Learn From the Thief – But Learn from the Rest of God’s Word Too!

Many times when the forgiveness of sins is discussed there are some who eventually use the thief on the cross (Luke 23:39-43) as example of what people should do to be saved today. I am glad that the conversation of Jesus and the thief is recorded because it reveals the willingness and desire that Jesus had then, and still has today, to extend His mercy to the lost. But it saddens me when one tries to teach that “all a person has to do be saved” is believe like the thief did. This is simply not true. Let me quickly explain why with the scriptures:

First – the thief lived under a different covenant than we do today:

For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives.” (Hebrews 9:16-17)

Second – the thief did not have to believe that Jesus was raised from the dead like we do today:

[T]hat if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10)

Third – the thief was not saved by faith alone; he reviled Jesus at first but then he repented:

Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” Even the robbers who were crucified with Him reviled Him with the same thing.” (Matthew 27:41-44)

Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.”” (Luke 23:39-41)

Lastly – the thief found forgiveness because Jesus had the power to speak sins away while living on the Earth (Mark 2:10); Jesus gave the command for baptism for the remission of sins after the thief was dead:

And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:15-16)

Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)

If a person wants to learn about salvation today, they can learn about God’s willingness to forgive from the thief, but they must also learn from the rest of God’s word too. EA

Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized.” (Acts 18:8)

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14 comments

  1. have you ever considered that you’r just making excuses for the verses to match up when in reality salvation is much simpler than this?

    1. One more thing, Hayden, in case you do reply to what I previously said. I know that you claim to be a Christian of some sort so I’ll make this “simple” and fast. Do you believe that Jesus is the only way that a person can find the forgiveness of sins, the only way to avoid God’s wrath in Hell and the only way to receive God’s reward of Heaven?

      Your answer to this question may reveal how in depth any other conversation about the previous comments need to go.

      1. Sorry. I missed this when I replied to you before. I do believe Yeshua is the Messiah but a belief in Hell is nothing more than paganism. It never existed in Judaism before the New Testament. And since the Messiah stated he came to change nothing that had gone before…

      2. I’m going to give you just one verse (and there’s more than one mind you) to show why you’re wrong:

        “Many of those who sleep in the dusty ground will awake—some to everlasting life, and others to shame and everlasting abhorrence.” (Daniel 12:2)

        Does that sound like, “Do not be amazed at this, because a time is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and will come out—the ones who have done what is good to the resurrection resulting in life, and the ones who have done what is evil to the resurrection resulting in condemnation.” (John 5:28-29) at all to you???

  2. How can it be any simpler than this: “And [Jesus] said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:15-16)

    That’s the whole point of the post, Hayden. To show how simple it is to know that a person today cannot be saved the same way the thief on the cross was. Please re-read the post.

    And as far as “making excuses” for the verses to match up, have you ever read 2 Timothy 2:15? God’s word matches up; that’s what it does. God’s word is truth and truth does not contradict. If an interpretation sees a contradiction in God’s word it’s because it’s the fault of the interpreter and not what’s being interpreted.

    If a person fails to heed Paul’s instructions when it comes to rightly dividing the word of truth and they insist on being “saved the same way the thief was” then they will hear what the Sadducees heard when they were told, “…Are you not therefore mistaken, because you do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God?” (Mark 12:24).

  3. To support my point, “God’s word is truth and truth does not contradict.” Yeah i got that but can you show me where it says the Bible is the Word of God? Please.

    1. I can give plenty of scripture (if that’s what you’re wanting – I don’t know if you really do) to show that the Bible does indeed say it is the word of God, but what exactly do you need it say before you’re going to be willing to believe it? Because I think (although I may be wrong so correct me if I am) the problem is that the Bible doesn’t say what you want it to say with the words that you want it to use.

      1. That’s not true. I don’t sit here and pretend I am better than you, which is NOT what you said but it would be the attitude you are hinting at that I may have. When I asked if you could show me verses it;s because I’m “pretty” confident they do not exist. Now I could be wrong so if I am, please show me. I’ve been wrong before. I don’t mind changing.

      2. First off, Hayden, I’m going by what you have said about the Bible yourself on your own blog. You have posts on your blog right now that say multiple times over that the Bible is not inerrant. So why are you sending a reply like that? I just wanted to check if you were asking a question that you already had your own answer to. Understand now?

