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THE DOORS OF PARADISE


Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

—The Son of God (Rev. 3:20)

The right to live eternally emanates from a gift, for the doors of paradise are opened when darkness is overcome and the light is embraced. When the soul is illuminated by words of truth, it is rescued from death. In a moment of time, the finite becomes infinite.

When the door of the heart is opened to the Son of God, divine energy pours forth, filling the soul, sealing it for eternity. By way of Spirit created within, a soul is born into the kingdom of Christ, forever a son of the Father. The pathway to this place is God’s grace, which is his unmerited divine favor. This divine favor is a gift from heaven delivered by the Messiah. Those who embrace him enter his kingdom in this world and shall enter the paradise of God in the new heavens and Earth.

This new agreement from heaven was demonstrated during the Crucifixion, when the Son of God promised paradise to a man condemned to death. The crucified man recognized that Jesus was the Messiah and said, “‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Jesus answered him, ‘I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise’” (Luke 23:42, 43).

The Messiah justified a condemned man (acquitting him of all sin). In an instant, the condemned soul became the saved soul. On the Cross, condemnation was removed and replaced with God’s righteousness. This was the New Covenant Jesus brought from the Father: eternal life would now be granted by the grace of heaven. The words of Jesus yielded a guarantee of life everlasting in the future world.

Christ was able to grant paradise to a man with a criminal record because the Messiah’s blood was the ransom paid by God to release souls condemned to die: “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). When the blood of Christ is given in exchange for the life of a soul, that soul is liberated from mortality. As recorded by the apostle Peter: “You know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life . . . but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake” (1 Peter 1:18–20).

Christ is the full payment for souls to cross the spiritual divide. Man cannot earn his freedom; the cleansing of sin is without charge. If any payment from mankind is necessary to attain salvation, then the blood of Christ was an insufficient ransom. Through his Son, the heavenly Father “rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves” (Col. 1:13). God established the New Covenant, whereby the kingdom of Christ would be upon Earth, filled with souls who accept heaven’s gift.

Once in the kingdom, the liberated soul is sanctified—set apart—for all eternity. No power of darkness can alter the fate of a soul reserved by the heavenly Father. “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24).

According to Christ’s prophecy, once a soul crosses into eternal life, there is no slipping back. If eternal life is granted, it cannot be revoked. Instantaneously, the power of death over the soul is overcome. The condemned man who hung on the cross did not evolve into a state of righteousness; he was made to be that way. That’s why he could be guaranteed paradise—Jesus apportioned grace on the Cross.

The apostle Paul—appointed by heaven to bring Christ’s gospel to the world—wrote of this divine favor given by God: “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Eph. 2:8, 9). “And if [salvation is] by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace” (Rom. 11:6). Grace is no longer grace if the hand of man is necessary to push his own soul across the spiritual divide. It is through an act of God that immortality is attained. Through his love God gave us a redeemer:

When the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior . . . [Y]ou were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (Titus 3:4–6; 1 Cor. 6:11)

It is not because of individual righteous acts that a soul is washed with living water from heaven. The Son of God brought the kingdom of God—a spiritual kingdom where entrance would not be earned, but granted. The Creator extended his hand to Earth—through his Son—so that he could pour out his Spirit generously.

Christ himself elaborated upon the spiritual nature of his kingdom, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, . . . because the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20, 21). “The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17). The true kingdom of God is not about carnal regulations that legislate food and drink; it is about the Holy Spirit’s spiritual presence and nature dwelling within the believer.

God is upon Earth by those who are born of his nature. In this manner, the prophecy spoken before the time of Christ is fulfilled: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people” (2 Cor. 6:16). This reference to Old Testament prophecy is how the apostle Paul explained that God would dwell with his people—by way of Christ. In his writings, Paul explained the magnitude of this God by describing him as “the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see” (1 Tim. 6:15, 16).

The apostle provided an intriguing picture of the supernatural intelligence that orchestrated the defeat of Satan and the rescue of souls from the planet. This victory—achieved by God—is given to souls upon Earth through Christ’s gospel.

The true nature of this God—fully declared through Jesus—was first disclosed hundreds of years earlier by Moses, for he revealed the heart of this omnipotent intelligence. “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin” (Exod. 34:6, 7).

When Moses first wrote these words, he looked forward to the day that God would send a redeemer. He knew that through the coming Messiah, the heavenly Father would fully extend this compassion to Earth. However, neither Moses nor any other Old Testament prophet knew that one day, all bloodlines could be born of Spirit saved into the kingdom of Christ.

In the Holy Land, Jesus expounded upon this New Covenant from heaven, explaining how to see the kingdom:

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”

Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.

