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Question

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I am still a little confused about what I need to actually do. I heard about baptism, but they say that the thief on the cross wasn’t baptized. Isn’t he in heaven?

Answer:
Once again I appreciate the time taken to ask questions concerning your salvation. Personally, I don’t believe the confusion comes from what the Bible says concerning salvation. The confusion occurs because the clear teaching of the Bible doesn’t match what you have always heard. Let us address the thief on the cross. The following is a composition of the gospel accounts: “Then they crucified Him ... And they put up over His head the accusation written against Him: THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS. Then two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and another on the left. And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, "You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross." Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, "He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, 'I am the Son of God.'" ” (Matthew 27:35, 37-43). “Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, "If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us." But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, "Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong." Then he said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom." And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."” (Luke 23:39-43) First, let us note that we know little of the background of the thief. We know that he believed that his punishment was just. He knew he was a thief and he was willing to acknowledge that it was wrong. We also know that this thief knew of Jesus’ teachings. Think about what the man had said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” Jesus was dying on a cross right beside him! Yet the thief understood that Jesus would be receiving a kingdom and apparently he understood that it was a spiritual kingdom (John 18:36). Somehow I don’t think this thief gained this depth of knowledge during the short time he was hanging on the cross with the Lord. Hence, we arrive at the second notable item. The Scripture does not record for us whether the thief had been baptized. We know that John had been baptizing in Judea for several years and the gospel of John also relates, “After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He remained with them and baptized” (John 3:22). At little later in John we find, “Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized

we must understand that at the time of the thief’s salvation. Paul stated. We must also acknowledge that Jesus is the Lord. does it not make sense that we would strive to follow the rule? . “But this Man. would we not also need the opportunity to hang on a cross beside the Lord? Of course. one Lord. by means of death. sat down at the right hand of God. this man hung on a cross besides the Son of God. so we cannot state with certainty that the thief was not baptized. for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction. As Matthew records. It emphasizes that there is only one. "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” (Matthew 28:18). The Bible does not teach that there are multiple roads to heaven. one baptism. from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool.more disciples than John (though Jesus Himself did not baptize. How the thief gained salvation prior to the death of Jesus and the beginning of the new covenant does not impact how people are saved now that the new covenant is in force. one faith. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified” (Hebrews 10:12-14). Finally. that cannot happen because Jesus is now enthroned in Heaven. “And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant. “And Jesus came and spoke to them. Another item of interest is that people point to the thief’s salvation because he acknowledged his belief in Jesus. There is only one faith. There is only one church. the new covenant had not been inaugurated. and there are many who go in by it. unless he was one of those who fell back into the ways of the world after becoming a follower. “There is one body and one Spirit. and through all. “Enter by the narrow gate. but His disciples). that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. Jesus warns that the way to heaven is narrow. As the Son of God. A large number of people have been baptized. He left Judea and departed again to Galilee” (John 4:1-3). In order for you or I to be saved like the thief. For a testament is in force after men are dead. given that he was an admitted thief. Notice this. there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. saying. since it has no power at all while the testator lives” (Hebrews 9:15-17). The Scriptures consistently teach that salvation is only through Christ. who is above all. and in you all” (Ephesians 4:4-6). and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14). In pointing out the unity of Christianity. “Nor is there salvation in any other. Rather than looking for a possible exception to the rule. one God and Father of all. after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever. After all. for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant. For where there is a testament. There is only one baptism. but I know of no one who claim the remainder of the circumstances of this man’s salvation must also be followed. it does seem unlikely. While we can express our faith as the thief did. However. we cannot match the remainder of the thief’s situation. just as you were called in one hope of your calling. he had the authority to make exceptions. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life.