The Paradise of God
23 Jan'19 5
THE PARADISE OF GODYou are welcome to another edition of Insights from God's Word, a Bible study programme that is committed to sharing God's Word by allowing the Bible to speak for itself.
In this edition, we continue with our series on Heaven. The topic for this study is: The Paradise of God. One of the few places in Scripture which has been shrouded in so much confusion is paradise. Even among Christians, there are several interpretations of where paradise could refer to. Three popular viewpoints making rounds in Christendom today are as follows:
1. A large majority of Christians today believe paradise is a temporary holding place for the spirits of people who have died in the Lord. Here are some few quotes from some prominent Christian writers who hold on to this view:
A) "We could describe Paradise and hell or hades as temporary holding places until the New Jerusalem is established and the dead are joined back with their physical bodies. For those who have died in the faith, we know that they are present with the Lord right now because if a person is absent or deceased from their body, they are in the presence of the Lord (2 Cor 5:8)." Jack Wellman / Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know.
B) "There has always been a separation of believers and unbelievers after death (Luke 16:19-31). The righteous have always gone to paradise; the wicked have always gone to hell. For right now, both paradise and hell are "temporary holding places" until the day when Jesus Christ comes back to judge the world based on whether or not individuals have believed in Him." www.gotquestions.org2. There is also another group of Christians who believe that paradise is simply a synonym for heaven. This group of Christians put forward the argument that the dead (whether good or bad) rest in their graves until the resurrection.
3. Moreover, some Christian folks also hold the view that paradise actually refer to the new earth that God is about to create. Such Christians explain that paradise originally referred to the Garden of Eden, and that the children of God should be preparing for a paradise here on earth after the second coming of Christ.
With all these viewpoints making rounds in Christendom today, it is understandable when we come across many people with the question: where exactly is the paradise of God?
Friends, even though the subject of paradise seems to be shrouded in mystery and confusion, the good news is that the Bible provides clear logical answers on this topic. In fact, the Bible's position on paradise is very clear and none of us will have to be misled.
Beloved, there are three places in the whole of Scripture where we come across the word paradise. The first place we come across the word paradise is in
23:40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?
23:41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.
23:42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
23:43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in PARADISE."
1. Did the thief on the cross go to paradise that fateful Friday?
2. Where exactly is this paradise that Christ spoke of?
Friends, many people read Christ's promise to the thief: "Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise (
Now, here are two major reasons why I believe the thief did not go to paradise that very Friday:
1. The Bible clearly teaches that Christ Himself did not go to paradise that Friday after his death. In fact, when Christ resurrected from the dead on the first day of the week, He clearly told Mary Magdalene the following: "..., Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God" (
In other words, Christ was saying to Mary; don't restrain me. I am yet to ascend to my Father in heaven. Friends, Christ made it to heaven after His resurrection on the first day of the week to obtain the assurance from the Father as to whether His sacrifice for mankind was accepted. Thus, His words; "Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father" basically mean that between the hours of that fateful Friday when He died on the cross to the Sunday morning when He was resurrected, our Saviour rested in Joseph’s new tomb. Friends, since this is what the Scripture teaches, how can we suppose then that the thief made his way to paradise on that Friday when Christ Himself was asleep in Joseph's new tomb?
2. Moreover, many Bible scholars assert the apparent confusion in
You see friends, as Bible students, one thing we must know as we study and interpret Scripture is the fact that the original scrolls of the Bible did not contain punctuation marks as we have now. And hence, even though the Bible is inspired, we have such punctuation errors to grapple with.
For instance, we have this punctuation mistake in the King James Version which was corrected in the New King James Version:
Friends, a similar case is what we find in
And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today, shalt thou be with me in paradise. Beloved, from the text we have now, the interpretation becomes very clear. The text now synchronizes with the biblical fact in
Friends, when the issue of the misplaced comma is resolved, we come to understand Christ's words to the thief as follows: Today or this day that I am dying on a cross, and the whole world seems to reject me, if you can express this faith in me as the Messiah, then I want to promise you today, that you will be with me in paradise.
Besides the fact that this interpretation is more logical when we critically assess the text with Christ's words in
(In case you still have questions in relation to what happens to people when they die, then you need not worry. This is because in our very next series, captioned: The Truth About Death, we will endeavour to answer all the questions that you have ever had about the subject of death.)
Now beloved, amidst all that we have discussed so far from the text in
Friends, the place (paradise) that Christ promised the thief on the cross is the same place that He promised the disciples before He left them to heaven. From
14:2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
14:3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."
Now friends, in case you don't find this logic conclusive, that's ok. This is because this comparison does not make a definite assertion that paradise is the same as the third heaven. However, you don't have to stay confused because the Bible gives us further evidence that comes to support the point we have made above that paradise is the same as the third heaven.
From the words of the apostle Paul in
12:2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth) such an one caught up to the THIRD HEAVEN.
12:3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth)
12:4 How that he was caught up into PARADISE, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter."
Besides the above statement of fact in Scripture, there is yet another proof in the last book of the Bible which I believe will solidify our understanding on the question of paradise. From
Now, when John wrote the Revelation on Patmos, he did not think the throne of God was anywhere else than in heaven. In fact,
Friends, from what we have gone through so far in Scripture, it is clear that paradise does not refer to a temporary holding place for the spirits of the righteous dead; neither does it refer to this earth. In fact, the Bible makes it clear that paradise is basically a synonym for heaven, the dwelling place of God.
Beloved, to obtain this biblical understanding of paradise is very important, especially when in Christendom today, the popular teaching coming down from various pulpits is that paradise and hell are temporary holding places for the spirits of the righteous and wicked dead respectively. Beloved, there is no quotation in Scripture that supports this teaching. God's Word expressly declares that the dead rest in their graves awaiting one of two resurrections (
In fact, from the book of Job, we read the following about the dwelling place of the dead: "If I wait, the GRAVE is mine house: I have made my bed in the DARKNESS" (
For us to obtain a clearer understanding of the state of the dead, the Holy Spirit inspired the apostle Peter to write the following about the patriarch David:
2:34 For David is not ascended into the heavens:" (
For those of you who are still skeptical, another Psalm reads:
Now, someone is likely to ask at this point: What about the wicked dead? Do their spirits immediately go to hell after death? Friends, the Bible's answer to this question is a straightforward no. However, from several pulpits in Christendom today, the satanic lie goes forth that the spirits of the wicked dead go straight to hell where they burn forever and ever.
Friends, if there is any popular doctrine in Christendom which has made more atheists than genuine disciples for Christ, it is none other than the false teaching that the spirits of the wicked dead burn forever and ever in hellfire after their death.
Beloved, the Bible's clear teaching is that the wicked dead are RESERVED unto fire against the day of judgement (
Friends, the Bible teaches that when hellfire finally comes from God out of heaven, it will burn the wicked up, and actually consume them into ashes (
(In case you still have questions in relation to the subject of hell, then you need not worry. This is because after our series of Bible study on The Truth About Death, we will be moving straight to another series dubbed: The Truth About Hell. We believe that through this upcoming series, all the questions that you have ever had about the subject of hell will be answered.)
As I bring this study to a close, I want to reiterate the biblical fact that paradise is only a synonym for God's dwelling place in heaven. And I hope you now see the danger in holding on to a false interpretation of this doctrine. It's my prayer that the Lord will give us the spirit of the Bereans, who received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily to ascertain whether the doctrines Paul taught them were true (
Exhortation: "20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: 21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself" (
In our next study, we will consider the topic: Who will enter the pearly gates of heaven? The Bible study reference for this study is
Stay blessed and keep shining for King Jesus.
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