Luke 23:43...Did Jesus Really Mean what He Promised the Thief?

And Jesus said to him: Amen I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43

Here Jesus speaks authoritatively to the dying thief on the cross, promising him that this very day, before sundown, he will be with Jesus in paradise.  This is the only example we have of our Lord's using the word paradise. It signifies the unseen world, the third Heaven where the immortal souls of the righteous will dwell after death separates soul/spirit from body.

As the post-Christian West and America slide ever deeper into apostasy it is increasingly common to hear Christians affirm the veracity of Christ in Luke 23:43 but deny Him before men with respect to the Genesis account of creation ex nihilo in favor of natural science and evolutionary conceptions. To contradict such people in any way is to elicit contempt, rudeness, name-calling and rebukes such as the one that burned its’ way into my mailbox from yet another highly offended evolutionary theist.

In yet another angry reaction to the recently published "Falling Stars, Damnable Heresy, and the Spirit of Evolution"  the offended writer let it be known that what God revealed to Moses  in the desert (Num. 12:6-9; John 9:20) is not authoritative.  In defense of his claim he argued:     

What did God mean by this or that” is a different kind of question from “Did God say this or that at all?” The first is a high minded question. The second is a Satanically minded question. Don’t conflate the two.”

Pride goes before a fall because when inflated it blinds man to reality and causes him to embrace and even publicly confess to his own irrational and even upside-down reasoning.   In the case of this Christian, he is blind to the fact that his questions are in reverse order.  It is the first question that is satanic, not the second.  Despite its’ unevenness, the second question more closely exemplifies an authoritative, ‘high-minded’ position while the first question exemplifies low-minded rationalism after the mind of the devil who asked Eve, “….did God really mean...?”  

Prior to the sweeping acceptance of Darwin’s neo-pagan evolutionary conception by apostatizing churchmen who paved the way for its acceptance by Western and American society, the faith of the Christian Church and of the average Christian had its foundation as much in the literal and historic meaning of Genesis, the book of beginnings authoritatively revealed 'mouth to mouth' by the Angel to Moses (Num. 12:6-9; John 9:20), as in that of the person and deity of Jesus Christ.

 Jesus Christ is the Word who was in the beginning (John 1), was with God, and is God from the creation of all things (1 John 1).  In a pre-incarnate theophany, Jesus is the Angel who spoke ‘mouth to mouth’ to Moses and at sundry times and in many ways ‘spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets, last of all…’ (Hebrews 1:1). Jesus the Christ is the incarnate Son of God who is the life and light of men who by His shed blood on the Cross died for the remission of all sins and bestowed the privilege of adoption on all who put their faith in Him.

In the integral worldview teachings of the Fathers, neither the literal nor historical meaning of the first chapters of Genesis as revealed by the pre-incarnate Jesus are  open to rationalistic suspicion and criticism and certainly not to the insertion of evolutionary conceptions in place of creation ex nihilo.

There are at least five critically important reasons why. First, to deny the Divine Authority of the pre-incarnate Jesus is to make Him a liar as well as to contradict and usurp the Divine Authority of the Holy God, ultimately deny the deity of Jesus Christ; twist, distort, add to and subtract from the entire Bible and finally, to imperil the salvation of believers.

As early Church Father St. Cyril of Alexandria wrote, higher theological, spiritual meaning is founded upon humble, simple faith in the literal and historic meaning of Genesis and one cannot apprehend rightly the Scriptures without believing in the historical reality of the events and people they describe. (Genesis, Creation, and Early Man, Fr. Seraphim Rose, Seraphim Rose, p. 40)

In conclusion, when evolutionary theists foolishly deny the Divine Authority of Jesus Christ in the book of beginnings they logically deny His Divine Authority in Luke 23:43 and all of the way through Scripture.   According to Jesus Christ, this is a dangerous position to be in:

 “But he that shall deny me before men, I will also deny him before my Father who is in heaven.”  Matthew 10:33

@Linda Kimball