THE EMMAUS WALK PRESENTS:
"A Glimpse of Heaven and a Taste of Hell,"
By Duane L. Smith
Part I - Prolegomena
"And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams."
--Acts 2:17 (from Joel 2:28, N.K.J.V.
I once had what I consider a prophetic dream of heaven, the paradise of God. I came to the conclusion after much prayer and meditation. I now feel the freedom of spirit to share the contents of this dream to you, students and visitors of the Emmaus Walk. This is in order to offer you hope and to warn you not to neglect the truth of the Gospel.
Before I present my personal revelation of heaven, I need to provide you with some Bible concepts. The saints of the Old Testament hoped in Christ, the Messiah, the Promised One sent by God in order to bring deliverance to His people. In the Old Tesament the just and the unjust shared nearly the same fate. They both ended up in the grave and then were sent to a place called i n Hebrew Sheol, the place of the dead. In the New Testament, Christ gave a detailed description of this place, which in Greek is called Hades. The Old Testament saints were sent to the place of the righteous dead, the place in Abraham's actual presence called Abraham's Bosom, where they would be comforted.
On the other hand, the ungodly sinners would eventually find themselves suffering incredibly in the place of the wicked dead, aptly called the place of torments. A great chasm separated these two compartments of Hades [imagine a chasm so great no mountain climber could possibly traverse, not even if he had been Sir Edmund Hillary who scaled Mt. Everest during his lifetime on earth!--Editor] This great gulf is so large that it is impossible to traverse. From the place of torments, one can gaze into but never could cross over into that place of paradise that is called Abraham's Bosom (see Luke 16: 19-31).
Hades should not be confused with Hell. Hell is a place reserved exclusively for Satan and his angels, the beast and the false prophet, and all the rest of the ungodly and wicked ones, to be sentenced there after the final day of judgment. It is not God's intention to send anyone to Hell, as it was created for Satan and his angels. A holy and just God must pass sentence on all those who continue in a state of rebellion and keep on rejecting God's only provision for sin. Our redemption is through our faith in our Lord and Savior's death, burial, and resurrection, on our behalf. In other words, Christ Himself paid the purchase price for our freedom, with His own precious blood (please refer to Rom. 5:12, Rom. 6:23, I Cor. 15:3-8, John 3:16, Rom. 5:1, Hebrews 9:27, and 2 Peter 3:9).
Think of Hades as a jail, a kind of holding cell where one awaits final justice from God at the Great White Throne Judgment. Hell, on the other hand, is like a prison. Hell is where the wicked are sentenced to be eternally separated from God. It is a place of everlasting punishment, a place of everlasting destruction and fire. Hell is called the outer-darkness, and also is the Lake of Fire.
Thank God, we are saved by grace, through faith in the shed blood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone! "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and not by yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." Eph. 2: 8 & 9, N.K.J.V.
Because Christ is able to save to the uttermost, and we are kept by the power of the Holy Spirit, and sealed unto the day of redemption--the Christian need never fear Hell. Instead, we need to fear the true and the living God, being deeply grateful that, indeed, Christ will never lose any of His own. Praise God! (Please see Hebrews 7:25, John 10: 27-30, John 17: 11 & 12, Jude 24, and Eph. 4: 30)
I happen to agree with a long-held Christian tradition, the Apostle's Creed, when it states that "He [Christ] descended into hell [or more correctly, Hades, the place of the departed spirit]." We must be careful not to be too dogmatic about this, as this particular doctrine is not clearly taught in the Holy Scriptures, and is not essential to salvation. UI believe that Christ cried out from the cross, "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me?" It was then He Himself became the Sin-Bearer on behalf of all mankind. I believe He died once and for all time; that is, for all the sins that will evwer be committed, past, present, and future."
