22 Mar 06

Are Paradise And Heaven The Same?

Bro. Waddey:
Our teacher recently presented a view on the hereafter I never heard before. She said paradise and heaven are one in the same place. She believes they were separate until Christ ascended back to heaven and now when saints die, they go to heaven, not paradise. If they went to paradise, according to her, they would be separated from God, so heaven and paradise are the same domain. Please give me your thoughts and insights.

Dear Sis. Mary:
Many folks assume that Paradise and heaven are one and the same. The following facts help us understand this matter:
  • At death we leave this life either saved or lost. Nothing is decided afterwards. The case of the Rich Man and Lazarus illustrates this (Luke 16:19-31).
  • After death, our bodies are left on earth to decay, but our spirits live on in another realm such as described in Luke 16.
  • When the resurrection occurs at Christís return, both saved and lost will be raised (John 5:28-29) and receive a spiritual or eternal body (I Cor. 15:42-52). Those yet alive will experience a transformation of their bodies from mortal to immortal (I Cor. 15:51-54).
  • Following the resurrection, all will stand before the judgment seat of Christ and be given their reward (Matt. 25:31-46).
  • Following judgment, the saved will dwell blissfully in the presence of the Father in his heavenly home (Rev. 21:1-5). The lost will spend their eternity suffering with the Devil and his angels (Matt. 25:41).
  • When Jesus died he went to Paradise (Luke 23:43). But he told Mary "I am not yet ascended unto the Father" (John 20:17). Thus Paradise is not where the Father dwells.
  • Peter tells us that in Jesusí death, "neither was he left unto Hades (ASV), nor did his flesh see corruption" (Acts 2:31). Hades is the place where the spirits of all the dead abide, but it is not heaven. Only after his resurrection did Jesus ascend to the Father (Acts 2:32-33). So with us.
  • If the righteous dead go immediately to heaven they do so without a body, for that will be given to them only at the time of the resurrection (I Cor. 15:42-52).
  • Death and Hades (the place of departed spirits...including those in Paradise) having been emptied and of no more use, will be destroyed following the resurrection and judgment (Rev. 20: 13-15).
Thus most brethren have concluded that Paradise is the temporary abode of the saved as they await the return of the Master and the resurrection. At that time they will be clothed with their immortal bodies and rise up to spend their eternity in the presence of the Father.

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