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Did the Thief on the Cross go to heaven?

What about when Jesus said to that thief who was dying next to Him that day, "Verily I say unto you, today you'll be with me in paradise." Very simple, friends. In the original Greek-- You're reading it in a Bible that's translated into English. We use punctuation. The Greek had no punctuation.

Our translators had to say, "Where shall we put the comma?" They translated it, "Verily I say unto you, today you're going to be with me in paradise." That's a mistake. There are some errors in the translation, not in the scriptures. It should be translated, "Verily I say to you today, you will be with me in paradise."

In other words, the emphasis is, "I'm telling you today, even though I don't look like a Lord and I don't look like a king, because you called me Lord and King, you're going to be with me in that day." How do we know Jesus didn't go that day?

You read in John 21, Mary goes to worship him, this is three days later. He says, "Do not cling to me, I have not yet ascended to my father." From the time he died and was buried, he did not even go to Heaven. How can he be with that thief in Heaven on Friday afternoon?

It's very clear, just a misunderstanding. Why do we need to understand this? In the last days, there are going to be lying spirits. Somebody wrote in People Weekly, "70 million Americans think that it's possible to communicate with the dead." When you consider there's about 300 people now in America, 70 million- forget about all the children they haven't interviewed- that believe you can communicate with the dead.

"Pastor Doug, I know somebody died on the operating table and their body left the spirit. There they were floating around. They had this near-death experience and they know that they were conscious after death." It's just so clear that when a person has too much carbon dioxide in their system, they begin to hallucinate, they've done tests on that, you'll have all kinds of visions. Are you going to base your theology on a dream or vision someone had?

There's a new best-selling book that's out now called 23 Minutes in Hell. Somebody had a dream, so they're now experts on Hell based on their dream and they're turning the country. Probably very sincere. I'm not trying to question their sincerity. But let me remind you, I had a dream once, very vivid. Jesus came for me. Very exciting. I woke up, I was so thrilled. Did I mention when he came for me, he was driving in a bumper car?
[laughter]

Because in my experience, a bumper car represented the epitome of joy. You never had enough time in the bumper car. Am I going to start going on tour, writing books about Jesus coming in a bumper car? That's just a little thing between me and the Lord. He's letting me know that it's going to be a happy day when I come. He's not coming in a bumper car.

Dreams, and visions, and near-death experiences, when someone's heart stop beating, and they don't have enough oxygen, and they have a vision. That's where we're getting our theology? That's very dangerous. Why do we need to understand this?

1 Kings 22:22, "And he said, I will go forth and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all these prophets." There are going to be in the last days lying spirits in the mouth of false prophets, deceiving the world. That's why it tells us in Revelation 16, "This beast power, these unclean spirits like frogs. They go forth to the kings of the earth."

They're spirits of devils, working miracles to deceive the leaders of the world. Then it'll have a trickle-down effect and deceive people into thinking they should embrace a certain theology based on the testimony of demons, posing to be the spirits of the dead. If we aren't clear on this, if we don't get the message out, it does matter what you believe.

All this confusion in the cemetery is going to work against us in the last days. It's sad. There's even some Bible Christians who are scared of cemeteries. They think there are spooks out there. You are just as much at risk at home in your living room of those spooks as you are in the cemetery. Probably safer in the cemetery. There's no television there. Unless you're at the Chinese cemetery in Manila. They have TV in some of those.

Matthew 24:24-25, "There will arise in the last days false Christs, and false prophets, and show great signs and wonders." Again, by thy sorceries were the nations deceived. This spiritualism that's gotten into the church is going to be used by the Devil in the last days to deceive.

It's sad to consider there are even some professed Christians that go to visit these palm readers, these mediums, these psychics, that call. And you know, your heart goes out to them, because some of them miss their loved ones so much, they're desperate. They do these desperate things.

That's why King Saul, in the desperation of his last days, he went to see a witch. Bad idea. Committed suicide the next day, and he saw an apparition that just totally discouraged him. Revelation 18 has warned us, "Babylon the greatest is fallen, is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit."

Ephesians 5:11, "Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness." Christians should stay away from that stuff. Yet some of us say, "I got it clear. I understand this subject, Pastor. There's no confusion for me." But we watch it on television.

People go and watch all these movies that are filled with spiritualism, and witchcraft, and sorcery, and devils, and ghosts, and entertained by it. We laugh, "We know it's not real." Have no fellowship with these things.

The Bible says, Galatians 5:19-21, "The works of the flesh are manifest. Here they are, which are these? Adultery, fornication, uncleanliness, lasciviousness, idolatry," And what else? "Witchcraft."
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