Following the sudden loss of a 14 year old (Amanda) believer in our community, we have been left to process this sad fact and explain it to her younger siblings.
My neighbor and I have entered into a discussion about how to explain where Amanda is to her 4 year old sibling in a way that is biblically or theologically correct. I offered that I would say Amanda is with Jesus. My neighbor queried this and we looked at a variety of Bible passages to help us discern the truth:
And Jesus said to him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Luke 23:43 NET
Now we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest who have no hope.
1 Thessalonians 4:13 NET
I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago (whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows) was caught up to the third heaven.
2 Corinthians 12:2 NET
There seem to be different terms in the New Testament describing our state or where we go after death: paradise, asleep. In the New English Translation the link to the word paradise in the Luke reference above says the following:
“sn In the NT, paradise is mentioned three times. Here it refers to the abode of the righteous dead. In Rev 2:7 it refers to the restoration of Edenic paradise predicted in Isa 51:3 and Ezek 36:35. In 2 Cor 12:4 it probably refers to the “third heaven” (2 Cor 12:2) as the place where God dwells.”
I have long held the understanding that Jesus is in Heaven with God and the heavenly hosts and that when I die, I will go to be with Him in paradise. Of late, I have come to consider that this “heaven” is a temporary place and that when Christ returns, he will create a new Heaven and a new Earth where we will be with him for eternity. I know this last bit goes beyond the question at hand, but I share this in order to flesh out the context in which I am considering the terms Heaven and Paradise.
Any input on this subject will be greatly appreciated.