You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free
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DID PARADISE MOVE FROM THE GARDEN TO HEAVEN WHEN JESUS WAS RESURRECTED FROM THE GRAVE?
There is no evidence in Scripture that the Garden eastward in Eden was ever perceived as a ‘heaven on earth’ called “paradise.” Heaven was never ‘God’s dwelling place on earth,” (Gen. 2:8.) Before the fall, the entire earth called Eden was in a perfect state without sin and brokenness, but it was not heaven. The prophet said in Acts 7:48, “Heaven is [God’s] throne and earth is [His] footstool.” Earth can never ‘become’ heaven, just as we can never “pull heaven down to earth.” They are two completely different locations in two different dimensions.
Þ The Spiritual Kingdom of God, (not heaven,) is inside His personally and sincerely born again believers, as they are His spiritual temple, fully indwelt by His Holy Spirit, (Lu. 17:20-21; KJV, Jn. 1:12-14; 3:3-5; 1 Cor. 6:15-20.)
The idea of a ‘heaven on earth’ stems from the pagan notion that Shangri La or ‘paradise’ is an earthly place of heavenly peace and happiness. Although God’s creation is so perfect and nature so beautiful that it can easily be associated with heaven, there is no comparison between earth, (a literal place,) and heaven, (a spiritual space that God occupies and from where He reigns over His entire universe,) Revelation Chapters 21 & 22.
Although ‘heaven’ was translated in some verses in the Bible as ‘paradise,’ there is no confusion in the Scriptures between the physical garden in Eden and God’s eternal dwelling place in heaven or ‘shamayim’ in Hebrew.
Þ When Jesus promised the man on the cross next to His, “Today you will be with Me in ‘paradise,’” He would have said “shamayim.” Jesus knew exactly where heaven is seated. It had been His dwelling place since “everlasting;” aeons before anything was created on earth. So, Eden, (Gen. 2:7-15,) was never called “paradise” because “heaven” is where God lives, (Rev. 22:1-3,) while the garden in Eden was a perfect, physical place on earth.
WHY WAS THE TREE OF LIFE PLANTED IN THE GARDEN BUT NOW WE FIND IT IN HEAVEN?
We find the Tree of Life in the garden in Genesis, and in heaven in Revelation. Doesn't it make sense that ‘paradise’ was moved from earth to become God’s spiritual heaven when Jesus died on the cross and was risen from the grave?
No, it doesn’t. God created heaven, His eternal, spiritual dwelling place, ages before He created the earth. The literal garden itself, being part of earth, could not have been ‘moved’ into the spiritual realm to “become God’s heaven.”
No one knows exactly why the Tree of Life was planted in the garden and Scripture does not say. From Scriptural context, one can only believe the Tree of Life Is Jesus Himself. The Tree of Life that was planted in the garden either symbolized or personified God’s constant, almighty presence there. Wherever Jesus Is, there His presence is. God is also ever-present in heaven and all over the universe at the same time. That is why both the allegorical Tree of Life and the River of Life are described as being part of heaven, (Rev. 22:1-2.)
To eat of the fruit of the Tree of Life in this holy garden was not forbidden, (Gen. 2:16-17.) Before the fall, Adam and Eve, being created perfectly on all levels of life, constantly lived in the full presence of God on all levels of life. From the context, it seems they ate of the Tree of Life all the time.
Scripture makes it clear that God did not remove the garden at the fall; He removed humanity from His presence in the garden. If Adam and Eve ate of the Tree of Life after they fell from God’s perfect state of eternal spiritual, emotional, and physical life, sin would have lived in them forever, (Gen. 3:22-24.) Thus, sin would have been mortified by combining their fallen state with God’s Eternal being, (Gen. 3:22.) All hope of gaining their redemption, salvation, and blessing by ‘taking in’ eternal life through personal faith in and acceptance of Jesus to experience the spiritual rebirth in Him, would then have been forfeited, (Jn. 1:1-14; 3:3-5.)
