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Heaven on Earth?

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MP4 Video - 720p (459.66 MB)
MP3 Audio (7.54 MB)

The Bible doesn't teach that you go to heaven promptly at death. But what it does explain is marvelous! Learn the amazing truth.


[Gary] Have you ever wondered what it's like in heaven?

People ask questions about heaven all the time. Will I know my loved ones when I get there? Will my dog go to heaven? Why can't my relatives who are in heaven communicate with me?

If you ask a child where heaven is, well, she'll probably tell you, "Well, that's where God lives."

And, most people assume that according to the Bible, when you die your immortal soul goes to heaven. You know, that's not what the Bible says? Now listen to this, Jesus said, "No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven..." (John 3:13 John 3:13And no man has ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
American King James Version×

So what is God's plan for you after you die? Did you know that the biblical book of Revelation says that heaven is coming to earth? You heard me correctly! Heaven is coming to earth.

So what exactly do I mean—"Heaven on Earth?" Stay tuned for the answer.

[Announcer] Join our host Gary Petty, and his guests, as they help you understand your future on Beyond Today!

[Gary] Most likely, you've been taught all your life that when you die, you go directly to heaven.

So what is it like to go to heaven?

Well I suppose one of the first things you would expect to find in heaven are all the great men and women of the Bible, like Abraham—the father of the faithful—or Moses, or John the Baptist, or Mary the mother of Jesus.

But the most astounding statement made about heaven by Jesus Himself is recorded in the Gospel of John. Jesus said—listen to this, "No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man" (John 3:13 John 3:13And no man has ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
American King James Version×

Jesus claimed that He's the only One who has ascended into heaven—the only One.

If Jesus is the only One to go to heaven well, what happened to all the great men and women of faith throughout history? When they died where did they go?

It's interesting that on the night that He was betrayed Jesus told His disciples, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you [also] may be where I am" (John 14:1-3 John 14:1-3 [1] Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me. [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. [3] And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
American King James Version×

Listen carefully to what Jesus said. He said, "I will come back…" He then said that His disciples, well they'll be with Him. Jesus was about to die, and after three days and three nights in the grave He returned to heaven where He came from. He had told His disciples that He would come back. Now, come back to where? Well obviously come back to earth and that they would be with Him.

Over and over again Jesus told His followers that He would resurrect them from the grave and He clearly told them when they would be resurrected.

Look at this passage: "For I have come down from heaven,"—Jesus said He came from heaven—"not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. [And] This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, [but] should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life…" And then He says, "and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:38-40 John 6:38-40 [38] For I came down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him that sent me. [39] And this is the Father's will which has sent me, that of all which he has given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. [40] And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which sees the Son, and believes on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
American King James Version×

Now what does Jesus mean when He says that He will raise someone up at the last day?

You know, the resurrection of Jesus as the Son of God is absolutely essential to the Christian faith. In fact, there is no Christian religion without the belief that Jesus rose from the grave, was seen by His disciples, and ascended back to heaven to the throne of God. In fact, the Scriptures demand that Christians accept that Jesus Christ died, experienced a bodily resurrection after three days and three nights.

Jesus Christ promises to return to this earth for His disciples both living and dead. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the foundation of God's promise to resurrect His followers from the dead. This resurrection of God's followers occurs during the "last days" when Jesus said, when Christ returns to the earth to establish God's Kingdom over all of humanity.

You know this resurrection isn't a theory of some ethereal, nebulous existence as a disembodied spirit, but the promise of a bodily resurrection to a life of eternal energy, and eternal creativity, and eternal goodness as the children of God. This resurrection takes place when Christ returns to establish His Father's Kingdom here on earth. The Christian future is more spectacular than the view of heaven as a place of eternal repose without meaning or personal purpose.

Now, the heaven that we're talking about here is what the Bible calls the third heaven. Now I know you are saying, now what does he mean by the third heaven?

Now if you take a little time to look at Bible passages concerning "heaven" some passages are actually plural, and if you read them it will say "heavens." That's because in the Bible heaven can refer to a number of different places.

In Scripture, heaven can refer to earth's atmosphere where we see the "birds of heaven" or where the "windows of heaven" open to bring rain.

