Yes, when Christ died, he died to defeat the power of sin one time—enough for all time. He now has a new life, and his new life is with God.
In the first passage, every person is given just one life to live. Even Jesus, as God Himself, only lived one life as the God-Man according to both passages. He died. He did not come back through reincarnation but through a supernatural act of the Father in reanimating, raising, and resurrecting the dead human shell in both passages. When He comes the second time, it will be as Himself in His one glorified body.
We get just once on this earth to make it good. Since we all sin, we have to accept we cannot fix ourselves and we cannot make it good alone. We have to accept Jesus’ death and resurrection as sufficient through His grace to cover us. We have to walk and talk with Him daily and learn His Ways. Otherwise, you would rather be a worm on the end of a fishing hook than face that judgment seat.