Manual Two Aspects of Eternal Life

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The Buddha taught:. The first significant difference between Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism is a new goal to be pursued in life. Instead of seeking nirvana just for oneself in order to become an arhat , the disciple of Mahayana Buddhism aims to become a bodhisattva , a celestial being that postpones his own entrance into parinirvana final extinction in order to help other humans attain it. He swears not to enter nirvana until he fulfills this noble mission. New doctrinal developments on the theme of no-self were the basis for founding a new doctrine, known as the doctrine of the void shunyata.

The Abhidharma tradition "the third basket" of the Pali Canon had already stated that the five aggregates can further be broken down into smaller units called dharmas. According to the Theravada school all physical and mental events have as ultimate building blocks 82 such dharmas.

The Madhyamaka school of Nagarjuna emphasized that these dharmas themselves must be seen as impermanent and empty of a self. They cannot have any inherent nature of their own, or else the principle of impermanence would be violated. As a result, the constituents of physical and mental phenomena are to be considered like a dream or a magical illusion. Their nature is emptiness, which means that the whole world is just a web of interdependent baseless phenomena. Although the resemblance to Advaita Vedanta may be striking, emptiness is not a substance as Brahman which composes the dharmas , but rather an adjectival quality of the dharmas.

It is neither a thing, nor nothingness, but just a way of referring to reality as being incapable of being pinned down in concepts. Nirvana means realizing that emptiness shunya is the true nature of reality the Buddha nature, or dharmakaya.

Given the human condition in Taoism, the solution for attaining perfection is not following Confucian morality or rituals, but controlling the inner universe by practicing the principle of non-acting wu-wei , a similar concept to the demand of Krishna presented in the Bhagavad Gita 3, It does not mean to literally do nothing, but to follow the natural order of things, to be spontaneous in all actions, understand them and not strive against nature:.

Unlike the pantheistic religions of the East, the three monotheistic religions of the world - Judaism, Christianity and Islam - do not regard salvation as an impersonal merging with the Absolute, but as liberation from the bondage of sin and re-establishing a personal communion with the creator. However, there are some basic differences between them on how sin is to be overcome by humans, on the identity of Jesus Christ, the role he plays in salvation and what our attitude should be towards him.

The account of human restoration begins already in Genesis , the first book of the Old Testament. God called a man named Abraham to leave his father's household in Mesopotamia and follow him to an unknown land, promising that he would become the ancestor of a blessed nation. Abraham trusted God against all odds, and this attitude, called faith, determined that God would declare him righteous and the beneficiary of an overwhelming promise:.

He could have thrown us all into hell instead, since we are all sinners.

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However, God is perfect not only in power and justice, but also in his love for us. This is why the solution for the problem of sin could not be a simplistic one. His love would not be perfect if not united with his justice, wisdom and power. His wrath toward sin on the one hand, and his love for humans and desire to bring them back into communion with him on the other, could have been reconciled only by his initiative, by his power and wisdom.

He used the most dramatic solution ever stated in world religions: God the Son willingly left his divine glory, took a human body and descended into our world through the virgin birth, limiting himself in space and time in order to be the perfect and unique sacrifice for us. The Apostle Paul states:.

Divine Life and Eternal Life -

The Christian perspective on salvation is that no one can merit the grace of God by performing rituals, good deeds, asceticism or meditation, because grace is the result of his initiative. However, this does not mean that humans have no responsibility and are saved whatever their attitude toward the Savior might be.

In order to be forgiven and brought back into a personal relationship with God, it is not enough that the grace of God exists as potential solution. It must be claimed personally by the sinful person. In that given context, repentance had a wider meaning than simply regretting the mistakes of the past.

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When the Holy Spirit descended at Pentecost, repentance meant to be sorry for rejecting Jesus Christ as Savior see Acts 2, , accompanied by a subsequent change of mentality: If until that moment the Jews considered Jesus to be a strange guy who pretended to be equal with God, this was replaced by the belief in him as the savior. The same change of attitude toward Jesus is required today. He is not a mere man, a prophet, a guru or something similar, but the savior of the world, the only "name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved" Acts 4, What humans have to do to be saved is to open their heart and receive the free gift of God through faith and then to live by faith and obedience to God.

It has as its object the person of God, while positive thinking requires trust in oneself. Although a desire to do something for our own salvation seems to be justified in our competition oriented life, at this point it is worthless and even counterproductive. Rejecting karma and reincarnation, the Christian view is that we live only once in this physical world, and then follows the judgment of God Hebrews 9, For more information on reincarnation and its relationship to Christian theology click here.

After death humans either enter into a close and eternal communion with God, or into a state of total isolation from him. Before calling him cruel, we should remember that God the Son was so deeply concerned with mankind that he entered space and time, took a human body and died on a cross as our substitute. If someone persists in rebellion toward him, manifested through indifference or desire for independence, God does not force him to enter into the kingdom of heaven.

This would be an abuse against human freedom. Hell is the result of one's choice to be independent from God and reject his offer. Those who are there will know why, without questioning divine justice see the parable of Lazarus in Luke 16, Click here for some comments of the Early Church Fathers on hell and eternal punishment. In conclusion, it has to be emphasized that according to Christianity, eternal life is not the annihilation of soul and personhood, but an embodied existence of perfect and eternal communion with God. Belief in the survival of embodied personhood after death is not an illusion but is consistent with the created status of the human being, with the promises of the Bible and the resurrection of Christ.

