Responding to Jesus
Welcome to ADONI MESSIAH which means
"My Lord Messiah" -
a fitting epithet to who Jesus (or Yeshua) is!
Here, I attempt to present the Apostolic Truths according to the Scriptures, that there is
One GOD, the Father, namely, YAHWEH,
and One Lord, GOD's only begotten Son,
Yeshua the Messiah.
And that one day YAHWEH will send His Son back to Earth to inaugurate the Everlasting Kingdom of GOD
Monday, July 05, 2010
Responding to Jesus
During forty years involvement in the field of biblical studies and teaching, I have noticed that many Christians do not follow the fine example set by the Bereans in Acts 17:11: “They searched the Scriptures daily to see if what Paul was saying was true; so many of them became Christians.” Many today, however, simply believe what they have been told.
Take the issue of what happens when we die. Ask a typical churchgoer and he will quote the words of Jesus to the [criminal]: “Today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). This is supposed to settle the question with finality.
But the problem is this: Luke 23:43 is a fraction of the total biblical evidence available for study. Nevertheless many will settle for an easy “solution.” That verse obviously proves, they think, that Jesus and the [criminal] departed at the moment of death into the presence of the Father in heaven. On that basis, churchgoers are exhorted to believe that they too will survive death as “souls” and pass on to celestial regions.
Imagine a conversation between a child and her mother: “Mommy, where did Jesus go the day he died?” “Well, to heaven to be with God, dear. Do you remember he said that he and the thief would be together that day in Paradise?”
“But wait, Mommy, do you remember that Jesus earlier said that he would ‘be three days in the heart of the earth’? If he was in the heart of the earth, how can he have been with the Father in heaven?”
“Well, dear, perhaps Jesus’ spirit was with the Father while his body was in the heart of the earth.”
“But how can that be, Mommy? Three days after the day Jesus died he said to his friends: ‘I (Jesus) have not yet ascended to the Father.’ How could he possibly have gone to heaven to the Father, if three days later he said he had not yet ascended to the Father?”
Mommy’s attempt to answer the difficulty includes an immense and unproven assumption: that in the Bible a person can go on existing consciously as a “spirit” or “soul” separated from their body. For Mommy’s “solution” to be true that assumption must be biblically demonstrated. But the “departed soul” concept owes its origin to Platonic philosophy and not to the Bible at all.
So what is the solution to our question about what happens when we die? First we must lay out the facts:
1) Jesus apparently said that he would be on the day of his death with the [criminal] in the presence of the Father (Luke 23:43).
2) Jesus said with complete clarity that he would be in the heart of the earth when he died and remain there for three days (Matt. 12:40).
3) Peter confirms this by saying that God did not leave Jesus in the world of the dead, Hades (Acts 2:31). This proves that Jesus did indeed go to the world of the dead. But God did not leave him there. He brought him out of the tomb by resurrection three days after he died.
4) When the women arrived at the tomb, the angel said, “He is not here. He has risen from the dead” (Matt. 28:6). This proves that Jesus had indeed been in the tomb until he was resurrected.
5) On the Sunday after his death, Jesus expressly said: “I have not yet ascended to my Father” (John 20:17). So he could not possibly have been to heaven before ... Sunday.
Here is what the evidence presents:
Points 2-5 demonstrate that Jesus went to the grave at his death and that he did not go to the Father in heaven the day he died.
Point 1 alone (the very point which most rely on almost instinctively) appears to contradict the evidence of points 2-5.
How shall we resolve the problem?
The Bible does not contradict itself. If Jesus was in the heart of the earth he cannot have been with the Father in Paradise (the text does not say, as many assume, “heaven”).
Here is the solution which resolves the apparent contradiction.
What Jesus actually said to the [criminal] ... was: “Truly I tell you today, you will be with me in Paradise.” Punctuating the sentence that way — putting the comma after “today” — makes sense of the immediate context and brings the statement into line with Jesus’ other clear statements that he did not go anywhere other than to the grave that day — the day of his and the [criminal’s] death.
Now we are ready to follow the whole of Jesus’ conversation with the [criminal]:
The [criminal], in a repentant frame of mind, begs Jesus: “Lord, remember me when you come [in the future] bringing in your Kingdom.” His request was to be remembered on the future day of the arrival of Jesus to set up the Kingdom of God, the Christian hope. The [criminal] demonstrated faith in the Gospel: firstly, that the Kingdom of God is coming and secondly that Jesus was the Messiah.
Jesus graciously gave the thief more than he asked. He said: “Truly I assure you today [you don’t have to wait to be remembered in the future], you will indeed be with me in the future Paradise [of the Kingdom of God on earth].” Paradise is the restored garden of Eden in the renewed earth of the Kingdom which Jesus will bring at his second coming (Rev. 2:7). Jesus equated Paradise, which he promised the thief, with the Kingdom of God in which the thief requested a place.
