Luke 23: 43
“And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, members of over 6,000 branch churches in Korea and all over the world including the United States, Canada, Peru, Honduras, Bolivia, El Salvador, Argentina, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, China, Japan, Pakistan, Nepal, Indonesia, Philippines, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, India, Mongolia, Israel, Egypt, Kenya, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Angola, Burundi, Rwanda, Nigeria, Tanzania, Botswana, Swaziland, Cote d’Ivoire, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Dagestan and local sanctuary members, those who are attending the service on the Internet all over the world, and television viewing audiences,
This is the 24th session of the ‘heaven’ lecture series. In the last session, I talked to you about the first case where paradise is given as eternal dwelling place.
It is the case of those who accept the Lord just before their death, just like one criminal who was hung on one side of Jesus. In this session, I will talk to you about the third case where paradise is given as eternal dwelling place.
But first, Isaiah 43:11 says, “I, even I, am the LORD, And there is no savior besides Me.”
As said, our salvation is completely upon the LORD God.
If the person is eligible to be saved, God will save him, and if he is not eligible to be saved, God will not save him.
And our God is perfect in His justice and love, His judgment is absolutely perfect without any error.
But rather, in some cases God saves with His love those souls who cannot be saved if only justice is applied, and in other cases, He grants better heavenly dwelling places with His love in cases where they can be granted only lower dwelling places with only justice.
If you really call this God ‘Father’, I hope you will love God the Father more deeply in your heart and live in light according to what He wants during your life.
I pray in the name of the Lord that you will be great pleasure in the eyes of God who wants to stay with His beloved children forever.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the second kind of case where paradise is given is those who have been believers for a long period of time, but have not grown up at all spiritually and stayed at the first level of faith.
If they are new-believers, they may give excuses that they didn’t have time for their faith to grow up, but if they are at the first level of faith for a long time without any spiritual growth, it will be a shameful salvation when they go into paradise. Then, who can be an Biblical example of this case? It was the case with Sarah, Abraham’s wife.
Now, let us look into the faith of Sarah as to why she went to paradise.
Genesis 23:1 says, “Now Sarah lived one hundred and twenty-seven years; these were the years of the life of Sarah.” Compared to Abraham who lived for 175 years, she lived a relatively short life.
In fact, as the wife of Abraham, who is the father of faith in human cultivation and who was perfect enough to be established as the role-model, Sarah must have had great faith as well.
But it was not the case with Sarah. She did not cast off her fleshly thoughts, and she did not cast off the forms of evil from her heart, either. Sarah’s faith was not spiritual faith, but only because she saw and heard many things from Abraham, it was rather fleshly faith, which is just faith as knowledge. So, physically she was always with Abraham, but spiritual she was very different from him.
But still, Abraham loved her, and he wanted her to go into better heavenly dwelling place.
But the result was not so. Genesis 23:2 says, “Sarah died in Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan; and Abraham went in to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her.”
Abraham had clear communication with God even on this earth, so he knew very well about the life to come.
He knew what kind of place heaven and hell is, what would happen to men after they die, and into which place his wife Sarah would go to. That is why he had to mourn when Sarah died.
To Abraham, Sarah was his partner who spent more time on this earth than anybody else.
She was his wife, and the mother of Isaac, the mother of the promised seed of God, so he wanted her to dwell in the eternal glory of heavenly kingdom. But the result was different, and he could not help but mourn.
Then, why is it that with Sarah’s faith, she could go into paradise only? Let us look into her life to get the answer for this question.
When God Himself came to this earth and gave the promise about the seed of promise, Isaac, Sarah did not believe him and laughed. We can find this in Genesis chapter 18. She had seen many things through Abraham and experienced the faithful God, but she could not believe from her heart.
She could not say ‘Amen’ to God’s word. She always used her fleshly thoughts, and if anything did not agree with her thought, she would disobey.
That is why when Abraham went to offer Isaac as sacrifice before God, he could not tell Sarah about it.
Even if he said to her that it was the will of God, it was obvious to Abraham that she would disagree to it.
There was another occasion where Sarah did not choose to follow the will of God but chose what she liked better.
She could not wait for the promise of God to be fulfilled, and she gave her maid-servant Hagar to Abraham, to gain the son in her own way.
