When I was preaching, I believed one of my responsibilities was to encourage people to think about what they believed rather than to accept anything and everything someone said from a pulpit. René Descartes said, “I think; therefore, I AM.” (my capitalization) If you don’t think, then you are not I AM.
I wonder how many Christians truly believe the New Testament’s claim that God is within them? In my short book, How to Love the Lord Your God with All Your Heart, I gave these examples as evidence that the Bible suggests God is within you:
The Bible says you were created in the image of God. Someone in the early church said you were created in sin. It’s your choice to believe the Bible or some theologian. The image of God is not sin. It doesn’t mean you’ve perfected that image. It just means there are other reasons why you do things that disrupt harmony in your life and in the lives of others.
The apostle Paul wrote, “You are temples of the Holy Spirit and the Spirit dwells in you” (1 Cor. 3:16);
and “Do you not know that Christ is within you? (2 Cor. 13:5);
“To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27);
and “Because you are sons and daughters, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba, Father!’” (Galatians 4:6, CEB);
and “I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love” (Ephesians 3:16-17);
Then the first letter of John says, “No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us” (1 John 4:12).
When you think about God or Christ living within you, you might have to accept that you are accountable to listen to the voice within you that guides you toward doing what brings harmony. The voice that guides toward love is God’s voice. Sometimes it’s the voice of Jesus. Jesus said, “My sheep know my voice and they follow me.”
Pondering the notion that God is within you may help you figure out how God knows everything you do—everything. You can’t get away with anything. Maybe God is part of that thing we call our “conscience.” Think about it, I AM!
So how does this line of thought relate to the text in Luke 20? I’ve already indicated in other blog posts that the doctrine of reincarnation isn’t as far-fetched as some in the later church decided. There are many references that indicate reincarnation was a viable doctrine at the time of Jesus. The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection, rising up, or reincarnation of the dead. You’ll have to be the judge of whether you think Jesus endorsed the doctrine (“I tell you, Elijah has returned”). And then look at what Jesus says to the Sadducees (my translation):
34 Jesus answered and said to them, “The offspring of this system of thingsf marry and are given in marriage. 35 However, after being judged worthy to enjoy that age (the age we call Paradise), indeed a resurrection from the dead,g neither marry nor are they given in marriage; 36 nor are they able to dieh anymore, for they are like angels; yes, they are offspring of God, being offspring of resurrection. 37 Concerning (your denial that) the dead are being raised, Moses disclosed this secret at the bush, when he called Jehovah the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’i 38 Therefore he is not a God of the dead but of those living, for all are living for him.”j 39 Now having conceded, some of the scribesk said, “Teacher, you have spoken excellently.” 40 Therefore they were no longer so bold as to question him further.
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f age. The way things are done in a certain period of time; the stage or system of the spirit being embodied in the flesh.
g the deadness of living in the flesh, which is required for learning necessary lessons through pain and trials; it’s part of the spirit’s growth process. St. Paul said Jesus was the firstborn of the dead – having reached the fullness of Christ-consciousness, never to be incarnated into flesh (death) again.
h reincarnate into the flesh of another body.
i the Spirit of Oneness lives in, with, and through each of us, i.e,. we are living FOR God. The human body is a temple, as is everything in the natural world, of the pure Spirit.
j inferring that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are still alive, not necessarily in Paradise, but reincarnated in another bodily form.
k scribes, not Sadducees.
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Most people don’t know enough details about reincarnation to make sense of this but it’s a start that might help you start “thinking” about some new things. My main point in this blog post is the concept of God being within you. In verses 37-38, Jesus said, “Jehovah is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” He didn’t say “was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Jesus implies that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are alive. Does that mean they are reincarnated in other bodies? Maybe. Maybe not. In some doctrines of reincarnation (of which there are many, just like there are many Protestant doctrines that don’t agree), to enter into the flesh is “to die” or leave the wonderful life of the spirit world. Maybe Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have graduated from the “reincarnation into flesh age” and they are now angels and sons/offspring of God. They are of the living, in a new system of things.
You can be like the Sadducees and say this is all bunk. That’s okay. Or you can be like the scribes and Pharisees (and maybe Jesus) who believed in resurrection (or is that reincarnation?). It will definitely take more thinking on your part.
What does it mean to be a son, a daughter, or a child of God? Do you have some of God’s DNA? Are you made in God’s image? Or have you had water sprinkled on you and that did it? Think about your answer. I know the Lutheran mantra. But does a Buddhist, or Hindi, or Muslim, or Jew, or atheist not have God living within them because they haven’t been baptized?
Well, I hope I gave you some things to ponder. What greater benefit could there be than to have Love and Light dwelling in you, and then to recognize that Love and Light can be found in your neighbor? Believing God can be found in everyone will make it easier to love yourself and your neighbor.