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So then, how can God circumvent His own Law and bestow eternal life on condemned Man? Actually, He cannot circumvent His law for the same reason He cannot brake His law; BUT, as Jesus pointed out when referring to marriage, death ends all covenants. Once man has died, his covenant with sin has ended. The Law no longer binds him to the covenant, as it is written in Isaiah 28:15&18,

"You have said, We have made a covenant with death,

and with hell are we in agreement…

[but] your covenant with death shall be disannulled

and your agreement with hell shall not stand."

However, there is still the complication of eternal reward/punishment. It is not merely enough that man should die, because death is just the end of SIN. The death of the entire human race as a whole is a curse that cannot be undone due to the inherent sin nature of man passed down from our first parents. Even if a man was perfect all his days and in all his ways, even if he kept every commandment and was totally righteous before God, he must still die because his very flesh – his DNA, if you will - bares contamination FROM BIRTH. It is still in his blood, and should he have children, that same sin nature will pass to them. That is the law, and that is the curse bestowed upon Adam and Eve and all their children without exception. (We will discuss Elijah, who did not die, later in this discussion). Man must also be ACCOUNTABLE for his INDIVIDUAL sin, hence reward and punishment. So not only is man condemned to die a physical death for the sin passed on from Adam and Eve, but he is also condemned to eternal punishment for his own sins.

Since the Bible tells us that all sins are equal before God, and equally condemned with a death sentence, then even if a man only breaks one law - that is, even if he commits only one sin - during his entire life, that one sin automatically condemns him by the Law to eternal separation from God. Committing a single ‘white lie’ and committing mass murder are equal to each other because the same Law which says "thou shalt not bear false witness" also says "thou shalt not kill." Working on Saturday and committing rape are equal to each other because the same Law which says "remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy" also says "thou shalt not commit adultery." If you don’t commit mass murder but tell a white lie, you are still a violator of the Law; and if you work on the Lord’s Day and yet do not rape, you have still violated the Law. You are guilty, as James 2:10 profoundly tells us, as it is written in James 2:10 (yes, in the NEW Testament),

"For whosoever shall keep the whole Law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For He that said ‘Do not commit adultery’ also said ‘Do not kill’.

Now, if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill,

thou art become a transgressor of the Law."

However, just as we issue different degrees of punishments to suit different crimes, so it would appear from the Scriptures that there are different degrees of punishments and rewards in the Final Judgment. We are given several examples of this in Scripture, for example,

Matthew 10:14,

"And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words,

when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.

Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom

and Gomorrah in the Day of Judgment, than for that city."

Matthew 11:11,

"Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there

hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist;

notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he."

Matthew 23:14,

"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees – hypocrites!

For ye devour widow’s houses and for a pretense make long prayer;

therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation."

The Bible is rather silent about what these degrees of reward or punishment entail; but when I was a child my godly mother gave me an example to help me understand. Suppose you are in a room full of millions of people, and Jesus is seated at the head of the room. The room is heaven and the millions of people are the followers of Christ. Would you rather be right up front next to Him, or way in the back by the door? Sure, no matter where you are in the room it is still heaven, but wouldn’t you rather be closer to Jesus than further away? Now of course this was a simple parable for a small child to understand, but nevertheless you can clearly see the point. Now let us continue.

So, the question is, if God’s law condemns all of Mankind to physical death because of his sins, and, if God cannot break or circumvent that law by indefinitely stopping physical death, how then can man escape his punishment of eternal death in the Lake of Fire? By God relinquishing His immortality and standing in man’s place as a man, and then taking all of man’s sin upon Himself and sacrificing Himself to death, thereby ending the covenant of the Law of Sin and Death and making neither Man nor God subject any longer to it; and then, by bringing HIMSELF back to life, with the old covenant now dead because of His death, He can make a whole new covenant with man based on the Law of the Spirit of Life. By believing in this act of God, the curse is deflected from the believing sinner to Jesus on the cross, and the righteousness of Jesus is bestowed on them, and their condemnation to eternal punishment is washed away by the proxy death that God accomplished to appease the old covenant, as it is written in Romans 8:1-2,

"There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus

who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit;

for the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus

hath made me free from the Law of Sin and Death."

