Ever heard the question asked, “What about the thief on the cross”?
I’ve heard it asked too many times to count, and if the question is being asked by someone who attends one of hundreds of denominational churches; I understand completely why they’re asking that question. It’s almost always asked in defense of their “faith only” stance and their belief that baptism has absolutely nothing to do with the salvation of a man’s soul.
I have a few questions I’d like answered myself. “Why can’t we just leave the poor repentant thief on the cross alone”? “Why can’t we just leave him in his grave”? “Why must we resurrect him time after time”? “Why must he be nailed to that cross over and over again”? “Why can’t we just let the man to enjoy paradise”? “Why”? “Why”? “Why”?
Instead of continually asking, “What about the thief on the cross”, why don’t these same inquisitive people ask, “What about the man sick with the palsy?” In Mark 5:2; Jesus said, “Son, thy sins are forgiven thee” or instead of “What about the thief on the cross”, why not ask “What about the woman with the alabaster box”? In Luke 7:48 Jesus told her, “Thy sins are forgiven”. Jesus walked this earth as the Son of God, being both God and man, and He forgave sins at will. His will. The thief on the cross was not the first but he was the absolute last person who had his sins forgiven before Jesus died and before God’s New Covenant was put in force.
Jesus was very much alive at the times He granted salvation to the man sick with the palsy, the woman with the alabaster box, and the repentant thief on the cross. The scriptures tell us in Hebrews 9:16-17; In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, because a will (testament) is in force only when somebody has died; it NEVER takes effect while the one who made it is living. Hebrews 9:16-17 is still in the Book. The words have not changed. These Holy Ghost inspired words still mean the same thing now as they did when originally written i.e. In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it NEVER takes effect while the one who made it is living. (Emphasis mine)
After Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, He never uttered the words, “thy sins are forgiven thee” to anyone again that we know of. Yet He had the opportunity to do so on at least ten known occasions when He appeared to well over 500 people before His ascension, and it’s implied in Acts 1:3, that there may have been other appearances of which we have no record. The detailed account recorded when He appeared personally to Saul (later named Paul) on the road to Damascus would have been the perfect opportunity. Why didn’t He utter those words to Paul? Wouldn’t it have been much simpler, quicker, or convenient? It’s not that He couldn’t have, it’s the fact that He didn’t, and here’s the reason He didn’t.
Jesus, who is no liar, had told Peter in Matt 16:19; “that he would be given the “keys” to the kingdom of heaven”. Keys open doors and doors are entry portals. To gain entry into God’s New Covenant, those “keys”, which no one should have the audacity to even attempt to alter, were exposed and established in Acts 2:38, on the day of Pentecost when the very people who crucified our Savior were pricked in their heart (convicted of their sin) and asked the apostles “Men and Brethren, what shall we do”? The keys: Peter said, “Repent and be baptized”. Every caution should be taken and notice should be made right here and right now; these 3,000 repentant souls didn’t cry out in unison, “What about the thief on the cross”, “he was saved without baptism”? They simply wanted entry into the kingdom of God and obeyed the command to both “repent and be baptized.”
Entry into God’s kingdom (the church) is attained today in the same way entry was attained 2,000 years ago. There is one “door” with one set of “keys”…Repent and be baptized. And yet man has conjured other useless “doors”, “gates”, “paths”, “roads”, “ways”, and “keys”, but the kingdom is God’s and He sets the terms for entry. It’s His Covenant. Why not just be obedient and “Repent and be baptized” and enter in? You’ll be glad you did.
“And Oh, I almost forgot”, “May you rest in peace, repentant thief”.
My thanks to Michael, a brother in Christ, who is my corrective grammarian.
To purchase a copy of his book, “Keeping Covenant with God – Living by the Blood of Jesus”
Bing or Google: ISBN-10: 146101073X