Friday, May 3, 2013

The Thief on the Cross

What about the New Testament story of the “thief on the cross”?  Does it contradict the rest of what God’s Word teaches concerning what mankind MUST DO to obtain eternal life?  I often hear this story brought up by those who hold erroneous salvation doctrinal beliefs, as if it somehow defends their mistaken position.  I assure you, it does not!  Therefore, let’s take a closer look at this story.

First off, let’s review ALL we know from God’s Word about the lives of the two men who were crucified alongside of Jesus:  1. Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John confirm they were thieves, and that Jesus’ cross was positioned between their crosses.  2. Mark reveals this happened to fulfill Isaiah 53:12: “and he was numbered with the transgressors”.  3. Matthew says they BOTH initially joined in with those calling for Jesus to save himself: “The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth” (Matthew 27:44).  4. Luke records: “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” (Luke 23:39-43).  Luke says the above conversation took place about high noon, followed by 3 hours of darkness (noon till 3pm), afterwhich Jesus soon died.  5. Then, several more hours later (around 5 or 6pm?) John records the thieves’ legs were broke and they died.

Alright, let me begin with the Biblical bottom line concerning OUR DUTY in obtaining eternal life (salvation)… we MUST have a REPENTANT heart!  We must acknowledge sin as evil and be willing to turn away from it.  The very MOMENT a soul has this kind of a “heart change” they are on the “narrow way” that leads to eternal life.  The thief’s repentant heart was revealed in these words (paraphrasing): “Don’t you fear God even at death!  We’re getting what we deserve!  We did wrong and deserve to pay for our sins!  Please have mercy on me Jesus!  Don’t forget about me!”  Can you hear his belief in God, his remorse for his sins, and his humility of heart?  That’s how salvation is obtained!  Zacchaeus got it too, instantly, when his repentant heart cried, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.  And Jesus said unto him, THIS DAY is salvation come to this house!” (Luke 19:1-10).  Hear is "turned away from sin" heart?

But here now is the cold hard truth; if a soul still has more time to live on Earth after this genuine “change of heart” experience (a month, year, or more) and they at some point go back to living a lifestyle of willful sin, they will then be back on the “broad way” that leads to eternal death!  This is why John the Baptist cried: “Bring forth your (good) fruit, in KEEPING WITH REPENTANCE” (Matthew 3:8).  In other words, repentance is not JUST a one time decision, it is a continual duty of “fighting to keep God’s 10 Love Commandments” in one’s daily life.  And now you know there is nothing contradictory about the story of the “thief on the cross” and the rest of what God’s Word declares concerning what WE MUST DO to obtain eternal life.  Amen.

What We Don’t Know (about the thieves on the cross):

  1. How long were they thieves in prison … a week, a month, a year or more?
  2. Were they Jews?
  3. Did they attend Synagogue as a child?
  4. When did the “remember me” thief first have a repentant heart?  Was it 3 months earlier, in prison, when he had a heart-to-heart with God?  Was his heart already changed and “doing good (loving)” to his fellow prisoners and jailors for the last 3 months or more, before going to the cross?
  5. What was the “remember me” thief caught stealing?  Food to feed his starving family?
  6. Did the OTHER thief later have the same change of heart (sometime between 12 - 6pm) and make heaven, too?



Approximately 802 Weeks (Sabbaths) Remaining Till Christ's Return!


  1. I believe many of us (including me, for a time, because of what I was told in churches!) make the assumption that the "remember me" thief was this extremely evil-hearted person right up until the moment he was on the cross beside Jesus. But we don't know that from the little we are told about him in the Bible

    I can picture him in prison, lost in his thoughts (for that's about all you have to do once your freedom has been taking away from you!) thinking back on his life. Maybe synogogue with his parents, maybe the Holy Scriptures, how he believed in God, talking to God, saying he was sorry for the wrong he did, and that if he got another chance he'd live right. This ALL could have happened long before the day he got on the cross.


    Did you ever notice that the hydrophobic believers in Jesus want to be saved like the thief on the cross? Their argument is the thief was not baptized in water, and was still saved. Thief proponents fail to mention that the thief was also saved without being born of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit of promise had not been given at that time. So the logical conclusion would be that men, today, can be saved without being born of water and the Spirit. (John 3:5 Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.")