 

Man will die physically for the reasons just stated, but by Christ’s death and his subsequent and explicit creation of a whole new covenant, Man can escape eternal death. God has literally cut death off at the pass.

So now, consider for a moment how confusing and contradictory it would be if rewards and punishments were NOW being applied to the dead. What then would be the purpose of a resurrection or judgment at the end of time? Why even have them if each soul has already been sent to its fate? A final judgment would be meaningless. All the pious assurances heard at funerals about loved ones in heaven are simply repetitions of Satan’s first lie to the human family. The portrayal of imaginary, immaterial souls flying away from the body at death is certainly no source of comfort for me. How about you?

Paul described the exact time when the righteous will be with the Lord in 1st Thessalonians 4:13-18, and concluded with the words, "Wherefore comfort one another with these words." Here Paul gives a perfect, inspired picture of true comfort, and we need to understand clearly what Paul was referring to that would bring about such comfort for us. It is THE comfort with which to console ALL believers on the matters of death, therefore it implies that there is no other version of comfort regarding death. The previous few verses before this give us the famous words,

"I would not have you be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep,

that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again,

even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

For this we say unto you by the Word of the Lord,

that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord

shall not prevent [go before] them which are asleep.

For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout,

and with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God:

and the dead in Christ shall rise first,

then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them

in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air:

and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

Wherefore comfort one another with these words."

Paul here describes without limitation the way and means by which all believers will ever be with the Lord. Do not overlook the words and so in his statement. It means "in this way". By those two little words, Paul precludes EVERY OTHER WAY of being with the Lord. When he described the return of the Lord and the Resurrection as being the manner and means of being with the Lord, he automatically excluded ALL OTHER possible means. Then, he admonishes us to comfort each other with these words.

There can be no comfort in the false concept that some invisible, intangible soul leaves the body at death to be punished or rewarded like something out of THE TWILIGHT ZONE or THE X-FILES sci-fi shows. Is it reassuring to you, is it a comfort, to think that your unsaved departed loved ones are at this moment suffering in the flames of unquenchable fire? Is there solace in the picture of saved loved ones looking down from heaven on the heart breaking circumstances of those left behind? No wonder Paul was so specific in describing the return of the Lord and the Resurrection as the ONLY way that ANYONE can be with the Lord.

Yes, there will be an awakening from the sleep of death. The righteous will receive the gift of immortality – promised when we accepted Jesus as Lord, Savior and Messiah – and finally bestowed "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the LAST trump; for the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised incorruptible and we shall be changed; for this corruptible must put on incorruption and this mortal must put on immortality," 1st Corinthians 15:52-53.

Please note that our beings become incorruptible and immortal at the Resurrection, which means that it is not incorruptible and immortal now, neither at our deaths. Remember that Jesus said in John 5:28-29,

"For the hour is coming when all that are in THE GRAVES

shall hear His voice and shall come forth;

they that have done good unto the Resurrection of Life,

and they that have done evil unto the Resurrection of Damnation."

All the dead will rise to face the great decree of the Judgment of God. Whether they died a thousand years or five minutes before the Lord’s return, it will seem to them as though only a moment has passed; just as a sleeping person senses no time while he sleeps a full night’s rest and appears to awake only moments after falling asleep; and just as the prophet Isaiah 26:20 says,

"Come, My people! Enter thou into thy chambers and shut thy doors about thee!

Hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until The Indignation be overpast!

For, behold! the Lord cometh out of His place to punish the

inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity;

the earth also shall disclose her blood and shall no more cover her slain."

