Longing to Go Home

Longing to Go Home

Daily Reading: (Hebrews 11:13-16):

“All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had the opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”

I want you to think back to the greatest vacation you ever had. Where did you go? What did you see?  How long of a vacation was it? What made the vacation so memorable for you? For me, one of my greatest vacations was when I went on was a cruise in the Caribbean with my family. We had so much fun and created some amazing memories. On the last day as we were heading back to our port, my daughter told me that she wanted to go home. I was puzzled by her statement and asked her, “aren’t you having fun?” She looked at me as she squeezed her new stuffed animal that she had made earlier in the day and she said, “I am having the best time ever!” If you are having the best time, why would you ever want to leave? Whether we are having the best time or the worst time there is just something about being home. The longer our vacation is the more our longing for home can grow. The same is true about Heaven.

In Hebrews, 11 Paul is writing about the Israelites and their history and the promise God made to them. Many of them did not see the promise fulfilled in their lifetime. Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph believed the promise to Abraham would be fulfilled. Though for them, God did not give them any inheritance in that country. We have this reinforced in Acts 7:5: “He gave him no inheritance here, not even enough ground to set his foot on. “But God promised him that he and his descendants after him would possess the land, even though at that time Abraham had no child.”

Joseph knew he would not enter the Promised Land until after his death. This was why Joseph left instructions about his burial. He knew he would die in Egypt, but he instructed that his bones be buried in Canaan. In this way, he declared his faith that one day his people would inherit the land God promised them.

As great as the Promised Land is it was only a foreshadowing of Heaven to come. In the Old Testament, Joshua leads God’s people out of the desert and into the Promised Land of Canaan. In the New Testament, Jesus leads God’s people out of the spiritual desert of sin into the Promised Land of Heaven. God always had a plan. That plan is foreshadowed throughout the Old Testament and fulfilled in Christ.

A Barna poll indicated that 76% of Americans believe in Heaven and 71% believe in Hell. Of those who believe in Heaven, 50% believe you can get there without accepting Christ as Savior.[1]

The idea of Heaven is inside humanity. The devil has worked hard to convince people that Heaven is a place reserved for those who have done enough good deeds.

As great as many of the places we may have visited are, we all long for a better country, a heavenly one. The journey out of Egypt would have reinforced the point that God’s people are foreigners and strangers on earth. 1 Peter 2:11 AMP: “beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers [in this world] to abstain from the sensual urges [those dishonorable desires] that wage war against the soul.”

What is great about reading, “they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one,” is that we can identify with that statement, for we too long for our heavenly home. The context of this longing for Heaven is our faith that God will deliver on His promise, “for He has prepared a city for them.” The beauty of Hebrews 11 is it is a chapter on faith. Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). We can’t see this city yet, but we believe in what is written in Revelation 21:2: “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of Heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.” The main point of Hebrews 11 is that God’s people expected spiritual blessings and a heavenly inheritance; they sought God as their provider.

While it’s true for believers that we all long for Heaven, God’s desire is that we enjoy our time on earth too. I planned so many fun things for my daughter to enjoy on our Caribbean vacation that it gave me great joy to lead her to experience new things that I had planned in advance for her. The same is true for you and God. The enemy would try to steal from us the true joy of living abundant lives in Jesus. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). Life to the full is yours in Christ.


[1] Los Angeles Times, October, 24, 2003

On Earth, As It Is In Heaven

On Earth As It Is In Heaven

Daily Reading: (Matthew 6:9-13):

“This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’

The Lord’s Prayer is not a New Covenant prayer. When Jesus taught this prayer, His disciples lived under the dispensation of the Law. However, the first three petitions of this prayer remain for us today.

Petition #1 “‘Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be Your name”

These first two words would have blown everyone away. In all the personal prayers that we find in the Old Testament, God is addressed in many different ways, but never as ‘our Father’. 

Jesus said in John 17:5-6a: “And now, Father, (underline emphasis is mine) glorify Me in Your presence with the glory I had with You before the world existed. I have revealed Your name to those You have given Me out of the world.

In His prayer, Jesus revealed what would come for us who believe in Him. Through His death, adoption into the family of God, God would be forever known as our Father (Romans 8:15).

What we pray for first and foremost “hallowed be God’s name”. We should render or acknowledge God’s holy and special name as our Father. He is the One we venerate and honor. Before we utter a single word of what we need, we first acknowledge we are talking to our Heavenly Father who knows what we need before we even ask and He delights to give good things to those who ask Him (Matthew 7:11).