And, when this Hagar gave birth to a son, what did Sarah do? She was jealous of Hagar and finally she drove her and her son out. Likewise, Sarah did not leave everything to God but chose the ways that seemed to be good in man’s sight.
After all, it was because she had evil in her heart. When we consider how she treated Hagar, we can see how much evil she had in her heart.
She had envy, jealousy, self-seeking, and she stayed away from others if she didn’t like them, and she only wanted to do things as she pleased without thinking of other people. We can find many evil things from her.
She didn’t just harbor ill-feelings in her, but with her authority and position, she was ruling over the things.
Because it was the Old Testament, and there was no help of the Holy Spirit from within us, it was not easy to circumcise one’s heart, but she had seen so many times through her husband Abraham what goodness and love is. But she didn’t only harbor evil in her heart, but she revealed and acted with evil.
So, she was not even at the second level of faith in today’s sense.
Those who are in the second level of faith know the truth, so they try to cast off the works of the flesh and change little by little, even though they have not cast off all works of the flesh yet.
But Sarah did not change even with the passage of time. She still had evil in her heart, and she even showed it as her action.
Especially, she was with the role-model of faith Abraham, but she didn’t change, so which level of faith is she at, in the sight of God?
Luke 12:47-48 says, “And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes,  but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.”
We can say that Sarah knew the will of the master but did not act. She received many things from God, but when God wanted something, she didn’t have anything to give Him.
Even though she lived in the Old Testament times, she was in such a good environment. Yet she stayed in flesh, and neither her heart nor deeds changed.
Therefore, Sarah could not expect any better dwelling place than paradise. Brothers and sisters, actually, it is very shocking that Sarah, the wife of Abraham, the father of faith, went to only paradise.
But as we think of the Bible, we can understand she could go to only paradise.
Judgment is carried out exactly according to the word of God.
There was not any extra benefit only because she was the wife of Abraham. But rather, it is more shameful for her that she was only that much as the wife of Abraham.
Abraham knew very well about the life to come, and so, he must have taught her many things, telling her about the will of God.
But because Sarah herself could not accept them but just let them flow out, she broke Abraham’s heart even to the moment of her death.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, now, I will tell you about one case who had been a Christian for a considerable period of time but stayed only in the 1st level of faith when he passed away, and thus received paradise as his eternal dwelling place.
What I would like to ask you first is that you should not think of who it is about but the reason why why that person had to go to only paradise.
Then, you should reflect yourself upon that mirror.
When you look at yourself on the mirror, if there are some things to change, you change your make up or how you dressed. In the same way, when you listen to the word of God, you should do the same.
When you reflect yourself on the mirror of the word, if there are things to change, you can change them, and if you have nothing to change, you can just pass. But if you find something to change by looking at himself on the mirror and do not change it and forget about it, it is something unwise.
I hope you will not be this unwise person. When you find something in you by reflecting yourself on the mirror of the word, I hope you will be wise people to change yourself immediately.
The first person I am going to talk about was born in a family where they worshipped idols, and he became a Christian at a later stage of his life.
He went up to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the army. He had a clear goal in his life, and he lived to achieve the goal.
For example, he wanted to be recognized as a leader who is dignified yet virtuous and respected from his subordinates.
He also wanted to have a beautiful family to leave behind the fruits of his life for his children.
But unlike his goals in life, he had many problems of life, and because of them, he was in despair, and his heart was broken.
Meanwhile, he even got a terminal disease. But then, he read my testimonial memoir ‘Tasting Eternal Life before Death’ and registered in our church.
He attended all kinds of services, prayed, and sowed in God at his best.
But why did he go to only Paradise?
He had a terminal disease, and he didn’t have any family members or relatives to rely on. That is why he came to church to rely on God.
And as he heard about and saw many works of God’s power, he thought he could also be healed of his disease in this church. And that is why he showed his deeds of various kinds.
Namely, he did not show his deeds with faith. But because other people say, ‘if you do this, the problems will be solved,’ he just did what others told him to do, since he had no other choice.
Rather than sowing in God and showing his deeds with the thanks for the grace and love of the Lord who is our Savior, he just showed his deeds only to receive healing of his disease.
Also, when he showed his deeds, he didn’t have true and firm faith from his heart, but he did those things only because other people say they received the answer that way.