I wrote a letter on this subject to a very well known San Antonio Texas minister who is seen worldwide on Christian television. Having always enjoyed his somewhat Southern style of preaching coupled with a solid fundamental foundation, I was quite shocked when I received a reply on his behalf from his Director of Ministry Services, who said,

"We do not believe in a bodily resurrection, but in the resurrection

of an immortal body. Hopefully, most people can see the fact that a

decomposed body cannot resurrect to be united with the soul…

Since the soul is spirit, I would not recognize your soul,

but I would recognize you provided you had a body."

What fresh unintelligible gobble-dee-gook is this?! This poor director speaks without knowledge, for first of all, how can you not believe in a bodily resurrection yet believe in the resurrection of an immortal body? He of course is implying that our present body will not be resurrected. But if an immortal body were in fact immortal, why then would it need to be resurrected? It would not have died in the first place if it were immortal. Only a mortal body can die, therefore it is our mortal body that is resurrected. It is in the act of Resurrection that the mortal body then puts on immortality.

If a decomposed body cannot resurrect, then the Bible is lying when it says that Jesus resurrected Lazarus’ body after being buried for four days and had begun to stink. And if a mangled and mutilated body cannot be resurrected, then Jesus’ body, which Isaiah 52:14 says was mutilated worse than any other man’s body, could not have been resurrected. And if Christ were not resurrected, then Moses, Isaiah, all of the prophets and apostles, and the entire Bible is a lie and we are lost and our faith is in vain.

When we are resurrected, it is in this very body we occupy now. We see this proof by the resurrection of Jesus Himself, when He showed Thomas the nail prints that were still in His hands and the spear wound that was still in His side. It was the same body He died with, only now glorified and made spiritual and immortal. Did we not read earlier what Isaiah 26:19 said…? "The dead shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise". And what Job19:26 said…"And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God". The dear director was so off the mark that he missed the dart board completely!

How this miracle of bodily resurrection can be is a great mystery of God. As a mere man I cannot fully grasp the magnitude of it. But I believe the best we can come to understanding the make-up of this resurrected body is to compare it somewhat to the make-up of angelic bodies. I do not say that it is the same as an angelic body, but possibly merely similar, as a way to express the concept. Angels are most definitely spirits. Yet they dwell in both the spiritual AND physical realm, having the ability to put on either a spiritual or a physical (solid and tangible) body. There are many times in the Scriptures where we see angels physically touching humans – even slapping poor Jacob on the hip so hard that it dislocated it. Another angel had to slap Peter to wake him from his sleep in prison. We also see in Genesis 6:1-4 that angels, though forbidden to do so, have at least the ability to procreate with humans. Jesus Himself reflected this type of body when, after appearing to the disciples and 500 others beside, and after eating real food with them, and allowing them to touch his body, He then ascended up to heaven PHYSICALLY and VANISHED – passing from the physical to the spiritual.

Secondly, no one’s body – mortal or immortal - resurrects to be united with the soul, as he implies. The body is reunited with the SPIRIT, and the two TOGETHER by the express power of God calls the soul back into existence.

Thirdly, the director states that the soul is spirit. Hopefully he is not implying – and I do not believe that he is – that the soul and spirit are the same. Rather, I believe he is saying that the soul is of a spirit nature. To that I disagree. A spirit is a spirit, and that which is not a spirit is not a spirit. Something cannot be a kinda-sorta spirit. It is or it isn’t. What it is, in fact, is INVISIBLE. We have oxygen and other such things which are invisible, but that certainly does not make them spirit. The body is visible, the soul is invisible, and the breath of life is spirit. One is seen, one is not seen, and one is expressed. The body, soul and spirit are each unique and therefore are of a unique consistency. They each have their own make-up or "body", as it is written in 1st Corinthians 15:35,

"But some will say, ‘How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?’ Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened except it die; and that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat or of some other grain – but [the point is that] God giveth it a body as it hath pleased Him, and to every seed his own body. All flesh is not the same flesh, but [rather] there is

one kind of flesh of men

another flesh of beasts,

another of fishes,

and another of birds;

there are also celestial bodies,

and bodies terrestrial;

but the glory of the celestial is one,

and the glory of the terrestrial is another.