Petition Number #2 “Your kingdom come,”

The word “kingdom” here means “reign.”[1] The petition is the expression of a wish that God may “reign” everywhere; that His heavenly laws might take root here on earth; and especially that the Gospel of Christ may be advanced everywhere, until the world shall be filled with His glory.

So, we are recognizing God as our Father who delights to give us good

Petition Number #3 Your will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven”

If we ask anything according to the purpose of God to bless mankind through Christ or if it is that of what God wishes to be done by us…. the answer will be yes.

So, if the answer that God gives doesn’t make sense within the first part of the definition of His Will, then He must have something better in store for us that He wishes to be done by us. That’s why Paul would write to the Ephesians, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). We give thanks to God in all things when we realize God’s purpose is to bless us and others in Christ.”[2]

May the King’s reign come down in my household, in my neighborhood, and in my city. May God be glorified in the very things that I am praying for right now.

The first part of the Lord’s prayer which is (verses 9–10) has those three petitions;

  • hallowed be your name
  • your kingdom come
  • your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.

These petitions do not change even when we move from Old Covenant to New Covenant that is enacted upon Christ’s death.

The second part of the Lord’s prayer (verses 11–13) has three petitions as well. The last three call attention to our needs and as you probably have guessed our needs changed with the cross.


Petition #4 “Give us today our daily bread”

We still have daily needs and we should daily “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (as this prayer taught us to do first), and all these things (that we need) shall be added to you. Jesus is the only manna or daily bread you need in any and every area of your life. And so we don’t have to ask God to give us His Son every day. God already gave us the bread of life. “For God so loved the world He gave His only Son” (John 3:16).

In John 6:35: Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” Receiving our daily bread is done as you study the Bible and you feed on the person of Jesus.

When we partake of Communion, we are partaking of Jesus as the “bread of life.” The holy Communion is our “manna” today.

The holy Communion is God’s ordained way of reversing the curse brought about in the fall of man. Every time you partake of the holy Communion, you receive Jesus’ overcoming life, His royal life, His disease-free life.  

Petition #5 “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors”

Now, it should really start to be clear about the great divide here between New Covenant and Old Covenant living and why this isn’t a New Covenant prayer that Jesus prayed. In the Old Covenant, this was the standard of the Law. Forgive so you could be forgiven. In the New Covenant, grace instructs us to forgive others because we are already forgiven.

Today all believers are already perfectly forgiven. God has already forgiven us of our sins when Christ sacrificed Himself on the cross. There is no more forgiveness that remains to be given.
“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). Forgiveness is in the past tense, it has already been done and since it was done for us we can then forgive others. We don’t need to pray for the forgiveness of sins, it is already ours in Jesus.

At this point, the disciples haven’t been taught to pray in Jesus’ name. The Lord’s prayer isn’t a prayer that asks for God’s blessings in Jesus’ name.

And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:23-24 NKJV).

Petition #6 “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one”

In the New Covenant, we have already been delivered from the evil one. Colossians 1:13-14: “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the Kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”

We walk in victory because the enemy has been defeated in the finished work of Jesus Christ.


[1] Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Whole Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentary/matthew/6-10.html

[2] Matthew Webster. Making Disciples Through Sharing the Good News. https://www.amazon.com/Making-Disciples-Through-Sharing-Good/dp/B096TQ4V5F/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr= June 10,2021.

Citizens of Heaven

Citizens of Heaven

Daily Reading: (Philippians 3:20-21):

“But our citizenship is in Heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”

What does that phrase “citizenship is in Heaven” mean for you? Many people look at that verse as speaking only of their future hope with heavenly citizenship having little impact on their lives on Earth. Hope is unique in that hope is always dealing in the future. But this verse doesn’t just get us hope, while hope is clear and plain to see, our Biblical hope is the very next sentence in this verse, “and we eagerly await a Savior from there.” Biblical hope is Jesus. He is our blessed hope! This verse also gives us great faith in how we are to live today.

Our citizenship tells us that we are aliens here. We are strangers, foreigners and sojourners at least in the earth as we know it in its present fallen state because of sin. The new Heaven and Earth will be our home. This is where our citizenship lies. A place with no more sin or the effects of it- sadness, sickness, diseases, etc…

We don’t have to live our lives according to the desires of our flesh, desires of the eyes or by the pride of life, we are citizens of Heaven and have as Peter would say, “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:4). Our treasures are in Heaven.

What I love about being citizens of Heaven means that we do not have to pursue after earthly treasures. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).