God does not intend to annihilate our personhood in order that we might discover an impersonal hidden nature, but to annihilate sin and its products which compromise his image in us.

The Path to Eternal Life

Therefore, the highest experience human beings could have is not merging with an impersonal Ultimate Reality but entering into a perfect communion of reciprocal love with God our creator. Islam teaches that all people are sinners Quran 16,61 and that salvation can be attained through observing the Five Pillars of Islamic practice: 1 the belief that Allah is the only god and that Muhammad is his messenger; 2 performing the five daily prayers; 3 fasting throughout the month of Ramadan; 4 charity, giving to the poor; 5 the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a lifetime, if one can afford it.

By performing these works, a Muslim hopes that at the judgment day the recorded good deeds will exceed the bad ones, and so he or she will reach the paradise of material and sensual delights 56, Faith in Allah and belief that salvation is by his grace and mercy is also encouraged. Yet, despite all one's deeds, Allah reserves the absolute right to send the deceased to wherever he pleases, paradise or hell.

Bible Living

Those who do not conform their lives to the demands of Islam will surely be thrown into hell, a place of extreme physical pain 56,; Christianity is not the only religion that claims to be the only valid way to God. Islam states the same: "Whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted from him and in the hereafter he will be one of the losers" 3, Jews and Christians are misled by their religions 9, , because they have deviated from monotheism.

Therefore they should convert, believe in Allah and do good deeds. Jesus Christ has a different character in the Quran than in the Bible. It is said that he was a special creation of God, like Adam 3,59 , and that he was born to a virgin mother, Maryam 19, Nevertheless, he was not God 5, , but just an apostle of God 4, , was not crucified 4, and that he announced the coming of Muhammad 61,6.

After considering all these views on salvation and eternal life, it is hard to believe that they could ever be reconciled. Religions hold irreconcilable positions in the three aspects mentioned in the beginning of this article: the nature of the resources needed for attaining salvation, the actual way of being saved and the meaning of salvation from an eternal perspective. The resources for attaining salvation belong strictly to our human nature according to most of the Eastern religions, excepting some schools of devotional Hinduism and Buddhism.

Humans need only to know the right things in order to be saved, having the ability to pursue the religious path by their own strength. As a result of the resources of human nature, the actual way of getting saved will take two divergent courses. Religions that claim we have all the resources in ourselves stress personal effort, realized as good deeds, devotional rituals, meditation techniques, physical asceticism, accumulating wisdom, etc. The situation in Christianity is again opposite, stating that we cannot do anything to deserve salvation and eternal communion with God, but must only accept his grace revealed in Jesus Christ.

By no means can one have God indebted to him or her. Therefore the course of action in salvation works in the opposite direction. It is God who takes the initiative and descends into his own creation in order to save us, not humans accumulating merits and working out their way toward God by their own strength. Concerning the meaning of salvation from an eternal perspective, the views are again irreconcilable. In the pantheistic religions salvation corresponds to the fusion of the impersonal self with the Absolute, implying dissolution of knower and known.

Others, such as Buddhism and Taoism, take salvation as an illumination, meaning a discovery of and conformity of oneself with an eternal law that governs existence. For most Eastern religions liberation equals extinction of personal existence, whether the self remains eternally isolated according to the Samkhya and Yoga darshanas , merges with the Ultimate Reality in pantheism , or is itself an illusion that ceases to exist in Buddhism.

Dualistic religions see human salvation as a return to an initial angelic state, from which one has fallen into a physical body. The monotheistic religions define salvation as entering a state of eternal communion with God, which means that personhood will not be abolished but perfected.

However, they differ greatly on the way one can be saved and on the role Jesus Christ has in it. According to Judaism and Islam, salvation is attained by performing good deeds and following the moral law. According to Christianity this is not enough and the role of Jesus Christ as Savior is essential. This is what God Himself has declared as truth.

This is the record. These are the facts. It is not something earned. Life is the opposite of perishing. It is deliverance from condemnation and death. It is the stopping or cessation of decay, and corruption. He has given us eternal life. Jesus said knowing God is the most significant aspect of eternal life John And 2. We can get an idea by simply observing what the Bible says about Jesus after his resurrection. Revelation plainly states that in the eternal age there will be no more pain, crying, aging or death—all such maladies will have been eliminated!

This makes perfect sense. After all, what good is paradise if one has to suffer pain, aging and death? Simply because there will be nations and kings on the new earth Revelation Variety is the spice of life, Praise God! Plus there will be kings over these nations; that is, national authorities. And if there are national authorities there will be subordinate authorities, like governors of territories and mayors of cities and so on. Of course, there will also be authority structures in the vast new Jerusalem. The Lord invests in every believer and expects a return on his investment when he returns.

On the new earth for sure, but other planets in the new universe as well. With this understanding, your faithfulness now with the few small things the Lord has put you in charge of has eternal ramifications!

Eternal Life There’s More To It Than You Think

What has God put you in charge of? Several things: Your body, your family, your job, your Christian service, your money, your talents and the people linked to you. As it is written:. But at present we do not yet see all things subjected to him [man].