There is one glory of the sun,

and another glory of the moon,

and another glory of the stars –

for one star differeth from another star in glory.

So also is the resurrection of the dead:

it is sown in corruption and it is raised in incorruption,

it is sown in dishonor and it is raised in glory,

it is sown in weakness and it is raised in power,

it is sown a natural body and it is raised a spiritual body –

there is a natural body AND there is a spiritual body."

Bear in mind this extremely important fact. When the Resurrection takes place at Christ’s return, this is NOT the end of the world. The Book of Revelation clearly tells us that Christ, upon His return and after our resurrection, will immediately turn His attention to the Antichrist and his kingdom, which, at that moment, will be surrounding Israel in order to pounce on it. We will have risen up into the air to meet the Lord as He returns with all of His angels, and then He will fight against the Antichrist and his armies. There will be such a slaughter that the blood of the wicked "shall reach unto the horse’s bridle". At this time, we are told that Christ will pluck up the Antichrist and the False Prophet and cast them headlong into the Lake of Fire. Proceeding this, Christ will have Lucifer bound and cast into the Bottomless pit for one thousand years, during which time Christ will sit on the throne of David with the Resurrected at His side in Jerusalem, and the people of the earth outside of Jerusalem will bring Him tribute "year by year" throughout the Millennium. During all of this 1000 year time period, the resurrected believers, along with those faithful who were alive and remained and were caught up together with the Resurrected, will reign over THIS earth with Christ from Jerusalem.

We are quite clearly in our resurrected bodies while dwelling on this planet with the other people of the earth. There will be enforced peace on earth during that thousand-year reign, during which time the nations of the earth will have increased in population. When the thousand years are concluded, Lucifer is then released from the Pit, from whence he will immediately gather the nations of man against Christ and His resurrected Faithful in Jerusalem. Once again the enemy will be poised to pounce on Jerusalem and in one swift blow Christ destroys them all and brings the known universe to an end, at which time judgment commences.

So this gives us some perspective as to what our resurrected bodies will be like. Our bodies will be both a physical AND a spiritual one. The director, in his letter, apparently has no concept of this when he finishes with the absurd notion that we may or may not be able to recognize one another depending on what body we have. Neither does he have a concept of what our relational status will be, both with God and with each other. We know from Christ’s words to the Sadduccees that we will NOT have traditional relations, such as marriage and procreation. Matthew 22:29 says,

"Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God:

for in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage,

but are as the angels of God in heaven."

Recognition of one another will be irrelevant because in the Resurrection our various relationships with family and friends drastically alter to a single relationship with the entire Body of Christ which consists of all believers. Grasp this concept: we are going to be ONE BODY together, the Bride of Christ, so that our love for each other, though we were once strangers in the world, will be exceedingly superior to anything we ever felt for any relative or friend or spouse! It is a relationship that goes beyond anything we can comprehend in this world. There will be no "There is my mom" or "There is my wife" or "There are my children". There will be no shyness as among strangers. We will be and act as one unit and one mind, and we will be one with God, just as Jesus prayed at the Passover to the Father about His disciples and all they that would hear His Word at their mouths and be saved, in John 17:20,

"Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also

which shall believe on me through their word,

that they all may be one;

as Thou Father art in Me and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us…

and the glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them,

that they may be one even as We are one:

I in them and Thou in Me,

that they may be made perfect in one."

Some have questioned the way in which Christ can restore the broken, decayed bodies of all the ages passed. Some were blown to bits, others were burned in fires, and some have gone down to the depths of the sea. Will it be any problem for the Supreme, Almighty, All Powerful, Omnipotent Creator of the universe to restore each personality? If God can restore that which was lost in Eden, then He most certainly can re-form that which He created in the first place, you can be sure.