That is why “God sent them out of the Garden in Eden… [and away from His Holy presence,] and placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden with a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the Tree of Life.” This was for their own protection. After the fall, no one could look upon God’s Holy Face and live, (Ex. 33:20.)
However, God became a mere man to suffer, die, and be resurrected in the place of fallen humanity, (Jn. 3:16.) Becoming the Perfect Lamb of God or the Eternal sin-offering in the place of all true believers, the Man Jesus again opened up The Way to God’s presence here on earth and to eternal life in heaven, (Jn. 1:1-14; 3:3-5.) Jesus the Son of God is the Tree of Life. Those who ‘eat His fruit’ will live for all eternity (Rev. 5:9-13.) No one will ever “see” God or “enter” His presence without “eating the flesh and drinking the blood,” of Jesus — or by ‘taking in’ Jesus and the New Testament Covenant He established at the cross for all those who choose to sincerely believe in Him, (Jn. 6:54; 2:3-5.)
This is why even Aaron could not enter God’s presence “without blood” during the ousted Old Testament Covenant,” (Heb. 8:13; chapters 7-9.) The blood of the Old Testament temple sacrifices were mere symbols, which pointed believers towards The Way to the presence and life of God, through the establishment of His Eternal New Covenant, (1 Cor. 10:11.) No one will ever stand before God in this life or in the next and live — except on the terms of God’s eternal New Covenant in Jesus Christ.
Because heaven is the perfect, unblemished place where true believers, who were utterly cleansed by the blood of Jesus from their fallen state or position without God, can again freely eat from the fruit of the Tree of Life, (Rev. 5:9-13.)
WHERE DOES ‘ABRAHAM’S BOSOM’ (Lu. 16:22,) FIT INTO JESUS’ SCRIPTURAL TRUTH ABOUT HEAVEN?
While there are verses about heaven above and hell below in the Old Testament, (the Hebrew Scriptures,) the Old Hebrews, just as Jews today, personalized their perceptions on the afterlife – among other things. So, during Jesus’ ministry among the Hebrews, which was still during the Old Testament covenant before the cross, He spoke to them from the Scriptures, in parables, and what appears to be in language they would generally understand.
Accordingly, the Hebrews saw heaven, (‘shamayim’ in Hebrew,) as a place of safety where Abraham, the father of faith, acted as some type of ‘gatekeeper’ to a place the heathen perceived as ‘paradise,’ which was “a place of rest for the virtuous,” supposedly under the earth. That is why Jesus, in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, referred to their perception of heaven as “the bosom of Abraham,” (Lu. 16:19-31.) The ‘gatekeeper’ to heaven is also a tradition among Roman Catholics, and many name “saint” Patrick as the one who meets them at their arrival in heaven, because meeting God Himself at the moment of death seems too ‘overwhelming’ to people that were indoctrinated by those religions.
Regarding hell, (Gehenna in Hebrew,) the Sadducees believed in “annihilation” of the wicked and no resurrection. However, the Pharisees believe that Sheol or the grave, (Hades or the Greek underworld,) is a place of rest where humans go at death to await the resurrection from the grave on Judgment Day. Hence, the common reference to the deceased, “They are in a better place.” Hades has been errantly translated hell’ in most Bibles, but Sheol or Hades is actually the ‘abode of the physical deceased and the spiritual dead without Jesus Christ,’ (Lu. 16:19-31.)
When Jesus said, “The dead shall hear My voice and live,” He was referring to those who are now still physically alive but spiritually entombed in Sheol or Hades without His saving Truth, (Jn. 5:25.) In contrast, those in hell [Gehenna in Hebrew] can never get out of that terrible place. They were already “judged, because [their father] the ruler of this world is judged,” (Jn. 16:11.) Their lives on earth are over for all eternity. Eccl. 9:5-6, “The dead [whose bodies sleep in the grave and whose human spirits are either in heaven or hell,] know nothing [about what is going on here on earth.] Nevermore will they share in anything done under the sun.”
