2 Corinthians 12:2-4
I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows such a man was caught up to the third heaven. And I know how such a man whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, members of over 5,800 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, and local sanctuary members, those who are attending the service on the Internet all over the world, and television viewing audiences,
This is the 22nd session of the sermon series, “Heaven.”
At the last session I spoke to you about the “Garden of Eden” where the people who did not receive human cultivation into the Spirit will stay for ever more.
The Garden of Eden is so beautiful, that the beauty of the Earth cannot be compared with its beauty. The people in the Garden of Eden do not know what true happiness, joy and gratitude is because they have not experienced relativity.
Unlike those in Eden, we were born on this earth and we have experienced sorrow, pain, and various sufferings. So, after accepting Jesus Christ we are able to understand the true value of the happiness and peace we receive and how blessed the eternal life in the kingdom of haven is.
So, you can give your heartfelt love and thanks to our Father God for endowing you with everything needed.
While enjoying the true happiness and joy of heaven, we will give thanks to our Father God, sing praises to Him and worship Him for ever and ever.
From this session on, I will discuss the Kingdom of Heaven with you. I will begin by explaining about Paradise in detail.
First of all, I will speak about the living environments of each kingdom of heaven and explain what kind of person will enter each kingdom with actual examples.
I will give you not only Biblical examples, but also examples of a few people who were with us at this Manmin church. I will explain where they have entered in heaven and why they’ve entered there.
If and where you will enter heaven is not the work of others, but it is solely up to each and every one of you. It is the most important thing in our whole lives.
Therefore, our Father God eagerly wants you to go into Heaven and you also long to enter. So may each of you examine your faith through the messages preached and may you never fail to enter New Jerusalem, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ I pray!
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ
In 2 Corinthians 12:2-4 the Apostle Paul spoke about the kingdom of heaven that he had experienced firsthand.
Today’s scripture says, “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows such a man was caught up to the third heaven. And I know how such a man whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.”
Of the kingdoms of heaven where we will live for ever, the apostle Paul was taken up into the third heaven. Among the kingdoms he went up into Paradise.
He was caught up into Paradise and even though Paradise is the lowest place of heaven, he said that he had heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.
Paradise is the lowest of the heavenly kingdoms, but the beauty of Paradise cannot be compared with any beauty of this world.
So, what is the paradise like? Those people who are at the first level of faith will live in Paradise for ever.
The outskirts of Paradise is still used as the “Waiting Place of Heaven”.
Most of the people who have been saved from the time when our Lord resurrected and ascended into heaven will remain there until the time when He comes back again to take us home.
The people who have accomplished whole spirit will stay not in Paradise but they will stay in a separate place in New Jerusalem.
The number of those who have been saved since the creation of the world is countless, even without considering the number of those who have accomplished whole spirit.
These countless souls stay in the outskirts of Paradise, so we can guess the entire expanse of Paradise is much greater and more vast than we can imagine.
Though this vast Paradise is the lowest of the various kingdoms of heaven, is as clear and beautiful as crystal. All of Paradise is so beautiful and full of happiness that there is no place on this Earth that can begin to compare with it.
The people in the Garden of Eden do not experience God’s cultivation of the human spirit. Since all of those who have been cultivated on Earth will live for ever in Heaven, those in Paradise fill it with more joy and contentment than in the Garden of Eden.
What then is the environment of Paradise like?
Paradise is like a vast plain that is full of perfectly landscaped and maintained lawns and beautifully-decorated gardens.
Numerous angels manage, decorate and maintain them.
The sound of birds singing is so clear and beautiful and it chimes throughout all of Paradise.
Those birds look like those of the earth, but they are a slightly larger and have more beautiful feathers. When they come together and sing, they look so lovely and friendly.
The trees and shrubs in the gardens are so fresh and beautiful.
Trees and flowers on the earth wither and become decayed with the passing of time, but the trees in Paradise always have the green leaves and flowers never wither.
When you closely approach the flowers in Paradise, they are able to move on their stems as if they were dancing to welcome you, and send out specific and sweet aromas opening and closing their flower buds.
In Paradise all kinds of fruit trees stand here and there. The fruits are a little bigger, more glittering and shine more than those of the earth. They look good for food and you can eat them without have to peel them. It is because there is no harmful dust nor are there any worms.
The people in Paradise sit around on the beautiful grass and enjoy happy conversations with each other eating nice fruits. They look very peaceful and happy.