We may not be able to fully understand the process, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t believe it. There are many things, such as television, computers and microwave ovens, that are a complete mystery to the average person who benefits from them – but that doesn’t keep us from believing in them. In fact, Faith is the act of believing something real but which cannot be seen or understood. If mundane things baffle us, how then can we possibly expect to grasp resurrection power? Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:12,

"If I have told you earthly things and ye believe not,

how shall ye believe if I tell you of heavenly thing?"

We can have total faith that God will restore life to all the dead, for "without faith it is impossible to please God," and, "whatsoever is not of faith is sin," Hebrews 11:6 and Romans 14:23.

Before we go on to review the chief objections people have raised against this doctrine on death, let us take a step back and review the 4 Rules that God has set down for reading His Word – which the Church tends to neglect miserably when debating doctrine.

2nd Timothy 2:5, "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, RIGHTLY DIVIDING the Word of Truth."

The Bible – the "Word of Truth" - is a Book to be STUDIED. It is not a Book for the casual reader, as the promoters of the new bible versions would have us to believe. The Bible contains the majesty, the light, and the wisdom of the Almighty God and should be treated as such. Study requires in-depth digging, probing, research and concentration. NOT ONLY is the Bible inspired [that is, dictated word for word] by the Holy Spirit, but its comprehension is REVEALED by Him as well. Let me explain.

As a person grows stronger in their walk with the Lord, the Bible comes alive in stages. Each person is different and progresses as their own pace depending on where they are in their life and in their walk with God, and the Holy Spirit devotes personal time to teach us individually. The Holy Spirit bars comprehension of certain parts of the Scriptures until He, as a Good Teacher, knows you are ready to move on from all that He has so far taught you.

An example of this is grade school. All twelve years of education are packed into the Bible. As you begin reading as a new believer in Christ, you will generally find yourself at 1st grade level. As you mature in the Lord, the Holy Spirit graduates you to the next grade level. You will never comprehend 10th grade knowledge and wisdom in 3rd grade, because, as in any other area of life, experience is a key factor, which involves discipline, trial and error, and that alone takes time (it took the Hebrews 40 years of wandering through the desert before they got it right!). In the beginning of your relationship with God, it is required that you start on milk, and only the Holy Spirit knows when you are ready for meat.

Romans 10:17, "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God."

The more we study God’s Word – with the intent of seeking His kingdom and righteousness (for there are many who study the Bible without any intent of knowing God) – the bolder our faith becomes. Faith is an integral part of the learning process. If you cannot trust God, then you cannot trust His Word or His promises, and you most certainly will not be able to trust in the profound and heavenly things of God that seem to be merely fairy tales to the heathen. Many people have "faith". They believe what their religion tells them. But only faith developed specifically by the study of the Scriptures under the guidance of the Holy Spirit will keep you from the pitfalls of false doctrine.

Isaiah 28:10, "For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little and there a little."

Echoing the first rule’s "rightly dividing the Word of Truth", Isaiah warns us that we can not pick and choose what to believe from the Bible, but rather, the entire Bible must be studied CIRCUMSPECTLY; that is, taking the whole Scriptures to form our doctrines. We must build doctrine in layers. Each bit of doctrine will be supported by the doctrine before it and will support the doctrine ahead of it. "Line upon line," he says.

2 Peter 1:20, "No prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation."

How many times have you tried sharing Scripture with someone and they gave you the tired old line, "Well, that’s just YOUR interpretation"? I have heard this many times. Apparently some people are under the impression that the Bible is subjective, that it can be interpreted individually, so that ten people can read the same passage and come away with ten different interpretations. If those interpretations are harmonious, then it is good because God’s Word is in fact multi-dimensional; but if they contradict, then someone’s interpretation is wrong. Everyone has the right to their own opinion, but no one has the right to their own Truth, because Truth is universal.