JESUS’ TEACHING ON HELL OPPOSED THAT OF THE PHARISEES AND SADDUCEES
The context of Jesus’ serious teaching on the Rich Man and Lazarus is not an ear-tickling sermon. It defied the false beliefs of the Hebrews about the afterlife. What Jesus mainly brought across in this parable, is that the Moral law of Love must govern our lives, eternal judgment occurs at the moment of death, every person goes either to heaven (shamayim) or hell (Gehenna) at death; there is no escape from the torture of hell after death, and no one goes from hell to warn the living. He concluded with the certainty that everything humanity will ever need to know about God and the afterlife is contained in the Scriptures — the context of both the Old and New Testament Covenants of the Bible, (Lu. 16:19-31.)
Jesus confirmed His teaching of Lazarus and the rich man that were judged and sentenced at the moment of death in His promise to the man next to Him on the cross, saying, “Today [when we die here on Golgotha] you will be with Me in shamayim, [heaven in Hebrew.] ”
Þ In contrast to the Hebrews’ beliefs, Jesus’ description of hell is the place where the human spirits of lost people are incarcerated forever in suffering – and where the pre-flood demons are chained, (Gen. 6; 2 Pt. 2:4-6; Jude v. 6.) Jesus made it clear that everyone in hell was already sentenced to "eternal judgment.” No one ever gets out of hell.
Þ Also, no one can be shifted from hell to heaven as Jesus explained in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. There exist no second chances after Jesus sends His angels to come and fetch us, either through death or when He returns on the clouds, (Mt. 24:27-31.) The rapture dogma with it’s so-called ‘second chance for those who stay behind’ is a deadly deception, (Heb. 9:27.) Paul wrote in 2 Ths. 1:7-10, “Jesus will give [His true disciples] rest when He is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who [chose not to] know God, and on those who do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction…”
When God judged Sodom and Gomorrah, He delivered Lot and his family, and on That same Day, He turned those cities into ashes because “He made them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly,” (2 Pt. 2:5-8.) Again, no second chance.
HOW WILL GOD JUDGE THOSE WHO NEVER HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO HEAR THE GOSPEL AND REPENT?
Paul explained in Rom. 2: 11-24, “There is no partiality with God. [Before the cross,] those Hebrews who sinned without [keeping the Old Testament law] perished [through disobedience to the Law. There is never a second chance after death.] For when the Gentiles, [the non-Jews,] who do not have the [written] law, by nature do the things in the [Moral] law, they… show the work of the [Moral] law is written in their hearts; their conscience also bearing witness…. in The Day when God will judge [men] according to [Jesus’] Gospel…” Moreover, the Holy Spirit came to “convict [everyone one earth] of sin, [their state of lostness without Jesus,] righteousness, [through His atonement in their place,] and judgment, [should they reject and disobey Him, just as the ruler of this world is already judged,]” (Jn. 16:8-12.)
That is why those who never heard of Jesus, those who know of Jesus but never accepted Him, those who believe in Him together with those who did not obey His Word, will all be judged according to their obedience to the Moral Law, which is written on every human ‘heart,’ (1 Jn. 2:4-5.) It is a fact that everyone that ever lived on earth intuitively ‘knew’ one may not murder, steal, lie, adulterate… so that everyone will be judged according to the Truth of His Word, (Jn. 12:48; 2 Ths. 2:9-12.) Paul said in Rom. 14:12, “[All believers] must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, [either at death or at His return on the clouds,] to give an account of what we have done in the body, [according to the Moral Law and Jesus’ Scriptural commands,] (Mt. 25:31-46.)
WAS JESUS TORTURED IN HELL, PREACHED HIS GOSPEL TO THE LOST IN HELL, AND WAS BORN AGAIN THERE?”
I can only say again that we must look at everything in the context of “all Scripture.” Prosperity teachers will always use uncontextual and once-off verses and passages to deceive and control believers. So, Paul commanded, “Test all things, [Bible teaching too, to see how it fits into “all truth,”] (1 Ths. 5:21-22.)
