me into his heavenly kingdom (Ellicott), the characteristic of which is the visible presence of the King with his subjects. It is our privilege to be with Christ here and now. And nothing shall separate us from Christ and his love, ?neither death, nor life...nor things present nor things to come?

( <450838>Romans 8:38); for he himself has said: ?Lo, I am with you always, even unto the consummation of the age? ( <402820>Matthew 28:20).

(b) The spirits of departed believers are with God.

<581223> Hebrews 12:23 ? Ye are come ?to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven and to God, the Judge of all?; cf. <211207>Ecclesiastes 12:7 ? ?the dust returneth to the earth as it was, and the spirit returneth unto God who gave it?; <432017>John 20:17 ? ?Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended unto the Father? ? probably means: ?my body has not yet ascended.? The soul had gone to God during the interval between death and the resurrection, as is evident from <422343>Luke 23:43, 46 ? ?with me in Paradise...Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.?

(c) Believers at death enter paradise.

<422342> Luke 23:42, 43 ? ?And he said, Jesus, remember me when thou comest in thy kingdom. And he said unto him, Verily, I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise?; cf. <471204>2 Corinthians 12:4 ? ?caught up into Paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter?; <660207>Revelation 2:7 ? ?To him that overcometh, to him will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God?; <010208>Genesis 2:8 ? ?And Jehovah God planted a garden eastward, in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.? Paradise is none other than the abode of God and the blessed, of which the primeval Eden was the type. If the penitent thief went to Purgatory, it was better than a Heaven without Christ. Paradise is a place, which Christ has gone to prepare, perhaps by taking our friends there before us.

(d) Their state, immediately after death, is greatly to be preferred to that of faithful and successful laborers for Christ here.

<500123> Philippians 1:23 ? ?I am in a strait betwixt the two, having the desire to depart and be with Christ; for it is very far better.? Here Hackett says: ? ajnalu~sai = departing, cutting loose, as if to put to sea, followed by su<n Cri>stw~| ei=nai , as if Paul regarded one event as immediately subsequent to the other.? Paul, with his burning desire to preach Christ, would certainly have preferred to live and labor, even amid great suffering, rather than to die, if death to him had been a state of

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