Category: Current Essay

Heaven, Hell, and Paradise

First, let’s get a term out of the way. Purgatory is a concept invented by the Catholic Church, and absolutely does not exist as the Catholics define it. The destination of the soul is determined at the moment of death. Jesus Himself gave us insight into this, and we’ll cover that in a minute. But, the idea that one can have an after-death change of abode where their final destination is determined by actions or inactions of those still here alive on earth (i.e., “Prayers of the Saints”) has no basis in Scripture. In fact, Scripture says exactly the opposite!

With that in mind, there is a valid possibility presented herein, though again, Scripture does not speak precisely to this, but it does support this theory. With all these caveats in mind, here we go:

In Luke 16, Jesus tells the story of Lazarus1 and the rich man. Some believe this be a parable, others believe it to be a true account (I personally lean towards the true account theory, primarily because Jesus used an actual name – Lazarus – rather than “a poor man”. But as always, I reserve the right to be wrong). Either way, the facts are presented by the Son of God Himself. In the story the Rich Man was a sinner – accountable for his selfishness and disdain for those he considered below his “station”. Lazarus was considered so by the Rich Man, and suffered in this life, but he had placed his faith in God.

Both died.

Lazarus’ soul was immediately carried to “Abraham’s Bosom” (more about that later), and the Rich Man – “In hell2, he lifted up his eyes”. Two men, two destinations – the lesson being that the righteous will receive mercy, and the unrighteous will not. What makes one righteous? We are not righteous on our own, but are made to be righteous by our faith in Christ, or in the case of those before Christ, their faith in God’s promise of delivery which was accomplished on the Cross by the Messiah He would send. On this side of the Cross, the righteous are those who have placed their faith in Christ and His atonement on the Cross. The unrighteous refuse to choose faith in Christ, and thus place their faith in everything but Christ.

In the Luke 16 account, Lazarus was carried to a place of peace and rest Jesus called “Abraham’s Bosom3”. Now, Jesus, during His discourse in John:14 at the Last Supper, told His disciples that “No man cometh unto the Father, but by Me”. So, before Christ rose, the door into God’s presence was not yet open.4 Likewise, before the Great White Throne judgment spoken of in Revelation 7 and 20, the final destination of the eternal torment was not yet opened. So, just where did souls go after death?

Before Jesus the likely possibility is that there was a place of abode separate from both eternal torment, and eternal peace. There are several names the Bible uses for this place, but per Jesus’ description, this abode actually consists of two places: Hell (hades), and Abraham’s Bosom. Additionally, per Jesus’ own description, there is a gulf between the two that permanently separates them. It is also likely that Abraham’s Bosom was also the place Jesus called “Paradise” in His promise to the Thief that had just professed trust in Christ.

So, here’s the picture I’ve drawn: The Rich Man died and went to the Hell side of this abode. As he looked across the gulf, he saw Lazarus in “Abraham’s Bosom” – Paradise! He was even able to talk across the gulf to Abraham, and Abraham answered him! So, assuming this picture holds, all those who have died and not placed their faith in God’s promised solution are in Hell – the “bad” side of this abode – and they’re still there today, already in torment, awaiting their final judgment and sentence. However, all those who had believed God when they died, went to this Paradise/Abraham’s Bosom.

Here’s the wrinkle, though. Because of what Christ has done on the cross, the door is now open to God’s presence5. In Ephesians 4:8, Paul tells the Church at Ephesus that Christ “Ascended up on high, He led captivity captive”, and in Verses 9-10, “Now that He ascended, what is it but that He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same that ascended far above all heavens, that He might fill all things.”

Pulling all this together, then, before Christ, when those who had placed their faith in God died, their soul went directly to Abraham’s Bosom – the “good”, if you will, side of the temporary abode, or holding place. When Christ arose, He rescued these souls and carried them into the Father’s presence, so the “good side”, the place He called “Abraham’s Bosom”, is now empty! After Christ, a believer, at death, is carried directly into the Father’s presence because of what Christ did on the Cross. However, disbelievers, both before and after Christ, go to Hell (hades), the “bad side” of this abode awaiting the final resurrection and judgment, where they all will be sentenced to eternal destruction.

Of course, all this is depends on interpretation of what the Bible has said about other things. One thing is certain, though: The Bible has no discrepancies or inaccuracies. That’s what we do here on earth…..


1Not to be confused with the Lazarus Jesus raised from the dead.
The actual Greek word used here is the word “hades”, the unseen place of departed souls.