Jesus did not go to heaven at death. No one in the Bible goes to heaven at death. Everyone goes to the grave, the world of the dead (Hades), to await the resurrection which will occur when Jesus comes back to establish his Kingdom. As I Corinthians 15:23 says so beautifully: “Those who belong to Christ will be resurrected at his coming.” Until then they remain in the grave (Hades), the residence of all the dead, including Jesus when he died, until they are called out of Hades as Jesus was three days after his death. Only Jesus has so far emerged from Hades into immortality. He did this on the third day, the day of his resurrection.
Now back to the “problem” of Luke 23:43, so often quoted as a supposed proof of an immediate presence of the soul in heaven, in contradiction to the plain statements that Jesus did not go to the Father the day he died.
In many New Testament Greek manuscripts the words are written without gaps and without punctuation. So Luke 23:43 would look like this: TRULYISAYTOYOUTODAYYOUWILLBEWITHMEINPARADISE.
1) After “today” and read: “Truly I say to you today, you will be with me in Paradise.”
2) After “to you” and read: “Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
In some very early manuscripts of the Bible there is some indication of punctuation, as we shall explain.
We must investigate all the evidence before making up our minds on a biblical teaching. The Truth sets us free (John 8:32). Christians are those who believe what is true.
There are examples of the phrase “I say to you today…” elsewhere in the Bible. The phrase is used to convey solemn emphasis. In Deuteronomy 30:16, 18, 19 we read:
“I command you this day....”
“I declare to you this day....”
“I call heaven and earth to witness to you this day....”
And in the New Testament Acts 20:26 provides a parallel: “I solemnly witness to you this very day....”
Further examples will be found in Deut. 4:26, 39, 40; 6:6; 7:11; 8:1, 11, 19; 9:3; 10:13; 11:2, 8, 13, 26, 27, 28, 32; 13:18; 15:5; 19:9; 26:3, 16, 18; 27:1, 4, 10; 28:1, 13, 14, 15; 29:12; 30:2, 8, 11, 15, 16, 18, 19; 32:46.
Observe also Gen. 25:33: “Swear to me today…” Gen. 22:14: “that they might say today…” Gen. 41:9: “I today remember…” Deut. 9:6: “Today you will know…” Deut. 29:10: “Today you all stand…” Deut. 30:6: “I announce to you today….”
Detailed punctuation in the Bible has been added by translators and it can drastically affect the meaning of the text. ... It is only reasonable to repunctuate Luke 23:43 in a way which makes it harmonize with everything else the Bible says about death and Resurrection.
“Many of those who are sleeping in the dust of the ground shall arise…to everlasting life…”
“The hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice, those who have done good to a resurrection of life…”
Nothing should be allowed to disturb the central biblical doctrine of the future Resurrection of all the faithful from the sleep of death to life in the Kingdom of God. This stupendous event will occur when Jesus returns (1 Cor. 15:23).
Many of the Greek manuscripts of the Bible do not have punctuation. However, some very early manuscripts do have some marks of punctuation. In the Vatican Codex (4th century) there is evidence of a comma after the word “today.” And in the Curetonian version of the Syriac translation of Luke (5th century), we read “Amen, I say to you today, that with me you will be in the Garden of Eden.”
A German translation of the Bible, published in 1934 by Wilhelm Michaelis (Kroner Verlag, Leipzig) renders Luke 23:43 as follows: “Truly I give you my assurance today: You will one day be with me in Paradise.” The author adds this comment in a footnote: “Jesus does not wait until the last day, but promises the thief even now (‘today’ should probably be attached to the first part of the sentence) that his request will be granted. Paradise occurs in the NT only in 2 Cor. 12:4 and Rev. 2:7 and is the equivalent of everlasting life or Kingdom of God” (translation from the German mine). The Rotherham Bible (1895, reprinted in 1974) reads as follows: “Verily I say unto thee this day: With me shalt thou be in Paradise.” The official translation of the Roman Catholics, the Latin Vulgate, does not place a comma anywhere in this verse. It thus avoids the false impression that Jesus was in heaven on the day of his death.
The celebrated Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, Vol. 5, p. 385, says: “Paradise, as used in Luke 23:43..., is evidently not heaven (John 20:17, Acts 2:31).” In other words John 20:17 and Acts 2:31 show that Jesus could not have gone to the Father in heaven on the day of his death. And similarly, no Christian goes immediately to heaven at death.
This fact has not prevented popular preaching of Luke 23:43 as a guarantee of “heaven at death” for the believer.
As with all “restorationist” movements our purpose is to alert our fellow Bible readers to the paganism which has crept into the faith. We cannot think that serious Christians will be satisfied with the status quo once they are informed of doctrines which masquerade as truth, however popular. Popular phrases such as “so and so has passed on, gone home, gone to be with Jesus in heaven” do not reflect the teaching of Jesus at all. They have more in common with spiritism and illicit raising of the dead and are condemned in Scripture as worthless and dangerous.
We ask only for a fair examination of the facts and there is a vast quantity of additional evidence available.
Fitting the Pieces Together into a Harmonious Whole