Several weeks ago the Monday morning men's Bible Study opened with:
Where do we go when we die?
The answers were varied and skewed. Some even claimed we go to paradise; yes, the same place that we find beggar Lazarus after he died and he was comforted in Abraham's bosom. The presumption is that we merely wait for Jesus to call us up into heaven at some later point.
Someone decided that they had to make a distinction and apply this bizarre conversation to primarily the righteous dead. Well, that should make some form of sense seeing as we assign varying levels of righteousness to ourselves. Those who have been “in the way” understandably should have a more righteous status. This, of course, is nonsense as there is none righteous. We find this in:
Romans 3:9-12 MKJV What then? Do we excel? No, in no way; for we have before charged both Jews and Greeks all with being under sin, (10) as it is written: "There is none righteous, no not one; (11) there is none that understands, there is none that seeks after God." (12) "They are all gone out of the way, they have together become unprofitable, there is none that does good, no, not one."
The short explanation for this verse, we are all on the same playing field as far as God is concerned. Yes, I know, there are rich people all around us and they think they will have special privileges in the kingdom that is coming, but that is not the case. As a matter of fact, we are told that the first shall be last and the last shall be first. So they are apparently getting theirs while here on earth. Sadly, not even the best of plastic surgeons can stop you from aging, and in some cases, looking horrible. I guess money is not the answer to everything.
Why spend time focused on this, when the question is where do we go when we die?
Because, as I pointed out, someone had to imply that only those better off would be able to take advantage of this paradise concept. Plainly, as we see in scripture, and based upon Jesus parable, where Lazarus the beggar, was comforted and not the rich man. Take the time to look this up in scripture. You will find it in, Luke 16:19-31. You will not find the word paradise here, what you will find are words and phrases like:
- “carried away by the angels to Abraham's bosom.”
angels - aggelos; a prim. word;
“to be (by word or deed,)
- now he is comforted
“parakaléō; To aid, help, comfort, encourage.
“properly , that is, “Hades” or the place (state) of departed souls.”
- tormented in this flame
“through the notion of to the bottom); a , that is, (by analogy) - torment.
- you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things.
agathós; fem. agathḗ, neut. agathón, adj. Good and benevolent, profitable, useful.
Absolutely none of these convey the idea of paradise.
Since the idea of paradise keeps coming up in Men's Bible study, what we can find to validate or disqualify the idea.
The Greek word parádeisos (paradise) only shows up three times in the Bible, and Jesus applied one of those instances by telling the thief on the cross that he would be with Jesus, this day, in paradise. You can find this evidence in Luke 23:39-43.
“And one of the hanged criminals blasphemed Him, saying, If you are Christ, save Yourself and us. But answering, the other rebuked him, saying, Do you not fear God, since you are in the same condemnation. And we indeed justly so, for we receive the due reward of our deeds, but this Man has done nothing amiss. And he said to Jesus, Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom. And Jesus said to him, Truly I say to you, Today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”
The Word Study Dictionary tells us that the word has these origins and understandings: “This is an oriental word which the Greeks borrowed from the Persians, among whom it meant a garden, park, or enclosure full of all the vegetable products of the earth.”
One of the other references is in Revelation.
Revelation 2:7 NASB 'He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.'
The Paradise of God, based upon the OT concept, is the garden of God, an integral aspect of Heaven itself.
You will not find the concept of paradise in the Old Testament, unless, you use a comparison search based on "the garden of the Lord."
Lacking a “paradise” in which we can rest in peace until Christ calls for his church, where do we go?
One of the go-to verses is:
2 Corinthians 5:8 NASB we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.
And yet, Paul's words are not decisive about the persuasion that, once this body dies we are present with the Lord. As you can see the NASB uses the word “prefer.” In comparing translations you get words like: pleased, as the Amplified states. The choices are split between pleased and prefer.
