INTRO: When Jesus was crucified, two others were also executed. We do not know their names or their offenses. We do know that one of the men accepted the fact that his being crucified was the due reward for his deeds. To this man Jesus said those well known words, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise. It is not uncommon, in studies about the necessity of baptism for salvation, to hear someone say, Well, what about the thief on the cross? I want to be save like the thief on the cross. This, of course, is said to suggest that since the thief was not baptized neither must we be. Is this the teaching of scripture? Is salvation like the thief on the cross possible?
I SOME THINGS WE NEED TO KNOW OR CONSIDER...
A. There is little doubt that the unnamed thief joined Jesus in paradise
1. that is, of course, what Jesus told him - Today ... in paradise
2. paradise is the place of a temporary state of the righteous dead
3. Lk 16:22,23 - a description of the hadean world ... and we know that Jesus was in hades between death and resurrection (Acts 2:27) ... so, paradise and Abrahams bosom must be synonymous
4. and if the thief is in paradise, he will ultimately be in heaven!
B. Could he have been baptized?
1. he may have been baptized by the baptism of John the Baptist
2. (now, remember, the desire to be saved like the thief is to be saved without baptism - thats the point of our discussion)
3. notice Mt 3:5,6 - there were certainly multitudes of people being baptized
4. further, Lk 7:30 - Johns baptism was, for that special time, required of people for righteousness sake (Mt 3:15)
C. Jesus certainly had the authority to forgive sins
1. Mt 9:2-6 - ...thy sins be forgiven thee
2. Lk 7:48 - Thy sins are forgiven
3. this was a unique time in human history - the Son of God walking among men - it has not, and will not, be duplicated
4. so, Jesus could forgive the thief - He had that authority
D. The thief lived and died before the worldwide commission of the gospel
1. Mk 16:15,16 with 19 - this simply did not apply to the thief
2. he lived and died in subjection to the Mosaic covenant
3. you and I are not subject to the law of Moses - we are subject to the law of Christ
4. Rom 7:4 - ...ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ..
II YOU AND I ARE SUBJECT TO THE TERMS OF THE GREAT COMMISSION
A. Three accounts: Mt 28:18-20 - Mk 16:15,16 - Lk 24:46-49
1. words like all nations, believe, repent, baptize are very significant here
2. the apostles were to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit came before they began the worldwide conquest of the gospel
3. note Acts 1:8 - they had marching orders - but wait until the coming of the Holy Spirit
B. Acts 2:1-4 - The day of the Holy Spirits coming!
1. all of this is well after the thief had died on his cross
2. none of this was relevant to his situation
3. but it is all relevant to your situation!
C. So, what else here is relevant to your situation? not that of the thief?
1. Acts 2:36-40 - this is in keeping with the commission!
2. Jesus was preached; people believed; people were told to repent; people were told to be baptized; people were promised remission of sins (salvation)
3. what happened? Acts 2:41 - believers were baptized
D. Was future preaching consistent with this pattern?
1. Acts 8:4,5,12 - indeed, it was!
2. if you read carefully the book of Acts, you will see this confirmed repeatedly
3. the circumstances of the penitent thief belonged to a previous covenant and situation ... what we read in the book of Acts is in keeping with the Lords departing words
CLOSE: Remember this. Baptism is into the death of Christ (Rom 6:3). Baptism is being clothed with Christ (Gal 3:27). Baptism is not something to be feared. It takes nothing away from faith ... indeed, baptism is obedient faith. Is baptism the next step you should take?
Cecil A. Hutson
26 September 2004
You Must Hear the Gospel
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) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
You Must Believe
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
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
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)
You Must Be Baptized
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!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
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)