It’s more than going to heaven (paradise)

Brethren,
When a person dies, there are two places the person could go: paradise or prison. We know about paradise because in Luke 23:43, when our Lord Jesus was on the cross, He said to one of the criminals that believed in Him:

“… Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”.

So we know that if a person has faith in God, the person will go to paradise when he/she dies. In the Old Testament, a person showed faith in God by faithfully keeping the laws of Moses and performing various sacrifices when necessary. All persons who did this with a true, non-hypocritical, heart are resting in paradise now. In the New Testament, however, faith in God is shown by believing in His Son, Jesus Christ, whom He sent to bear the punishment for our sin by dying on the cross. After believing in our Lord Jesus Christ as our only Saviour, faith in God is shown through continuous obedience to His Spirit – as He speaks through His written word and through other means He may choose to use. Anyone who lives with such faith in God will go to paradise if he/she dies.

On the other hand, if a person does not have faith towards God, according to the requirements of the time he/she lived in (Old Testament, or New Testament), that person will go to prison when he/she dies. We know about this prison because in 1 Peter 3:18-19, we are told that our Lord Jesus went to preach (make proclamation of salvation) to the spirits in prison after He left His body on the cross. 1 Peter 3:18-19 reads:

“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. [19] After being made alive, He went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits – [20] to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, [21] and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also – not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ,” (1 Peter 3:18-19, NIV)

In this passage, Peter was trying to explain the symbolic lesson behind baptism by making a link to the flood in the days of Noah. He mentioned that the water (the flood) killed many, and saved eight people – Noah, his wife, his three sons, and their wives. And, in like manner, the baptism symbolizes death first (just as the many people died by the flood), and then resurrection (just as eight people were saved by the same flood). His purpose for teaching about the baptism was to also link it to how the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ saves us. And then in explaining this, he mentioned that our Lord Jesus Christ went to preach (make proclamation of salvation) to those spirits in prison whose bodies were destroyed in the flood, so that they also can be saved. By making mention of this prison, we know that all persons who are disobedient to God – who refuse to have faith in God – are sent to prison when their bodies die.

Now, we do not want to go to prison. We all want to go to paradise. This is good, but it is also important for us to understand that God has planned much more for us, than just going to paradise.

Let’s see what the Bible says about this. In Hebrews chapter 11, we are told about many great men and women of faith – people that pleased God by the faith that they displayed. We are told of people like Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sara, Isaac, Jacob, David, Samuel, and many more who pleased God by their faith.

By faith, we know that all these persons are in paradise, because they pleased God through faith. But verses 39 and 40 tell us something very interesting. It says:

“And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: [40] God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.” (Hebrews 11:39-40, KJV).

This passage is telling us that although these people obtained a good report from God because of their faith, they have still not obtained the promise – even though we know they are in paradise. It therefore shows that simply going to paradise is not the promise God has given – paradise is a lovely place of rest for those who have lived a life of faith in God and in His Son, Jesus Christ.

So we may wonder:

What then is the promise?

Well, 2 Peter 1:4 gives us a clue. It says:

“Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” (2 Peter 1:4, KJV).

From this passage, we can understand first of all that these promises are very great, and precious. Next, we can understand that the purpose of these promises is so that we will take on God’s divine nature. If then we are told that the people in paradise have not yet obtained the promise, then it means that none of them have put on God’s divine nature yet; and the reason for this is that God wants all of us His people to put on His nature at the same time, as we are told in Hebrews 11:40. It is when we put on His divine nature that we become perfect as a new creation: a creation that is spiritual and heavenly.

Now that we know that partaking of God’s divine nature is the main goal, we can ask the question:

What is God’s divine nature?

We can answer by saying: God’s divine nature is the sum of all the properties that make God to be the Supreme and Most Holy being. They include: His love, His faith, His holiness, His justice, His wisdom, His understanding, His knowledge, His glory, His eternal life, His immortality, His power and His authority.