If we apply the mathematical concept of inverse to the statement, “Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (2 Corinthians 5:6 KJV), we should be able to expect that the opposite scenario is logically definitive; and, implies that when, those who are in Christ die (are absent from the body,) then we should be present with the Lord. Paul made it clear that this premise operates by faith and confidence.
Perhaps this entire idea is better defined by the verses I did not include, 2 Corinthians 5:1-4 KJV.
(1) For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
If I lived off of verse one alone I could be content and happy, this is why.
- For we knowHow do you say something like this without something close to concrete evidence? Faith is supposed to be just that. One of our examples of great faith is Abraham; whom we find in the annals of faith history (the book of Hebrews chapter 11) among others who were strong in faith. And yet, Abraham is also one of our greatest examples of a man that struggled. Regardless of his struggles, did God come through? Yes, and he always has.Paul would have known of Job's struggles, boils and all. We find this in:
Job 19:25-26 NASB "As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, And at the last He will take His stand on the earth. (26) "Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet from my flesh I shall see God;But I have to ask the same questions of Job. How did he know and have this confidence? It does not speak of transitions or times frames; and, both of these men lived in a sense of the present.
- that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved,This earthly house is, for all practical purposes, our bodies. Terminated by whatever means, whether through death and deterioration, or worse.
- we have a building of GodBuilding, is a compound word that effectively means architecture, that is, (concretely) a structure.I can take this one of two ways: 1.) We are talking about our bodies; or, 2.) We are looking forward to a home in heaven. Do they both work? Certainly, but the words, we have a building of God, are present tense and not some future hope. This body became the temple, the building of God the day you asked Him to come into it.
There is no transition involved in what Paul is describing.
Let's keep tearing it apart for a few minutes.
2 Corinthians 5:2-3 NASB (2) For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, (3) inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked.
- (2) For indeed in this house, we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven,Again, I am challenged as I ask, am I clothed with Christ, and therefore a temple of the Holy Ghost, or not? If I am then there must be more, isn't there?
1 Corinthians 3:16 NASB (16) Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
Luke 24:49 NASB "And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high."“Clothed with power from on high.” The entire purpose for them waiting in the upper room was to be endued with power. Power was an aspect of the Holy Ghost. The correlation is well demonstrated with the infilling of the Holy Ghost.
If there is more, such as a dwelling from heaven, then what is that? Since we understand that we are to be clothed, then it must be something, perhaps symbolic, or spiritual. Regardless, there is more.
2 Corinthians 5:3 NASB inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked.
Once again, what did we, as followers of Christ and those that long for all that there is in Him, put on? The Holy Spirit, the power of God. This gives us one other promise. One that we debate consistently, our consistent, unchanging life, in Christ. Verse 3 says, having put it on, (we), will not be found naked. This is an unalterable promise. One of the other ways this is described is eternal security. Sadly, to most, this is unbelievable and just wrong.
2 Corinthians 5:4 NASB For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life.
- “while we are in this tent,”
Alive, and existing in these bodies.
- “we groan, being burdened,”
This is also found in Paul's letter to the church in Rome. Where Paul tells us that all of creation groans along with us.
Romans 8:22-23 NASB For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. (23) And not only this but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.
- “because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed,”
Unclothed? To go or come out of, what? Our skin, the thing we groan about; or, to be separated from the Holy Ghost? The only logical assumption then, would be relieved from the Holy Spirit. However, that is, according to what we see in 2Corinthians 5, impossible.
- “ so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life.”
So, currently stuck in this broken body, we await for the entire thing to be swallowed up by life. What does that mean? When we transition into the heavenlies we will not take this broken body and its desires, with us. We are told that in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, we will be changed.
1 Corinthians 15:50-53 NASB (50) Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. (51) Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, (52) in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. (53) For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.
(The damage done to us through Adam's fall, seems to be genetic. Consider this; if, every human, born from Adam, carries a damaged DNA marker, then every man throughout eternity carries that same damaged DNA string. Anyone looking at DNA would then say that this damaged example, is the basis for what we deem normal.)