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Paradise . . . is there really a Paradise out there somewhere? Note,
- “Then he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.'” (Luke 23:42-43 – NKJV)
As we should know so well, the one “criminal” (23:32) that was being crucified next to “Jesus” made no confession regarding who “Jesus” was, while on the other hand, the other “criminal” addressed “Jesus” as “Lord” and spoke of His innocence. After doing so “he” made a request of “Jesus” asking that “Jesus” would “remember” him “when” He came “into (His) kingdom.” Jesus heard the man and from the cross assured him that that very day he would be with Him “in Paradise.”
Paradise! There is, brethren, a “Paradise.” When we were in Panama ministering to the U. S. military personnel there was a common saying among the soldiers, sailors, air force, and marines, one that made reference to their assignment in the hot and humid climate of the area: “Ahhhhh . . . another day in paradise.” It was of course meant to be a sarcastic quip, especially to those soldiers and marines that had to do a lot of their training in the jungle areas surrounding Panama City. This paradise they spoke of was not in actuality, paradise.
It is for certain that the “Paradise” Jesus talked about is not to be found in Panama, or for that matter, any place on this earth. The “Paradise” in our text was that third heaven spoken of in the Bible, the place that is the abode of God. It is the place where Jesus is, it is, as the word describes it, “Paradise.”
The Greek word used in our text is found but three times in the New Testament, here and in Second Corinthians 12:4 and Revelation 2:7. It is a word describing “where the spirits of the just dwell with God” (Zodhiates). It is a word of “oriental origin that the Greeks borrowed from the Persians” (Zodhiates) referring to a “garden-like area filled with every beautiful and good thing the earth could produce” (Socrates). From the apostle Paul’s writing in chapter 12 of Second Corinthians we see that it is also called “the third heaven,” a place from which Paul “heard inexpressible words,” such “words which it is not lawful for a man to utter.” (Note: The Scriptures teach of three heavens: (1) “The lower heaven, or hemisphere” (2) “The middle heaven, or firmament” (3) “The highest heaven . . . the heaven where God abides;” Paradise.)
Currently there is a movie out titled, “Heaven Is For Real.” Having read quite a bit on this so-called experience of one young child and comparing it to what is in Scripture, I have pretty well dismissed it’s content. I am always skeptical of anything that Hollywood produces that has anything to do with the Bible, and I do not in any way seek to get my doctrinal messages from them. But I will say this, it is a good conversation-starter and can be used by the wise witness to get to the matter of the real Heaven and how one can get there, into the very real presence of God.
But, if I may reference the title of this current movie, it is a fact . . . Heaven is for real! And “the third heaven,” it is very real, and it is as the Scripture teaches, the abode of God; there is a “Paradise” and it is very real indeed!
This “Paradise” awaits every believer in Christ. Oh what a hope that “criminal” had that day as he hung from his cross and heard Jesus assure him that, “today you will be with Me in Paradise.” I am of the mind that because of who Jesus is and because of what He has done I too have the assurance that in passing from this life I will one day be with Him in “Paradise.”
Have a great day brethren . . . and as you walk do so with the assurance that one day you will be with the Father, with Christ, in a wondrous place that far surpasses anything we can imagine (read II Corinthians 12:1-4) . . . . . . Paradise!
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