Speaking the Truth in Love

Speaking the Truth in Love

Thief on the Cross

   A. In this lesson we will be studying about the most notorious    
      thief of history.
      1. One might be thinking of Jesse James, Billy the kid, Bonnie
         and Clyde, Dellinger, Alcapone, or some other.
   B. However, the thief we want to consider is the one of some 2000
      years ago, who is, really, the best known thief of all times - 
      the thief on the cross.
      1. Any child of God who has ever engaged in a conversation
         with denominational people on the Biblical subject of
         conversion, has been asked, "What about the thief on the
         a. Scriptures such as Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Pet.
            3:21 are all swept aside by this one question.

   A. Information about the thief is found in three of the four      
      Gospels. Matt. 27:38-44; Mark 15:27-32; Luke 23:33,39-43.
      1. Luke's account relates to us the most information.
      2. The fact that Christ was crucified between thieves was
         indeed a fulfillment of prophecy.
         a. Isaiah prophesied 700 years prior to the crucifixion.    
            Isa. 53:12
         b. Christ said that all things written concerning Him were
            to be fulfilled. Luke 24:44
         c. At least 16 well-known prophecies were fulfilled during
            the last 24 hours of Christ's life.
      3. Matthew's account indicates that at first both the thieves
         where engaged in reproaching Christ. Matt. 27:44
         a. However, from Luke's account we see that one of the
            thieves had a change of heart and made a plea to the
            Lord. Luke 23:40-41
      4. In response to the statement made to Christ by the thief in
         verse 42, Christ responded with this statement in verse 43.
   B. To what place were Jesus and the thief going on that day?
      1. The original word that is translated "paradise" is defined  
         as: "That part of Hades which is thought to be the abode of 
         the souls of the pious until the resurrection." (Thayer).
      2. In Acts 2:27,31, we read of Christ after His death going to
         Hades, to the spirit World, the place where disembodied
         spirits go."
         a. According to Luke 16:19-31, "Hades" has three places: 
            (1) A place of comfort. This corresponds to Paradise.
            (2) A place of torment. This corresponds to "Tartarus"
                of 2 Pet. 2:4
            (3) A great gulf (there is no passing from either place).
      3. Thus, we conclude that when Christ went to Hades, He went
         to Paradise.
         a. On the day of Christ's death, the thief was going to
            Paradise with Christ and the righteous of the ages.

   A. The argument, of course,  that is often made regarding the     
      thief is: "I can be saved without being baptized because the   
      thief was saved without being baptized."
   B. There are at least three false assumptions made regarding their
      1. They assume that the thief was never baptized.
         a. Matt. 3:5-6 - Please note the people who came to be
         b. Mark 1:4-5 - Note the additional "all."
         c. John 4:1-3 - Note the fact that Jesus baptized more than
            (1) Our question is, "Couldn't the thief have been
                among this number?"
            (2) We are not affirming that the thief was among
                them, only that he could have been.
            (3) No one knows for sure whether or not the thief was
                baptized; they "assume" that he wasn't.
            (4) What is truly sad is that they are basing their
                salvation on something which is assumed.
      2. They assume they can be saved exactly like the thief.
         a. For one to be saved exactly as the thief, he must be on a
            cross along with the dying Savior, and have Jesus say to
            him, "Today, you will be with Me in Paradise."
            (1) Of course, Jesus is not here today, and such could
                never be done.
         b. While Jesus was alive on earth, He had the power to
            dispense of His Spiritual blessings any way He saw fit.
            (1) For example, Jesus often personally forgave sins.
                (a) Mark 2:1-12 - The paralytic who was carried
                    by four others and let down through the roof.
                (b) Luke 7:36-50 - The woman who washed Jesus' feet.
                (c) Consider what Jesus said to the rich young
                    ruler. Mark 10:17-22
                    i) Jesus did not require the rich young ruler
                       to be baptized, at least, not at this time.
                    ii) Why don't people want to be saved like
                        the rich young ruler?
            (2) The point is that Jesus, during His personal
                ministry, granted God's blessings to several
                individuals upon various conditions, and the thief
                was one of them.
            (3) What Jesus did for the thief, and various others, has
                nothing to do with our salvation.
      3. Thirdly, they assume they are under the same Law the thief  
         was under. 
         a. Under which Law was the thief while he was on the cross?
            (1) Heb. 7:12 shows us that there was a change in the
            (2) Heb. 9:16-17 tells us when Christ's Law went into
            (3) Paul said in Romans 7:4 we have become dead to
                the Law.
            (4) We are now under the "everlasting covenant." Heb.
                (a) God will not change the conditions of the
                    "everlasting covenant" to suit our needs.
         b. In the light of this, what does the argument "the thief
            was saved without being baptized" prove?
            (1) Neither was Abraham, Moses, David, or any of the
                O.T. prophets baptized.
         c. The Law, the New Testament, of Jesus Christ that we
            are now under, teaches that we must be baptized.
            (1) With His own words, Jesus said - Mark 16:16.
            (2) We must be baptized in order to receive remission
                of sins, to have the new life, and to have a clear
                conscience. Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; 1 Pet.

   A. It is very foolish indeed to base one's entire Salvation on the
      assumption that one can be saved like the thief.
      1. Prior to the death of Christ, the Old Law was still in      
         effect, but after His death, the New Law became binding upon
         all men.
      2. What we need to do is humbly obey from the heart what
         Jesus has commanded us.
   B. If one can make the argument, "I can be saved without being
      baptized because the thief was saved without being baptized,"
      why can't I argue:
      1. "I can be saved without attending services, because the     
         thief never attended services."
      2. "I can be saved without partaking of the Lord's Supper,
         because the thief never partook of the Lord's Supper."
      3. "I can be saved without giving on the first day of the week,
         because the thief never gave on the first day of the week."
   C. In every case in the N.T., one obeyed the command to be
      baptized in order to become a child of God.
      1. The question is, will I be like the Pharisees and Lawyers   
         who rejected John's baptism? Luke 7:30
      2. Or, will I be as the early disciples who obeyed the Lord in
         baptism? Gal. 3:26-27

Three Unproved Assumptions:

1. They assume that the thief was never baptized.

2. They assume they can be saved exactly like the thief.

3. They assume they are under the same Law the thief was under.