What About the Thief on the Cross?

Three Crosses

When talking to others from various denominations about the subject of salvation, we can see that man has many different ideas as to how one is saved. Some will tell you that in order to be saved, you just need to receive Jesus into your heart and accept Him as your personal Savior. Some will say you need to pray the “sinner’s prayer” and ask God to forgive you of your sins. Others will tell you that as long as you believe in God, then that is all that is necessary to receive salvation. Usually no passage is cited to prove their assertion. When one is, it has been taken out of context and misapplied. When we study the New Testament, we see one consistent message showing what man must do in order to be saved. We must believe in Christ, repent of our sins, be baptized in water, and live faithfully in service to God from that point forward (John 8:24; Mark 16:16; Luke 13:3; Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21; Revelation 2:10).

When pointing out these things to others, a question will often come up – “What about the thief on the cross?” Notice what Luke recorded:
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They Think It Strange

The Christian life is different from the life of one in the world. Paul told the Christians in Rome: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). While Paul was giving his defense before Agrippa, he used that opportunity to try and “persuade” the king “to become a Christian” (Acts 26:28). The statement by Agrippa showed that he realized that Paul was trying to convince him to become a Christian. The very fact that he had to be persuaded to become a Christian shows that living as a Christian requires one to be different from the world. In writing to Christians, Peter said that the ones who knew them before they were Christians would “think it strange” that they do not live in the same manner that they lived before (1 Peter 4:4). Why would they think it strange? What is it about the Christian life that is different from the world? We will notice a few points from the context surrounding 1 Peter 4:4.
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Plain Bible Teaching

[Article written by Matt Nevins. Originally published in his email newsletter “The Lamp.”]

It becomes frustrating trying to study religion, especially the many denomination of the world. The source of my frustration is the changing attitudes and philosophies used by the religious world. Yet God is unchanging in nature, and so is the message He has revealed. Many groups claim to follow the Bible, but not only the Bible. Catholics, Mormons, Baptists, Home Churches, and certainly other groups have written their own creed books that are used in addition to the Bible as canon. These groups plainly show that the Bible is insufficient and that God was not able to deliver the whole gospel. However, the Bible teaches that “all things pertaining to life and godliness” has been “once for all delivered to the saints” in the days of the New Testament (2 Pet. 1:3, Jude 3). God has revealed what He desires and we can see how plain the message is in its nature.
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Understanding Sin

[This article was written by Matt Nevins.]

There is at least one thing that everyone has in common – sin. Paul plainly observes, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). It is sin that severs us from God (James 4:4). The severed relationship is a consequence of sin, and is evident from the beginning with Adam and Eve (Genesis 2:15-17; 3:22-24). Because of the forbidden desires one wishes to fulfill, thus yielding to worldly desires (1 John 2:16), sin is produced which ends in a separation from God (Romans 6:23). Understanding sin and its nature, we will become appreciative of the grace God has extended to us.
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Baptism – A Requirement of God or Man?

Baptism

Recently on the radio I heard a Baptist preacher talking about legalism – the binding of man’s requirements instead of, or in addition to, God’s requirements. We are warned in the New Testament not to do this. Jesus told His apostles they were to bind things that had already been bound in heaven (Matthew 16:19). They were not at liberty to bind anything else. On the other hand, He also commanded them to teach those who obeyed the gospel to “observe all that [He] commanded” (Matthew 28:20). So those who teach are to instruct others of their responsibility to do everything required of them in God’s word. But they go too far and become guilty of legalism when they place additional requirements on others that are not required by our Lord.
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I Just Know in My Heart

[This article was written by Justin Monts.]

Many people decide to “trust in their heart” with regard to spiritual things and believe that by this they can’t go wrong. To point out from the Bible where they have departed is fruitless because they “know in their heart” they are saved. To press them for authority on infant baptism, praying to Mary, or speaking in tongues leads nowhere because they “know in their heart” these are approved.
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Rejoice in the Lord!

[This article was written by Matt Nevins.]

In life there are occasions that call for celebration and rejoicing. Weddings, births, graduations, job promotions, and many other things cause great joy in our lives. It is easy to get caught up in things of this life and lose sight of spiritual events that ought to cause great joy as well. Paul encouraged the Philippians, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice” (Philippians 4:4). Note some events that ought to cause rejoicing.
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