You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’” (John 3:1–7)

The flesh of man gives birth to the flesh of man. In contrast, God gives birth to an eternal, invisible, spiritual seed within the soul of man. This is the second birth of which Jesus and his apostles spoke. As recorded in the writings of Peter, “You have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Peter 1:23). When the “living and enduring word of God” is believed, then the Creator creates seed within the soul that cannot perish.

This spiritual seed—which gives birth to eternal life—is “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). The Spirit of “Christ in you” is both “life” in this world and the hope of future “glory” in the next. When the Spirit of Christ lives within, the soul life of that person will live again in a spiritual body.

No act of man can cause the spiritual seed of Christ to be removed or destroyed. The soul that is born again of Spirit cannot be unborn. The indwelling Spirit is heaven’s spiritual seal upon the soul, reserving it for all eternity.

Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. (Eph. 1:13, 14)

The promised Spirit of Christ “marks” and “seals” the soul, “guaranteeing” a heavenly “inheritance.” No dark power can break the seal that heaven places upon a saved soul. The Spirit of Christ—living within—is heaven’s “deposit.” It is God’s down payment within his “possession,” which will be redeemed when the Son of God returns with his angels. In the words of the apostle John, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2 KJV).

In this life—right now—those souls who are born of the Holy Spirit are the sons of God. Although the next world has not been fully revealed, what has been revealed is that divine glory shall be unveiled in the clouds at the appearing of Christ. The Son of God will be seen in his glorified form, and those who ascend in the air shall be like him. This is the hope of glory.

What gives birth to this phenomenon is the spiritual seed of Christ within. That seed also gives birth to an inner transformation in this world. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7 KJV). The Spirit that God gives yields inner power and love. It displaces fear.

This is the catalyst to ignite the inner transformation that Paul described: “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you” (Rom. 8:11). When the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead lives within, spiritual energy gives “life to the mortal body.” This is the renewal, the rebirth, caused by the introduction of divine energy from above.

The very attributes of God fill flesh and blood. The Spirit of Christ within is God’s very essence; it is his “divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). “God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 5:5), and nothing can “separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:39). From before the foundation of this world, God planned to give Earth this grace:

This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. (2 Tim. 1:9, 10)

“Life” and “immortality” are brought to light by Christ’s gospel—his words. He enters the heart—by way of the second birth—when the door is opened to him:

[I]f you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. (Rom. 10:9, 10)

When the Son of God is made to be your own Lord, your own soul crosses into eternal life. This confession of the heart produces the spiritual birth that overcomes spiritual darkness and yields a place in Christ’s spiritual kingdom.

For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. (1 John 5:4, 5)

This is Christ’s gospel of faith, righteousness, and immortality. It is in sharp contrast to the Old Testament, where good works earned righteousness.

This is why the focal point of all human history is Jesus Christ. He declared that mankind had crossed a threshold in the first century. That’s why he told Nicodemus about the second birth. Moses didn’t come to bring the spiritual birth—Jesus did.

By way of Jesus, the kingdom of God on Earth had finally dawned. The Messiah declared that he marked the start of a New Covenant from heaven: “The Law [of Moses] and the Prophets [of the Old Testament] were proclaimed until John [the Baptist]. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached” (Luke 16:16).

Jesus justified the condemned man on the Cross not by the law of works but by the law of love. The Messiah brought faith, and that faith yielded justification. The Son of God did not come to Earth to reaffirm the Old Testament Law but to elevate the standard to that of love and grace: “Jesus [is] the mediator of a new covenant” (Heb. 12:24).

Christ’s faith voided the Mosaic agreement. He “canceled the written code [the Law], with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross” (Col. 2:14). “Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes” (Rom. 10:4).

Although the Old Testament Law was perfect in its standard, it was “opposed” to man because it could not change the sin nature that Adam had passed on to him. No one could fulfill it completely because man is imperfect. This is why the people of the Old Testament period sacrificed animals—to cover their sins.

With the New Covenant, however, there is no further need to make such sacrifices because Jesus was the Lamb given by God to cleanse sins—yielding “righteousness for everyone who believes.” Righteousness comes by faith in the sufficiency of that sacrifice. “For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith . . . just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith’” (Rom. 1:17). This prophecy was fulfilled in Christ. All who open the door to him receive the “measure of faith” (Rom. 12:3) and “righteousness . . . by faith” (Phil. 3:9).

On the Cross, Christ took upon himself all that the world is (sinful), so that souls could become all that he is (righteous): “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). Righteousness yields the ability to stand before God without any sense of sin, guilt, or condemnation, completely worthy to be in the Almighty’s presence.

This is what the Son of God came to give to mankind—the divine presence of God within forever. This is Christ’s prophecy: “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:27–29).



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