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Did the Good Thief Believe the Gospel?

Did the Good Thief Believe the Gospel?

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The good thief crucified next to our Lord was saved at the very last moment by something he said to our Lord Jesus Christ. Did he tell Christ that he was placing his faith in his death, burial, and resurrection as his substitute for sin? Or did he say something more apropos to the gospel of "that hour"? Let's take a look at that question together.
The good thief crucified next to our Lord was saved at the very last moment by something he said to our Lord Jesus Christ. Did he tell Christ that he was placing his faith in his death, burial, and resurrection as his substitute for sin? Or did he say something more apropos to the gospel of "that hour"? Let's take a look at that question together.

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Published by: Deborah L. (Kuzenski) Collins on Oct 21, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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07/26/2010

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DID THEGOODTHIEFBELIEVETHEGOSPEL?
 
 
Two "malefactors" were crucified on either sideof the Lord Jesus Christ on that fateful day just outside thewalls of Jerusalem. Luke's gospel (Luke 23:39-43) tells usthat one thief "railed on him [Jesus]," and dared him to savehimself and them. The other was miraculously "saved" thatday, but why? Did this condemned criminal know the gospel?Did he understand that Christ was dying a substitutionarydeath on his behalf so that by simply believing in his death, burial, and resurrection, he would be saved? Of course not!Christ had not yet died, been buried or risen. Was Jesussimply being magnanimous in granting him entrance into"paradise" as a reward for his being sympathetic to him?Surely there's more to it than that!The words of both thieves indicate that they were Jews whodid have a rudimentary knowledge of the claim that Jesus wasIsrael's Messiah. The unrepentant thief said, "If thou be theChrist, save thyself and us." If we examine the words of theother, repentant, thief, we will find some clues as to what thisman believed about Christ: "Lord, remember me when thoucomest into thy kingdom." By calling Jesus, "Lord," heacknowledged that he is worthy of the highest respect. Whenhe asks Jesus to "remember me," he is implying a belief thatJesus will survive beyond that day. By referring to Jesuscoming "into thy kingdom," he is revealing that he believedJesus was Israel's messiah who would someday certainly sit
 
on the throne of David.This condemned man understood and believed the Gospel of the Kingdom! He was convinced that Jesus of Nazarethfulfilled the messianic prophecies given to the fathers of thenation Israel. He believed that Jesus is the Messiah of Israel;and because of that, he received the promise "that whosoever  believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."(John 3:15).Some Christians point to the thief on the cross to prove thatwater baptism was never necessary for salvation. ButActs2:38and many instances of water baptism taking place after conversion in the Book of Acts would destroy this argument.We understand today, through the epistles of our apostle,Paul, that the "one baptism" (Eph. 4:5) necessary for believerstoday is the Spirit baptism into Christ's body at the momentwe believe. (1Cor. 12:13). But at the time that the thief hungon that cross next to our Lord, water baptism was very muchrequired as a prescription for cleansing for the believingremnant of the nation of Israel. So what about our thief? Hewas never water-baptized! No, but unlike most other kingdom believers, he could answer yes to Jesus' question of hisdisciples, "Can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" (Mark 10:38b). The thief suffered to a much lesser extent, of course,and unlike Christ, was deserving of his punishment, but yethe did experience an excruciating crucifixion also.

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