Sunday, 20 August 2000 00:00

The Word of Salvation

Luke 23:35-43 (KJV)

And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God. And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar, And saying, If thou be the King of the Jews, save thyself. And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. 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.

This is one of the most well known stories in all of the New Testament. Many gret truths may be learned from this encounter between a thief and Jesus Christ. These truths include:

  1. The cross of Christ brings either contempt or conversion...
    Several people are mentioned in this text: The people (v.35), the rulers (v.35), the soldiers (v.36), and the thieves (v.39). Notice their reaction to the cross of Christ.
    1. The people despised him... "beholding" is a very strong word which means "to look upon with interest for a purpose." They thought, "This is the Christ?"
    2. The rulers derided him... "He saved others, let him save himself!" (v.35). They (the Scribes, Pharisees, and Priests) all laughed at him with derision.
    3. The soldiers denied him... "If thou be the King, save thyself" (v.37). The greatest danger of the 20th century is religion without the Holy Spirit, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without regeneration, morality without God and heaven without hell"William Booth (The Salvation Army).
  2. The grace of God changes the hearts of sinners, not saints...
    It is important to note that both thieves joined in the derision of Jesus Christ. Matthew 15:342, "And they that were crucified with Him reviled Jesus." Mark 27:44, "The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth." What caused one of the thieves to repent and trust in Christ? "By grace are you saved through faith and that not of yourselves, not of works lest any man should boast!" (Ephesians 2:8,9). No sinner, no matter how great is beyond the reach of God's saving grace!
    1. Grace makes a man aware of his own sin... "and we indeed justly" (v.41).
    2. Grace makes a man aware of his need of a Savior... "remember me" (v.42). The Bible teaches us that faith and repentance are divine gifts (Acts 5:31).
  3. The day of grace may come early or late...
    This thief is saved the last day of his life. His sins are forgiven just prior to death. There are those who are saved by God at a young age and there are those who receive the grace of God shortly before death. It is never too late to receive grace. The thief received in paradise (heaven) the same reward as the disciples. For those who wonder about the fairness of this grace, read what Jesus said (Matthew 20:1-16).
  4. The promise of heaven is both sure and sweet...
    When Jesus said, "Verily I say unto you..." it means, "Take my word for it."
    1. Heaven is a specific place... "today you will be with me in paradise."
    2. Heaven is special because of a person... "today shalt thou be with me."
    3. Heaven is a place obtained with a price... ."today shalt thou be with me."

This second saying of Christ teaches us that the cross of Christ is vital. Without faith in what Christ has done for sinners, there is no forgiveness of sins. It is never too late to trust Christ, and when you place your faith in Him, He will save you.

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