Being a citizen of Heaven means we are under the government of Heaven. Jesus is our Lord and King. The Spirit of God reigns in our mortal bodies on earth. Our identity is shaped by our citizenship, our identity is now in the new creation we have become in Christ. Even though every human being has been born into this world, all believers have been reborn spiritually into the Kingdom of Heaven. “Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” John 3:3 (NLT) So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whateveryou want” (Galatians 5:16-17).

We are called to live our life in accordance to the laws of Heaven, which is where our true citizenship lies, and not according to the world we live in.

The Word of God gives us the instruction for us as citizens of Heaven who live here on Earth:

Getting Revenge

The world says: If someone has wronged you, don’t get mad, get even.

But we are citizens of heaven we don’t have to follow the ways of the world we get to walk by the Spirit, we can,“Love our enemies, pray for those who have wronged us” (Matthew 5:44). We don’t have to seek revenge because when we have been wronged, Romans 12:9 reminds us “never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God.

Do you want to get ahead financially?

The world teaches: Money doesn’t grow on trees, (maybe you have heard that a lot when you were younger) it’s up to you and onlyyou to work hard to get what you want out of life.

Citizens of Heaven:

“But remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth” (Deuteronomy 8:18).

“Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow” (James 1:17).

Our ability to do what we do is owed to His grace. Paul said, “God intended that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. ‘For in Him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, We are His offspring” (Acts 17:27-28). The very breath we take we should thank God for it.

Gaining an Advantage in Life

The world says:“It’s a dog-eat-dog world.” Do what you got to do to succeed.

Citizens of Heaven don’t have to worry about this.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time” (1 Peter 5:6).

We are to “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3).

If it is God lifting us up, why would we try to lift ourselves ahead of others or foolishly think we need the higher uppers to notice us to lift us?

The Lord being with you is all that you need in this life, because the Lord Himself is the One who blesses you with righteousness, holiness, success, victory, favor, provision, healing, wisdom and much more!

In Romans 12:2 Paul tells us that in order to live out our heavenly citizenship, we are to not conform to the pattern of this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.”[1]

  • Your heavenly citizenship is defined by who you are in Christ.
  • Heavenly Citizenship gives us irrevocable rights, privileges, and protection.
  • Believers are called to live our lives in accordance to the spiritual laws of Heaven, not according to the ways of the world we live in.
  • We live out our heavenly citizenship by setting our minds on the things of God, and not the things of this world.
  • Everything in Heaven belongs to us, it is our inheritance.
  • Our business on Earth is to be about Kingdom work for we are ambassadors of Christ. 

Our heavenly citizenship impacts us today on Earth. It actually focuses us now to live for the Kingdom and to transform our minds as we develop thoughts of peace and not of evil, thoughts of hope and the bright future we have. We understand that our time on earth is to be used for God’s glory as His ambassadors.


 

 

What is Heaven Like?

What is Heaven Like?

Daily Reading: (Revelation 21:10-17,21):

“And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadiain length, and as wide and high as it is long.The angel measured the wall using human measurement, and it was 144 cubitsthick. The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.”

The problem some people have is they are still afraid they won’t be able to experience all that Heaven has to offer because of what is written in verse eight.

 “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).

Have you acted cowardly before? As the church was formed, Christians were being put to death for their faith, and it is still happening in parts of the world today. If you were cowardly in a moment facing death, would you be disqualified from Heaven? If so, Heaven would appear to be earned on merits. One minute you could be in Christ and the Kingdom is yours, and then at the end when facing death, you acted cowardly and you become disqualified.

Let’s keep going a little further with the list. Have you placed anything at any time in your life ahead of God, which is idolatry? Have you lied ever?  The text says, “they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur”. You could add to this list from 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.

The list exists to say that no matter how good people think are, no one can make it to Heaven apart from Jesus (Revelation 21:8). You have to become a new you and this happened the moment you first believed. Think about the heroes of the faith (Hebrews 11) for a moment if they would qualify for Heaven apart from Jesus. Noah was a drunk, Abraham slept with his maid, and Jacob was a swindler if ever there was one. There is also a murderer in Moses, a prostitute named Rahab, and David got another man’s wife pregnant and then had that man killed to cover up his crime. In the eyes of the law David is condemned as an adulterer and a murderer. Such a man will not inherit the kingdom of God; the Bible says so.

However, in God’s eyes, David is not a sinner but a son and a co-heir with Christ. The problem here is people have forgotten the promise that came just before verse eight.

“Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be My children” (Revelation 21:7).

“Those who have faith are children of Abraham” (Galatians 3:7). Eternal life is a gift of grace (John 17:2, Romans 6:23). It is not a reward given to those who pass the torture test and don’t act cowardly.

