Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

Converted Thief

The main story of the conversion of the thief on the cross is found in Luke 23:32-43.  Parts of the story are also mentioned in Matthew 27:38,44, and  Mark 15:25-28.  As you read all the passages, you get the full story.

You, no doubt, remember the story.  Jesus was crucified with two thieves: one on his left and one on His right hand.  Matthew informs us that both thieves were joining with the crowds in scorning and mocking Jesus, as all three of them were suffering and dying.  Imagine, in your dying agony, using your last ounce of strength to pour out your venom on the Holy Son of God.

Then something amazing happened to one of the thieves.  While the other continued to spew his hateful  venom on the Jesus,  the other thief became very quiet and thoughtful.  You would expect that as he approached death, that his mind would become foggy with the excruciating pain.

Instead, as he watched and listened to Jesus, his mind became crystal clear and he began to perceive truth he had never considered before.  The light of the Gospel turned on in his mind and heart.  He turned to the other dying thief and rebuked him for mocking and railing on Jesus- the same thing he had been doing a few minutes earlier.

The overpowering, sovereign miraculous work of God turned this sinner around 180 degrees in his tracks.  He turned from blaspheming God to rebuking the other thief who was continuing to blaspheme God. His attitude towards Jesus was completely, instantly changed. As Saul of Tarsus, a few months later, he turned from blaspheming God to reaching out with the Gospel to his dying  friend.

How did the repentant thief evidence a transformed heart?

Salvation is nothing short of a divine miracle and it manifests itself primarily by a changed attitude towards Jesus.  He became aware of God and feared Him.  He openly acknowledged his sinfulness and  the sinlessness of Jesus.   He spoke to the other thief.

“Don’t you fear God?”

“Don’t you realize we are getting what we deserve?”

“Don’t you see that Jesus is righteous?”

He was not primarily seeking justice or seeking for a better life of happiness and fulfillment.  He was not asking Jesus to take him off the cross. He knew he was a violator of God’s Law and deserving of judgment. His only plea was for mercy and  to be saved from Divine judgment.

In contrast, the unrepentant thief evidenced:

No fear of God,

No fear of judgment,

No sense of sinfulness,

No sense of justice,

No sense of guilt,

No desire for forgiveness,

No desire for righteousness,

No  desire for reconciliation to God.

When we evangelize the lost, we must move from lesser issues to the issue of divine judgment.  Salvation is not simply seeking a purpose in life, or seeking to be a better person.  Those are peripheral issues.   Rather, salvation is deliverance from God’s wrath, divine judgment and  Hell.  Peace with God was his primary concern.   A sinner is close to salvation when he recognizes his guilt before a holy God of wrath on his sin.

He believed Jesus was sinless. He recognized that he deserved the punishment he was getting.  He believed Jesus was hanging on the cross for sins He had never committed. He had heard Jesus ask for God to forgive those who were crucifying Him.  He knew His name was Jesus and that the name meant “He shall save His people from their sins.”

Earlier, he had heard the crowd mocking Him about rising from the dead. See Matthew 27:39-43.  He understood that when Jesus died, He would rise again; so he asked Jesus to be remembered when He entered His Kingdom.  He put his trust in Jesus as his Saviour.

The thief’s assurance of his salvation

 

The thief had no Bible to teach Him salvation or assurance.  Even if he had a Bible, in his condition on the cross, it would have been impossible to read;  so Jesus, in His kindness, gave the dying thief assurance of his salvation.  It came right from the mouth of Jesus.  “Truly, TODAY you will be with me in Paradise ( Heaven),  Luke 27:43

If you are convicted of your sins, and reach out to Jesus by faith, believing that He died and shed His blood to save you from your sins,  He will speak to you through His Word and give you  assurance of your salvation. Read it in John 3:16,  I John 5:11-13,

If you are still confused or uncertain of your standing with Jesus, go to my SALVATION link and keep reading it until the matter is settled in your heart. By God’s grace, you can go to bed tonight, knowing for certain that if you die, you will be in Heaven.

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May 3, 2010 - Posted by | Passion Week

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