It can also refer to what we call outer space, that's the realm of the moon, the planets, the galaxies—the physical universe.

It's this third reference that we find, so it is interesting. A third reference to heaven as the throne of God. The apostle Paul wrote about a vision of paradise which he calls the "third heaven" (2 Corinthians 12:2-4 2 Corinthians 12:2-4 [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 knows;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. [3] And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knows;) [4] How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.
American King James Version×
). Now this "third heaven" is a reference to the incredible realm where God exists in all of His majesty and power. And this is where most Christians say and believe that they go immediately after they die.

But remember what Jesus said. He said that no one has ascended into heaven (John 3:13 John 3:13And no man has ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
American King James Version×
) , except who? Himself! Now we're going to have to take a look at what He meant by that.

But first, let's try to get a little bit of an idea of what the "third heaven" is like. The apostle John wrote in the book of Revelation about a vision he received.

He says: "Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne "(Revelation 4:2-3 Revelation 4:2-3 [2] And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. [3] And he that sat was to look on like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like to an emerald.
American King James Version×
). This is that third heaven that Paul also saw a vision about. It's the place where God lives in His majesty and realm, this spirit-realm.

John says, "And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance…"

What's that mean? Well you think about these precious stones when light hits them and a light shines off in different facets. He is looking at a shining Being that he can only describe as light coming off of Him the way that light comes off the facets of precious stones.

He goes on and he says, "and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads." These are 24 angelic beings.

"And from the throne proceeded…" And now he is trying to explain. John is trying to explain what he is witnessing with physical terms. He says he saw, "lightnings, thunderings, and voices….Before the throne [there] was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around [His] throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back" (Revelation 4:1-6 Revelation 4:1-6 [1] After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up here, and I will show you things which must be hereafter. [2] And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. [3] And he that sat was to look on like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like to an emerald. [4] And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and on the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. [5] And out of the throne proceeded lightning and thunder and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. [6] And before the throne there was a sea of glass like to crystal: and in the middle of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.
American King James Version×

Wow! The third heaven. Paradise. The throne of God. A spirit dimension so magnificent, so majestic, that it is beyond human comprehension. I can't imagine what John actually saw.

So what does it mean that God is bringing this third heaven to earth? Well before I explain let me tell you about this important free study guide that we're offering here on today's program.

This really is important! You need to know the truth about heaven coming to earth, so that you can understand the future God has planned for you.

Contact us today and order our free offer, Heaven and Hell: What Does the Bible Really Teach? And this gives an in-depth analysis on today's subject.

This study aid will take you through what the Old and New Testaments teach about heaven and hell and explain why it is important for you to understand. To request your free study aid call us toll free: 1-888-886-8632. That's 1-888-886-8632. Or go online to BeyondToday.tv to read or download, Heaven and Hell: What Does the Bible Really Teach? And if you live outside of North America, be sure to write to us at the address shown on the screen throughout the program [Beyond Today, PO Box 541027, Cincinnati, OH 45254].

Heaven on earth? That is exactly what the Bible teaches.

Today we're exploring the biblical vision of the future God wants to give to you. It is a future filled with glory and purpose—meaning and happiness—and it involves heaven coming to earth.

God's plan to bring His throne—the "third heaven"—to earth is in two stages. These stages are revealed in the last chapters of the book of Revelation.

Revelation 19 describes Christ's second coming when He returns, not in the weakness of a human baby, but in power and glory.

Listen to this. John says, "Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war." This is Jesus Christ and He is not coming back in a weak human form. He is coming back in all the glory of being the Son of God. The glory of God. And He is coming to bring God's Kingdom to this earth. And it is one of the great ironies that the Prince of Peace in order to bring happiness and peace has to fight the very beings, His children, are going to fight against Him because they don't want His way.

John says, "His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns." This is the description of the way Jesus Christ is right now.

"He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. [And] He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. [And] out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and [the] wrath of Almighty God" (Revelation 19:11-15 Revelation 19:11-15 [11] And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he does judge and make war. [12] His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. [13] And he was clothed with a clothing dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. [14] And the armies which were in heaven followed him on white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. [15] And out of his mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treads the wine press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
American King James Version×

Jesus Christ is coming back to a rebellious humanity. But He is coming back to save humanity. And it is at this time when Jesus fulfills His promise to His followers that they will be "raised up" or resurrected.

