I woke this morning to the Spirit revealing the thief on the cross asking to be remembered when Jesus enters into Paradise. This thief did not walk down the aisle of the church and obtain the right hand of fellowship. This thief did not have to opportunity to be baptized before his death. This thief only had time to ask to be remembered by Jesus when Jesus entered into His Kingdom.
Why is this so amazing one would ask. Well, the answer is simple. At the close of most worship services, the doors of the church or an invitation to discipleship is given. If you ever listen to what is being said, there is a inference that if you don’t come forward you have not been saved. Yet, this sinner or malefactor as the King James Version calls him, is granted immediate salvation simply because he looked on the goodness of Jesus, acknowledged that goodness, grieved in his heart because of his sinfulness, acknowledged Jesus as King, repented and simply asked for one thing, for the King of kings to remember him when he entered His Kingdom.
I sit and listen to many sermons preached and though they allude to grace they seem to emphasis the law, the rules one must live by, the behavior that is acceptable and unacceptable, and how condemned we are if we don’t behave in a manner others see as Christ like. When I read in Titus 2:5-6 I see salvation comes through the mercy of God, the washing, regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom is pour out on us in great abundance through Christ Jesus. It does not come through our works of righteousness, because we cannot make ourselves righteous by any means of behavior or works.
The thief found salvation in the mercy, goodness and grace of Jesus Christ, who was taking on his curse, taking on his punishment, taking on his penalty of the grave and he was immediately received into the Kingdom of Heaven. Remember the thief was also paying for his crimes at the same time Jesus was taking on his penalty. Yet, he found solace in the fact that he would not be alone in this ordeal, but Jesus was with him and would carry the burden of the condemnation of his soul to the grave for him. This thief may have had to suffer the physical penalty, but his soul would not have to taste the death of the grave. How amazing is that, even when we are feeling the brunt of our sinful behavior Jesus is in the midst with us carrying the load for us that we don’t have to walk in condemnation, but we who are saved remain the righteousness of God through Him. No matter what we have done or what we may do in the future, we are the righteousness of God, because Jesus paid the price for our bad choices.
To all of us who feel we must do something other than repent and receive victory through the sacrifice of the Lamb by faith, I say Grace only ask you become that malefactor on the cross, look on the goodness of God through Christ Jesus, acknowledge your sinfulness before the King, accept that He paid your penalty in full and immediately you are with Him in Paradise. For Romans 2:4 tells you and me that the goodness of God leads you to repentance.
I pray we allow the goodness of God through Christ Jesus to lead us out of darkness and despair into the glorious light of freedom found in the Kingdom of Heaven. Other than receive Jesus as Lord and Savior through faith there is no work, behavior, deed done, song sung, etc. that will cleanse you of sin. Grace that amazing grace is the only way. Don’t count yourself out because you still drink, cuss, smoke dope, smoke cigarettes, or do the no, no’s others point out so readily to you. You may slip but you are still in the race and He is able to perfect that which He has begun in you.