In addition, various animals peacefully play on the grounds of the vast plain, and among them are lions that can be seen contentedly feeding on the grasses.
The lions of Paradise are much greater than those of the earth, but they are never ferocious at all, but they are meek and peaceful instead. Their hair is really clean and smooth. They actually look quite lovable.
The River of the Water of Life, that is as clean and pure as crystal, runs through the whole of heaven from the holy city of New Jerusalem and throughout all Paradise. The River of the Water of Life neither evaporates nor does it ever become contaminated.
The living water of life comes from the throne of God and revives everything. It represents the heart of our Father God who is the Fountain of the Water of Life.
Furthermore, the heart of God shines dazzlingly and brilliantly. It never blurs and has no darkness at all. It is flawlessly pure and beautiful. It is perfect and complete in everything.
The river of the water of life calmly flows throughout the kingdoms of heaven shining with glittering lights like beautiful jewels just as the sea reflects the various lights from the sun.
It is so beautifully transparent! Nothing on the Earth can be compared to it.
From the distance it looks blue. It is very similar to the blue of the Atlantic Ocean or the Mediterranean Sea when seen from afar.
Beautiful beaches are on both side of the river of the water of life and surrounding the beaches are the trees of life bearing twelve kinds of fruit.
The fruit of the tree of life is much sweeter than any kind of fruit on the earth and the taste is beyond description with words. When you eat the fruit, it melts away in your mouth like fluffy cotton candy.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
What are the people of Paradise like and what kind of life do they lead?
In heaven men’s hair reaches down to the neck and women’s hair represents the measure of their sanctification and the level of their faith. In New Jerusalem women’s hair reaches down to the base of the spine.
The women in Paradise have the 1st level of faith, so they do not have long hair. Their hair is a little longer than men’s and almost reaches the shoulder.
The people in Paradise wear white garments woven into a single piece. They have no adornments in their hair of any kind – no decorations, no brooches, nor do they have any crowns.
They fail to receive such rewards because they have done nothing for the kingdom of God while living on earth. Some of them had once stored many rewards but later they destroyed them.
Thus, the people in Paradise have no reward. They have no personal homes, no crowns, no decorations, nor do they have angels who wait on them.
In the 16th session of this sermon series on “Heaven” with the title of “The Living Environment of Heaven” I already explained to you that there is a communal type home where they can rest, and they serve and live there.
In Paradise there is only the public type housing for personal rest. When you want to take a rest, you can go into rooms in the house and stay for a designated period of time.
In the public house are small rooms only for each individual and big rooms for friendly talks.
But rooms are not assigned to each individual in Paradise and they are not personal possessions. So they are not allowed to decorate the rooms on their own or to occupy them for as long as they want.
After they stay and rest for a designated time, they have to vacate them to make room for others. On the other hand, the others have to wait for the rooms to be vacated before entering them.
But they serve and understand one another and do not cause discomfort for others, so they never feel bored or burdened while they are waiting their turn to rest.
Everything is run according to prescribed order, so the waiting time is not too long and the waiting place is cozy and comfortable. That’s why they feel happy and at home while they are waiting.
The residents in Paradise have no private homes, but instead live in a public building similar to public communal-type housing. This is the same with the people in the Garden of Eden but both the residents in Paradise, and the residents of the Garden of Eden, feel a totally different kind of happiness.
The residents of Paradise can call God “Father” because they have accepted Jesus Christ and received the Holy Spirit. They can enjoy much greater happiness than in the Garden of Eden.
How precious and valuable it is to become true children of God who have experienced all things and to lead a religious life by true faith!
Even if they live in the public housing of Paradise, they are full of joy and contentment in the truth because there is no evil at all and everyone seeks others’ benefits in heaven.
They never cause troubles or pains to others, but instead they serve and love one another, so how happy and joyous they are!
They don’t have to worry about what to eat, what to wear, and where to sleep and how to live. There are no tears, sorrows, diseases, pains, and there is no death. They are filled with happiness just to reside there.
All the people who have entered the kingdom of heaven receive their own heavenly ranking according to the measure of their spirit and rewards.
That’s why even the residents in New Jerusalem are given a different ranking that is exacting and precise.
This classification of the different ranking is the same in other kingdoms – the 3rd Kingdom of Heaven, the 2nd Kingdom of Heaven and the 1st Kingdom of Heaven.
Is the ranking given those in Paradise given in the same manner? Yes! In the same way each different ranking is given each person and everything is done in the order.