As such, partaking of God’s divine nature will mean having His nature of love, having His holiness, having His justice, having His wisdom, having His understanding, having His knowledge, having His glory, having His eternal life, having His immortality, having His power and having His authority.

This is actually God’s intention for us – that we should inherit all of His qualities, the same way a child inherits the DNA of the parents. That’s why Romans 8:17 tells us that we are heirs of God; co-heirs along with Christ. Meaning, we are people that inherit God (the Father), just as our Lord Jesus Christ inherits Him. This is why our Lord Jesus Christ is not ashamed to call us His brethren; because He knows that we have the same Father. When He resurrected, before He ascended, He said:

“… I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.”
(John 20:17, NKJV)

So we see that His Father is our Father, and His God is our God. As He has inherited the glory of His Father, so we will also inherit the glory of His Father, because His Father is our Father.

We should have it in mind that God is actually our Father. As our body was once a sperm in the body of our physical father, so also, our spirit was once in God, our Heavenly Father, until He breathed us out into a body to exist as a person. Moses knew this; that’s why He said:

“Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.
[2] Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world ….” (Psalm 90:1-2, NKJV)

So we see that even before God formed the earth, or the mountains, we were dwelling in Him – that is, we existed inside Him, although we were not active until He breathed us out into a body to live as an individual with a unique personality, having a mind, a will and emotions.

Now, ideally, we ought to have a smooth relationship with God immediately we were born, since we came from Him. But this was not the case because we inherited a sinful personality from the first Adam. To deal with this, our Father sent our Lord Jesus Christ, His Firstborn, to first of all display the kind of personality that we should have. After which, He took on the punishment of our sins by dying, so that we won’t have to die for our sins. And then, God resurrected Him to be a new Adam, the last Adam, the beginner of a new generation of humanity – a generation of humanity that resembles God in His character and His glory.

To switch from the generation of humanity that descended from the first Adam to the generation of humanity that descended from the Last Adam, our Lord Jesus Christ, we needed to be born-again. And now that we are born-again, the Lord is working on our character, to change it, until it resembles God’s character. When He is done changing our character, He will change our natural bodies and give us a spiritual body – a body is that is heavenly and immortal (a mansion that cannot be destroyed). At that point, we would have fully put on our Father’s divine nature, because the character and the body we will have are divine.

When we have fully put on our Father’s divine nature, He will make us rule as kings over all creation, while our Lord Jesus will be King of kings. He will make us lords, while our Lord Jesus will be Lord of lords. He will make us priests, while our Lord Jesus will be High Priest. That’s why 1 Peter 2:9 says:

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people…” (1 Peter 2:9, NKJV)

To be a royal priesthood means that we are a family of priests who also have authority to rule as kings. But our kingship is not of this present world. We will rule as kings when the Kingdom of our Father is established on earth. That’s why our Lord Jesus taught us to pray saying:

“… Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your Kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven …” (Matthew 6:9-10, NKJV)

He taught us to pray this, because, it is when our Father’s Kingdom is formed upon the earth that we will rule as kings, and serve as priests, to stand before God on behalf of the rest of humanity, who did not put on God’s divine nature when we did.

As a divine family, we will make up the government of God’s Kingdom, which already rules over all heavens and will soon fully rule over the whole earth. The head of this government is our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of Lords. As for God, our Father, He will actually be the one running the government. He will be the Invisible Spirit controlling all His sons and using them to govern the world. We will therefore be like a many-part body of our Invisible Father, since through us, our Father will be made visible to all creation. A many-part body simply means that our Father will have multiple bodies through which He can reveal Himself to all creation. These bodies will be the glorified bodies of all of us, His sons. This many-part body will have a head, through whom the Father will control all parts, and this head is His firstborn Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

These are the beautiful things we can look forward to as children of God. Our God is faithful. As we maintain fellowship with Him, He will perform all these things in us.

In Jesus name,

Amen.

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