The Bible describes angels as amazing beings. Their appearance often excited fear and dread in the hearts of men (Lk. 1:11, 12, 28, 29). The strength of angels is unquestionable, as one slew 185,000 men of the Assyrian army (2 Kgs. 19:35). Though powerful and fear inspiring, angels are the friends of those who love God (Lk. 2:9, 10).
God uses angels in fulfilling His will and helping His own (Heb. 1:13, 14). In Bible times, angels were manifest to men in visions and more. Cornelius saw an angel who told him to send for Peter (Acts 10:3). An angel helped Peter escape prison (Acts 12:7). Today, angels will not appear to us in visions, nor open prison doors for us. However, God still uses them in His providence. Exactly how they are used in God’s providence is beyond our understanding, but they are still “ministering spirits.” Too, the Bible teaches angels are those who help us cross from this life into the next. “So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom” (Lk. 16:22).
The Afterlife According To Luke 16
In Luke 16:19-31, we have the account of the rich man and Lazarus. We are blessed with this revelation as the Lord pulls back the curtain on the afterlife. Many lessons can be gleaned from this passage, but we will stick to three.
We know the circumstances of men often change when they pass over to the other side (Lk. 16:19-23). The rich man was blessed with worldly goods, privileges, and luxury. It is fair to say he trusted in them and was consumed by them. Lazarus, on the other hand, had a life of affliction and suffering, but had faith in God. In the hadean world the rich man was afflicted and Lazarus privileged. Circumstances change.
The account also teaches us that all men die, whether rich or poor (1 Cor. 15:22). The rich man’s life was not spared by his wealth. His riches and luxuries came to an abrupt end. Lazarus’ physical suffering ceased. Nothing on this earth lasts forever. Everything, pleasures and pain, will come to an end.
All men go to Hades after death. The rich man found himself in torments; experiencing pain, suffering, guilt, worry. Lazarus was in paradise (Abraham’s bosom) enjoying peace, rest, contentment, and satisfaction. These are the only two conditions in the realm of the unseen, Hades, the place where souls go to await the great resurrection day.
The Innocent Go To Paradise
Those who are innocent by virtue of the blood of Christ go to paradise. We know all men sin (Rom. 3:23). This sin separates them from God (Isa. 59:1, 2). They are guilty of violating the law of God and stand condemned.
God has provided a way for men to escape this condemnation. When anyone obeys the gospel in faith, repentance, and baptism, his sins are washed away (Acts 2:38). These are those who are redeemed in Him (Eph. 1:7). The ones who stay faithful will have an eternal home in heaven (Rev. 14:13). The reason is they are innocent because the blood of Christ has taken away their sins.
The other group that is innocent are those who never sinned. They are innocent by virtue of purity (Lk. 18:15-17). These would include the mentally handicap, infants, and children who did not reach the age of accountability. They never sinned because they were never responsible.
It is worth noting that all in paradise will have a home in heaven (Rev. 20:11-21:1; 22:14, 15). The innocent in paradise will receive an eternal reward, but those who are guilty will be punished forever.
A Great Company In Paradise
Have you ever really stopped to consider who is in paradise?
Men of faith are in paradise.
- Abel (Heb. 11:4).
- Enoch (Heb. 11:5).
- Noah (Heb. 11:7).
- Abraham (Heb. 11:8, 9).
- Isaac (Heb. 11:20).
- Jacob (Heb. 11:21).
- Joseph (Heb. 11:22).
- David, Samuel, the prophets (Heb. 11:32).
- Moses & Elijah (Heb. 11:24; 3).
- Zacharias & Joseph (Lk. 1:5; Matt. 1:18).
- Stephen, James, Peter, Paul (Acts 7, 12; 2 Pet. 1:12-15; 2 Tim. 4:6-8).
Women of faith are in paradise.
- Sarah (Heb. 11:11, 12).
- Rebekah, Leah (cf. Heb. 11:20, 21).
- Rahab (Heb. 11:31).
- Mary the wife of Clopas & Mary Magdalene (Jn. 19:25).
- Mary the sister of Lazarus.
- Mary, the mother of Jesus; Elizabeth, the mother of John (Jn. 19:25; Lk. 1).
- Priscilla (Rom. 16:3).
- Anna (Lk. 2:36-38).
Just think of this: we will get to see them there. They will greet us in paradise. Just as Lazarus was in Abraham’s bosom, so it will be with us. The account of Hades in Luke 16 shows us that men have their memories and can communicate in paradise. Just to what extent or depth this goes, we do not know, but it is a fascinating thought.
Here is something mothers can appreciate. When Lazarus died and was carried by the angels to paradise, he was in Abraham’s bosom. He was comforted by the father of us all. A mother who loses a child can draw comfort from the fact that that precious soul will be cared for and comforted by these women of faith. You sweet child will not lack.
Take Comfort In Paradise
We are not to sorrow as those who have no hope (1 Thes. 4:13-18). We will sorrow, it is only natural. Jesus wept at Lazarus’ grave. The sorrow we have is not to be like the world. Their sorrow is hopeless and destitute. We have hope that Christians will go to paradise and on to heaven one day. Those who are “safe” are guaranteed to be in paradise and a home in heaven.
Our innocent loved ones who go on before us will enjoy great blessings. They will not experience physical suffering anymore (Lk. 16:25). No more heartaches or sorrows will invade their lives. Spiritual battles will end and temptation will be no more. They will be beyond the reach of Satan! Too, it is a blessed thought to know that when they pass from this life into the next, they will be carried in the arms of angels.