Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Paradise and Heaven

One of the more obscure topics in the Bible is the actual location of Paradise, and, by extrapolation, Heaven itself. I was recently accosted by a man who insisted that Paradise is and always has been Heaven, based on a few Scripture references. I intend to show the origin of these locales based on what the Bible says.

Again, I make the King James Bible my sole authority: any Scripture used is King James only, and any other references will be ensured to line up with Scripture. No other Book has the power or authority of the Monarch of the Books, the Authorized Version of the Bible.

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

Again, I don't wish to get into the Gap issue here, but it must be noted that in the original creation, God only created one heaven. The atmosphere, also called the firmament, is also called "heaven" or "the firmament of heaven." So we can safely say that "heaven" doesn't immediately mean God's throne (Matt. 5:34), but has several meanings. Specifically, the Apostle Paul speaks of being caught up to the "third heaven" after being rocked to sleep stoned to death. He also uses the word "paradise" in that context, stating that the place where he went was called "paradise." Since the typical consensus is that paradise is not in the third heaven, allow me to explain what must be, according to the Scriptures.

The first instance of the word "paradise" is found in Luke 23:43.

And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

Very obviously, Jesus is saying to the thief on the cross that he (the thief) will be with Christ after their deaths, that same day. Therefore, wherever Jesus is to be found immediately after His death, the thief will also be present.

Matthew 12:40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Jesus was clearly stating here that He would go to Hell during the time when He was dead.

Ephesians 4:8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?
10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)

Revelation 1:18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

Also reference this:

1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;

Christ's suffering was the means by which He preached to the spirits in prison (2 Pet. 2:4, Jude 6) in the same Hell where the rich man went (Luke 16:19-31) and saw Abraham's Bosom.

These places, Abraham's Bosom, and Hell, were separated by a "great gulf" which was impassable, meaning that while communication was indeed possible as this story proves, they were definitely separate places, one being a place of torment, and the other being described as comfortable. Therefore, since Jesus spent those three days in Hell, and He promised the thief that he would be with Christ in Paradise, the only logical conclusion that "Abraham's Bosom" is also called "paradise," the temporary resting place for righteous Old Testament souls whose sins had not yet been washed away under the Old Covenant of the Law. These people could no more enter heaven proper without proper atonement for their sins than could any lost person today: they had to have their sins forgiven first, which means that Christ had to die and pay their sin-debt! (Eph. 4:8)

So, we can see how that Christ very clearly said that paradise was in the center of the earth along with Hell. However, we also see that Paul stated that paradise was in the third Heaven. The simplest way to reconcile this "contradiction" is to simply accept that when Christ "led captivity captive," the place in Heaven where they went is also called "paradise" in the Bible.

There is much more to this study, including the Deep, the Pit, the Lake of Fire, and the whole origin and purpose of these places. However, I believe I covered the intended topic sufficiently, so we will let it rest until another time.

Comment if you have questions or have Biblical evidence of where I am wrong on this topic: I am always open to the correction of the Book!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Sons/sons of God

Recently, a topic came up that I thoroughly enjoy discussing, but about which there appears to be a lot of misconceptions. (This will in no way be exhaustive; many books have been written on these topics, and I hardly have the space to do a worthy study on them in a blog post!)

We begin our study in the usual place: at the beginning. (Note: all Scripture is from the King James Bible, and no authority other than It shall be appealed to, especially "The Greek" or "The Hebrew.")

Genesis 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

The key word here is not what one would usually pick up on or make of any importance: the word to note is "image." Obviously, this verse supports the Triune nature of God ("our image"), and dually it speaks of man's triune nature as well: body, soul, and spirit. Adam was made in God's perfect image, a triune being, and certainly in the likeness of His physical appearance also.

As a result of that likeness and image, check out how Adam is referred to later:

Luke 3:38: Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God.

Do note that in this instance, "son" is lower-case, denoting that Adam was not a deity: he was simply made in the image of God, and therefore was called the "son of God." Thus, the vast importance of the precise wording of John 3:16 is made apparent: Jesus is the only "begotten" son of God, or God the Son (capital "S"), so dropping the "begotten" (meaning God's direct progeny or "genetic" offspring) makes Jesus a liar, as there are many other beings that are called the "sons of God."

Now, we'll sally back to the first place in the Bible where the actual phrase "son(s) of God" is mentioned.

Genesis 6:1 And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,

2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.

The typical argument here is that these "sons of God" are simply righteous descendants of Seth, as opposed to the unrighteous descendants of Cain. This is certainly a lousy exegesis, since Seth himself was said to have been born in Adam's image, not God's (Genesis 5:3). The fact is that when Adam sinned, he lost that perfect image of God: his spirit died. From that point on, man was unregenerate, fallen, and existed as a dichotomy: body and soul, with a dead, worthless spirit inside. Man's communion with God had been cut off, and from then on, man was born in the image of Adam (1 Cor. 15:49).

