Archive for Saturday, June 18, 2005

Faith forum

June 18, 2005


What is the final destination for our souls?

Our reward is heaven if we accept Christ

The Rev. James Taylor, pastor, Lawrence Heights Christian Church, 2321 Peterson Road:

"Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take."

As children, we are taught that there is something called a soul, an event called death, and that there is such a thing as life after death.

We need to be clear that everyone has eternal life. It is just a matter of where you will be spending eternity.

The odds of you dying are 100 percent. Guess what? Hebrews 9:27 reads, "It is appointed onto man once to die and after that the judgment." You die by appointment. You can be late for many appointments, but for this appointment you will not be late.

Luke 16:19-31 gives us some insight into eternity. From this passage we see that eternity is divided into two parts. There is a place of the righteous dead (heaven) and there is a place of the unrighteous dead (hell). The righteous dead are carried by the angels into the presence of God. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me," John 14:6.

What determines where our souls will spend eternity is what we do with Jesus Christ. If we reject Jesus Christ, then our souls will have eternal life away from the presence of God (hell). Jesus says, "I died for you and rose from the grave for you in order to give you the free gift of eternal life. All you have to do is come by faith." Trust Jesus - not yourself, not your good works and not your church membership. Jesus says come to me and I will take you there.

I am not going to heaven because I'm a good man. Far from it. I'm not going to heaven because I am a preacher. I'm going to heaven for one reason only. I have placed my eternal destiny in the hands of Jesus Christ, and it is only through Him my soul will spend eternity in the presence of God.

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In death, individual becomes one with life

Saibal Bhattacharya, a Lawrence resident and native of India, is a Hindu:

The Vedas (the sacred and most ancient scriptures of the Hindus) teach that though the individual's soul is divine, it is generally held in bondage of the body (matter). A person attains Mukti - freedom from imperfection, death and misery - only when this bond is broken.

The essence of Hinduism is to constantly struggle to be perfect, to become divine, and be one with the Absolute Consciousness (Brahman).

The Hindu religion does not emphasize believing a certain doctrine or dogma but in realizing the true nature of one's soul by being and becoming perfect. Perfection is Absolute, and Absolute is one and not pluralistic. The Absolute is not an individual, and it does not have properties - it is beyond description. When a soul becomes perfect, it merges with Brahman by realizing its own nature - absolute knowledge and bliss and eternal existence.

If it is happiness to enjoy the consciousness of an individual body, then one would enjoy greater happiness by becoming conscious of multiple bodies. Similarly, ultimate happiness would be felt when one attains universal consciousness. To gain this "infinite universal individuality," the consciousness of the individual self (ego) must be overcome. As per Hindu philosophy, every individual soul will finally reach the realization that physical individuality is a delusion and that each soul is a manifestation of the Brahman - the Absolute Consciousness.

Upon such realization, death ceases as the individual becomes one with life, misery ceases as the individual becomes one with happiness itself, and errors (mistakes) cease because one has attained perfect knowledge.

(Reference: Swami Vivekananda's Paper on Hinduism at the World Parliament of Religions, Sept. 19, 1893.)

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