It is shocking to most people to find out that a person doesn't immediately go to heaven when he or she dies. Both Jesus and the apostle Paul call death "sleep" (John 11:11 John 11:11These things said he: and after that he said to them, Our friend Lazarus sleeps; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.
American King James Version×
; 1 Thessalonians 4:14 1 Thessalonians 4:14For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
American King James Version×
). Those who die are unconscious They're unaware of the passing of time. When a Christian dies his or her next conscious moment is the return of Jesus Christ and the resurrection.

Remember, Jesus said that He would go away, and return, and that His disciples would be with Him.

So Jesus returns. When Jesus returns, where will He be?

Revelation 20 explains how Christ will set up His Kingdom on earth for 1,000 years. Now what will Jesus' followers be doing on earth for 1,000 years that they'll be with Him? I mean, playing harps? Staring into the face of God?

How about sitting on thrones? John wrote about those who are resurrected at Christ's return and He says: "And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years" (Revelation 20:4 Revelation 20:4And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark on their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
American King James Version×

To be a Christian today is to be with Christ in the future on earth serving Him in saving humanity. Incredible, isn't it? Christ will establish a new one world government and one world religion worshipping the One true God. That may not be a popular idea but that's what the Scripture says He is going to do. And He is going to change everything. He is going to heal the environment, erase poverty, create a new educational system, institute an economy that is fair for everyone, and offer salvation to a broken and decimated humanity.

God is calling those who want to participate in this future! To receive that future you must accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, but more than that; also as your Lord and Master and as your coming King. And that must happen in your life now. And you must be daily living by the values and teachings of His Kingdom.

You know, you've heard this message. What will keep you from this future? Your desire for money and status, your girlfriend, your anxieties? How about your unwillingness to repent and give your life totally to your Creator?

I said at the beginning that heaven is coming to earth. Christ is going to rule on earth for 1,000 years, we've seen that. But that doesn't mean that the "third heaven" is on earth yet. So when does third heaven—the throne of God—come to earth?

Well let's look at the end of the Book. The end of the book of Revelation. John was given this remarkable vision of the time after the thousand-year reign of Jesus Christ.

He said: "Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband." This is the throne of God. This is the third heaven. This is what John saw a vision of at the first part of the book of Revelation.

John says, "And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, 'Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men…'" God is living with His children!

"…and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away" (Revelation 21:1-4 Revelation 21:1-4 [1] And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. [2] And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. [3] And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. [4] And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
American King James Version×

Heaven is coming to earth. A new heaven and a new earth. And this happens after the thousand-year reign of Jesus Christ on the earth and the time of judgment of all mankind—now this is according to Revelation 20. Read Revelation 19, 20 and 21 and you'll see this.

At the end of Beyond Today we invite you to join us in praying, "Thy Kingdom come." But, for us that isn't just a nice phrase to close out the program. Jesus included those words in the model prayer, very deliberately. Maybe you have often prayed this prayer yourself.

If you want this future that we've been talking about, that God is offering to you—the Kingdom of God—then there are three things that you have to begin to do right now. And this is just the beginning, but this is where you start.

1. First, you must accept Jesus Christ as your Savior. You must accept that you have been living a life filled with ideas, actions and religious beliefs that are opposed to God's future. You have to accept the death of Jesus Christ as the substitute for what you deserve, what I deserve, before the holy law of God—which is the law of His Kingdom.

2. Secondly, you must accept Jesus Christ as the Lord and Master of your life right now. There are lots of people who claim that they have accepted Jesus as Savior but they still live by the values of Satan's kingdom. We are called to live by the values and laws of the Kingdom of God. This means that this Bible, this Bible must become the foundation of your decisions, of your behavior every day. Christianity isn't just about accepting Jesus as Savior. You must also live by His teachings.

3. And three, you must accept Jesus Christ as your coming King. And this has to be more important than all your political ideas, all the ideas of whatever nation you live in. You know, people ask me what is my political affiliation. You know the answer I give them? I tell them I am a monarchist. People are taken aback by that, well what do they mean? Well the truth is that all human political parties and governments will someday collapse, they will fail and they will submit to Christ as King. We have to live our lives as monarchists looking for that return. Looking for and living for our King.