      3. In other words, like the post I just did before this, there are people who want to talk about the Bible, but they don’t want to talk about the Bible. I’m checking to see if you’re even interested in what the scriptures have to say since you don’t believe they all came from God to begin with.

      4. Here you go:

        “Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.” (Matthew 26:13) Jesus expected this account to read at a later time when the gospel would be told to others around the world – it was and it still is because the Bible is God’s word (aka – the Gospel).

        “And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:15-16) What are Jesus’ disciples called to preach? The gospel. How do you know what to preach when preaching the gospel? By reading God’s gospel – the Bible.

        “Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.” (Luke 1:1-4) The gospel according to Luke begins by saying the words being read were an accurate and certain account of the Gospel being preached by those who were eyewitnesses of the Gospel they were preaching.

        “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:30-31) What is the “these” being referred to? It’s the word of God found in John’s Gospel – the same Gospel that allows a person to have eternal life through faith. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17).

        “The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” (Acts 1:1-3) The beginning of Acts says if you believe in the Gospel according to Luke then you can have the same faith in the book of Acts. The same author shows how the Gospel effected the lives of people and how God worked with and through the church in her early years.

        “Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh,…To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 1:1-3, 7) The Roman epistle is clearly marked out as a letter of Paul, an apostle (one sent of God) of Jesus Christ and Paul sets out in his letter to masterfully show the relationship between sin, grace, the Law of Moses, the Law of Faith and how God uses both those who reject and accept the Gospel.

        “If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 14:37) People may want to quibble about whether or not Paul’s word had any authority in the church, but Paul settles the issue by saying the very letter being read weren’t his words – they were/are the commandments of Jesus.

        “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in all Achaia: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 1:1-2) Sure the letter of “2 Corinthians” was written to the church of God at Corinth, but why would anyone who desires to be a member of God’s church not think that 2 Corinthians is to be considered as scripture by all the churches. If a message was good for one church (congregation) it was/is good for all the churches (1 Corinthians 7:17, 14:33; 2 Corinthians 8:18, 11:28).

        “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:6-10) The gospel delivered by Paul was/is the gospel God desired to be delivered. The Gospel does not change because God’s word does not change.

        “[H]ow that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ),” (Ephesians 3:3-4) Paul wrote what he wrote so people could understand the gospel of Christ…words don’t help a person understand the gospel if they’re not the gospel…that’s why the Gospel is called the word of God.

        “Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:” (Philippians 1:1) Again, another letter addressed to the church…a letter of encouragement, instruction and correction that can be used for the church today.

        I can keep doing this but let me skip down a few letters for time’s sake…

        “[H]aving been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, because “All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.” (1 Peter 1:23-25) Peter plainly puts the NT, the Gospel, his letter included, on the same level of authority as the OT.

        “Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.” (2 Peter 3:14-16) Peter tells/warns the readers of his letter that people were twisting/wresting the scriptures as they were doing with Paul’s letters and the words/lesson he (Peter) just taught them…that shows plainly that Peter equivocated his and Paul’s letters to scripture…letters from/of God written through the guided hands of people (2 Peter 1:16-21).

        “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.” (1 John 5:13) John’s letter was written with authority; it was written so people could be confident of their faith in Jesus – it was written as scripture.

        “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw. Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.” (Revelation 1:1-3) The letter of Revelation plainly gives all credit to God through Jesus as its originator.

        All through the Bible the scriptures challenge, correct and encourage (2 Timothy 4:1-4) its readers to believe God, and they do so without contradicting each other from beginning to end.

        I hope you find these useful, Hayden.

  4. The page won’t let me reply to your responses directly so I have to do it down here. Sorry.

    The Daniel verse IS a good argument. It’s not exactly Hell but it does sound close.

    I’m sending this reply for your sake. Not mine. You notice I’m not belittling you or implying anything negative about you. That is the first sign someone is more interested in making themselves look good. I think faith in the Bible will cause you issues but if I am wrong then I am willing to admit it. So, do you have anything that says the Bible is the Word of God.

    1. I also meant to add 1 Thessalonians 2:13-14 because of the clarity it uses: “For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe. For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus…” Sorry I left it out of last night’s list; it was getting late. The point in these verses are easy to see. They say Paul was a deliverer of God’s word and those who accepted it as such were benefited by it, and all throughout this letter Paul again, like other letters to churches, gives apostolic instruction to the church…hence the letter is inspired scripture.

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