Let’s start with the twisting of “Hades” and “hell.” Jesus said in Mt. 16:18, “…The gates of Hades [Greek; Sheol in Hebrew: the grave; the abode of the deceased and the spiritual dead without Christ,] shall not prevail against [true believers].” Most changed “Hades” to “hell,” and say we war against ‘hell.' Then they blasphemously add, “When Jesus died He went to ‘hell.’ He died spiritually, was [immeasurably] tortured by demons to further our atonement, and got born again in hell!” [Joyce Myer; Kenneth Copeland, etcetera.] They also say He preached to those who could not go to heaven before Golgotha, and took them to heaven when He rose from the dead.
Þ But when Jesus died, He said, “It is finished! [My full atonement for all believing humanity is now complete, Col. 2:9-15.] Father [in heaven or shamayim in Hebrew, ] into Your hands I commit My spirit,” (Lu. 23:46; 43; Jn. 19:30.) Nothing makes it plainer that Jesus did not ‘finish’ our atonement in “hell!” In addition, He promised the man next to Him on the cross, “Today, [as soon as we die here,] you will be with Me in shamayim” [or heaven; not in Hades, (the grave,) hell where the lost are incarcerated, or in “prison,”] (1 Pt. 3:19; 4:6.)
Þ So, it would be useless to war against, pray for, or preach to those in “hell.” Hell is the place where all the already judged and condemned spirits are kept. The lost were already judged at death and Jesus said no one can ever return from hell, (Lu. 16:19-31.) What’s more, Jesus suffered and died not for demons but for all of humanity, who are physically alive in the darkness of the spiritual grave or Hades; calling them “out of darkness into His Light,” (Jn. 3:16; 1 Pt. 2:9-10.)
It is impossible that while Jesus’ human body was in the grave, (physical death or Hades,) and His spirit in heaven “in the hands of the Father,” that He would preach to demons or those who are suffering in hell because allegedly, He Himself and they were ‘born again in hell.’ How could the Most High and Holy God Himself be ‘born again’ by believing in and accepting Himself, like sinful humanity must do? (Jn. 1:1-14; 3:3-5.) These blasphemous dogmas are ludicrous. Words cannot describe the sins these liars are committing against Jesus the Almighty God!! (Heb. 1:1-14; Rev. 1:8; 4:8; 15:3; 16:5-7.)
Þ Heb. 9:17 states, "Man will die once and thereafter the judgment.” Jesus assured us that there is no escape from hell. So, the claims of visits to hell (and heaven) are just as false as these ungodly dogmas, (Lu. 16:19-31.)
What then about Jesus’ “descent into the lower parts of the earth,” [not hell,] to preach to the spirits in ‘prison?’ This sounds like the false beliefs of the Pharisees, not Jesus’ teaching on the rich man and Lazarus, which explained heaven and hell at the moment of death, (Lu. 16:19-31.) What’s more, the context of Eph. 4:1-12 does not speak of Jesus suffering and preaching in “hell,” which is a complete impossibility as seen in the contextual Truth of Scripture. It speaks of longsuffering, Godly love, faith, and the gifts of the Spirit, through which He equips the saints.
To be able to do this, (v. 7-11,) “Jesus first had to [suffer, die,] and [His human body] had to descend into the lower parts of the earth,” the grave or Hades. He was then risen after three days and three nights in the grave, and after 40 days on earth “He ascended on high.” After that, He sent the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Who “led captivity captive;” by leading all true believers in Christ to heaven in His power through the truth of His Gospel, (Mt. 28:18-20.) He [also came to] give [the Holy-Spirit’s] gifts to men [after the once-off outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost,]” (Mark 16:15-18.)
There is no other way to interpret this passage in the true context of the New Testament Covenant. To my mind, the verses that supposedly teach Jesus went to hell to save the condemned, were misinterpreted or mistranslated by the Roman Catholic Church and Protestant Bible translators. In this regard, Jesus warned the Pharisees in Mark 7:13, “You make the [truth of] the Word of no effect through your tradition, which you have handed down. And many such things you do,” (Mt. 15:5-9; Col. 2:8.)
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