Question #344

Another question about the thief on the cross.

I read your answer to Question 4 (But what about the thief on the cross?) but it seems a bit vague to me. Please, take no offence, because none is intended.

I wrote a very short paper on this subject a few years back, and I had to revise it recently. My document will tell you exactly why he was saved.

Forgive me if you will, but I must comment on your document. As I read it, I thought of evolutionist because they often point out by using the same terms as, ‘if this, or if we assume, or the probability is great that if this happened… etc. type of speech is used in the first few paragraphs about his ‘probable’ baptism, when his baptism by John has no bearing on his salvation.

I believe the thief became a believer on the cross, as he witnessed Jesus’ none resistance to it.

Anyway, I would like to send my document to you if you would read it? If you agree, what version of MS Word would you like?

The Answer:

Unfortunately you stopped reading the answer to Question 4 too quickly. You are correct that it did talk about assumptions, but it also concluded that either assumption, i.e., that the thief was or was not baptized, is not relevant since the giving of the Great Commission and the establishment of the church on the day of Pentecost. As the answer did state, you do not what to be saved like the thief on the cross, you want to avoid baptism’s being essential to salvation. That you cannot do since it is the teaching of scripture. The only thing that you can do is refuse to obey God’s command to be immersed for the remission of sins. If you really want to study the issue, read and study the abundant information on the website related to that subject. It is clear. It is simple. People need expert help to get around it.

Additionally, here is the part of question 4 that you apparently did not read:

It is not enough, however, to establish that the assumption that the thief on the cross is more likely than not incorrect because both conclusions (that he was or was not baptized) are assumptions. Even if the conclusion that the thief was baptized is based on undisputed Biblical facts, it is still an assumption and is not necessarily so. Thus, whether the thief on the cross was saved without being baptized remains a valid question at which we now look.

While Jesus was upon the earth he had the power to forgive and did forgive sins. Matt. 9:2-6. While Jesus was alive, even on the cross, the Mosaic Code was in effect. It became ineffective after his death. Rom. 7:1-7. Thus, the thief survived the Mosaic Code only briefly (John 19:31-33) and received his forgiveness prior to the death of Jesus and the effectiveness of the New Covenant (Heb. 9:15-20).

After the death of Christ and the establishment of His church, all men became subject to the terms of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Lk. 24:46-49; Acts 1:8). The thief never lived under the terms of the great commission because of the time of his death and because the Lord had not yet given them. It is the terms of the great commission that are now relevant. That is what Peter began preaching on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:36-40). There is no record of any other terms of salvation ever being preached in Scripture. Today, as then, those who receive His word will be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38, 41) and the Lord will add them to His church as He did about three thousand souls on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:41).

God's Plan of Salvation

You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)

You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)

You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)

Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)