QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS SESSION WITH PASTOR CHRIS OYAKHILOME DSc, DD.
THE RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH AND THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST.
QUESTION: Dear Pastor Chris, God bless your ministry. I would like to know the difference between the paradises in Luke 23:43 and 2 Corinthians 12:4. According to your explanation on the rapture of the Church and the second coming of Christ, is it possible to explain to me why the Bible mentions only 144,000 persons who are with him (Jesus) in Revelation 14:1? God bless you.
ANSWER: Okay! Very Simple. You want to know if there are differences between the paradises in Luke 23:43 and 2 Corinthians 12:4. Well, the first one has to do with a statement made by Jesus and, because of the wrong construction, Luke 23:43 – “And Jesus said unto him, [he is talking about during the crucifixion, there were two thieves crucified with Jesus one on either side, left and right and one of them said to Jesus, remember me] in the 42nd verse, “he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into they kingdom and Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise. [Luke 23:42-43]” Now, that is the construction that is wrongly presented to us particularly in the King James Version. Jesus didn’t say “today shalt thou be with me in paradise,” as it shows. What He said was, “I say unto thee today,” the punctuation is in the wrong place. “Verily I say unto thee today, thou shalt be with me in paradise.” That’s what He said [repeats Luke 23:43] But what we actually have there is “I say unto you, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” But Jesus didn’t go to paradise that day. He went to hell. That’s what the Bible teaches. Jesus went to hell. When he died, he went to hell. He couldn’t have gone to paradise that day; he went to hell.
The Bible says he had taken our sins upon himself. “He became sin who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” [2 Corinthians 5:21]. So our sins were laid on Jesus. He died the death of a sinner and so he went to hell because he died in our place. So he went to hell. That’s what the Bible says. He went to hell. So he didn’t go to paradise that day. The third day, he came out of the grave and the Bible does tell us in St. Matthew’s gospel 27th chapter verse 52-53 that there were those…many saints who slept came out of the grave after His resurrection. When Jesus arose, many arose with him. And sure enough, that thief would have come up with them. And they went with Jesus to heaven. That’s what the Bible tells us. And, in fact, many of them that came out of their graves were seen in the city; they appeared to many in the city. So he really didn’t say that the thief will be with him that day in paradise because he didn’t go to paradise that day. He went to hell that day and defeated Satan for us; and when he defeated Satan, [on] the third day, he came out of that grave. And when he arose, many of the saints that slept arose together with him and then they went with him to heaven. Praise God!
Now, that paradise is the same paradise. Paradise is God’s place of bliss; it’s God’s place, it’s in heaven, it’s in God’s presence, it’s in heaven. So it’s the same paradise that Paul was talking about in 2 Corinthians 12:4, when he said that he knew a man who went into paradise. So, it’s the same place. From verse 3 of 2 Corinthians chapter 12, “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, which is not lawful for a man to utter. [2 Corinthians 12:3-4]” So, that paradise and the one in Luke 23:43 are the same. There’s one paradise. And both of them are the same.
Now, the second part of your question is “is it possible to explain to me why the Bible mentions only 144,000 persons who are with him (Jesus) in Revelation 14:1?” Well, [there’s] something for you to recognize about the 144,000 persons because many people say that only the 144,000 persons will go to heaven and that’s not what he says. Let me read it to you: “And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders, and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. These [now listen, so you know who they are] these are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins [they are all men]. These are they which follow the Lamb whithsoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God. [Revelations 14:1-5]” And when you keep reading, you’ll found these 144,000 were all Jews – 12,000 from every tribe; they were all Jews. These are those who will be raised during the tribulation period to preach. They will preach the gospel, and they are all men. They will preach the gospel. So, here was where they will be taken up with Christ. They will be raptured unto the Lord after their ministry is completed. So, that’s why you have to understand it’s not referring to the Church of Jesus Christ. They are just a number of people who are from among the Jews; they are all Jews. Praise God! And the Lord is going to use them in the last days. There are different groups in the Church that He will use. Now, after the church has been caught up, and during the great tribulations, there will be several ministrations going on, and one of the ministries that will be called will be this 144,000 Jews. So don’t get confused with that at all.