Ps.56:13 You have delivered my soul from death: Will you save my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living?
The Matter of the Two Thieves vs. the Cross
-please read with an open heart:
Are you still trying to figure out why Jesus "did it all", but yet the thief on the left side of the cross failed to get saved? But alas, he didn't meet the requirements of grace or salvation. Wasn't just telling Jesus, "if you're the Christ come in flesh, then cast yourself down and save us!" - wasn't that good enough? But now it appears he hadn't received the message; he didn't have a conversion of heart; he didn't see see the error of his ways and he didn't turn around. He didn't accept Jesus and he didn't allow the love of God to come in. He was hard-hearted. He refused the opportunity. He listened as the crowd jeered at Jesus, but he also heard the ones closest to the cross. I'm certain they spoke to him and told him who Jesus was, as they worshiped God all day long, right below the 3 men hanging there. But apparently something kept all of what Jesus did away from this man. It did no good and that day he perished:
The other thief on the right side, he also heard the message, while spending the the whole day with Jesus, turned his eyes in the right direction, said, "I'm sorry for what I've done, I'm not worthy, but please remember me!" He was truly converted. He accepted the message, he made a strong decision. He realized Jesus is my only hope! He knew now that without Jesus he was eternally lost. We can easily see how that he realized he was a sinner and opened his heart and was converted. He spent a day with Jesus and it changed his life forever! Jesus told him, “this day you will be with me in paradise!”
Each one of us are going to make a choice, the same as these two men. At the very last second of his life, the converted thief really turned away from wickedness! He really had faith and obeyed. You can shorten that up if you want to, but why, oh why didn't the "Jesus did it all" (cliche?) save the other man? -If Jesus could have done that man's part he would have. But realize he put some restrictions on his precious gift of salvation. Man has to repent and be converted, be baptized, and filled with Gods spirit.. Why? Because it says so in the Bible. Matthew 10:38 "If any man deny not himself and take up his cross and follow me, he is not worthy of me. My friend, Jesus didn't really "do it all", in the sense that there IS something you and I have to do. Yes, Jesus did all he was required to do. He took away the curse of sin; He fulfilled every divine requirement to save all mankind. But there is still something we have to do. Adam and Eve fell out of fellowship with God, and in their plight, God loved them so much that he could not let mankind stay lost. While we are born in sin and iniquity, we don't have to stay lost. We can call out to God, turn away from our sins and be converted.
We should let Jesus live inside of (us), transforming us from death to life, from corruption to in-corruption.. But that won't happen until the spirit draws you, the preacher introduces you to the gospel, you fall in love with Jesus, and you become obedient to the cross. We call this "being born again'. Its a conversion experience. Its the preachers responsibility to baptize you in the name of the lord. And its a heart makeover! Death will no longer rule in your body, but Christ/the Holy Spirit will live inside you.. You will literally wear the Name of Jesus the Savior..
Its so wonderful that God has called us to preach the gospel to the lost. He made salvation available to all, but now its up to each one of us; Salvation is fulfilled in the cross when you are entered into covenant with the Son of God. The thief that went to heaven met those requirements for his time and place. But there is no “automatic salvation” per say.
I wonder today would they stone us if we preached with the fervor of young Stephen? Paul even held his robes while they beat on him for preaching the Cross, the Resurrection, and the Holy Ghost. Stephen gave his life to uphold the gospel and the cross that Jesus so expensively bought our ransom with! Paul later felt shame and disgrace; but later he was called by God and turned his every breath into proclaiming Christs gospel all around the world.
The industrious fireman stood with his hose ready.. they were crying out inside the building, "save us". He hollered back at them. “I've got the water.. see, it's right here!” well, while they were dying, he turned on the water valve, saying to himself, “I was sent here to cover these poor people with water.” -My point is, you do the job you were given, to the best of your ability, especially if you are saving lives. You just go ahead and use the water and baptize, obeying the gospel, whether you think its saving them or not. God help us today, for Apostle Paul himself was baptized in the process of being saved! Go read it for yourself in Acts 16.
You cannot take away the job that Jesus gave the disciples: He instructed them and they taught; “Be ye converted. Be ye baptized, calling on the Name of the Lord!” “Go to Jerusalem and tarry there for the baptism of the Holy Ghost”. And more. And these are not works of the flesh, they are simply actions of obedience to Gods word.
