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CHAPTER SEVEN

CREATION OF PARADISE

In Luke 23:43 Jesus has a conversation with one of those crucified with him, he asks: “Jesus,

remember me when you come into your kingdom" and Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you

today you will be with me in paradise.”;

The above statement have been translated in two ways depending on the position of the

coma.

Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you today, you will be with me in paradise”;

Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise”;

For example the two early Syriac versions translate Luke 23:43 differently.

The Curetonian Gospels read "Today I tell you that you will be with me in paradise".

The Sinaitic Palimpsest reads "l tell you, today you will be with me in paradise".

Likewise the two earliest Greek codices with punctuation disagree:

Codex Vaticanus has a pause mark in the original ink after ‘today’,

whereas Codex Alexandrinus has the "today in paradise" reading.

 

 

 

Where did Christ go on that day?

Jesus died on that day on the cross. He was taken down, wrapped in linen and was laid in a burial cave. His body was there in the cave for three days in accordance with the prophecy

"The Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." (Matthew 12:40)

But the body of Jesus was not Jesus. Paul says:

"By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word preached to you, otherwise you

have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance:

1. that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures

2. that he was buried

3. that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures" (1Cor 15:3-4)

It does not say where he was. But one thing is certain; Jesus did not present himself to His

father in heaven as Jesus says to Mary soon after his resurrection.

"Do not touch me because I have not yet gone up to my Father" (John 20:17)

Because this clearly rules out Christ, (and therefore also the thief), being in heaven the abode

of God. This is why we have to look into other dimensions in heaven outside of the Heaven of

Heavens where God dwells to locate Paradise. This is why a third heaven is proposed. Paul

asserts that there is a third heaven and there are many mysteries happening there which we

do not know and which we are not given. Secret things belong to God.

The cross of Jesus Christ brought forth the following gifts:

  • Salvation through faith in Jesus
  • Deliverance to the OT saints who were resting in the righteous part of Sheol, Abraham’s bosom
  • Shifting Abraham’s Bosom to the third heaven along with the OT saints, including the thief on the cross
  • Pour down the Holy Spirit on the Church and the hope of Glory to all who received him.

 

The Old Testament saints talked about Sheol under the earth. But the New Testament saints talked about Paradise in the third heaven.

Before ascending into heaven, Christ descended into the ‘lower parts of the earth’ (Eph 4:9)

Ephesians 4: 8-10 This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people. (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.)

What was in the lower earthly regions?

Sheol with its two compartments which contained those righteous in Abraham‘s bosom and the unrighteous in the Hades and also those spirits who were bound in chains in Tartarus.

 

Peter calls this lowermost region Tartarus (ll Pet 2:4). In addition to holding the then world's entire population apart from Noah and his family, the prison also held the angels who had copulated with women (Gen 6:2, Jude 6) and their demigod offspring the Giants.

 

2 Peter 2:4-9

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell(Tartarus), putting them in chains of darkness to be held forjudgment;  if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people,

but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and

made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued

Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)—

 

If this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day ofjudgment.

The forgiveness of sins through the sacrifice of Christ’s crucified body was preached even to the dead. Despite their former failure to repent, they were granted a second chance, albeit many tens of thousands of years later. Judged in the flesh just as he himself was put to death in the flesh (I Pet 3:18), they were granted an oppodunity to live with him in the spirit

 

I Pet 4: 6 For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.

Christ descended deeper than Hades, so that, ascending far above the heavens, he might fill all things (Eph 4:10).

 

In the Hades and Tartarus some responded to his message, for ‘when he ascended he led captivity captive’;

 

Evidently Jesus took with him those who were captive in the spirit prisons. He liberated many from their prison as first-fruits of his victory over the sin, both of the angelic as well as the human race along with their mixed race.

 

They became ‘the church of the firstborn enrolled in heaven‘

But this is not the final redemption even for those. They are waiting for that final redemption still. Fullness of Man includes the redemption of bodies as well. A union of Soul and Spirit will not make man complete and perfect. Man is Body, Soul and Spirit.

Heb 11:39 — 40 And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.

Heb 12: 22 -24 But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

 

This must have happenned just before his resurrection during the three days he was in the grave. Absent from the earth, Jesus was in Spirit and went to preach the gospel to the Spirit world. We notice that the incarnation of the Son Jesus was not constrained within the material realm of malkuth. Incarnation was for the redemption of the whole creation so that God could proclaim liberty for the whole creation.

 

The festival of first-fruits, which took place on the day after the weekly sabbath following the Passover (Lev 23:9ff), the same day as the resurrection (Matt 28:1), was a celebratory foreshadowing of this harvest (I Cor 15:20). Now the believer goes directly to Paradise which is in the heaven if we define the heaven as where the presence of the Lord is.

