The Ascension of Christ and Paradise to Heaven.
It is important to take a moment and observe this diagram before proceeding.
The fifty days seen on the diagram and fifty days from Christ's resurrection to the Day of Pentecost. Pentecost was the day the Holy Spirit was promised by Christ to come and indwell the believer. Pentecost is the Greek word "pentekostos" and means "fiftieth."
The forty days is the length of time from the resurrection to His ascension from the mount called Olivet. Notice Acts 1:3,
"To whom also he shewed himself (Christ) alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God."
It was during this forty days that He made many appearances, which were the infallible proof, attesting to the indisputable fact of His resurrection. The Apostle Paul amplified on this when writing to the Corinthians. Here is the record:
"And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas (Peter), then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present (about 57 A.D.), but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me (Paul)." (1st Corinthians 15:4-8)
At the end of forty days, He assembled with the Apostles whom He had chosen (Acts 1:2) at the mount called Olivet, which was less than a mile from Jerusalem. Here, before His ascension, He instructed them "...not to depart from Jerusalem, but wait (10 days) for the promise (i.e. the Holy Spirit) of the Father..." Again, Pentecost means "fifty." Christ had appeared for forty days before ascending to Heaven, leaving ten days before Pentecost would come.
Now, after instructing the Apostles, He ascended to Heaven.
"And when he (Christ) had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men (angels) stood by them in white apparel" (Acts 1:9,10).
We believe this is when Christ emptied the Paradise side of Hades, transferring all the saved in Paradise to Heaven. Now for the record found in Ephesians 4:8-9:
"Wherefore he (Christ) saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth (Paradise, Luke 23:43).
Those in Hades are referred to as being in captivity because they were limited to the Paradise side of Hades. Remember, they were not permitted access to Heaven until Christ anointed the Holy Place. They remained there until Christ's ascension. He would then lead them, Himself, into the glories of Heaven unlimited. This could very well be the cloud of Saints, emptying Paradise on their way to Heaven. Further evidence of this is found in 2nd Corinthians, Chapter 12, where Paradise is referred to as up, and no longer in Hades. Notice Verse 3 and 4:
"And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth). How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words..."
Approximately 25 years after the resurrection of Christ, Paradise is now referred to as up. After the Rapture, the Tribulation Saints who die for Christ are seen by John in Heaven. Not only did John see them in Heaven, he also heard them talk. Here is the account found in Revelation 6:9,10:
"And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?"
Here John not only sees them in Heaven, but also heard them talking. Here the omniscience of God is seen as He shows forth History before it ever takes place. Our books record History after it happens, but God writes it before it happens. This is the difference between the mind of God and the mind of man, one is infinite and the other is finite.
Revelation 6:9,10, along with Luke 16:19 through 31, and many other Scriptures annihilate the damnable doctrine of soul-sleeping which is adhered to by the cult religions.
Before we leave Diagram 4, would you please take notice of the Letter A and where it is located. It appears just after the resurrection of Christ. There is an interesting portion of Scripture found only in the Gospel of Matthew in Chapter 27, Verses 52 and 53:
"And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints (saved) which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city (Jerusalem), and appeared unto many."
These are the only Scriptures I know referring to this incident. Allow me to digress for a minute to the Old Testament which may give us a better understanding concerning these two Verses. In the Old Testament, the Passover Feast which occurred in the first month (religious, not civil) on the 14th day was fulfilled by Christ's death on the cross as our Passover Lamb (Leviticus 23:5). The Feast of First Fruits took place on the first month on the 17th day. This, prophetically looking, was fulfilled when Christ arose from the dead. In 1st Corinthians 15:20 we are told, "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept."
Now, going back to the Feast of First Fruits in Leviticus, Chapter 23, in Verses 10 and 11 we read, "...and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a SHEAF of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: And he shall wave the SHEAF before the LORD, to be accepted for you... "
The word "sheaf" is from the Hebrew word "omer" which means "a measure of corn, barley and etc." In other words, at the Feast of First Fruits (the first harvest), they would take a small portion of the harvest, give it to the priest, who in turn would offer it to the Lord on their behalf for His acceptance. As Christ's resurrection fulfilled the Old testament Feast if First Fruits, so did those who were resurrected in Matthew 27:52,53 fulfill the sheaf offering, given to the priest who offered it to the lord. Christ, our High Priest and the first fruit by this resurrection, offered these resurrected Saints as a sheaf offering to the Father upon His return to Heaven. These, along with those in Paradise, were taken into Heaven where they await the consummation of the Church Age (at the Rapture), when they will return with Christ. They will also return at the end of the 7-year Tribulation Period to reign with Him 1,000 years in the Kingdom
Let us now move to Diagram 5.
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