Likewise, because his faith in God or love for Him was not enough in many ways to receive the healing, he finally died without being receiving the healing.
But God acknowledged his deeds of relying on God during the last days of his life as his faith to be saved. So, he was granted Paradise as his eternal dwelling place.
He suffered from sorrow and many other kinds of pains including the pains of disease on this earth, but he went to paradise. So, he was filled with joy just for the fact that he was saved. God the Father let me know in deep prayer how he felt, and let me introduce to you some parts of it.
“Since I took off my flesh and came up here, I am so free and happy. And why did I try to hold on to my flesh so much? Why did I try to keep my life so much?
Since I am out of my flesh and staying here, I feel it was nothing and so meaningless to cling to the flesh.
I look at myself in peace and happiness in this place, and I am reminded and think of why I tried to cling to the meaningless life and to hold on to myself in that meaningless life.
My soul is in this beautiful and comfortable place, and I have nothing to envy. It is joy itself that I am saved and I can stay in this place.
It is such great comfort to me that I took off the pain of flesh and came to this place. Also, I was a member of Manmin and flock of the shepherd, and this has become the fruit of my life, and with this, my name is shining here.
I am at such comfort. It is so comfortable that I took off my flesh and my tiring life, and it is such great joy that I came into this peaceful place.
I never knew how good it was to cast off flesh, but as I have cast off flesh and come into this place, and gained eternal life, how happy I am!
Because of disease I could not see or walk or do what I wanted to do, and I felt I was disabled. But since I gained eternal life and have come into this place, I feel my soul is in such a blessed place and such a good place. I am only joyful and thankful.
My place is not even 1st kingdom, 2nd kingdom, 3rd kingdom of heaven, or New Jerusalem. It is only paradise, but I am satisfied, thankful, and joyful that I am in this place.
I didn’t give anything to Father. I didn’t do or accomplish anything for the Father, but the Father loved me and took me into this place, and I am only thankful.
The eyes which could not see while I was staying in flesh can now see, and the body I could not move is moving freely now. The wretched body inflicted by disease is gone, and now I have this beautiful heavenly body, and how happy I am!
I did not look up to heaven, but only clang to God to receive healing.
But still I was given this beautiful resting place where I am at peace and so joyous, and where I can leave behind all worries, sorrow, and despair and receive strength. I am so glad for this.
My soul is satisfied with this. Because of this my soul praises. My soul is joyous with this, and my soul is so thankful for that.
I am so joyous and thankful that I left behind all the impoverished life of flesh and came to this place to enjoy such a peaceful life.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in this session, I talked to you about the two cases where people went into paradise. Even in paradise, the peace and happiness felt in the space of heavenly kingdom cannot be compared with that of this earth.
And even on this earth, to the extent that you cast off flesh in your heart and cultivate spiritual heart, you can also feel the happiness and peace of the heavenly kingdom.
It’s not that some other things are inflicting you and giving you pain, but the fleshly nature in your heart itself is making you sad and giving you hard time and pain. You have heard the confession of a soul who has realized that flesh is so meaningless and useless after he left behind the flesh.
It’s the same while you are leading a life in Christ on this earth.
If you feel sad because you are not recognized by others, if you feel restless because you don’t have more wealth and fame, and if you feel nervous as to whether your belongings might be lost, it is all because you have fleshly mind.
Also, because you have the fleshly heart wanting to loved by men rather than God, you have envy and jealousy as well.
If you cast off all these fleshly minds, you can rejoice with the truth, and you are happier to give than to receive, so you can give out all you have again and again.
Therefore, I hope you will feel deep in your heart that fleshly mind is such a useless and meaningless thing to go into spirit. Also, fleshly minds actually drag you down from going into better heavenly dwelling place.
The person I talked about in today’s message realized how meaningless flesh is only after he went into heaven. I hope you will not be like him, and since you heard this, I hope you will quickly cast off all fleshly minds without any hesitation.
In the next session, I will talk to you about another person who has received paradise as eternal dwelling place. Some cases will be explained in which they were faithful workers but were given only paradise.
The reason why God the Father is telling us about each case in so much detail is to lead us, as many as possible, to better heavenly dwelling place, especially New Jerusalem.
I pray in the name of the Lord that you will not forget the love of God even for a moment, and do everything for God’s glory whether you eat or drink or whatever you do.