 

For the believers today

2 Cor.5:8 "To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” in Spirit.

Heaven is the inheritance of all believers where there is “fullness of joy,” everlasting blessedness. The “place, of our inheritance where Jesus went ahead to “prepare” for us (John 14:2) that we may be with him, where he is.

 

If we ask, where is this Paradise located?, it is a difficult question since it is certainly not in the material world but since the dead are simply Spirit or Souls, these are to be in a different dimension.

“To love somebody else as one loves oneself, which Christ told us to do - that is impossible. We are bound by the force of earthly personality: the ‘me’ stands in the way. Christ, and Christ alone, did it; but he was the eternal ideal, the ideal of the ages, to which one aspires and must aspire, impelled by nature.

 

Nevertheless, since Christ came to earth as the human ideal in the flesh, it has become clear as daylight what the last and highest stage of the evolution of the personality must be. It is this: when our evolving is finished, at the very point where the end is reached, one will find out with all the force of our nature that the highest use one can make of one's personality, of the full flowering of one's self, is to do away with it, to give it wholly to any and everybody, without division or reserve. And that is sovereign happiness. Thus, the law of ‘me' is fused with the

law of humanity; and the ‘l' and ‘all’ (in appearance two opposite extremes), each suppressing itself for the sake of the other, reach the highest peak of their individual development, each one separately. This is exactly the paradise that Christ offers. The whole history of humanity, and of each individual man and woman, is simply an evolution towards and an aspiration to, struggle for, and achievement of, this end.“ Dostoevsky Quoted by Yves Congar, The Wide

World My Parish (London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1961) 60-61.

In the 2nd century AD, lrenaeus distinguished paradise from heaven. In Against Heresies, he wrote that only those deemed worthy would inherit a home in heaven, while others would enjoy paradise, and the rest live in the restored Jerusalem.

 

Origen likewise distinguished paradise from heaven, describing paradise as the earthly "school" for souls of the righteous dead, preparing them for their ascent through the celestial spheres to heaven.

 

 

Luke 16:19-31.

The parable of the rich man and Lazarus refers to two different conditions in the post mortal spirit world: “Abraham’s bosom” and “hell” (see Luke 16:22—23). The former is depicted as a place of comfofi in the company of the faithful (epitomized by father Abraham), the latter as a place of torment. “Abraham’s bosom conjures up an image of one man reclining companionably against another during a feast or banquet (see John 13:23). Bosom also suggests having close fellowship with another (see John 1:18). In paradise, Lazarus was able to have close association with Abraham, the revered father of all Israelites" (Jay A. Parry and Donald W. Parry, Understanding the Parables of Jesus Christ [2006], 156; see also the

commentary for John 13:23). Between this abode of the faithful and “hell” there was “a great gulf fixed” (Luke 16:26), which prevented interchange between the two.

 

 

“Abraham‘s bosom“ refers to paradise, and “hell” refers to the spirit prison. The division  between these two places existed before Jesus Christ visited the spirit world between the time of His death and His Resurrection. Before Christ's death, spirits from paradise could not visit those who were in spirit prison. His ministry in the spirit world bridged the gulf between paradise and the spirit prison, making it possible for the spirits in prison to receive the message of the gospel from authorized ministers sent from paradise (see D&C 138:18—37; John 5:25-29; 1 Peter 3:18—21; 4:6).

 

The Savior's visit to the spirits in prison opened the way for the salvation of the dead, as Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915—85) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained: “Since our Lord has proclaimed ‘liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound’ (Isa. 61 :1), the gospel is preached in all parts of the spirit world, repentance is granted to those who seek it, vicarious ordinances are administered in earthly temples, and there is a

hope of salvation for the spirits of those men who would have received the gospel with all their hearts in this life had the opportunity come to them" (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1965—73], 1:522).

President Joseph F. Smith (1838—1918) clarified that before spirits can be released from spirit prison, they must hear the gospel and accept it and the saving ordinances must be performed for them: “In relation to the deliverance of spirits from their prison house, of course, we believe that can only be done after the gospel has been preached to them in the spirit, and they have accepted the same, and the work necessary to their redemption by the living be done for them"

(Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith [1998], 413-14).John 5:25, 28. The Savior Taught that He Would Preach to the Spirits in Prison

Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained the Savior’s prophecy that He would preach to the dead: “While yet in life, Jesus prophesied that He would also preach to the dead [see John 5:25]. Peter tells us this happened in the interval between the Savior’s Crucifixion and Resurrection [see 1 Peter 3:18—19]. President Joseph F. Smith witnessed in vision that the Savior visited the spirit world and ‘from among the righteous [spirits]  organized his forces and appointed messengers, clothed with power and authority, and commissioned them to go forth and carry the light of the gospel to them that were in darkness‘ [D&C 138:30]“ (“The Redemption of the Dead and the Testimony of Jesus,“ Ensign, Nov. 2000, 9)."

 

 

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