The Thief on the Cross…

By Dick Ward

Did you know you cannot be saved like the thief on the cross? Often, in religious conversations, we hear of those who point to the thief on the cross as a good example of salvation by faith only. Well, a detailed investigation of the thief’s conversion will prove too much for the "faith only" advocates to bear.

A Look At The Thief

Let us notice briefly what the scriptures say about the thief:

    1. He fulfilled prophecy - Luke 22:37; Isaiah 53:12
    2. He was guilty of sin - Luke 23:41
    3. He, at first, opposed Christ - Mark 15:32
    4. He had a change of mind (repentance) - Luke 23:39-41
    5. He had knowledge of Christ, God and the kingdom - Luke 23:39-41
    6. He received a promise from the LIPS of Christ - Luke 23:43

The thief lived at the time when Jesus was on the earth and exercising His power to forgive sins (see Luke 7:48; Matthew 9:2; 19:21). The thief received a "direct statement" from the mouth of the Lord, "Today shalt thou be with Me in paradise." No man, today, has heard such words of grace from the lips of Christ. We hear Him only through His revealed word (the Bible).

Your Salvation and The Thief’s Salvation

Your salvation and the thief’s salvation differ in many, many aspects. First, the thief lived under the law of Moses; you live under the law of Christ. Also, the thief lived while Jesus was on this earth in a human body. While on earth, Jesus exercised His "power to forgive sins" (Matthew 9:6); the thief was one who enjoyed this diverse method of using this "power"; he was promised "paradise" that very day! Have you realized the thief received the "promise" BEFORE Jesus died? The thief was in "paradise" BEFORE the 3 days of the BURIAL of Jesus. The thief enjoyed what he got BEFORE the resurrection of Christ. Answer the question, "Can one be saved today, without the death, burial and resurrection of Christ?" No sir! The Thief is not our example of how we can be saved, neither is he an example of salvation by "faith only".

Why People Appeal to The Case of the Thief

Although there might be several reasons for bringing up the thief’s salvation, the most often one is to flee the force of the Bible teaching about baptism. Jesus said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" (Mark 16:16). Men contend, "he that believeth (only) is saved and you can be baptized if you want to." Which do you understand as the truth on this subject?

[Editor’s Note: Thanks to Dick Ward for the article! This article was published in a newspaper column titled, "Did You Know?" in the Carrier Newspaper in Madison, Florida. He may be reached at: Dick Ward, 18 Eldorado East, Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35405, (205) 556-2407.]

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