know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do
not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a
one was caught up to the third heaven. And I know such a man—whether
in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—how he was
caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not
lawful for a man to utter. (2Co
between the Earth and Paradise
is a word that is used for the parks of Persian kings and nobles.
In the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the word garden is
a similar Hebrew word that is translated paradise.
So paradise was first experienced in the Garden of Eden.
Paul seemed to experience it in an out-of-body experience that he
describes in our passage above. The
repentant thief that died beside the Lord was told that on that day he
would experience paradise with the Lord.
So paradise describes places of peace, beauty and bliss.
Paradise is not always found in the same place.
earth is not a paradise at the present time.
There was a paradise at one time in the Garden of Eden but Satan
managed to get Adam and Eve to spoil that beautiful place by questioning
the Word of God. "Yea
hath God said?" is a question that has spoiled men and women and
the beauty of this earth down through the ages.
The Garden of Eden had good food, it had good scenery, it had
good company but it had one tree that stood out.
It was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
There was but one command in the Garden.
God said, "Don't eat of it."
Of course, that meant that Adam and Eve had to find out why they
shouldn't eat of it and in violating that command they were excluded
from paradise. Paradise
didn't change but Adam and Eve could no longer enjoy it.
They were put into a world of thistles and thorns and sorrows and
hard labor. Their children
fought and one killed another. And
that is the present world in which we live.
world is not paradise. However,
there is a paradise for the truly repentant, born-again Christian.
Paul saw it. He heard
inexpressible words, that is, words that cannot be expressed.
He heard words that were not lawful for him to utter which
probably means that they were simply indescribable.
He saw something that his natural ability could not describe or
explain. This may have
occurred when he was stoned at Lystra.
He was thought to be dead but he got up and went back into the
city. You can read all about it in Acts 14.
thieves died on crosses beside the Lord.
You can read all about them in Luke 23.
One was saved and one was lost.
According to Matthew and Mark, they both started out reviling and
criticizing the Lord but one came to his senses and in faith asked the
Lord to remember Him when He came into his kingdom.
Now how was a dying man supposed to be coming into a kingdom?
Obviously, the thief who knew he deserved what he was getting and
that the Lord did not deserve to be crucified realized that there was a
Kingdom beyond this life. There
is an eternal Kingdom of which the Lord was King.
The thief wanted to be part of that.
So he pleaded for mercy. He
couldn't make things right with those he had harmed.
He couldn't prove his faith by living a life for the Lord because
his life was ending. But He
got to go "with the Lord" to paradise.
The cross was cruel but it was only going to last for a few
hours. Eternity was forever,
and the thief was promised a place there by the Lord Himself.
One thief committed the unpardonable sin, the sin of unbelief and
was condemned eternally. One
thief turned to the Lord confessing his sin and believed on Him and was
sin was all that it took for Adam and Eve to lose paradise.
One sin is all that it takes for us to lose paradise.
Our sins are the reason that we deserve to be banished from
paradise. But unbelief is
the sin that actually banishes us. All
the rest of our sins and iniquities are forgiven once we like the thief
admit that we deserve banishment from paradise but in simple trusting
faith look to the Lord for salvation.
must be a beautiful place. We
may have seen beauty on this earth.
We may have had it good. On
the other hand we may have seen evil and wickedness and lying and
cheating on this earth and we may have been exposed to the ugly side of
this life. But paradise is
available. It is just beyond
the last bend in the road and just over the last hill.
Don't miss out on it!
for the week of May 6, 2018