Peter, in this verse, tries to explain that, when God revealed His Word to the prophets, they wrote what He said – NOT what they thought He said. They did not write their own private interpretation of what God said. When we study God’s Word and then preach what we have learned, we must be sure that we are not preaching our own private interpretation. What if, for example, the whole Church believes in a specific doctrine, but you have fully explored the Scriptures under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and have discovered that the Church believes a false doctrine? The church may turn on you and say that you are privately interpreting the Scriptures since everyone else disagrees with you. How do we safeguard against this? How do we know whether our understanding of Scripture is correct and someone else’s is wrong, or vice versa? By rightly dividing the Word of Truth. To do so, you must ask these questions about a doctrine:

What does the Church in general believe about it?

Is there substantial biblical proof and confirmation for that doctrine?

Is there any substantial biblical data that can contradict that doctrine?

Are there biblical proofs that the evidence used in support of that doctrine is being taken out of context and used inappropriately?

Take, for example, the Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that blood transfusions are a sin.

What does the Church in general believe about this? The church in general has never objected to blood transfusions and does not see it as sin; then again, the church also tends to act on personal feelings and opinions instead of referencing God’s Word.

So we ask the second question: Is there substantial biblical proof and confirmation that blood transfusions are a sin? The Jehovah’s Witnesses present their proof, that Acts 15:20 specifically commands us to abstain from blood, implying that taking blood into your body from an outside source is therefore forbidden.

In fairness, regardless of what we might think of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, we should give this doctrine due consideration and investigate it with the next question: Is there any substantial biblical data that can contradict that doctrine? Well, we find in several places in the Bible that "The life is in the blood", which would seem to almost be a cryptic message that would support blood transfusions, specifically because transfusions save lives. But that view, though logical, can be debated with other bits of logic, such as the argument that it is BECAUSE "the life is in the blood" that we should NOT do transfusions.

So, we ask the final question: Are there any biblical proofs that their evidence of Act 15:20, which they use in support of the doctrine of banning transfusions, is being taken out of context and used inappropriately? To answer that question we must inspect their proposed evidence; in this case, Acts 15:20.

Here we discover that the Apostles have gathered to discuss which of Old Testament laws the newly converted Gentiles must observe. The most important issue was circumcision, and they threw that one out the window almost immediately because circumcision was the seal of the Old Covenant and now baptism is the seal of the New Covenant. In fact, Paul was so disgusted with circumcision that he refers to those who continue to do it as "The Concision", meaning "The Mutilators."

You are asking yourself what this has to do with blood transfusions. A lot. If you will examine what I just said about circumcision you will note that the Apostles were referencing the law which gave them the blood ordinance of circumcision. They went to the SOURCE of the law of circumcision – the Old Covenant. So like wise, we must go to the source of the law pertaining to blood in order to understand what they were referring to when they said "abstain from blood". When we inspect the Old Covenant we discover that the law only prohibited the eating of blood. Eating blood and receiving a blood transfusion have virtually no relation to each other. Blood that is eaten is dead blood and passes out as waste. Eating blood was something done in the rituals of pagans, representing life stolen from a victim. A blood transfusion on the other hand is living blood transferred from one body to another intravenously, giving life to someone who may have died without it. So then, a circumspect study of the Bible, line upon line and precept upon precept, having rightly divided the Word of Truth, shows that we cannot support the doctrine or the evidence proposed by Jehovah’s Witnesses in regard to their condemnation of blood transfusions. They are therefore wrong.

The information I have provided thus far about death and the soul will seem like Truth to some. But to others it will not seem like Truth because they have fairly applied to my data the question, "Are there biblical proofs that the evidence in support of this doctrine is being taken out of context and used inappropriately?" They have found other verses in the Bible that appear to contradict what I am teaching. So, we will review those verses to see whether or not they actually contradict.

