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MAY 2018

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Paradise

 

I 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 12:2-4)

 

Contrast between the Earth and Paradise

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.

 

This 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.

 

Paul's Experience

This 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. 

 

The Repentant Thief

Two 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 saved. 

 

One Sin

One 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.

 

Paradise 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!

 

 

Meditation for the week of May 6, 2018