"For our sake [that is, on our behalf, in our place, and instead of--D.L.S.] He made Christ (virtually) to be sin who knew no sin, so that, in and through Him we might become [endued with, viewed as examples of] the righteousness of God (what we ought to be, approved, acceptable, and in right relationship with Him, by His goodness). 2 Cor. 5: 21 (Amplified)
Thus, Christ had to die, not only physically, but also spiritually. We can't even begin to imagine the anguish and travail of His soul. "Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne (the position of great glory, honor, and authority--D.L.S. Hebrews 12: 2, N.K.J.V.
"But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death (and is) crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone." Heb. 2: 9, N.K.J.V. And so after the cross and before the resurrection, according to tradtion, Christ descended into Hades, that is, Abramham's Bosom, which is a pradise, in order to declare Himself to be the long-awaited and promised Messiah to the saints of the Old Testament, and to deliver them and escort them to heaven, into the presence of God Himself.
This intermediate state of Christ is, I believe, alluded to by two passages of scripture: Eph. 4: 8-10, and 1 Pet. 3: 19 & 20. "...He (Christ) ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men. (Noqw this, 'He ascended'--what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the one who ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)". And, "...by Whom, also He went and preached to the spirits in prison..." (N.K.J.V.)
By this, we can conclude that Christ first descended into Hades in order to preach deliverance, and to set the captives free, and that explains the why and the how he obtained, and why he is entitled to have the keys of Hades and Death (Rev. 1: 18). Chrsit truly is the King of kings, and Lord of lords! And He will finally one day crush the serpent's head! Worthy is the Lamb that was slain!
Up until recently (using "inverse logic" applied to describe), I have always thought that when Christ emptied Abraham's Bosom, sometime during the intermediate state, that since there was no more need for that part of Hades anymore, that is ceased to exist. But what if one takes Rev. 20: 14 literally? What if the entire place of the wicked dead in Hades will one day be thrown, along with its contents, into the Lake of Fire? That would mean that one day part of Hades will be part of Hell. And if that is true, it stands to reason that it would mean there will be different compartments and different punishments pronounced on various individuals according to the severity of their wicked and evil deeds. If this is true of Hell, then why can't it be true of heaven?
What if Christ didn't do away with Abraham's Bosom, when he delivered the saints held in Hades? What if, instead, the entirety of Abraham's Bosom, along with its saints, were transported by Christ into heaven. That would mean Abraham's Bosom itself has not been made part of heaven. If so, then I believe the proper term for this place ought to be "paradise." It is this place that Christ promised to the repentant thief. This is the place that was referred to by Paul the Apostle. And this is the place I believe I visited in a dream. I like to think of heaven as God's vestibule or entry-way of heaven.
*"Then Death and Hades were cast into the Lake of Fire..." Rev. 20.:20, N.K. J. V.). **See also Matt. 23: 14, Matt. 18: 1-7. ***Luke 23: 39- 43; 2 Cor. 12: 1-4, 2 Cor. 5: 6-8, and Phil. 1: 21-23.
Conclusion: This vestibule is where one is first greeted and welcomed into the light and warmth of the very presence of God Himself! The abode of the Triune God is filled to over-flowing with His loving presence! And Christ has made the way possible for all believers to be able to enter in. The departed spirits of the dead in Christ currently in paradise await Resurrection Day, when they shall receive their glorified bodies. And it is here where they await to appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ, where all believers will be rewarded according to how well they have served the Lord. I was not allowed to see into the innter-santum of heaven, only its vestibule. And I think that however glorious paradise is, there are much, much more exciting experiences for the believer to look forward to in heaven. I saw but a glimpse of only a part of heaven, just a bare beginning of things to come. The brief time that I had spent with the Lord made all my past sorrows, pains, and troubles, trials and tribulations seem worth it. All my worldly concerns seemed trivial in comparison to the joy, love, and peace I had in the glorious presence of the Lord! I cherish every moment I spent with the Lord, and I look forward to the day when I can see my Lord and Savior again--only there, face to face. Praise His holy Name. Amen
Text: (c) 2007, Estate of Duane L. Smith, All Rights Reserved
Format only: (c) 2007, Butterfly Productions, All Rights Reserved