PARADISE AND THE KINGDOM OF GOD
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved


A dramatic change has occurred in the preaching of the Gospel. What began in the first century as a call to repentance in light of the soon coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth has been altered to a flight of the believers to Heaven.

This alteration has serious consequences. The most serious consequence is that most of what Paul commanded has become irrelevant. Paul taught that we have to be changed so we can be part of the Kingdom of God, that those who sin cannot inherit the Kingdom.

The Christians of today do not understand the difference between Paradise (Heaven) and the Kingdom of God. They view salvation as a movement from earth to Paradise rather than what it is, the forming of Christ (who is the Kingdom) in the believer.

Satan would love it if all the believers would go to Heaven and stay there in mansions doing nothing of significance. But the thought of Christ being formed in a believer sends the demons scurrying for cover.


PARADISE AND THE KINGDOM OF GOD

 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise. (Luke 23:43)

A dramatic change has occurred in the preaching of the Gospel. What began in the first century as a call to repentance in light of the soon coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth has been altered to a flight of the believers to Heaven.

This alteration has serious consequences. The most serious consequence is that most of what Paul commanded has become irrelevant. Paul taught that we have to be changed so we can be part of the Kingdom of God, that those who sin cannot inherit the Kingdom.

The Christians today do not understand the difference between Paradise (Heaven) and the Kingdom of God. They view salvation as a movement from earth to Paradise rather than what it is, the forming of Christ (who is the Kingdom) in the believer.

Satan would love it if all the believers would go to Heaven and stay there in mansions doing nothing of significance. But the thought of Christ being formed in a believer sends the demons scurrying for cover.

Yesterday, Sunday morning, a young lady accosted me after the service and said, "Pastor, you mentioned that Paradise is a place and the Kingdom of God is some kind of abstraction. I’ve been here seventeen years and I don’t understand the Kingdom of God."

This started me thinking and so last night during the service we talked some about Paradise and the Kingdom of God.

I have now (Monday morning—supposed to be my day off) taken computer in hand to reward you with a continuation of the discussion of Paradise and the Kingdom of God. MacDonald said in Phantastes something to the effect that he had started to write and didn’t know where it was going. This is the condition I am in now because the Kingdom of God is a tremendous subject. I trust the Holy Spirit to give understanding at this point.

First of all, it is interesting that John the Baptist, Jesus, and the Apostle Paul preached the Kingdom of God. This was the original Gospel message. "Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand," as though the Kingdom is coming to the earth.

In the early history of the Church the message changed to "Repent so you can go to Heaven." How this happened I do not know. It probably had something to do with the philosophy of Gnosticism and the influx of pagan religions as Gentiles brought into the originally Jewish assemblies their beliefs concerning life after death, fertility symbols, and other ideas that have become part of the Christian tradition.

I do not wish to make a cause célPbre of Christmas trees and Easter eggs, but the issue of Paradise versus the Kingdom of God has direct practical bearing on the way we Christians work out our salvation.

I looked at the statement of faith of our denomination (which is as good as any denomination!) and do you know what? The Kingdom of God is not mentioned. Since we are fundamental believers, how can this be? Check out the statement of faith of your denomination and see if you can find any statement about the Kingdom of God. You probably won’t because the Christians think the Kingdom has something to do with Jehovah’s Witnesses (bless them).

How could it be that a Bible-believing denomination does not mention the Kingdom of God in its statement of faith?

How did we get off the track? We still pray the Lord’s prayer, most of us, about the Kingdom of God coming to the earth. But we are looking forward to getting out of here, and you can’t blame us for that these days.

In any case we are mixed up and it is time now for the Lord to get us back on the track concerning the Kingdom of God.

There is Paradise and then there is the Kingdom of God. By the way, the manner in which we currently use the term Heaven makes it synonymous with "Paradise," at least for our purposes here. So when we say "Paradise" we think of Heaven.

 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. (II Corinthians 12:4)

Paradise is a place. If you were wandering around the Persian Gulf a while back you would have seen a sign that said "You are now entering the country of Eden. Get your passport ready."

After you entered Eden and traveled east for a while you would come to another sign, "Paradise City Limits."

Paradise is a place. In Paradise was everything we could ever want in Heaven, including the Presence of God. There were no mansions because the weather was nice, like in Heaven.

