Thief On The Cross Shows Us The Simple Way Of Salvation

by David J. Stewart | March 2014

Luke 23:39-43, “And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”

The Biblical account of a repentant thief being crucified alongside our dear Savior provides us with irrefutable evidence how to be saved. In our text Scripture passage from Luke 23:39-43, we clearly see what repentance is. The repentant thief realized that he was a sinner, and that he was justly being punished according to law for the crime(s) he had committed, and he acknowledged his sinnership. Repentance unto salvation is “a change of mind.”

Romans 3:19, “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” God's law in the Old Testament was given as a measuring stick, by which when compared we fall short, plainly showing us our SINNERSHIP. Galatians 3:25-26, “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” The purpose of God's Law is to show us our need for the Savior. The repentant thief on the cross saw his need, and he believed on the dear Savior.

Whereas we see one thief on the cross still defiant against God (he said, “If thou be the Christ”), the other thief asked Jesus to remember him, which plainly evidences his faith in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus is THE WAY of salvation! John 20:31, “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” The thief on the cross repented and believed to be saved, that is, he acknowledged his sinnership in the eyes of God the Father and placed his faith in Jesus as the Christ.

Please notice that there was no way for the saved thief to be water baptized, not partake of Holy Communion. By the way, there's no such terms in the Bible as “HOLY Baptism” or “HOLY Communion.” Jesus instituted the two simple ordinances of Believer's Baptism and the Lord's Supper during His earthly life and ministry, as functions of discipleship (and not sonship). Getting water baptized is a believers first step of obedience as a new convert, which is the public profession of their faith. Water baptism manifests outwardly what has happened inwardly in the believer's heart, demonstrating their faith in Christ's death, burial and resurrection. Amen! 

The gospel is defined in the Bible as Christ's DEATH, BURIAL and RESURRECTION. 1st Corinthians 15:1, “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” Anyone is saved who receives the gospel as full-payment for their sins.

Beware Of “Lordship Salvation” Heresy

There is a popular false understanding of repentance that has infected thousands of America's churches, and is epidemic amongst radio and television preachers, which teaches that hearing and believing the gospel as payment for one's sins is insufficient to save. Proponents of the Lordship Salvation heresy like to make such statements as, “Either Jesus is Lord of all or He's not Lord at all.” That's simply not true. Jesus is the Lord, you don't make Him Lord! If you are saved, Jesus is your Lord (Master). You may not be obedient to Him as God's child, but Christ is still your Master if you are saved. In John 14:15 Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” In John 15:14 Jesus again said, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” The Bible is speaking about love and friendship here (which is a matter of discipleship), and not sonship (being saved).

Jesus promised in John 6:37 never to turn anyone away who comes to Him to be saved. John 6:37, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” Anyone who places their trust (reliance) in the Lord as the Christ has eternal life. John 11:25, “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” Amen!

Isaiah 55:6-7 says, “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” The word “return” in Isaiah 55:7 is the Hebrew word shub and does not mean to return to a starting point; but rather, to retreat from one's sins to the Lord for mercy. It does not mean to cease from living in sin; but rather, to acknowledge one's sinfulness and come to the Lord to be forgiven.

Consequently, one's attitude toward personal sins changes at salvation (which is what repentance means, i.e., a change of mind), but this does not necessarily mean that this new believer is actively forsaking those sins, nor does it mean that they will eventually stop committing those sin(s). It does mean that God will chastise and scourge that person for their sins if they are genuinely saved. No Christian believer can truly be happy while living in deliberate sin; but this is a matter of fellowship, discipleship, sanctification and consecration, and not a matter of sonship.

As evidenced by the Apostle Paul in Romans 7:14-25, every Christian believer struggles with sin. The spirit and flesh war against each other continually. 1st Peter 2:11, “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.” The simplest, clearest and best explanation I've ever heard on the subject is by Dr. Jack Hyles...

The Saved, Crucified, Resurrected And Ascended Life
(awesome MP3 sermon by Dr. Jack Hyles - Read Article)

Jesus Is The Savior Of All Men

Jesus is the Savior of all men, saved and unsaved alike, but you cannot be saved until YOU RECEIVE Him as your personal Savior. I can prove that with the Bible. 1st Timothy 4:10-11, “For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe. These things command and teach.” There you have it... Jesus is “THE SAVIOUR OF ALL MEN”! Notice that the Bible says, “SPECIALLY OF THOSE THAT BELIEVE”!!! My friend, Jesus paid for all your sins. Whether or not you go to Heaven or Hell one day is entirely up to you. You have a freewill from God to make your own decisions.

We are told in the Bible that Jesus bought unbelieving false prophets! 2nd Peter 2:1, “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.”

The thief on the cross was miraculously saved by simply acknowledging his sinfulness and believing on Jesus as the Christ. If you admit that you are a hell-deserving sinner, and you genuinely receive Christ's death, burial and resurrection as full-payment for your sins, then you are saved. If you are sincere in your faith, then God's Holy Spirit will work a change in your soul. Jesus is the way of salvation. It doesn't get any simpler than that. Thomas asked Jesus to show him the way. The Lord tells us the way to Heaven in John 14:5-6, “Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

Mark 1:15: “...repent ye, and believe the gospel.”

It's Not The Shedding Of Jesus' Blood That Saves, But The 'SPRINKLING' Of That Shed Blood

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