We'll conclude then, based on the evidence given in the book of Genesis, that the phrase "sons of God" cannot refer to human beings, since not only is there a precise distinction between God and mankind in this verse, but that indeed the image of God had been lost (and still is in unregenerate man). Therefore, these "sons of God" are something entirely different, and we'll look and see what the Bible says about them.

Job 1:6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.

Now, without getting into the Genesis 1:1-2 issue, let us simply state here that since it is the sons of God that are presenting themselves before God, and Satan is among them, that he is indeed numbered among these sons of God, though in an obviously fallen state. Why else would he show up? These are supernatural, angelic beings (Job 38:7) who were present at the creation, though Satan, among them, obviously no longer retains his office as the LORD's light-bearer (Ezekiel 28:14). These sons of God, then, are not based on their standing with God: they are called sons of God based on their creation (Genesis 6 details sons of God that were involved in vile sexual practices!). So far, we have established two things:

1. These sons of God are not human


2. These sons of God are supernatural, angelic beings who were present at the creation.

Now, let us tie together the different uses of "son of God" between the Old and New Testaments.

A serious student of the Bible will recognize that before Christ's death, burial and resurrection, there was no "new birth," no "Body of Christ," and no forgiveness of sins. As Christ was the "last Adam," (1 Cor. 15:45), he redeemed fallen man and restored the perfect Image of God (Rom. 8:29; 1 Cor. 15:49; 2 Cor. 3:18, 4:4; Col. 3:10)

With Christ's propitiation for our sins, He conformed us to the image of God through His death. We now have the power to become the sons of God, or regain that fallen image! The reason that a person or being is called a "son of God" is because he is made in the image of God, just as genetic children retain the image or likeness of their parents. In our case, as David said, we have been made a little lower than the angels (Psalms 8:5), but we have been given the unspeakable free gift of Eternal Life, something that the angels obviously don't have (Gen. 6, 2 Pet. 2:4, Jude 6).

Questions? Leave a comment and I'll reply to the best of my ability.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Preaching about Preaching??

In my years in Bible Believing, Baptist churches, I've heard many good sermons. I've tried to make a habit of taking notes, especially with visiting pastors, and I've even "borrowed" some of their material to make my own sermons.

On the other hand, I've heard a lot of bad sermons. And I mean BAD. For instance, a while back I saw a YouTube video of a young whippersnapper preaching an entire sermon against another preacher, a man FOUR TIMES HIS AGE. Not only was this young novice incredibly ignorant about the man (he called Dr. Ruckman a Brider!?!?), but he was railing against an Elder, one against whom he was not to receive an accusation (1 Tim. 5:19), and someone whom he is to entreat as a father (1 Tim. 5:1). For this young kid to behave so reprehensibly in just that one "sermon," so proudly displayed on YouTube, is an absolute disgrace, and proves that he is indeed a novice who is NOT grave, nor sober minded, nor fit for the ministry in the least.

A second message by this loud-mouth was on "watered down preaching," a topic that while I agree with and understand the importance of sound, biblical preaching, I hardly think is a topic that deserves its own sermon!! A cursory look at the common fare of this young person's sermons shows that he is extremely heavy on sin, standards, and separation, and preaching on doctrine, spiritual topics, and FOOD for the SHEEP is severely lacking.

This is the largest problem in "Independent, Fundamental, Skirt-wearin', Hellfire and damnation preachin', oh yeah and King James only Baptist" circles today: too many people are majoring on the minors and minoring on the majors!!! Yes, we need to preach righteousness. Yes, it is important to preach hard and straight. Yes, it is important to draw a line sometimes. BUT IT DOESN'T FEED THE SHEEP! If you have a church full of nothing but hard preaching and standards, you'll have a bunch of shallow people who will be blown away the first time a Jehovah's Witness shows them something that's "wrong" in their Bible or a "truth" that you don't teach or that contradicts what little doctrine your people get. Your people will know that speaking in tongues is wicked, but they won't know WHY. They will know that they are supposed to dress modestly, but they will dress the way YOU WANT THEM TO because THAT'S what you preach instead of what the BIBLE SAYS.

A good, balanced church is comprised of three different types of discourse: Doctrinal teaching, Spiritual preaching, and Practical application to help them in their day-to-day lives. A church with too much of one kind or too little of another will be imbalanced and will lead to dry or shallow Christians who don't have what it takes to be a shining light in our communities.

Pardon the rant, but doctrinally-decrepit loudmouths are getting on my nerves lately, and since this is my blog, I figured I'd take advantage and say something.