Because we sinned God drove us from the garden and lifted Paradise out of Iraq up to the third heaven where it is to this day.

From some of the statements of the Prophet Isaiah it appears that Paradise will be restored to the earth when the Lord returns. The children will love this because then the earth will be such a splendid place in which to play.

There was a man hanging on a cross next to Jesus. We know nothing of the history of this individual. But we know he was a true man because he didn’t blame other people for his misbehavior.

 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise. (Luke 23:40-43)

"Today you will be with Me in Paradise."

The criminal said, "Lord, remember me when You come into your kingdom."

Your kingdom! He recognized Jesus as a king.

Then note Jesus’ answer: "Today you will be with Me in Paradise"; not in the Kingdom but in Paradise.

Why? Because Paradise is a place. Soon after this statement the man and Jesus were walking in the garden of God.

Why not the Kingdom of God? Because the Kingdom of God is not a place where you can take somebody, at least not in the present hour. You can bring someone under the rule of the Kingdom but not into the Kingdom itself. Let us go on to explain.

The Kingdom of God is God in Christ in the saints governing and blessing the creation of God. The Kingdom of God came into existence when the Lord Jesus rose from the dead.

The Kingdom of God is being created in response to the rebellion of the angels. The purpose of the Kingdom of God is to get the snakes out of Paradise. Sin is not only possible in Paradise, sin began in Paradise!

At some point in an era so far back in time as to be incomprehensible to us, Satan was one of two cherubim who overshadowed the Throne of God with their wings. While in the holiest area of all of the Paradise of God it came into Satan’s heart to rebel against God and to set himself above the other creatures of God.

 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. (Isaiah 14:12-14)

Do you get the point? Going to Paradise does not solve the problem of sin. Sin began in Paradise. Going to Heaven will not solve the problem of sin for you. Sin began in Heaven around the Throne of God.

You didn’t need to hear this, did you?

All people could ever desire was to be found in the garden in Eden, including the Presence of the Lord as we said.

There was also a snake from Heaven there. Think of it! A snake from Heaven!

One thing was missing. Can you guess?

The Kingdom of God.

If the Kingdom of God had been formed in Eve she would have said, "Get behind me, heavenly snake!"

If the Kingdom of God had been formed in Adam he would have said, "For crying out loud, Eve, why did you do that?" They both would have spoken in Hebrew, of course.

You want to remember Eve was a sanguine creature, impulsive, whimsical, very dramatic, flitting from one interesting object to another, always pirouetting around and chattering merrily. Adam was a choleric personality but he loved his butterfly and indulged her. Eve was just what Adam needed to keep him from getting careless. However she had just made a serious move.

Had Christ been formed in him Adam would have brought Eve immediately before the Lord, asked forgiveness, got some clothes from the Lord, and promised that neither of them would eat any more apples. Something like this.

Are you beginning to get the picture? Paradise is a place. The Kingdom of God is the rule of God. If Adam or Eve or both of them had had the Kingdom of God in them they would not have sinned.

We teach that you have to be born again to be saved. What do we mean by saved? Do we mean we go to Paradise when we die? Or do we mean we are saved from sin so if we are tempted we do not eat apples when we have been told not to? Obviously going to a peaceful garden, and being immunized against, sin are not at all the same thing. Do you agree?

By now you probably are wondering whether or not you are saved.

The Bible does not say we have to be born again to be saved. It says we have to believe and be baptized to be saved. Right?

Aren’t being born again and believing and being baptized the same thing? Hardly.

Let me ask you. Is to believe something and to be immersed in water the same thing as being born?

To believe is one matter. To be baptized in water is something else again.

To be born of God, to actually be born of God, is different yet. Belief, water baptism, and being born again may take place at the same time but they are not the same thing, obviously.

 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:13)

In America we use the term born-again Christian. We don’t know what we are talking about. We are referring to a religious conversion of some kind.

The Apostles, as recorded in the Book of Acts, never preached being born again.

To be born again is not referring to religious conversion. It is speaking of the Divine Substance of God being planted in our personality, like in the parable of the sower.

The parable of the sower is the main parable of the Kingdom of God. The seed that is sown is the Word of God, or Christ. In one instance the seed is snatched away before it germinates. In another it is crowded out by the cares of life and dies. In another it is in rocky soil (a hard heart) and does not send down roots. In time of severe trouble it withers and dies.

