When Paradise Lost Became Paradise Regained
April 15 2011 by D.E. Parkerson

John Milton’s epic poem, Paradise Lost, concludes with the banishment of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. When he had finished the poem he asked his friend, Thomas Ellwood, to read it. When Elwood had finished reading it, he said, “You have said much here of Paradise Lost, but what do you have to say of Paradise Found?”

This forced Milton to write a second work entitled Paradise Regained, which captures the compelling hope of the ultimate resolution of mankind’s fallen sinful nature through God’s redemption to the fullness of His intended purpose.

This second work by Milton deals with the hope of the home in heaven that God gives to every believer. A life with nothing to look forward to is a life of emptiness and despair. It is hope for something beyond this moment, for something beyond us, that drives the passions of the human soul. When all we have is the present moment, we end up saying to ourselves, “There has to be more to life than this.”

Jesus said to His disciples when He was about to leave them, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you. And if I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me, that you may also be where I am” (Jn. 14:1-2 NIV).

Jesus was fully aware of the kind of difficulties and dangers they would face following His return to be with the Father. Also, He had a mission for them — a mission that would not be easy for them to carry out. He wanted His words of hope to transform what they viewed as a dead-end street into a wide-open highway.

It was in speaking of this hope the Apostle Peter broke out in ecstatic praise as he declared, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade — kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3-4). The message of Easter is the message of hope. It is the hope of the day when heaven will be the eternal home of every believer. It is not a vain hope, for it is guaranteed by God Himself who raised His Son, Jesus Christ, from the grave.

When British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was making plans for his funeral, he asked that his body lie in state in the heart of London under the massive dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral, that great architectural masterpiece of Sir Christopher Wrenn.

Churchill then requested that a trumpeter be stationed on each side of the balcony that circles the dome. At the end of the service the trumpeter on one side of the dome was to play taps. When he was finished the trumpeter on the other side was to play reveille. One spoke of the end of life here, the other of God’s wake-up call. That is the message of Easter. It is the message of hope. It is the hope of hearing God’s wake-up call, when we will be welcomed by God to our eternal home.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Parkerson is a native of Georgia, a graduate of Mercer University [B.A.], Southeastern Seminary [M. Div. and Th.M.], and Campbell University [D.D.]. He has served as pastor of one church in Georgia and five churches in North Carolina. Following retirement as pastor of the First Baptist Church in Sanford on Sept. 30, 1996, he has served 10 North Carolina churches as interim pastor. His column, The Paper Pulpit, has appeared weekly in a few newspapers and other publications since 1958. He and his wife, Jessie, live in Wilmington near their daughter and family.)

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4/15/2011 9:35:00 AM by D.E. Parkerson | with 0 comments

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