The term ‘Abraham’s bosom’ is only used in this passage in the Bible that has different meanings, depending on how it’s used. Here it’s the Greek word ‘kolpos’ which generally refers to the upper part of the chest of a garment that would fold to make a pocket. However, it could also be a ‘bay’, or a ‘creek’, possibly meaning a beach-like place (as in Acts 27). Either way, it was a pleasant place of peace and safety.

Remember, God cannot look upon sin. The price has to be paid. So until Christ atoned for our sins on the Cross, there was no way to be in God’s presence.

We know this because of two things: First, Jesus is sitting at the right hand of God (Acts 7:55, Romans 8:34), and second, when we die we are absent from the body and present with the Lord (II Corinthians 5:8)

Daylight Savings Time – It really saves

You may have heard some of these, but here’s a couple

“Only the government would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket, sew it to the bottom, and have a longer blanket.”

or my favorite:

“Daylight saving time occurs because Chuck Norris hits snooze on his alarm clock.”

There are those who think daylight savings time is just a trick and we’re the victims.  Well, they’re only partially correct. The truth is, DST is there to correct the trick.  What is the trick that it corrects?  The clock.  Let me explain….

Before clocks became available to the average man, people kept time by the sun.  The day started when the sun came up, and ended when the sun went down.  Indeed, those of us familiar with the Bible read how the Hebrews reckoned time by the number of hours since sunrise.  The 9th hour, for instance, was sometime around 3:00 p.m. – or 9 hours after sunrise.  So, the workday began, depending on your particular activity, when the sun came up, and by the time the sun went down you were through with your daily work and it was time to get ready for bed.

Then came clocks.  Now we have a mechanical means of keeping up with time.  That was the first major change, and things would never be the same.

Let’s write a book

You and I are going to write a book. It’s the story of a family from their first appearance until the last one is gone. It spans several centuries and this family has enormous influence on world affairs. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

The writing process will not be the normal process, because in addition to you and me, we’re going to invite others to write pieces of this book as well…as many as 40 – most of whom you don’t know, and will only meet once. There’ll be no collaboration and very little information will be passed from one author to another. Here’s how that will work:

First, I’ll write the first five chapters of this new book where I’ll introduce the initial characters and the first few descendants. Everyone will use these chapters as an initial guide as they prepare their individual parts. I’ll give some clues about future events for others to expand upon, but most of these clues will be hints only without any real specifics. It’ll be up to the group to expand upon those clues.

You will write the last chapter, along with a couple of others, so you’ll be responsible for bringing the family and their entire history to a close. In that last chapter, you’ll resolve all outstanding issues and tie all remaining mysteries together.

We’ll do this over the period of a year. Each chapter will be written in less than two weeks, and some chapters will be written simultaneously by people who don’t know what the other is writing. About half way through the book, I’ll direct a new character to be introduced and choose some writers to bring this character to life for the reader. These writers will be able to consult with each other for one day, after which they’ll write their individual chapters without further consultation. Once written, the remaining authors will be allowed to read, but not take notes, on these chapters before penning their parts.

Now, here’s the kicker: Once the book is finished, the story line must be consistent through the entire book. All events predicted by not only myself but others along the way will occur exactly as predicted, and there’ll be no discrepancies in the characters, the story line, or the unfolding of events.

Once we’re finished, there’ll be no editing of the story content – only grammatical corrections – after which it’ll go straight to the printer. Once a first edition is printed, it will be used to entice a major publisher into funding the project, and placing it on bookstore shelves around the country, and then the world.

What do you think of our chances? Do you think:

  • The story will be interesting at all?
  • We’ll be able to keep the family history meaningful?
  • The characters will be believable?
  • We’ll be able to resolve in a meaningful way all the histories and events?
  • We won’t all look like fools?

Do you think this will make any sense at all, or will it just be the biggest piece of junk ever committed to paper? I’m betting, and as a matter of fact I’ll guarantee, this latter option.

So what’s the point?

Such a book exists. It was written over the space of 1500 years by people, many of whom never met, had no collaboration, many of whom were unschooled, even illiterate, although some parts were written by very scholarly individuals, and a couple were written by powerful leaders of their own country. In fact, it’s a collection of 66 writings by some 40 authors all bound together in a single book. It contains no factual errors, no unresolved issues (at least from the internal perspective of the primary characters), and best of all, explains the entire human condition! You probably have at least one, and maybe many yourself.

How did this happen? Well, there is only one way this could occur, and the book itself explains why. It’s because it is inspired by someone greater than ourselves. It is what it claims to be: The inspired Word of God. It would be impossible for the Bible to exist any other way.

Unless, of course, you believe in evolution, in which case you have no problem with 1 + 1 = 43 billion.