In a fourth instance the seed falls on an honest and good heart and brings forth eternal fruit. The amount of fruit varies from one person to another.

It is the Kingdom that is born in us (Paradise is not born in us!), and this is why we must be born again to see or enter the Kingdom.

The Kingdom of God is Christ, the Word of God, born in us. As Christ then is formed in us through all the graces God provides, we become increasingly righteous, holy, and obedient to God.

The only valid proof that Christ is being formed in you is that you are growing increasingly capable of recognizing good and evil (the tree of the knowledge of good and evil for which Adam and Eve were not sufficiently prepared) and increasingly willing and strong enough to reject the evil and choose the good.

Can you see that this is God’s response to the original rebellion?

If Adam and Eve had been able to discern between good and evil, and willing and strong enough to reject the evil and choose the good, they still would be with us. (Talk about a population explosion!)

Can you see now why Satan has diverted Christian thinking from the Kingdom to going to Paradise to live forever in a mansion? Satan desires that every believer go to Heaven to live in a mansion and do nothing so Satan can be free to enjoy himself. What Satan wants is for sin to continue in the earth.

The Kingdom of God is the Word of God formed in us a line at a time. It requires patient endurance if we are to be able to stand up under the dealings of God.

What is the big picture? The big picture is that of God creating people forever. Of the increase of Christ’s Kingdom and of peace there shall be no end.

What is going on now? Now there is being formed a governing priesthood. The priesthood is being prepared to govern God’s children forever. We are, as James says, a firstfruits of mankind.

Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. (James 1:18)

First the nobility, then the rest of the Kingdom. Make sense? If God did it the other way around it would be messy.

We presently are trying to survive in a moral cesspool. Country people will understand about cesspools. We are drowning in filth in the United States. A recent cartoon had George Washington saying something like "Why are they observing my birthday when character doesn’t count any more?" I don’t even want to repeat the things discussed in the newspaper. The same is true of England from what I hear. Both were godly countries at one time.

God knows what He is doing. Out from the cesspool will be drawn shining jewels—saints who will serve God under any condition.

These are the Kingdom of God.

When the Lord Jesus returns from Heaven He will bring His jewels with Him. They will govern the works of God’s hands forever.

The reason there will be no sin in the Kingdom Age to come is not that the possibility of sin will suddenly disappear, it is that God’s righteous kings will have the authority and power to prevent sin from taking place.

You either will rule or be ruled in the world to come. There will be no more unwalled Edens.

Will there be sin in the Kingdom of God? No. Sin is not present in the Kingdom. Sin was present in Paradise but will not be present in the Kingdom because the Kingdom is God in Christ governing from within our personality.

 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)

We read this and think, "If we do such things we will not go to Heaven." Or, "If we do such things we will not be saved."

Paul did not preach about going to Heaven. Paul preached about our being ready for the Day of the Lord, for the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.

There is no adultery, strife, or drunkenness in the Kingdom of God. The voice of Satan is heard in Heaven to the present day, accusing the saints. But when the Kingdom is formed sufficiently in the saints they will speak the word of judgment and Michael and his angels will drive Satan from Heaven.

But don’t the prostitutes enter the Kingdom before the chief priests and the elders? Yes, they do, but they do not enter as prostitutes. The prostitutes enter the Kingdom by humbling themselves and turning from their wicked ways. This the chief priests and the elders will not do.

 Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. (Matthew 21:31)

Think about the parables of the Lord Jesus. Not one of His parables is about Paradise, about Heaven. They all are about the Kingdom. They show us that the Kingdom is something that takes place inside of us.

If we are saying that the Kingdom of God is God in Christ in us, two questions arise: first, how can angels cast people out of the Kingdom at the end of the age? and second, how can we see Abraham sitting down in the Kingdom if the Kingdom is an inner formation of personality?

 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; (Matthew 13:41)

There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. (Luke 13:28,29)

What about the new Jerusalem in this picture? And where does the idea of salvation fit in?

The answer to all of these questions is this: The Kingdom of God indeed is the forming of God in Christ in us. This is the new covenant—the writing of God’s law in our heart and mind.

This is the Kingdom proper.