The first objection that we will study is the story of the two men on the cross beside Jesus in Luke 23:29-43. From this story it is claimed that we go directly to heaven (or hell) after death. The incident went like this:

"And one of the malefactors, which was hanged, railed on Jesus, saying,

‘If thou be the Christ, save thyself and us!’

But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying,

‘Dost thou not fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?

And we, indeed, justly! For we receive the due reward of our deeds.

But this man [Jesus] hath done nothing amiss!’

And he said unto Jesus,

‘Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom.’

And Jesus said unto him,

‘Verily I say unto thee, to day shalt thou be with me in Paradise.’"

To the unstudied eye, it would seem as though this verse does indeed contradict the doctrine I have presented in this book. The problem with this is that I have also provided dozens of biblical proofs for the doctrine I am presenting; therefore we should examine this verse to see why it apparently contradicts all of the other biblical evidence.

First, we must understand what has just taken place in this story. One of the criminals mocked and berated Jesus, but the other one defended Christ, saying, "Hey, leave Him alone! We have sinned and are rightly receiving our due punishment. But Jesus is innocent; so, Lord, remember me when you enter into Your kingdom."

What has this man done by saying these words? He has confessed that he is a sinner and worthy of death, and he acknowledged that Jesus is Lord and King – which is exactly what is required to receive salvation! He has now become a believer and a member of the Body of Christ. In response, Jesus then turns to this man, who is the only person to acknowledge Him for who He truly is, and the only one who will receive the promise of eternal life on this hot and terrible Passover day as the mobs and the soldiers mock Him and all of His followers have run away to hide, and He says to this dear man hanging at His side…….well, let’s see exactly what He said.

In the New Testament Textus Receptus Greek, Jesus said,

amen legw soi, shmeron met emu essh en tw paradeisw

(Amen lego soy, saymeron met emoo essay en toe paradeheeso)

This is translated in our Bibles as,

"Verily I say unto thee, to day shalt thou be with me in paradise."

The word "saymeron" means now, to [the] day, henceforth, from this day onward. As an example I will use NOW in two different sentences:

It is 6pm right NOW.

Here is your diploma; NOW you will be able to get a good job.

The Greek word "saymeron" means the same as the "now" in the second sentence. What Jesus said was "Amen I say to you, now / henceforth / to day you will be with me in Paradise! Good show old boy, you made it!" But, besides the Greek grammar, how do we know that I didn’t just make that up to support my view? How do we know that it isn’t merely my subjective interpretation? What biblical proof have I to back this up?

The proof is this. Three days after the events of this story take place, Jesus arose from the dead and told Mary Magdalene, in John 20:17,

"Do not touch Me, for I am not yet ascended to My Father!"

If Jesus told the man that they would be in paradise together the very day they died, then why is He telling Mary that he hasn’t even been to the father yet after three days? Because Jesus did not say that they would go to paradise that very day. The only place they went that day was to their graves. Jesus and the man had died, which means, as I have proven throughout this book, their breath/spirit returned to God who gave it, and their soul ceased to exist.

But there are still objections. One objection is that I am presuming that the Father is in Paradise. But what if paradise is somewhere else. What if Jesus and the man went there when they died? How can I insist that their soul ceased to exist when I haven’t explored this possibility? I will explore it with you now and guarantee you that the Father is indeed in Paradise.

As the real image of what the Garden of Eden only mirrored, Revelation 2:7 says that the Tree of Life is located in Paradise. Revelation 22:2 says that the Tree of Life grows from the shores of the River of Life flowing from the Father’s Throne. This clearly places the Father’s presence in Paradise. Since Jesus flatly stated that He had not yet been to the Father, this also means that He has not been to Paradise; and therefore by process of deduction, neither did the man on the cross.

So, did Jesus lie then to the man? Not at all. Jesus simply told the man that he had achieved eternal reward; and that promise will be fulfilled in due time as foretold in the Scriptures – when Jesus returns and the man is resurrected. Because the Church has started with the circular argument that we go directly to heaven after death, this story of the man on the cross has been taken out of context as a means of support. This story does not confirm the Church’s conclusions.

