I must inform you that your friend has no scriptural support for what he has told you. Let’s look at his views in the light of Scripture. We will be using the New King James Version.

  1. Heaven is for the people who have completely been accepted as righteous and have done great things. The Bible says in Romans 3:10, “There is none righteous, no, not one.” Because no one is righteous, Jesus had this to say in Luke 5:32: “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” We learn how to become righteous before God in Romans 3:21-22: “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed….even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe.” The moment a sinner believes in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, God declares them righteous. Romans 3:24-26 states: “Being justified (declared righteous) freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith…to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” So, heaven is NOT for people who “have done great things,” but for people who have put their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior.
  2. Paradise is for the people who haven’t done much but have proved worthy of saving and the people in Heaven will rule over the people in Paradise. This statement implies that “Heaven” and “Paradise” are two different places, which is not scriptural. In 2nd Corinthians 12:1-4 the apostle Paul speaks of an amazing experience he had where God took him to heaven. In verse 2 he simply says that he “was caught up to the THIRD HEAVEN” (there are three heavens…the ATMOSPHERE right above earth, the STELLAR HEAVENS above the atmosphere, and the THIRD HEAVEN where God dwells). Then in verse 4 he informs us that he “was caught up into PARADISE and heard inexpressible words, which is not lawful for a man to utter.” The language here makes it clear that he is only speaking of ONE PLACE, even though he calls it “heaven” in one verse and “Paradise” in the other. So, in answer to the latter part of his statement, there is NOT one group of people in Heaven ruling over another group of people in Paradise.

Your friend stated that Paradise is for those “who haven’t done much but have proved worthy of saving.” We have already seen that no one will be in Heaven based on their own righteousness, thus no one will be in Paradise because they have been “proved worthy of saving.” Ephesians 2:8-9 declares, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Could words be clearer than these? We are saved by grace alone through faith. Grace means “unmerited favor.” We cannot earn God’s salvation; it is a gift that we simply accept by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. An excellent example of this is the conversion of the penitent thief who was crucified next to Jesus Christ. In Luke 23:40-41 he rebuked his fellow thief with these words, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” He took his place as a sinner, admitting he deserved to die, and he also confessed that Jesus was not guilty of sin. Then he turns to the Lord Jesus and says, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom” (verse 42). In this marvelous statement his faith is revealed, for he confessed Jesus as both Lord and Savior. Jesus rewarded his faith by declaring in verse 43, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” It was FAITH IN CHRIST that gave him an entrance in Paradise that day, and NOT because he had been “proved worthy of saving.” (244.9) (DO)