Together move past the fiery flames verse because in Christ this is not your destiny, so enjoy the faithful and true sayings which God will show you moving forward.

The city of the new Jerusalem shines with the glory of God. What this means is that Heaven is not lit by the sun and the moon but by God Himself (Revelation 21:11,23).  When we get to verse 23 after reading in verse 11 about how “Heaven shined with God’s glory”, things become clear: “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.”

You know what is incredible is the next verse: “The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it.” Imagine today what that would look like if we as believers would center our lives, walk by, and do everything we do to give glory to God.  How much different would that be to what we see and experience in our world today?

 “On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there” (Revelation 21:25). These gates are not for security, there are no gated communities in Heaven to keep the riff-raff out. The city is glorious and indestructible, and the people who live in it are eternally secure (Revelation 21:25). This is beauty in Heaven for our enjoyment that ushers in worship and glory to God.

“The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass” (Revelation 21:21b). If we were playing the game Family Feud, what is the number one answer people would give to describe Heaven? Survey says, “streets of gold.” How much do you value streets today on Earth? Heaven is so great that the streets of gold are almost like a footnote. I think that what God is doing is showing us the value system is totally different in Heaven than on Earth (Revelation 21:21). That which we highly prize and value that men will lie for, kill for and steal for (gold) will have little value up there. It is just as common as asphalt. The roads are made from it.

Heaven on Earth

Heaven on Earth

Daily Reading: (Revelation 21:1-4):

“Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

The question that maybe you have thought of before is, “how can I pray big bold Kingdom prayers, God’s will on Earth as it is in Heaven?” What I mean when I say “big bold Kingdom prayers” is the King’s reign being our experience on Earth today. Instead of longing for the future, may a better understanding of what God is preparing us for in the future have an enormous impact on our present-day lives.

“Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea” (Revelation 21:1).

Every time I share Revelation 21:1 I feel like the grandfather in the movie Princess Bride, who reads a surprising plot twist in the story which leaves his grandson dumbfounded. The first Heaven and Earth passed away? It puts a new outlook on the mindset that we better sacrifice everything we have to save our planet. I am not saying that we shouldn’t be good stewards of God’s creation, but all the efforts we make to protect or preserve the planet and trusting in man to save things need to be rethought in light of this verse. We don’t have to worry even when things get worse on our planet, God is bringing about a new Heaven and Earth. We should make efforts to lessen our negative impact on the planet for now but ultimately the first Heaven and Earth will pass away in the end.

“I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband” (Revelation 21:2).

You mean Heaven is going to be literally on Earth? Yes! Heaven will be here. He’s not sending us to Heaven for all eternity, He’s bringing Heaven to Earth.

The earth will not be the same as it was, it will be even better. 

Part of the gift of Heaven on Earth is that we all experience this together. We aren’t going to hear about it second hand from Peter and Paul and Moses and any other saint who went before us. The world as we know it that is marred by sin is done away with “ the first earth had passed away” and I “saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven” (Revelation 21:1-2).

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

I totally understand we are longing for a time where there will be no more sickness, no more sadness as the old things, the terrible things we are experiencing now are gone. My five-year-old asked me a question a few months ago, she said, “why did God create sickness?” I love the mind of my little girl. I told her He didn’t. You see even a five-year-old has the sense within her that things are not as they should be. Why would God…? Haven’t we all asked similar questions before? God didn’t create sickness, man brought it about because of giving into Satan’s temptation. The world before sin was a paradise. It was the Garden of Eden where they had everything they would ever need and God walked with them and talked with them. We are progressing to the time where there will be no more sickness or death and it will be as it was before sin.

God being with us what does it accomplish in Revelation 21? We are comforted (wipes the tears), He removes our sadness. There is no more death, crying or pain. In Heaven our new bodies will not grow old, be weary, tired, or in pain.

Did you know that healing and restoration are available even today.

God didn’t just leave us to ourselves in the world today. He is with us even now (Matthew 28:20). King David learned and he wrote the following in Psalm 30:11: “You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy.” Or in Psalm 16:11 “Thy presence is fullness of joy.” Did David write this from beyond the grave? Was he writing from experiencing being in Paradise on the other side of eternity?  No! What this means is right now, the Kingdom emotions of joy and peace, being comforted and even having our pain removed can be our experience now. Healing is available not just on the other side of eternity, but is available to us in Jesus’ name.

Let our lives be living testimonies of the transformative power of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. When bad things come upon us, may we speak out by faith the promises that God has made to us. We will find joy in God’s presence, and He will turn our mourning into joy. 

