Paradise or Sleep?

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: 1 King 21-22; Luke 23:26-56

39 One of the criminals hanging next to Jesus insulted him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”

40 Responding, the other criminal spoke harshly to him, “Don’t you fear God, seeing that you’ve also been sentenced to die? 41 We are rightly condemned, for we are receiving the appropriate sentence for what we did. But this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

43 Jesus replied, “I assure you that today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43, Common English Bible).

As many of us are apt to do at times, I entered into a theological debate (some might have called it an argument but he and I both preferred referring to it as a debate) with one of my preacher friends. The debate circled around today’s lesson. He asked the question, “What happens when a believer dies?”

My immediate answer went to quote Luke 23:43, “Jesus replied, “I assure you that today you will be with me in paradise.” It is what I have always believed. Why would Jesus tell the thief on the cross that he would be with Jesus that day if it were not true?

My friend pointed to Revelation 6 and read this “When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar those who had been slaughtered on account of the word of God and the witness they had given. 10 They cried out with a loud voice, “Holy and true Master, how long will you wait before you pass judgment? How long before you require justice for our blood, which was shed by those who live on earth?” 11 Each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to rest a little longer, until their fellow servants and brothers and sisters—who were about to be killed as they were—were finished.” Other translations, instead of saying “rest,” use other terms.

We both walked away from the debate agreeing that whether we go to paradise immediately upon death or we go to sleep for an unspecified period of time, we wouldn’t know the difference when we actually do enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

Since then, I have come to understand something more. There is no Scripture that indicates the soul sleeps. The body sleeps, but not the soul. I know my friend still might not agree, but as I think about it, that would mean we were both partly right. The body sleeps the sleep of the dead but the soul moves on to what Jesus called the Kingdom to come with the thief on the cross, “Paradise.”

As I think back on it, I think I have said something similar at most every funeral service I have led. In most cases, the body of the deceased has been right there. It is obvious this person is not conscious. It is equally obvious, this person’s soul is no longer present. It has moved on. And, we who believe take comfort in the knowledge that, like the promise Jesus made to the thief on the cross, the person we love may have a body that is asleep, but a soul that is with Jesus in paradise.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Published by drjkbroyles

I love Mike Ashcraft's book, "My One Word." For the past nine years I have participated and encouraged others to participate to in the "My One Word" Challenge. My first word was discipline was my word the first year. Since then my word has been focus, sight, jungle, peace, concentration, serve, genuine and this year is fit. I seek to be fit for my health, my family, my church, my ministries. I seek to be fit in any are of my life where God might point to me. I also have a nickname, "Dr. B." When I was a public high school teacher, Dr. B. is what most of my students called me, at least in my presence. I am still called that by many people though I no longer teach in public schools. I am the author of "Average Joe: With an Extraordinary Story" (available on Amazon). The book fits into the genre of "Biblical Fiction" or "Christian Fiction" and features some of the Bible's lesser known characters. The name of my blog is, "Fork in the Road." Life is filled with forks in the road. It isn't a matter of if we encounter a fork in the road, but when will we and how many will we experience in a lifetime. I love to strum my guitar. I am not a great guitar player but I enjoy it. I also enjoy writing music. I get excited with I feel a new song emerging. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog, "Bishop" in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 30 years as a United Methodist pastor, serving churches all over east and southeast Texas, from just north of Tyler to south of Houston, from the Gulf Coast to east of Madisonville. I currently serve Perritte Memorial UMC in Nacogdoches. I spent one year in the classroom, teaching High School government, economics, psychology, and sociology. Cindy and I have been married for 43 years. We have two grown sons and six grandchildren, three boys and three girls. I enjoy preaching and all it's aspects from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading. I have dabble in drawing and "painting" with pastels as well as woodworking and woodcarving. My current projects are two ukuleles. I collect, repair and restore guitars too. I play the guitar (badly, but I still do) I also enjoy working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, TX, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. This blog started out as devotional writings. In August of 2020, I made a major change to the blog, switching to a daily theme format. Sunday Sermon-usually my manuscript sermon Miscellaneous Monday-misc. writing, poetry, ministry Tuesday Thoughts-Devotion Wed. with Wesleys-hist. & theol. of early Methodists TED Talk Thursday-Video & appl. in current theology Five for Friday-5 things I've seen & my thoughts Sing-Along Sat. - Usually a new song I have written I write, "Strumming a G-Chord with Dr.B." to get my thoughts onto something permanent. After all, they say, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. Seeking the Genuine, Keith Lufkin, Texas August 2020

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