In his book, DEATH OF A GURU (Harvest House publishers), Rabindranath Maharaj said that he believed he would be reincarnated as a cow, therefore he spent hours staring at one, intent on her characteristics, putting all other thoughts out of his mind. He relates what a shock it was when this revered creature finally noticed him, became angry, and charged at him. It was one of several upsetting events that caused him to re-examine his belief in reincarnation and finally abandon it.
Reincarnation is the belief that a soul returns after death to live in another body. Although neither the word or the concept are mentioned in the Bible, Christians use another word that sounds very much like it. The word is “INCARNATION.” Actually, this word is not in Scripture either, at least in this English form. The New Testament was written originally in Greek and the component parts, “in carne”, are in the original text.
Incarnation refers to a unique event regarding the person of Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God. He left heaven, came to earth and occupied a human body. This event is unique because it happened only once, to one unique person, who lived in one body, for one lifetime, yet still lives - in that same body, forever.
Jesus Christ was born, fully man, nearly 2000 years ago. The Bible says that His mother was Mary, but His Father was not Joseph, Mary’s husband, but the Spirit of God. John 1:14 says that “God became flesh and lived among us.” Therefore, Jesus was unique, the God-man, and God did this unique thing in order to “save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
Man had originally been created in the image of God (not a physical image because God is spirit, and no man can see Him, but with moral, mental, emotional, and volitional capacity), yet human beings have failed to reflect the likeness of God because of rebellion against Him.
Because He is holy and just, God says those who rebel against Him (sin) must die. But He is also a God of love and mercy so He determined a way to pardon the sinner yet still satisfy His wrath against their sins.
His remedy was to provide a substitute, one who would die for the sins of others, making it possible for sinners to live. This substitute had to be a man to qualify as payment for man’s guilt, yet more than just another sinner with his own debt of sin towards God.
There was only one way to satisfy that criteria: God Himself came in human flesh. He, in a fully human body lived a perfect sinless life even though He was tempted to sin just as we are. Then He died the death that others deserve. But, because He did not deserve to die, He rose from the grave where He had been buried, and later ascended into heaven where He “lives forever to make intercession for us.”
That is the “en carne”, the incarnation.
No one ever has been, nor ever will be, God in the flesh again. The Bible calls Jesus the “ONLY begotten Son.” He is unique.
Furthermore, when Jesus died, it was in the body He had been born and grown to manhood in. When He rose again, it was also in the same body, a glorified body, somehow uniquely changed, yet still bearing the marks of the nails in His hands. It was this body that the disciples saw and touched. They watched Him eat and drink. Then they watched Him ascend and disappear into a cloud with the promise that “this same Jesus will come again” - in the same body. (Acts 1)
His soul did not and will not return in another body. Jesus was not and will not be “re-incarnated”.
The message of the Incarnation gives unique hope to those who believe in Him. God says that as we gaze into His glory, we are transformed, by the power of His Spirit, to be like He is... to be all that God intended us to be, clean from the sin that spoils the image we were created to reflect. Later, when we die, we will be raised to eternal life - in our bodies made incorruptible like His glorified body, fit to live forever with Him.