Well it appears that Russell Scott has repeated a critical mistake that was exposed previously with Dan Parsons years ago. In his letter dated Tuesday, March 25th he uses the example of the evildoer on the stake next to Jesus repenting at the last moment and given the guarantee of going to heaven that day. Big Mistake. First of all, even Jesus did not go to heaven that day. He was in the grave (sheol, hades, hell) for parts of three days before he was resurrected. Then forty days later he rose to heaven. So did the evildoer go to heaven before Jesus? No. The Apostle Paul even rebuked false teachers saying specifically that “These very men have deviated from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already occurred: and they are subverting the faith of some” 2 Tim. 2:18. It is clear that the resurrection of the heavenly class would not begin until many centuries later during the “Lord’s Day” which began when the “times of the nations” ended.
Anyway, the misunderstanding is mostly due to the poor translations used that put a comma in the wrong place at Luke 23:43. Originally there were no commas used, but by putting it in the wrong place you change the meaning of the scripture. If you say “truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” that means they were in some type of paradise that very day. This is completely wrong. if you say “truly I tell you today, you will be with me in paradise” then Jesus is simply shown to be telling that man that very moment that this man would someday be with him in a paradise. This makes perfect sense, since the resurrection of the “righteous and the unrighteous” (Acts 24:15) would not be for many centuries and even Jesus would not be resurrected for several days and then 40 days after that, go to heaven.
What “paradise” was Jesus talking about and why could this sinner be there? Jesus was talking about the future time when the earth would be a paradise under his Kingdom Rule and this man would be resurrected there. Jesus would be ‘with him’ in the sense that he would be ruling over him as he lived on earth again. The fact that the unrighteous can be resurrected is because the “wages sins pay is death” (Rom. 6:23). So this sinner paid for his sins when he died and the fact that he can be resurrected again is because of the ransom blood of Jesus. We also know that Jesus was the only one resurrected to heaven at that time because those that are resurrected to heavenly life are given a spirit body that is different from all others because it is “immortal”. 1 Tim. 6:14-16 shows that at one time only Jesus had immortality. Did you think everyone had an immortal soul? You were misled. Not even the angels are immortal. Ezekiel 18:4 says the soul dies and those who say otherwise are not telling the truth.
So finally, I’m sorry that you can’t use the example of the sinner to say that all anyone has to do is believe in Jesus and go to heaven. “Even the demons believe and shudder” (James 2:19) Yes those that go to heaven have definitely proven their faith in Jesus with works and they definitely know what they will do in heaven (unlike Mr. Scott). Also, isn’t it interesting that even the sinner dying next to Jesus knew what Jesus talked about, the Kingdom? How embarrassing for those who think they’re bible teachers and don’t even know that.