THE WORD OF ASSURANCE
The first word of the Lord Jesus on the cross was the Word of Forgiveness. He prayed for the pardon of those who were crucifying Him. Now the Lord speaks again from the cross. This time he responds to the plea of one of the two thieves crucified with Him. “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.”
Jesus responded by pledging, “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” Let us look into what is involved in this second word from Jesus on the cross.
I. THE ASSURANCE OF SALVATION.
A. The Issues of Life were before this thief.
1. Life and death were before him, Deuteronomy 30:19, “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:”
2. Heaven and hell were before him, Deuteronomy 30:19, “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:”
3. Blessing and cursing were before him, Deuteronomy 11:26-28: “Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; 27-A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day: 28- And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.”
4. Judgment and peace were before him, Ephesians 2:17: “And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.” Romans 5:18, “Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.”
B. The Thief’s Request, v. 42, “And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.”
1. He knew that he was justly judged for his crimes; he recognized his sinful state, vs. 39-41, “And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. 40- But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? 41- And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.”
2. He had listened to the prayer that Jesus prayed, Luke 23:34, “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.”
“He saw the reality of his own sin…. Sin is seen only in the light of God’s love. Then we know sin for what it is. ‘I saw how much God cared, and then I saw how little I cared.’ So wrote one whom Calvary brought to God. Thus the thief.” (Ralph G. Turnbull).
3. He read the inscription written by Pilot, v. 38, “And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.”
a. This is the King of Glory, Psalm 24:7-8, “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. 8- Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.”
b. This is the King of Kings, Revelation 19:16, “And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”
4. He appeals to the King, “Lord, remember me…”
C. The Pledge of Jesus, “And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” v. 43.
1. Simple, plain assurance of salvation, John 10: 28, “And I give unto them eternal life;
2. The ABSOLUTE assurance of salvation. “and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”
3. God’s SEAL set upon the promise of Jesus, Ephesians 1:13, “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,”
II. THE ASSURANCE OF LIFE.
A. The Fact of Eternal Life. “Paradise” comes from a Greek word meaning “a place enclosed by a wall.”
1. Paul spoke of one who was caught up to the third heaven: 2 Corinthians 12:2-4, “I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. 3- And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth); 4- How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.”
2. The Tree of Life is in the paradise of God, Revelations 2:7, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.”
3. Where Jesus is, there is life. Jesus said that the thief would be “with me in paradise.” John 14:2-3, “In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3- And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”
a. “Mansions,” Jesus has prepared a place for us that we might be with Him.
b. “A place for you” in His presence.
To the thief this promise of “today” brought the reality that Jesus meant the blotting out of the sins of the past so that the memory of his stained past would haunt him no more.
The Paradise of God is the state without sin, without sorrow, without crippling things of this sin-blighted life. That is Heaven!
The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 2:9, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”