Lessons from the Thief on The Cross
Luke 23:39-43 NKJV
Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.”
40 But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”
43 And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
If you have only a few minutes to live, what will you want? What will be most important to you?
- Will you find comfort in all the material possessions you acquired during your lifetime?
- Will you find solace in looking at your certificates, diplomas & degrees one more time?
- Will you find security by reading your financial statement?
- Will you find comfort that you attended church as often as you could?
- Will you hope that God will take into account your personal merit & personal good works and allow you to enter His kingdom of Heaven?
WILL ALL OF THESE THINGS MATTER WHEN YOU DIE?
WHAT IF YOU WERE STILL GOING TO HELL DESPITE THE ABOVE ACHIEVEMENTS?
When Jesus was crucified, there were 2 criminals also being crucified with Him.
Both criminals were guilty of their crimes but Jesus Himself was innocent of any wrongdoing.
One of the thieves was repentant, but the other was unrepentant even unto death.
The repentant thief on the cross was a criminal & guilty of his crimes. In his final moments before he died, this thief came to the realization that there was only one thing that was important in this life & in the next – AN ETERNAL RELATIONSHIP & FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD THROUGH JESUS CHRIST.
In the thief’s final minutes…
- The thief understood & confessed that he was a sinner who deserved to be punished not only for his crimes on earth but also for his sins against God (Luke 23:40, 41)
- The thief believed that Jesus was not only perfect and innocent, but that Jesus was the Messiah being crucified for the sins of mankind (Luke 23:41)
- The thief believed that Jesus was the only way by which he could enter God’s kingdom and not because of his own personal merit or works. He knew that Jesus was not an ordinary Man. He knew Jesus had a Kingdom and he asked Jesus to remember him. (Luke 23:42)
- The thief believed that his salvation is by God’s grace and Christ responded to his faith by promising the thief that he will enter Paradise (Luke 23:42, 43). The thief knew that he could not enter Heaven on the basis of his own merits. He was a criminal. He knew that only the grace of the Lord would allow him into God’s kingdom.
Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.
Titus 3:5 NKJV
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit
IF JESUS COULD SAVE A CRIMINAL – WILL HE NOT SAVE YOU?
I once read a poster image that said the following: “IF JESUS DIED FOR PERFECT PEOPLE – THEN HEAVEN WOULD BE EMPTY”
In Luke 5:31,32 Jesus says the following: Jesus answered and said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
Therefore God’s grace & salvation extends to the worst of the worst kind of people. God’s love and grace extends to thieves, murderers, rapists and all kinds of people. You might be reading this article, and thinking “I’m not worse than a murderer or thief or rapist”. However, you’re still a sinner and fall short of God’s glory and therefore you need Jesus as your Lord & Saviour.
The writer of more than half of the New Testament was Paul the Apostle. Paul used to persecute the church and kill Christians, yet God used him for His divine purposes after he repented.
Do you feel as if your sins are unforgivable? Do you feel as if it’s too late to turn to God and receive His salvation?
As long as you are alive, it’s never too late to receive forgiveness and salvation from the Lord. God’s FREE gift and God’s love and grace are still ready to be received by you.
- God LOVES YOU unconditionally & He sent Jesus to die for your sins (John 3:16)
- We are all sinners. There is none righteous and the wages of our sins is death which is eternal separation from God. (Romans 3:23), (Romans 6:23)
- There is no sin too big for God to erase. Jesus died for our sins so that we do not have to suffer eternal separation from God. Therefore as sinners we need Jesus as our personal Lord & Saviour (Romans 6:23), (John 14:6)
- Salvation is a FREE gift from God through Christ. We are saved by God’s GRACE (unmerited kindness) and not by your personal merit or works (Ephesians 2:8)
- We must believe, trust and accept Jesus to be our Lord & Saviour so that we may become children of God; born again; a new creation in Christ (John 1:12, John 3:3, 2 Corinthians 5:17)
DO YOU WANT TO BE A FOLLOWER OF JESUS CHRIST, TODAY???
1. ACKNOWLEDGE: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
This means that we have all broken God’s laws and God’s 10 Commandments like those mentioned in Exodus 20:1-17. For example, we are all guilty of telling a lie; we are guilty of lust; we are guilt of coveting at some point in our life. If we are guilty of breaking even one of God’s 10 Commandments, then that makes us sinners. The fact that we are sinners who have broken God’s commandments means that we are accountable to God the lawgiver. Romans 6:23 says that “the wages of sin is death BUT the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”
You must acknowledge that you are a sinner who has broken God’s commandments and that you therefore need Jesus in your life.
2. REPENT: “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3), “Repent therefore and be converted that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19)
Repenting means: to change your mind; a sincere turning away, in heart, mind and action;
Therefore God wants you to repent of sinful values and of sinful living. God wants you to decide to
follow Him and to make Jesus the Lord of your life.
3. CONFESSION: “If we confess our sins. He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9)
God is a forgiving God. God will forgive any sin that you have done because Jesus died for ALL your sins and to set you free from the bondage of all types of sin in your life.
4. BELIEVE: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
You must believe that ONLY Jesus can save you and restore your relationship with God. You must believe that Jesus is the ONLY way by which you can have everlasting life and escape from eternal separation from God. You must believe that Jesus died on the cross for you and resurrected from the grave.
“He came to His own, and His own did not receive him, But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” (John 1:11-12)
By faith, You must receive Jesus as Your Lord & Savior and therefore; you become a child of God; you become born again; you become a Christian; you restore your broken relationship with God.
Why Not Make Your Eternal Decision NOW?
We become born again Christians by GRACE through FAITH or TOTAL TRUST in Jesus Christ as our Lord & Savior (Galatians 3:26) & (Ephesians 2:8,9). Salvation is a FREE gift received through FAITH in Christ.
PLEASE NOTE: You can choose to pray in your own words. This prayer is a sample prayer and it is only an EXPRESSION of your faith, belief & trust in Jesus. Salvation is by GRACE through FAITH or BELIEVING in Christ Jesus as your Lord & Saviour.
“Lord Jesus, I thank You for Your love. I thank You that You died on the cross for me and resurrected so that I may have life through You.
I confess Lord that I have sinned against You and today I ask You to forgive me of all of my sins, past present and future.
I repent of all of my sins and I ask You to cleanse me Jesus.
Thank You for forgiving my sins.
From this moment, come into my life Lord Jesus & take full control of my life. I want to follow You Jesus and I want to follow Your ways. Save me and from today, make me the person You want me to be.
I receive You Lord Jesus right now by faith. I trust You as my Lord and Savior – Amen”
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