But the concept of the ranking in Paradise is a little different from that of the other kingdoms of heaven.
They are not given detailed different rankings but instead they are categorized into three different groups – They are the higher, middle, and lower groups. The higher group is again divided into 3 groups – the forefront, the middle, and the rear.
It is the same for the middle group – the mid-level forefront, the center, and the rear.
Thus, Paradise is divided into three areas according to the residences – the first area is closest to the 1st kingdom of heaven, the 2nd area is an intermediate place and the 3rd area is on the outskirts of Paradise.
Those who are in the higher groups of Paradise, such as the Paradise level leaders, take care of the people who are in the middle and low groups.
The people who are leaders in Paradise wear clothing that is different from the others, and receive the right to enjoy various benefits.
Let me give you an example of the benefits they receive in Paradise.
When all the saved people attend the first worship service in New Jerusalem where our Father God will deliver the message, the service will be broadcast live to all other places.
When angels unfold a vast and wide cloth in the sky of Paradise, the cloth will become a jumbo screen and the audience will be able to vividly watch the service.
When the residents of Paradise come together and attend the worship service, they will not sit around randomly but only according to the rankings – higher, middle and lower groups.
Even at the seats in the rear they can clearly watch the service because the video and audio are so good. But they can watch it more clearly and vividly at the seats in the front.
The people who are in a higher group in Paradise have the right to use public equipment and to enjoy some benefits ahead of others.
The people who enter into Paradise receive what is known as “shameful salvation”, but our Father God pays back those of them who have been faithful on earth with more benefits as rewards.
Through this fact, I wish for you to realize how exact the justice of God is and how great His love is.
When some benefits are given the people in a higher group in Paradise, no one hates or is troubled at heart because there is no envy or jealousy in heaven.
While they have lived on the earth, with their level of faith, they would have become jealous and felt troubled if others had received some greater benefits. But those untruths do not remain with them after they enter heaven.
In Paradise, when others receive some benefits, others will rejoice.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Some of the leading people in Paradise can barely be invited to the events of New Jerusalem.
Unless they are invited, they would not dare to go into New Jerusalem because there is great difference between the light of glory in New Jerusalem and that of Paradise.
Even if they dare to go there, they can stay in New Jerusalem only during the decided time and according to precise order.
The order is as the follows: the people in the 3rd kingdom will be first to enter to attend, then the people in the 2nd kingdom. Thirdly, the people in the 1st kingdom will enter, and lastly, the people from Paradise.
They will sit in seats according to the order that they are entering the banquet of New Jerusalem, so those from Paradise will sit in the seats at the very end.
It is so natural for those from Paradise to get there last not only because of the heavenly order, but also because Paradise is the most distant from New Jerusalem.
They cannot depart in advance but are allowed to move only during the determined times.
No matter how eagerly they want to sit on the frontal seats, to see our Father God and our Lord, they cannot move to the more forward seats because of the order given them. They have to sit in the last seats because of the long distance.
But they are happy to look around the holy city of New Jerusalem and enjoy its beauty. In addition, they are joyful and grateful for the invitation to New Jerusalem because of the sweet aroma of New Jerusalem.
They cannot forget the aroma when they return home, and it is considered a great honor to tell the others about their visitation to New Jerusalem.
From time to time, up to this point, I have explained to you about the life in Paradise through the four messages on “the Life in Heaven.”
Next time I will speak about a couple of categories of those who enter Paradise with real illustrations.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Today you have heard about the life and living environments of Paradise and appearances of the people therein.
In reality they came very close to failing to receive salvation and would have been cast into hell and tormented there forever. But instead they just barely overcame and ended up gaining shameful salvation.
For those who did not believe in God throughout their lives and those who said they believed in God, but had their own ways, when they repented at the last moment, our Father God did not turn His face away from them but recognized it as their faith and saved them.
Therefore, you have to understand how great and measureless His unfailing love and mercy even for those who enter Paradise is.
When they draw their last breath and their spirits leave their bodies, the souls of Paradise come to realize the great mercy and unfailing love of God.
For this reason, even if the glory and living environments of Paradise are less then in any other heavenly dwelling places, they can give thanks for the fact of their salvation and live in joy and happiness for ever and ever.
How much have you realized and kept the amazing love of our Father God who laid down His only begotten Son for you? How much have you given thanks to Him?
If you really grasp His love, may all of you may fully walk in the light every day and advance toward Paradise, and the kingdoms above, and even New Jerusalem, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ I pray!