Our lives are to be lived everyday in anticipation and preparation for the coming of our King.

Eternity in the family of God. An entire universe God wants to give to His children. God's future that He wants for you and for me, is greater than anything we can imagine. It is a future when heaven comes to earth.

Our free Bible study aid, Heaven and Hell: What Does the Bible Really Teach? is available as an in-depth study into the details of Jesus' teaching. When you order this important publication, we'll also send you a free subscription to our bi-monthly magazine, The Good News.

The Good News is filled with valuable articles on subjects that will open your eyes to the stunning truths of the Bible. The Good News will also assist you in discovering more about Jesus Christ and how you can build a deeper relationship with Him.

To order The Good News and our study aid, Heaven and Hell: What Does the Bible Really Teach? call: 1-888-886-8632. That's 1-888-886-8632. Or, write to us at the address shown on your screen. Of course, you can read both publications online at BeyondToday.tv.

And, when you visit BeyondToday.tv, we invite you to join us throughout the week for our BT Daily online videos. These short videos cover many biblical topics in addition to breaking news and prophecy—all in the light, of course, of Scripture. I hope you will join us at BeyondToday.tv.

We're joined by Darris McNeely and Steve Myers to discuss further the topic we've been talking about here today, heaven on earth.

And of course, anybody who really studies the Bible, the first thing they are going to bring up about this subject is: yes, but Jesus as on the cross. He turned to the thief that was besides Him and said today you will be with Me in paradise (Luke 23:43 Luke 23:43And Jesus said to him, Truly I say to you, To day shall you be with me in paradise.
American King James Version×
). How do we explain that?

[Darris] Often a scripture used to explain that people are going to heaven. It is very simple. Number one and the most basic approach to that verse is, that what Jesus was saying was I say to you today, …It is a matter of punctuation. And that's really all that He was doing. I say to you today, you will be with Me in paradise.

But beyond that, what Christ was saying was a message of hope to this thief. There were two thieves there—both helpless and hopeless, condemned as criminals. And He was giving them encouragement that paradise would be something they would see. The same paradise that you've mentioned in your other scriptures here today. And He was giving, on the last minutes of these men's lives, them some hope that they could die remembering and thinking. And that paradise, as you explain, is yet to come. But it was a hope for those two men and nothing more.

[Gary] And it is a hope for us now, too.

[Steve] Oh absolutely. Sometimes it's confusing because we think well, maybe they did go to heaven. But it is obvious that they didn't do that because Christ Himself wasn't in heaven that very day. So that didn't happen. It wasn't possible. Christ was in the grave for three days and three nights. We know that to be the fact.

The interesting thing as well then is this idea of paradise. If you look at Revelation, it talks about the paradise being in the presence of God, with God and he talks about the garden in Revelation. Well that is a literal place and Christ is coming to this earth where God's presence will be with us. Christ will be right here. And so it's pointing to that literal place at the return of Christ.

[Gary] Of course, I immediately think of the statement Jesus made after He was resurrected, don't cling to Me because I have not yet ascended. So, how could the thief be with Him in heaven…

[Darris] Right.

[Gary] …when He admits I haven't been to heaven?

[Darris] Yes, Christ was in the grave three days and three nights and then He was resurrected. And the Gospel accounts clearly show then that He did ascend to the Father, was accepted, but that negates again the idea of this statement.

[Gary] You know, we've been talking about this as a vision of the future, Christ's return to set up God's Kingdom on this earth. And then, God's throne actually coming to earth. That vision is important. How can we keep that vision in our minds? How can we keep that so that that guides everything we do every day?

[Darris] Well I think it's realizing that that is defining what is the purpose for our life. That this life that we have today, is a preparation for that world to come, that age to come. Many other scriptures you didn't have time to get to today talk about, the tasting the powers of the age to come, and the Kingdom of God on this earth, and paradise on this earth. And when you understand that then you realize that God's purpose in calling us and bringing us to salvation is a preparing stage for a greater effort work that He will do through those that are a part of that Kingdom. And it really then does help us understand what we have to do today and to have a focus, a purpose, and a mission in our lives.

