SEVEN SAYINGS FROM THE CROSS
A THEOLOGY ON SALVATION
"TODAY, YOU WILL BE
WITH ME IN PARADISE"
1. This morning, we will continue in our series on the seven sayings from the cross.
II. THE SECOND SAYING FROM THE CROSS IS FOUND IN (LUKE 23:43).
§ “One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at Him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:40-43).
A. FIRST OF ALL THIS MORNING, I WILL SHARE WITH YOU SOME THOUGHTS THAT I HAVE ABOUT THIS STORY.
1. While Jesus hung on the cross, He never once uttered a defense. He didn’t yell out, “You’ve got the wrong man. I didn’t commit an offense worthy of death. You are crucifying an innocent man.”
2. In fact, not only did Jesus utter no defense…none of His disciples protested His persecution. Not one disciple spoke out on Jesus' behalf. They all remained silent as they watched their friend and teacher suffer intense pain.
3. Interestingly enough…the only person who spoke out in defense of Jesus was a convicted criminal…a thief…a robber…an unrighteous, sinful man.
4. We are told in the Bible that while this thief was hanging on a cross next to Jesus, he told the other thief, “this man (talking about Jesus) has done nothing wrong.”
5. This thief had the courage and the faith to stand up for Jesus. And this impressed Jesus so much that He told the man that he would join Him in paradise. This is a wonderful story.
B. HERE ARE SOME LESSONS THAT WE CAN LEARN FROM JESUS’ SECOND SAYING FROM THE CROSS.
(1) FIRST, FROM THIS STORY WE LEARN THE TRUE MEANING OF SALVATION BY GRACE.
1. This condemned unworthy thief received salvation. He didn't deserve it. In fact, in Matthew's account of this event, this thief had earlier heaped insults upon Jesus (Matthew 27:44). He had verbally abused and attacked Jesus.
2. But as this man hung on the cross, his heart softened and he obtained a penitent heart. He wanted Jesus to forgive him…to remember him in the kingdom, which Jesus did.
3. But I ask you…how in the world could this criminal be saved? He was a convicted robber who was sentenced to death. He had probably been a thief for many years…taking things that did not belong to him. He had lived a sinful life. So how could he receive salvation? He received salvation through the unearned gift of God's grace. And it is through this wonderful grace that we can be saved as well.
§ "This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus" (Rom. 3:22-24).
4. My friends, through Jesus Christ, we can be freely justified by the grace of God.
In 1944, Bert Frizen was an infantryman on the front lines in Europe. One day, his patrol reached the edge of a wooded area with an open field before them. Unknown to the Americans, a battery of Germans waited in a trenches about two hundred yards across the field.
Bert was one of two scouts who moved out into the clearing. Once he was halfway across the field, the remainder of his battalion followed. Suddenly the Germans opened fire, and machine gun fire ripped into both of Bert's legs. The American battalion withdrew into the woods for protection, while a rapid exchange of fire continued.
Bert lay helplessly in a small stream as shots volleyed overhead. There seemed to be no way out. To make matters worse, he now noticed that a German soldier was crawling toward him. Death appeared imminent; he closed his eyes and waited. To his surprise, a considerable period passed without the expected attack, so he ventured opening his eyes again. He was startled to see the German kneeling at his side, smiling. He then noticed that the shooting had stopped. Troops from both sides of the battlefield watched anxiously. Without any verbal exchange, this mysterious German reached down to lift Bert in his arms and proceeded to carry him to the safety of Bert's comrades.
Having accomplished his self-appointed mission, and still without speaking a word, the German soldier turned and walked back across the field to his own troop. No one dared break the silence of this sacred moment. Moments later the cease-fire ended, but not before all those present had witnessed how one man risked everything for his enemy.
Bert's life was saved through the compassion of a man whom he considered his enemy.
5. Brethren, our salvation has been made available through the compassion of one man…Jesus Christ. He laid down His life so that we may live.
6. The undeserved grace that the thief received on the cross is the same grace that is available to us today.
7. If you have not received this marvelous grace of God, please do so today. To receive salvation, you must believe in Jesus Christ…repent of your sins…confess faith in the Lord…be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins…and live faithfully to the end.
(2) SECOND, FROM THIS STORY WE LEARN THAT NO MATTER WHAT WE HAVE DONE IN OUR PAST WE CAN STILL BE SAVED.
1. I don’t know for sure, but chances are the thief had not lived his life for God. He probably didn’t attend the synagogue on a regular basis…He probably lived his life without regard for the things of God.
2. But while on the cross, He changed. He became a spiritually minded person. The afterlife became important to him. As he was approaching death, he got his life right with God.
3. Because of his faith in Christ, this thief received salvation although his past was full of sin and unrighteousness.
4. No matter what we have done in our past, God will accept us and give us another chance if we are willing to follow His will.
5. God is not interested in what we once were; instead, He is interested in what we can become.
6. Many people in the Bible overcame a turbulent past, and became great and faithful servants of the Lord.
a. Abraham, the father of the Hebrew nation, at one time worshipped other gods (Joshua 24:2).
b. David, the third King of Israel, although he committed adultery, became a man after God’s own heart.
c. Paul, the great apostle of Jesus Christ, at one time had Christians arrested and killed.
7. Although at one time these men lived ungodly lives, they were given another chance and eventually they became great servants of the Lord, and so can we.
8. We must forget our past failures and focus on our future successes.
9. Paul put it this way in (Phil. 3:13-14) “But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
(3) THIRD, FROM THIS STORY WE LEARN THAT WE MUST ACCEPT GOD’S SALVATION BEFORE IT IS TO LATE
1. The other thief on the cross-had an opportunity to get his life right with God, however, he chose not to. His life ended without salvation. Maybe if he had a few more years he would have eventually made the decision to follow Christ. But his time ran out.
According to the Associated Press and the Chicago Tribune, in the span of one-year tragedy struck twice in one family. In 1994 Ali Pierce, the fourteen-year-old daughter of John and Anna Pierce of Massachusetts, was diagnosed with liver cancer. She fought the disease bravely for two years, but in November 1996 she passed away.
Her parents of course were grief-stricken. To deal with his loss, the father sought a constructive way to help others. He started running and set the goal of entering the 1998 Boston Marathon. He intended to take pledges for his run in support of the cancer center where his daughter had died.
On October 11, 1997, Pierce entered a half marathon of thirteen miles in Hollis, New Hampshire. It was the longest race he had ever run. He was fifty-one years old, and so before the race he had a medical exam and was given a clean bill of health.
He almost finished the race. Just ten feet short of the finish line, wearing a baseball cap that said, "In Memory of Ali Pierce," John Pierce crumpled to the pavement, dead of a heart attack.
2. Brethren, our time is running out. Since life is so unpredictable, we may only have a short time left. We need to place our faith in Jesus and receive God’s wonderful gift of salvation before it is to late.
1. In closing, we have learned several important lessons from the Jesus’ second saying from the cross.
a. We have learned the true meaning of salvation by Grace.
b. We have learned that no matter what we have done in our past we can still receive salvation.
c. We have learned that we must accept God’s salvation before it is to late.
2. At this time we never want to close a service without offering an invitation, so if you would like to respond please come now as we stand and sing.
Primary Resources Used To Develop This Lesson:
Seven Sayings One Friday By Kenn Filkins
Dr. James McCullen