And when they were
come to the place, which is called
* Luke 23: 33. ** Mark 15: 32.
And one of the malefactors 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 in Thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with Me in paradise.*
* Luke 23: 39-43.
It was a public execution. Three men had been condemned to die. Two were guilty of theft. But the third was different. He was the Son of God, the Saviour. Perfect and sinless. Dying as a Substitute for repentant, believing sinners.
And that is what the dying thief learnt. It changed his whole future. Lets see how.
He was a SINNER. The case was proven. He had been tried and condemned in a court of law.
He was the SAME as his companion. Both of them had verbally abused and reviled the Saviour. He was clearly no better or deserving. None can merit Gods salvation. All have sinned, - and that includes you!
That he was SUFFERING there is no doubt. Crucifixion is a slow, agonising death. Yet he looked away from himself and his difficulties and got his eyes on the Saviour. That is the way to get salvation.
He SWITCHED sides. In the morning he was abusing and reviling. But then came a change. He saw that his estimate of the Man on the centre cross was all wrong.
By midday he had turned right around. He acknowledged his sin and spoke of the worth of the Saviour. That is real repentance. There is no salvation without it.
Look at the STEPS he took. Note the order of them.
# First, he feared God. He came to the realisation that he had to give account of himself to God.* Sure he had broken human laws and been condemned by an earthly judge. But that was nothing compared to being judged by the great God of eternity. Do you fear God in this way?
* Romans 14: 12.
# Then he faced his own sin. He accepted that his punishment was just. No excuses. No blaming others.
Owning you are a sinner and bowing to the sentence God has passed upon you must come before you can have salvation.
# Look at what he found out. He learned that the Saviour had done nothing amiss - He was sinless. From His prayer he heard that He was ready to forgive. And from the public notice above His head he learned that the Saviour was a King to whom he should bow. Lets bring all these together. Unless you believe that the Saviour is sinless, ready to forgive and a Person to whom you must bow, you can never have [eternal] salvation.
# Finally, he had faith. He believed that the dying Saviour would rise again and reign in His own kingdom. And in asking to be remembered he showed faith in Christ to meet his need.
And, of course, he received SALVATION. The person that comes to the Saviour will not be cast out. That day the thief was received into Paradise. Remember, he had nothing and could do nothing. He was dying. And what he had done counted against him.
There were SUPERNATURAL events that day. Darkness at midday. An earthquake. People rising from the dead.* But none of these happened until after the thief had trusted the Saviour. God will never send signs and wonders to persuade you about His Son. Like the thief, you must base your faith upon Gods Word. It says, Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.**
[*Note. Not necessarily a resurrection to immortal life from Sheol / Hades, the place of the dead; but, like Samuels appearance to Saul - (1 Sam. 28: 3-20), a resurrection from there to be seen by those then present upon earth.
The First Resurrection (Rev. 20: 5) of the dead (to immortality) has not yet taken place; and this will be proved by the death of Gods two witnesses at the hands of the beast that comes up from the Abyss who will overpower and kill them: (Rev. 11: 7). cf. Luke 20: 35; Rev. 6: 9-11; John 14: 3; 1 Thess. 4: 16, etc. N.I.V. ]
** Romans 11: 3.
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[And] The Creator Christ
The first view we ever get of Christ is as God: in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God: and when Eternity passes into Time, at the exact junction of the crossing where all worlds were made, it is in the full panoply of the creating Godhead that we behold our Lord. For all things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that hath been made (John 1: 3): in Him were all things created: all things have been created through Him (Col. 1: 16). Our Lord not only is God, but He has acted as God: for creation is the challenging proof of Godhead, and the whole creative power of the Godhead centres in Christ: He that built all things is God (Heb. 3: 4). No materials lay at hand for the construction of a universe: the worlds have been framed by the word of God, so that what is seen hath not been made out of things which do appear (Heb. 11: 3): whether thrones - the crowned heads of the Angels or dominions - angelic satrapies or principalities - subordinate chiefs or powers - controlling winds and lightnings; all things have been created through Him. As no creature is too minute, so none is too gigantic; as none is too simple, so none is too complex; as none is too humble, so none is too sublime: through whom He made the worlds (Heb. 1: 2) - the heavenly world, and the earthly world; the external world, and the internal world of the soul; this world, and all other worlds. Our Lord emerges into Time exercising the full functions and prerogatives of Godhead.
matter does not end there. Who upholdeth all things by the word of His power (Heb. 1: 3): for in Him all things consist (Col. 1: 17) - that is, cohere, hold together; so that,
but for the power momently issuing from the word of Christ, binding creation in
continuous life, all things would fly back into their native nothingness. Jesus is as essential to the existence of the
universe as He was to its creation. He
who said, Let there be light, says also, Let light abide. The world is not a mechanism, wound up and left to go of itself: the sun rises only because Jesus is: every law of nature, every force, every
manifestation of life, reside in Him: the intellect of angels, the march of
empires, the burning of the suns, the fall of a sparrow, our birthday and our death
day - all worlds, and all forces in all worlds, are but manifestations of His
But a revelation still more astounding remains. All things have been created unto Him (Col. 1: 16); the universe came forth from Him, but it also sweeps back to Him, in a gigantic circle: He is Alpha, but also Omega; He is the Beginning, but also the End. Christ made the universe Himself; He made it by Himself; but most wonderful of all, He made it for Himself. It is not only a palace of His creation, but a palace for His ultimate occupation: a fact that carries with it the redemption of the universe, when one dark cesspool shall have drawn off and hidden for ever the filth of the worlds. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end (Rev. 22: 13).
Yet another, and an awful, function of Godhead is exercised by Christ. Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of Thy hands: they shall perish; but Thou continuest (Heb. 1: 10). Of whom is this said? Of the Son He saith. And who causes the perishing? As a mantle shalt Thou roll them up. Creation and annihilation are but two aspects of one Divine power; and both reside in Christ. Christ created, Christ annihilates: Thou hast laid the foundation Thou shalt roll them up: Christ begins the creation, and Christ ends it. It was the creator Christ who said in Genesis (5: 4),- Every living thing that I have made I will destroy; and it is the Son, into whose hands all judgment is given, before whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. (Rev. 20:11). The worlds lapse back into the Void, out of which He called them, at the will of Christ, to make way for new worlds (2 Pet. 13) of His creation.
So righteous, therefore, and so founded on fact, is the decree of God;- When He again - at the Second Advent bringeth in the firstborn into the world, He saith, And let all the angels of God worship Him (Heb. 1: 6). Had the Angels not been most exalted beings, the Apostle would never have compared them to Christ; yet God says,- Let all the angels of God worship Him. Angels never created a world,- Christ created all worlds; angels, under permission, handle lightnings and wield hurricanes - Christ arrests the universe from lapsing into nothingness; angels are immortals only as drawing life from God, - Christ hath life in Himself (John 5: 26). So then our duty is plain. If angels need to worship, so do we: if angels on the spot and in the heart of Heaven, knowing the exact truth concerning Christ, worship Him, so ought we: if angels of the highest rank all angels, without exception - worship Christ, not one of us can be too exalted to worship Him: if sinless angels worship Christ, how much more ought sinful mortals: if God commands all angels to worship Christ, can He command us less? and if angels, for whom Christ never died worship Him, shall the redeemed refuse? And they WORSHIPPED Him (Luke 24: 52).
- D. M. PANTON.