[Steve] It seems that it gives us an anchor. You look at, look at the news. You look at what is going on in our world today, it is a mess. Where is there really hope? Read your Bible. Look at what God is planning to do. Mankind has tried every single way possible it seems and cannot come up with a solution on how to live. Well Christ is coming back. He is going to have a real life-giving way that will bring true peace and true happiness. It will be a wonderful, wonderful world. And so Christ is coming here, we can anchor our life in the fact that He will return and so we should start living that way right now.

[Gary] You know I had mentioned earlier about anticipation and preparation. I know there are times in my life when I get down and I think well, living God's way is hard and you see the world. But then I anticipate Christ coming back and the chance to help Him save the world. To make sure that no baby ever starves again. That no one dies in war again. To change the world. How has this knowledge affect you emotionally in your life?

[Darris] It has helped me be a better person today realizing that that is the purpose for my life. It has helped me to take the teachings of the Kingdom of God, the principles, the values that the Gospels have especially outlined, and live them today in my life. I can't change that world today, but I can change my world and change my life. I can impact people that I come in contact with and I can make a difference in my sphere of influence. I am not going to change the world. God is going to do that when He returns. But, I can live by the teachings of the Kingdom of God today and that does make a difference. And that's what keeps me going.

[Steve] It's hard to have peace of mind today. But when you understand what God's plan is, boy it can bring a whole settled view of what life is all about. That this isn't what it's all about but Christ is coming, and boy that will settle the matter. And we can look forward to that very fact that Christ will establish His Kingdom and we can be a part of that.

[Gary] And He's changing the world one person at a time. So let it begin with us. Let it begin with you.

There are many facets to the concept of heaven. It doesn't have to be confusing. That's why you should order your free copy of Heaven and Hell: What Does the Bible Really Teach? and your free subscription to The Good News magazine. Please call right now, toll free: 1-888-886-8632. That's 1-888-886-8632. Or, you can read both online at BeyondToday.tv.

And, the United Church of God has hundreds of Saturday, Sabbath-keeping congregations across the United States and around the world, with caring pastors who can help you grow in faith as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Go to BeyondToday.tv —click on the "Contact" tab to find a congregation near you. And call one of our pastors and share your story with them. Find out more about how the commonly held belief in going directly to heaven when you die is not based on the Bible.

God has a future He wants to give you. It may be a bit shocking to find out that the Bible doesn't teach that we go to heaven immediately upon death. But what it does teach is astounding!

Heaven on earth? Yes! God is going to create a new heaven and a new earth and bring His throne to earth. He created humanity, you and me, to be His children in His family forever.

Join us next week on Beyond Today as we continue to discover the gospel of the Kingdom. We also invite you to join us even stronger in praying, "Thy Kingdom come." For Beyond Today I'm Gary Petty. Thanks for watching.

[Announcer] For the free literature offered on today's program, go online to BeyondToday.tv. Please join us again next week on Beyond Today!