Paul, the great Apostle to the Gentiles, anticipating his own death, said the following in 2nd Timothy 4:6-8,

"For I am now ready to be offered and the time of my departure is at hand.

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.

HENCEFORTH there is LAID UP for me a crown of righteousness

which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me AT THAT DAY;

and not to me only, but unto all them that love HIS APPEARING."

Paul did not say that he would receive his reward after he died. We receive our reward at the APPEARING of Jesus, when He will sit as JUDGE over all mankind "at that day", which is the Judgment Day at the end of the world. And just like the receptive criminal on the cross, Paul focused his hope of eternal reward upon the coming of Christ’s kingdom.

The second objection used by many is the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31, and much debate has taken place over whether Jesus intended for this to be understood literally or as a parable. Unfortunately, many modern religious teachers have isolated this story from its original context, violating God’s rules of Scripture study, using it as a device to scare people into heaven. Salvation is obtained by a true appreciation and understanding of God’s character and what He did for us, in addition to understanding our relationship to Him. Scare tactics does not obtain salvation. If someone can be frightened into heaven, he can be frightened right back out – and sadly this happens all the time.

Before we can study this section of Scripture, we must first decide finally whether this is a literal event or whether this is a parable. We do not need to actually read the story to discover the answer to this. Jesus knew the value of parables in teaching the people. He desired to stimulate their deepest thought and contemplation, and he knew that if he spoke too literally as the Pharisees and Sadduccees did, certain of His hearers would quickly become frustrated and forget His words. Not only that, but others for whom certain of His parables contained strong rebuke would be so angered by straight speaking that they would have tried to silence Him with violence. Jesus spoke to the people constantly in parables, fulfilling the Messianic prophecy of Psalm 78:2, "I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter dark sayings of old."

Those who teach that this story of the rich man and Lazarus is a literal event stand contrary to the Scriptures, which say in Mark 4:33-34,

"And with many such parables spake He the Word unto them

as they were able to hear:

BUT WITHOUT A PARABLE SPAKE HE NOT UNTO THEM."

There we have it. This story MUST be a parable because it clearly states that Jesus did not speak to the people UNLESS it was by parable. Don’t get mad at me, I didn’t write the Bible.

It is appropriate to first ask, to whom was Jesus speaking this parable? Which category of people was He dealing with? Just a few verses before the parable begins tell us,

"And the Pharisees also, who were covetous,

heard these things and derided Him."

So, Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees, a class of men who were notorious throughout the Scriptures for their refusal to deal honestly with Him and the Truth He taught. We can be sure that, of all the people that Jesus taught, none were handled more guardedly than the wily Pharisees were. They dealt in deception and subterfuge, but Jesus dealt with them wisely and truthfully. The safest way for Him to do this was by parable and allegory. Evidence that the Scribes, Pharisees, Sadduccees, rabbis and the Sanhedrin did not fully understand Him can be found in Jesus’ prayer to the Father in Luke 10:21, in which He said,

“I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth,

that Thou hast hid these things from the wise and the prudent,

and hast revealed them unto babes."

Now we are ready to examine the parable itself and try to understand the meaning and message that Jesus was trying to convey.

"There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen,

and fared sumptuously every day;

and there was a certain beggar named Lazarus

which laid at his gate full of sores and desiring to be fed with the crumbs

which fell from the rich man’s table.

Moreover, the dogs came and licked his sores…."

Given that this is a parable, who were the rich man and Lazarus meant to represent? The Hebrews had been blessed beyond measure with a knowledge of God and His plan of salvation for all mankind. They had, according to Paul in Romans 9:4, received "the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises." Only the Hebrew people refer to Abraham as "Father Abraham", as we will see the rich man do shortly. The Hebrew nation is clearly represented by the character of the rich man, and the ever-wise Jesus boldly struck the Pharisees with it.

 

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