Welcome to Paradise

Welcome to Paradise

Daily Reading: (Luke 23:43):

“Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).   

Knowledge of Heaven is important. Access to Heaven or accessing the blessings that are already yours in Christ is even better. I know this might come as a shock to you, but since you spiritually died which happened the moment you first believed in Jesus, the Kingdom is now yours. Paul would say in Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Now that you know that you have already died spiritually what happens when you die physically on earth too?

Heaven on Earth is the believer’s ultimate destination. So, let’s take a minute to imagine what Heaven will be like. What are some things you envision in your mind that Heaven will be like? Streets of gold, pearly gates, reunited with loved ones, a beautiful river running through the center, the tree of life, the throne of God. If you have spent any time reading the book of Revelation, these are some of the images that probably came to your mind. Even though we are given grand images of Heaven, we still have a long way to go in imagining what Heaven will be like one day.

It is interesting to learn that Jesus talks about being in “Paradise” instead of just saying Heaven when talking to one of the criminals on the cross.

To begin with, I want to go to the scene right before Jesus’ death. “But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence” (Luke 23:40)?

What sentence could these criminals be under? They are under the sentence of death. They are dying a criminal’s death and so was Jesus. We can find it hard to connect with the criminals on the cross that day, but Paul would write to the Romans that the wages of sin are death (Romans 6:23). Anyone who has sinned “has fallen short of God’s glory” (Romans 3:23), and so we all are given the same sentence as those criminals on the cross that day, the death sentence. There are two options for us, which are displayed by the actions of the two criminals. One criminal mocked the salvation of the Lord. “One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” He rejected the very grace of God while the other recognized his need for a Savior. “We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong” (Luke 23:41)?

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And because of this Romans 6:23 becomes this criminal’s reality: but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. The first criminal rejected the very grace of God while the other recognized his need for a Savior. “We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong” (Luke 23:41). The point is that since God is righteous and just, our sins needed to be punished. Only the perfect spotless Lamb of God could be offered for the atonement of our sins. He died so that we might be given His life, but we must receive the free gift of salvation that He offers to us to be saved.

The keyword is “gift”. A gift cannot be earned because if it was earned it would be a wage, the criminal didn’t deserve such great a gift, that is how grace works. Jesus was on the cross for both criminals that day, He went to the cross for you and I so that we might receive the gift of everlasting life. 

So, some might expect to hear Jesus say, I’ll see you on the other side in heaven my son- but He doesn’t He says something different.

Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).“Paradise”/Paradeisos: a park, an Eden.

Have you ever seen that show Extreme Home Makeover? It used to be hosted by a guy named Ty Pennington who would send a family on a mini-vacation so when they returned home they would be surprised when their home would be completely redone and it would look amazing and so much better.

So, when you die, if you are in Christ, you go to Paradise, Eden Park. Jesus is there and so are your loved ones and all the saints who went before us. So, Paradise is Heaven where Jesus is at. It is perfect and there is no suffering or sin there, it will be incredibly wonderful and yet it is still different from what we will experience as our wedding gift when Heaven comes down to a new Earth.

The Bible tells us when we enter into this new Heaven and Earth and the grand thing about it is all saints over all of the time will enter it together at the same time.

“I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of Heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband” (Revelation 21:2). I like to think of it in much the same way as a family would on the Extreme Home Makeover Show that is sent to a fantastic place because their home is being specially prepared for them. So, Peter and Paul haven’t been relaxing in the new Heaven and Earth for some 2,000 years, they are in Paradise because we still have our wedding feast in Heaven to come and then our wonderful gift of Heaven on Earth.

“Paradise” is used is in Revelation 2:7 and it is the location of the tree of life. This makes sense as “paradise” means a park-like setting: “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” Revelation 22 talks about Eden/paradise restored.

This is a huge clue because Revelation 2:7 tells us specifically that “the tree of life, is in the Paradise of God” (Revelation 2:7). What this means is that we are given a partial picture of what Paradise is like now, because Revelation 22 talks about Eden being restored and mentions the tree of life (which is already created) and some other things already existing in Paradise (God being there). However, some of the other things mentioned seem like they are yet to come after the old earth passes away, such as there being no more night and the curse removed. Our loved ones in Paradise aren’t experiencing night, they are in the presence of God’s light. The effects of the curse are not present in Paradise, but we still experience them on Earth. Eden restored is mentioned after Heaven comes to earth (yet to happen) in Revelation 21. So, some of these things are still to come.