I Peter 4:18 "If the righteous scarcely be saved, then where shall the sinner and ungodly appear?" We are only kept holy and righteous by submission to the teachings of the cross and the gospel. If any man err or walk away, then there is no more sacrifice, no more efficacy of the cross for him. He is excepted , not accepted.
I cringe to think if someone meets the Lord up yonder and said I asked to be baptized and was told "oh, that's not necessary!"; Well, it's definitely a main doctrine of the New Testament, whether you believe it will do anybody any good or not.. remember Jesus told the woman at Samaria, "I have water, when you drink of it, you will never thirst again".. lots of scripture references about water. a few times where men were healed by water, like the pool of Siloam; another the man he told to go dip in the river Jordan seven times; All those converts in the book of Acts were baptized while being saved; and not to forget its reference to the washing in the brazen laver in the old testament. We may be surprised when we appear before Christ, and he says "If I was baptized by John, then why couldn't you get baptized? was it too much a bother? -and then there was the clarification in John 3;3-5 about being born again of water and of spirit.. Jesus had to tell him he wasn't referring to going back in his mothers womb.. no, no, no.
How sad, if someone came to you and asked to be baptized and you talked them out of it. Like my 10 year old daughter, asking "dad, can I be baptized? I feel God is dealing with my heart to do so." -So would you not baptize her? Oh, my friend if God can speak to a ten year old about being baptized? and I can assure you by the word of God that she is in heaven and is singing with the angels in heaven today!
The Ethiopian Eunuch was converted when by Phillips preaching about salvation and baptism , telling him that Jesus Christ took his place on the cross so he could be saved: Then he said, “I need to be baptized!” Philip said, ok, by and by. But the Eunuch then said, look! Here is water .. much water. And Phillip took him down into the water and gave him a good old get you all wet dunking, and called the name of Jesus, invoking Gods power over this man's life.
At least some preacher's today are doing patti-cake in the pulpit and using cliches and packaged sermons. But they should be knowledgeable and preach firmly that God sent his son Jesus who hung unjustly on a cruel tree, blood flowing from his back so that you and I can have access into the holy presence of God. So that you and I don't have to stand guilty or be judged for sins or die an eternal death: So that we can be called the sons of God and have everlasting life.
We should be preaching "have you received the holy ghost since you believed? "Come ye who are lost, blind and lame; -yes, still lost even after Jesus completed the great challenge of the cross. The lost still need salvation. They still have to die out to sin. They still have to be converted and name the name of Christ Jesus. Maybe our Jesus gonna tell a lot of people, "yes, I know about the repentant thief, but I asked you to be obedient to the gospel", and he gave the keys of the gospel first to Peter, and then Paul to the Gentiles and so on. There is no “automatic salvation”.
Allow me liberty to say that my pastor over the last 5 years has demonstrated a deep desire to study , pray and search out the truths of the word of God. He has demonstrated a love for the gospel and a desire towards souls being saved.
Yes, at times a minister will get a little off in the delivery, but other times he will "hit a home run" or even seem to wax brilliant in his delivery of the message. His desire is always to find the heart of God, examine the word and bring a well delivered message, with spiritual power and anointing.. Its very important that we pray for and support our pastor, whoever it is God has called us to be under. When you see him get tired or weary, treat him as an angel of the church of God. minister back to him with your love, encouragement and support.
Let's look a moment at those who carry questions in their heart about someone who never heard the entire gospel, and you're saying, "I believe they were saved because at the last second they called out to God". First, we trust God. His thoughts are not our thoughts. Don't try to reason the why or the what. If they did call out at the last second and that's all they had time to do, don't you know, don't you realize they never would have done that if he had not already conditioned their heart and given them a conversion experience? Rather than make a human judgment of whether that person is saved or not, The scripture says James 4:17 "he that knows to do good and does it not it is sin", leaving me to believe that God in those extreme cases is not holding them accountable for what they did not know. Significant to the fact that they called out in their moment of final crisis. Just know God heard them.
God has never refused a cry for help, a declaration, even in the very last breath of your friend or loved one. He is a compassionate God and you must accept that they already had completed a conversion of heart; even in that split second. He may spank them for holding back so long, but I rather believe he is going to kill the fatted calf, for his son has come home.