Then there is the sphere of influence of the Kingdom. The sphere of the influence of the Kingdom is the immediate environment of the Kingdom and also the larger area that the Kingdom governs.

To be saved in its primary sense is to be permitted to enter eternity under the auspices of the Kingdom. Thus a saved person can be part of the Kingdom proper or merely be governed by the Kingdom.

All other people are contained outside the Presence of God—the worst of all possible fates.

At the end of the present age the angels will remove sinful people from the beneficial influence of God in Christ.

At the end of the present age it will be possible for a person to see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the prophets in the Kingdom of God and yet not be allowed to partake of the Presence of God in Christ.

The new Jerusalem is actually a place that expresses in its elements the virtues being formed in the personalities of the saints while they are seeking God during their imprisonment in the present cesspool.

To be saved is to be allowed to enjoy the paradisiac environment that always will follow those who are members of the Kingdom of God. Each member of the Kingdom is greater than the greatest of the prophets. Each member of the Kingdom is as a highway to Zion. He can pass through the waters of bitterness and make them a spring of refreshing.

 Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools. They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God. (Psalms 84:6,7)

The Spirit and the members of the Kingdom cry to the nations: "Come and drink freely of the waters of eternal life."

The name of the holy city is engraved in the personality of each saint for the saints themselves are the new Jerusalem. It is a living city, a living, eternal house for God. The throne of God and of the Lamb are in it.

The practical aspect of understanding the difference between Paradise and the Kingdom of God is as follows: If you view the Christian salvation as a way of entering Paradise when you die, and God’s forgiveness through Christ as your free ticket, a ticket you can never lose, then the great majority of the passages of the New Testament will make little sense to you.

How can you work out your salvation with fear and trembling if salvation is a ticket to Paradise and you are going to get there by forgiveness?

Do you see there is nothing you can do after you "make a decision for Christ" except wait to die? Of course you can enter Christian service. But how many church-attenders that you know are presenting their body a living sacrifice to God so they may prove His will in service?

The truth is, the Christian churches are backslidden, and part of the reason is they do not understand the Kingdom of God.

If you view the Christian salvation as your entering the Kingdom of God then there is a challenge that must be met every day. Also, you can tell right now if you are entering the Kingdom whereas in the Heaven model you can’t tell how well you did until you die.

God is forming His Kingdom today in those who will cooperate with the Holy Spirit. Each day the Lord will give you a portion of evil and a portion of Divine good wherewith to overcome the evil.

Each day you make a basic choice. Every time you choose to overcome the spiritual darkness of the day with the Divine good of God, you have the Kingdom formed in you. Every time you choose to fool around and dabble in sin, not taking advantage of the grace being offered you, you lose ground in the Kingdom.

Entering the Kingdom is a fight. Entering the Kingdom is a race. Entering the Kingdom is a continual struggle.

God sees us perfect in Christ with the understanding we are fighting the good fight of faith each day.

The horrible error of our day is the teaching that God sees us perfect in Christ independently of whether we are following the Spirit in putting to death the deeds of our body.

Are you having the Kingdom of God, the rule of God, formed in you today—right now? If you are not sure, ask God to show you. He will.

Then determine every remaining day of your life to seek God with all your heart.

The Kingdom of God soon is to come to the earth. The nobility, the governing priesthood, is being formed now. The precious stones of the wall of the new Jerusalem are being created by the intense heat and pressure upon us. The gates of pearl leading to the tree of life and the Throne of God result from the irritations we are experiencing.

Prepare ye the way of the Lord! The King of kings is coming with His lesser kings. See them on the horizon! It is the rising of the sun of the Day of the Lord.

The drums of El Shaddai are beating to the attack. The trumpets sound louder and louder, clear, piercing, deafening, penetrating every barrier. The thunder of the hoofs of the war stallions is terrible.

The slain Lamb will soon appear overhead, ready to draw up to Himself those who live by His body and blood. The powerful of the earth as well as the slaves will try to hide from the face of God and the wrath of the Lamb. "Mountains, rocks, fall on us. An avalanche. Anything! We can’t stand this!"

The sun may not rise tomorrow morning, but one thing is certain: you and I will see the events of the Day of Wrath when they take place. Where will we be?

Change your way of living. I’ve changed mine! The Kingdom of God is at hand!