by Ernest O’Neill
When were you born? Now, is that when you really started to exist? Some would say that you might have existed in a previous life as an animal or a different human being. People who believe in reincarnation would say that this could be your second or third or umpteenth life, but empirical evidence for this does not exist. Reincarnation is one of those plausible misunderstandings that stem partly from self-will and partly from inadequate presentations of the true reality. In fact, you did exist before you were born in your mother’s womb – but not as a different creature or human being!
The empirical evidence (touch-and-see evidence such as science demands) is found in over 4,000 ancient manuscripts that detail the life of the historical figure we know as Jesus of Nazareth. Some of these manuscripts like the Codex Alexandrinus and Sinaiticus can be seen in the British Museum while others like the Chester Beatty papyrus of the Gospel of John are in the University Library in Manchester, England. Like this papyrus in Manchester which is dated around 125 a.d., they provide what historians regard as eye-witness accounts of Jesus’ life. They call them eye-witness accounts because they were written at a date that was so close to the original events that readers would be alive who could corroborate or contradict the facts. The unparalleled historical evidence is the reason why the facts of Jesus’ life and ability to overcome death are regarded by historians as far more certain than those of Julius Caesar or similar figures of history.
The Eternal Man
Jesus himself explained to the Jewish scholars “before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58) and he spoke of his own pre-existence as one would expect the son of the creator of the world to do – “Father, glorify me in thy own presence with the glory which I had with thee before the world was made” (John 17:5). If you examine his power over nature and disease and death, his perfect character, his unequalled teachings, and his rising from the grave, you are driven to the conclusion that this unique person is indeed the son of the creator of the universe. But the astounding (though logical if the absolute supreme being sees all of “relative” time as one moment) fact is that you were created in Jesus Christ long before you were born in your mother. Paul, one of his most intelligent followers writes “we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God has prepared, beforehand that we should walk in them”(Ephesians 2:10). This ties in with the statement by David in Psalm 139:16 : “thy eyes beheld my unformed substance; in thy book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them”.
Obviously this truth of reality does not suggest you were ever here on earth as some other creature before your present life, but it does show how partial or self-assured insight into reality can produce the half-truth of reincarnation. Despite this deception, the fact remains that the best evidence indicates that you yourself were created in the Son of the Creator of the universe long before you were born here on earth. This helps to explain some of the feelings you have about death. The Greek writer of a book called Ecclesiastes put it like this in chapter 3,verse 11: “He has made everything beautiful in its time; also he has put eternity into man’s mind, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end”. It also helps to explain why we feel we are more significant than the world seems to think – we are – because you yourself are part of Christ himself. In fact, Paul said “now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it” (1 Corinthians 12:27).
The Purpose of Faith
Of course most of us don’t believe this so we live as little individual pieces of the human race feeling alone and temporary – and often inferior. But this is not the reality of life. The reality is that you are indeed a bit of Christ, God’s only-begotten Son, and He has a life that he planned long ago to live in you here on earth. While you believe only what you think you see, you’ll continue to feel and behave as if you are nothing more than your mother’s child. You’ll live with the limitations which this lie imposes on you and you’ll feel the frustrations of not realising the full potential that Christ has planned for himself in you.
There’s a lot of glib talk about faith today as if faith can change us. Faith can do nothing – it is not just power of positive thinking that you need. It’s belief in that kind of self-help that got us into humanity’s present mess. What you and I need to do is think about these things and decide whether this is truth and reality or not. If it isn’t, then we must continue as we are. But if it is true that you were created in Christ before the world was made, then it’s vital that you begin to find out from Him what He wishes to do through your life. That means that we need to understand more about the reason our Creator had for making us in the first place. Let’s talk more about this in the next article.