In the beginning it seemed like Satan stole the show when the big Roman emperor perverted the leadership of the church, causing it to stay a pagan church for 2000 plus years. Its amazing that any were taught Jesus's Gospel. You and I know we can only make it in by standing with the true first church and it's persecuted apostles of the first century. They were sought after and killed by the great Roman imposter/pagan/christian takeover plot. An entity which eventually became the Roman Catholic (world) church and became both state and pope and an institution of disgrace and atrocities.
What we have today is a reclaimed church of truth, faith and power by modern reformist and evangelicals, forming the mainstream church's of today. Yest some are still hung up on tradition: Many have tried to come back to Jesus, but were bound by tradition and false doctrine. Now also "easy believing" has swept the world up and all but rubbed out any resemblance of true Christianity in some congregations. Indeed even the Jews refused the gospel message, that of the Cross. And yet along the way, what has happened through a lost heritage and empirical state-run church except to remove it's power , it's purity and it's true Christ?
In the 1960's there was a wide spread church building and foreign missions reform which was good with the devout teaching that you had to invite Jesus into your heart, live holy and generally be baptized. But then in the 70's a desire grew for instant religion, name it and claim it, with an urgence to make Jesus your Lord and Savior. The 80's continued with a doctrine of accepting Christ as your savior, and the sinners prayer. then in the 90s back to baptism and full in-filling of the holy ghost. But some vowed you had the holy ghost the second you accepted Christ and wasn't a sought after gift. But Jesus said that you can and should receive the full baptism of the Holy Ghost. And we should be thankful for it is what Jesus said would lead you and guide you into all truth.
And some of us can now sing, "it's real, it's real". I've got the power and the blessing and I know I know its real...
Today as various denominations use different combinations of scripture to proclaim their preferred method of conversion, some even go with the bible and use the teaching, "Repent, and be converted". Indeed, heart transformation and conviction of sins is a viable and profitable bible teaching. There is no doubt, Jesus did all of the spiritual work of salvation, and paid our ransom for sin. He died in our place, yet he gave the keys to the apostles and authorized them to present the entire gospel to “whosoever will”.. Let me declare against the tide, against the detractors of the gospel that our repenting, our being converted, and things like baptism and receiving the holy ghost are a privilege, a right, a changing of our nature, indeed a transforming progress from death to life, through our obedience.
Be careful of saying these things, Repentance, Baptism and Spirit Baptism aren't authentic or necessary, because they are intrinsic with the gospel, they are integral and compliant to the actual death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Otherwise Jesus would not have instructed to go and tarry for the Holy Ghost in the upper room, there at Jerusalem. They are not works, they are not rituals. They are the tenets of the gospel of Jesus Christ: But let your heart, and Christ and the gospel be the judge of this.. One step at a time, we draw closer to the end of our journey to be with the Lord Jesus.
Written for inspiration and encouragement.
As A Footnote:
Many of us wonder about Adam and Eve and what happened to them after they left the garden of Eden. I have read an ancient writing that is believed to be the hand me down story of Adam and Eve. Its found in "The Forgotten Books of Eden".. It used to be kept with ancient bible scrolls and has substantial credibility due to its age. Its an extremely primitive text, and due to it fits hand in glove with Genesis, the book of beginnings, I can hardly believe that it is anything but real, and nobody I know believes its contents were made up. Its story is believed to be the real story of the first family and the relationship with God in a post-garden world, of their suffering, and quite honestly answers many of the questions left from reading the limited story told in Genesis. It is the only book in the apocalypse writings that many feel would be useful in spite of it being left out in the early selection of the bible manuscripts chosen for binding and publication. I will not elaborate, but will state again it was traced as far back as the first written manuscripts, so it could very well be more than just a fantastic story of the life of these two people. It certainly opened my eyes and heart deeper than ever before to realize how much God loved his first son and daughter, and how much he must love me, more than I can ever grasp. This book is available for $10-15.00 on any online outlet such as thrift books or amazon. Its not to be for anything other than inspiration, along with your bible reading. Its important to not let mega-religion restrict you from historical study, as long as it is bible based. I hope others agree with this, or then do not read Josephus or Hillel letters, or the Archko volumes, or even Tyndale, or Servitus, or any other historical bible accounts or studies.
© 2022 Oscar Jones