  • Reverend Jim
    The word TODAY isn't found in the NT and better translated and always referred to 'this day' or "that day" and is the antecedent to the phrase "you will be with me in paradise. Not ONCE is the word used in the context you claim in the entire bible as far as I know. Learn something from W.E Vine. "The clause containing semeron is sometimes introduced by the conjunction hoti, "that," e.g., Mar 14:30; Luk 4:21; 19:9; sometimes without the conjunction, e.g., Luk 22:34; 23:43, where "today" is to be attached to the next statement, "shalt thou be with Me;" there are no grammatical reasons for the insistence that the connection must be with the statement "Verily I say unto thee," nor is such an idea necessitated by examples from either the Sept. or the NT; the connection given in the AV and RV is right. " It strikes me odd that a man dying on a cross would have to remind another man dying on a cross that what he's telling him he's telling him TODAY! Jesus never used that type of terminology and I don't believe it's found anywhere in the NT. We go to paradise to await the resurrection. We cannot enter heaven until after we pass through judgment and are given our "heavenly body".
  • Steven Britt
    Regarding Vine's analysis, the claim we make is not that it is a grammatical necessity for "today" to go with "verily I say unto thee," but rather that this understanding is better on two counts: (1) it fits a common idiomatic construct (that existed anciently and persists in modern times) and (2) clarifies the meaning in light of the rest of scripture. Jesus was dead for 3 days and 3 nights - not in hell, not in heaven, not in some other third place called "paradise" (which, by the way, is never spelled out in scripture as distinct from heaven - to make this assumption is an unjustified logical leap that is made specifically in order to salvage a position that is not tenable in light of the plain meaning of scripture.) Moreover, the view of entering heaven after judgment is not the vision presented in Revelation 21, in which the New Jerusalem comes down from heaven when heaven and earth are made new, which is also the distinct point in time when God wipes away every tear. The saints receive their heavenly bodies at Jesus' return and dwell in their heavenly bodies on the earth according to Revelation 20:6 (timing verified by comparing with 1 Corinthians 15:35,50-52).
  • Skip Miller
    James, James, You are worried and troubled about many things but.... I actually like your "Go to the Greek" argument. And your rational statement that men on crosses (or upright stakes: stauros) are thinking about stuff other than 'time' (except that they wish that their 'time' of agony would be over!) When we read what is written, the THOUGHT 'today' is included NOT necessarily the WORD! Jesus was telling the other man, "You will be with me in Paradise." There was just really no time then for a theological discussion. Sir, we do not go to heaven when we die (or the "hell" depicted in art.) When we die, we await a resurrection. Jesus was in the grave for 3 days, dead. (His Spirit -- not soul -- returned to God who gave it,) When His Father resurrected Him, He completed, for 40 more days, His mission on earth and then returned to heaven (where He lived before His human birth.) When He returns to earth, descending onto the Mount of Olives, all those who have died in Christ (with God's Holy Spirit) will be resurrected. Jesus promised that 'thief on the cross' he would be with Him. I believe Jesus.
  • Ivan Veller
    Hi Mr. Martel, (1) The statement "I tell you today" was a "common phrase of Jesus' day": https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/bible-questions-and-answers/did-the-thief-on-the-cross-go-to-heaven (2) "Some theologians and religious denominations try to redefine Christ’s use of paradise to say that this referred to where the righteous dead went before Jesus came—a sort of temporary “holding place” next to hell because heaven wasn't available to them until Christ ascended to heaven after His death ... This concept, however, is straight out of pagan Greek mythology about life after death (the Elysian Fields as the section of the Greek underworld for good people) and not something taught in the Bible. The idea that the righteous dead of Old Testament times went to a place called 'paradise' and later ascended to heaven after Jesus was resurrected is disproved by the apostle Peter’s plain statements in Acts 2:29 and 34—almost two months after Christ’s death and resurrection—that King David 'is both dead and buried' and 'David did not ascend into the heavens'": https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/bible-questions-and-answers/i-am-not-clear-about-luke-23-43-where-jesus-told-one
  • paul
    1-at the moment nobody is in heaven? what about the guy beside jesus during crucifixion.."and jesus said..from this time..you will be with me in paradise (heaven)" 2- when jesus ascend to heaven He is body and soul right?. upto what elevation did he disappear..ionesphere? stratosphere? outer space?...so He ascended to heaven physically and therefore reached a physical heaven too..?
  • Reverend Jim
    It's possible that when Jesus died he went to paradise to "lead the captivity captive." When he resurrected and ascended he emptied paradise and the souls there were also ascended. Mathew 27:50-52 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, Ephesians 4:8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. It seems to me that paradise was emptied when Jesus ascended. The graves did not have to be opened. They were a physical sign of Jesus promise of resurrection. Altars can be figurative of paradise in the OT. Rev 6:9-10 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? That also proves the intermediate state is one of consciousness.
  • david from tx
    In Luke 23:43 Jesus states, "Assuredly, I say to you today, you will be with Me in Paradise." Notice I moved the comma from after "you" to after "today". In the original Greek, there was no punctuation; it was added by the translators. "Assuredly, I say to you today," was a common phrase during that day. Furthermore, in John 20:17, Jesus states, "Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father". Clearly Jesus did not ascend to Heaven on the same day He was crucified. This was a statement that he would see Jesus in the Kingdom of God and have an opportunity to be a part of that Kingdom.
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