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The Thief on the Cross

November 1, 2008 Leave a comment


Last Sunday our Pastor, in his continuing series (4+ years) on Luke, came to the Thief on the Cross (Luke 23:39-43).


As our Pastor mentioned, the Thief brought nothing to the table. He was nailed to a cross, no more than a matter of hours from his own death. He couldn’t join a church, or a “community of Christ-followers”. He couldn’t serve on any boards or committees. He wouldn’t be baptized, nor would he take Communion. No one would ask him whether or not he was a Calvinist or an Arminian. The Pre-Trib/Post-Trib argument wouldn’t be a factor.


What was a factor, the only factor, was that he was a sinner in need of a Savior, and he came face to face with the Savior. The accounts in Matthew and Mark indicate that both of the thieves joined in with the throng hurling insults and abuse at Jesus (Matthew 27:44, Mark 15:32).


Luke’s account, however, indicates that one of the criminals came face to face with his own sin, as well as the Lordship of Jesus Christ. It was at the cross did this penitent criminal recognize his fear of the Lord. As Proverbs 9:10 says, “”The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom (NIV)”.


Why is it that today, even in the most apparently solid Evangelical churches, we’re overwhelmed with blather about “Making Connections” and “building community”, but not the essential message that our sin will keep us separated from God forever? At best, we hear how that God loves us and has a wonderful plan for us, which is true, but hardly the entire picture. We need to have preachers preach the entire Gospel– that we’re hopeless sinners with but one way to salvation— Grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Instead, we have more Moralism, of things that we need to do as we’re in our “journey of faith”. Instead of focusing on Grace and Mercy, it seems more man-centered. Again, these are the Evangelicals that are watering down the message of Salvation!

Alistair Begg of Cleveland’s Parkside Church and Truth for Life, attributes this to a lack of confidence in the Gospel on behalf of these Preachers of the Gospel. If that’s the case, it’s both sad and frightening.

To me, a desperate sinner, the story of the Thief on the Cross fills me with hope. Because of the price Christ paid for my sins, when I leave this vale of tears I’ll be with Him in Paradise.

Does your church present the full gospel? Or are your services based upon your wonderful programming? It doesn’t matter how spectacular the Worship Band is if the message isn’t based upon the need for salvation.