Ponders Baptist Church - online
ready always to give an answer to every man that asks
The Garden of Eden was paradise. The Bible describes the
scenery:

And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and
there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the
ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is
pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life
also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge
of good and evil.

The original Eden was later corrupted by sin, but good news! The
final book of the Bible tells us that paradise was reconstructed as
a place to which we may ascend:

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto
the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of
the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

And as the Apostle Paul tells the story of the heaven-bound man:

How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard
unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to
utter.

Paradise, therefore, is an Eden-like place to which we ascend, or
are 'caught up', and is characterized by the centrally located Tree
of Life just as it existed in the original Garden.



By contrast, no one can imagine the horrible torture of Roman
crucifixion. On the eve of Passover, the Messiah was
nailed to his cross between two common criminals, one on one
side and one on the other. Here we find the sinless Jesus of
Nazareth struggling for his last gasps while hearing the jeers of
one victim from his neighboring cross:

And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on
him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.

Then something remarkable happened. The crucified victim on
the other side of the cross of Jesus spoke these dying words as a
response to the first criminal:

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.

We repeat the remarkable part for emphasis:

To day shalt thou be with me in paradise [!]

If you believe the Bible, then you also believe that this criminal
awoke in blissful Eden to find Jesus the Messiah in his glory.
That's the promise to those who overcome, to those who believe.
The Bible spells it out:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten
Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but
have everlasting life.

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