    The question is why do men, today, not petition to be saved like Enoch?

    Genesis 5:24 Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.

    1.Enoch did not believe Jesus was the Son of God. Was Enoch saved? YES.
    2. Enoch did not confess that God raised Jesus from the dead. Was Enoch saved? YES.
    3. Enoch was not baptized in water. He was not immersed for the forgiveness of sins. Was Enoch saved? YES.
    4. Enoch did not believe that Jesus shed His blood on the cross so he could have his sins washed away. Was Enoch saved? YES.
    5. Was Enoch born of the Spirit? No. The Holy Spirit of promise was not given until the Day of Pentecost. Was Enoch saved? YES.


    Can men, today, be saved like Enoch? ABSOLUTELY NOT.
    Men, today, can only be saved by meeting the terms for pardon under the New Covenant; also know as the New Testament, the New Will, the New Agreement, the New Promise.


    Luke 23:39-43...And He said to him, :Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise."

    1. The thief believed Jesus was the Christ. Was the thief saved?YES.
    2. The thief repented. (He turn from sin and turned toward God). Was the thief saved? YES.
    3. The thief did not confess that God had raised Jesus from the dead. Was the thief saved? YES.
    4. The thief was not immersed in water for the forgiveness of his sins. Was the thief saved? YES.
    5. The thief was not born of the Spirit? The thief did not receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Was the thief saved? YES.


    Can men, today, be saved like the thief on the cross?ABSOLUTELY NOT. Men, today, can only be saved by meeting the terms of pardon under the New Covenant.

    The New Covenant came into effect after the death of Jesus, on the Day of Pentecost.

    Hebrews 9:16-17 For where a covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it. 17 For a covenant is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives.


    Note: The book of Acts contains several conversions that took place under the New Covenant. There is no record of anyone saying.
    A. I do not have to believe that Jesus is the Son of God.
    B. I do not have to be born of water and the Spirit.
    C. I do not have to confess that Jesus was resurrected from the grave by God in order to be saved.
    D. I do not have to be immersed in water in order to be saved.
    E. I do not have to repent, (Turn from sin and turn to God), in order to be saved.


    FAITH: John 3:16
    REPENTANCE: Acts 2:38
    CONFESSION: Romans 10:9-10
    BAPTISM: Acts 2:38, 1 Peter 3:21, Mark 16:16


    (All Scripture quotes from:NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE)


    1. Steve, you are making a very simple Truth (what a person MUST DO to obtain eternal life) sound incredibly complex and confusing throughout mankind's history.

      It's this simple, Steve.

      1. What a person MUST KNOW, BELIEVE, and DO to obtain eternal life has NEVER CHANGED from Adam & Eve's day to our day today.

      2. ALL a person MUST DO to obtain eternal life is REPENT (turn away from) willful sin. Easier said, as simply, KEEP God's 10 Love Commandments (Matthew 19:17).

      That's it, Steve. That short. That sweet. For ALL mankind is born "Knowing the difference between good and evil".

      May God bless your spiritual understanding of Salvation.


    2. I also disagree Steven. God doesn't change, ever! Therefore His method or rules for salvation don't either! The same way Enoch, Moses, Abraham and the rest of the prophets and righteous of the OT were saved is the exact same way that people today are saved if the obey God's holy standards, the 10 Love Commandments.

      And who is to say that Enoch didn't know about Jesus, the Messiah to come? How do you know that? You are wrong! Most of the prophets of old knew about Him through the Holy Spirit! They wrote about him and wished they could see his coming! Jesus even said this himself! The Lord does communicate such important things to his righteous and did use His Spirit to help, teach and guide them.

      Lastly, I disagree with your teaching or method of "getting saved" because it is not logical. What about all the people who lived after Pentecost who did not have the chance to know Jesus or hear of him. That didn't have the chance to read the Bible which just recently spread around the globe this last century. Do you actually think that those billions of people (probably about 80% who have lived) will be condemned by God to a fiery Hell? NO WAY!!! The Lord is loving and fair and he gives everyone the same fair chance, judging them by their hearts, whether they have done good and evil. And like Gabriel said above, EVERYONE knows what is right and wrong so there will be NO EXCUSE on Judgement Day.

      I hope and pray that you understand what we are saying. Think about it, read the word with this mindset and you will discover that this is the correct way.