PARADISE On Earth or in Heaven?

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True Bible Teaching - About You and God and Your Hope of Salvation

PARADISE On Earth or in Heaven?

Paradise On Earth or in Heaven?

PARADISE on Earth or in Heaven?Jesus had a few words with the thief who was crucified alongside him, as recorded in Luke 23. It ended with the Lord saying: “... today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43).

The essential issue is: Where will the righteous be rewarded? And, to a lesser extent: When? So it is a limited Scriptural teaching which is being considered in this short article. It is not the aim to discover what makes a person righteous in God’s sight, simply where are they to be rewarded – in heaven, or on earth?

SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES

A valuable method of Bible study on essential matters would seem to be; examine simple, clear, unambiguous passages and use them as a basis. This is what we are now about to do.

Firstly, we are told where the righteous will NOT be rewarded. Look at the following clear statement:

"No one has ascended to heaven but he who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven" (John 3:13).

So, subsequent to the life, death, resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ, the apostle John can record that NO ONE HAS ASCENDED TO HEAVEN. There was, by the time of writing, one exception − the Lord Jesus − and the writer is careful to include that in the record. (He was, of course, writing under inspiration and therefore the words are accurate.) The teaching of that passage is clear.

Other people who had died had not gone to heaven, however good they might have been.

The same teaching is found in the Book of Acts when the apostle Peter says this about David the good king of Israel. He was a man described by God as “a man after My own heart” (Acts 13:22), yet this is what the apostle Peter said:

For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand’” (Acts 2:34).

So, although he was righteous, yet David did not ascend to heaven but was (and remains) in the grave until the resurrection of the dead, as the apostle Paul later affirms (Acts 13:36).

WHAT THEN?

If people who have died are not in heaven, where are they? A clear Bible principle is established in one of the Psalms:

"The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s; but the earth He has given to the children of men" (Psalm 115:16).

This is a wonderful promise; that this beautiful earth, at an appointed time, will be taken from man’s misrule and, under God’s control, will be given to mankind. This is in perfect accord with the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples:

"Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10).

These well-known words of the Lord’s Prayer teach his disciples to pray for the time when God’s kingdom will again be set up on earth. Do you recall these words of Jesus?

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5). (To pursue this further look up the  following passages: Psalm 37:9-11; Proverbs 2:21,22; Proverbs 11:31; Numbers 14:21; Psalm 72:19 and Isaiah 45:18. There are many others.)

GOD'S COMING KINGDOM

The gospel as recorded by Matthew makes constant reference to “the kingdom of heaven”. That is NOT to say that the kingdom is IN heaven. For the other gospel writers speak of “the kingdom of God” and, when you look carefully, they are seen to be one and the same. In other words, THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN = THE KINGDOM OF GOD.

Consider the following two passages, each referring to the beginning of the preaching of Jesus after John Baptist was put into prison:

"From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17).

"Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God" (Mark 1:14).

So, the kingdom for which Jesus taught his disciples to pray (“Thy kingdom come”) will be the kingdom of heaven, that is, the kingdom of God, established on earth.

HEAVENLY REWARD

Jesus once said:

“Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:12).

Since the reward is in heaven there are two possibilities;

➊ The righteous go to heaven to receive it. This is already ruled out by statements such as “no one has ascended to heaven”.

➋ The reward is brought from heaven to earth for the righteous to enjoy on earth, which fits well with “blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth”.

Also, see the following two passages:

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you" (1 Peter 1:3–4).

"…when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away" (1 Peter 5:4).

The reward is to be brought from heaven at the return of Jesus to the earth.

THE THIEF

What then of the incident recorded in Luke?

"One of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed him, saying, “If you are the Christ, save yourself and us.” But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

A"nd Jesus said to him,

“Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:39–43).

First, notice the man’s beliefs. He:

❖ Feared God

❖ Knew he deserved to die

❖ Knew Jesus to be sinless

❖ Was waiting for a kingdom

❖ Recognised Jesus as its King

❖ Believed in resurrection, for although he and Jesus were about to die, yet he says: “remember me when you come into your kingdom”.

PARADISE

What of the Paradise of which Jesus spoke? The word simply means “a garden or enclosed park”. The thief did not ask to go to heaven nor did Jesus reply that he would do so. Indeed heaven is not mentioned in the conversation.

Jesus would not have offered an immediate reward, for it was his consistent teaching that the righteous will: “be repaid at the resurrection of the just” (Luke 14:14).

Because there is no punctuation in the Greek original, it is possible to translate the words of Jesus like this:

“Assuredly I say to you today, you will be with me in Paradise”. This is a common Bible expression to give emphasis to the words that follow; for example:

I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish (Deuteronomy 8:19).

Moses was not saying you will perish today, but was emphasising his words;

“Today I am telling you”. This is a manner of speaking often found in Scripture.

So the teaching of the Bible is clear:  the righteous do not go to heaven, at death nor at any time. The reward – eternal life - promised by God is to be on earth after the resurrection of the dead.

With this as a basis, it is vital to discover what makes a person righteous so that you too can have this great hope of blessing which God offers. As in all such investigations the same basic rule applies, “search the Scriptures”.

Find out for yourself the sort of earthly The Kingdom of God on Earth

 

By David Radford