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 Luke 23:39-43


Suggested further reading: 2 Corinthians 5:1-10


If we search the Bible from Genesis to Revelation we shall not find a more striking proof that Christ is able to save to the uttermost. The time when the thief was saved was the hour of our Lord’s greatest weakness. He was hanging on the cross in agony. Yet even then He had the power to hear and grant a sinner’s petition.


The man whom our Lord saved as a wicked sinner at the point of death, with nothing in his past life to recommend him and nothing notable in his present position but a humble prayer. Yet he was shown mercy.


Do you want proof that salvation is of grace and not of works? We have it in the case before us. The dying thief was nailed hand and foot to the cross. He could literally do nothing to save his own soul. Yet even he, through Christ’s infinite grace, was saved. He had the assurance of Christ’s word.


Do we want proof that sacraments and ordinances and church membership are not essential to salvation? The dying thief is the proof. He repented, believed and was saved. The same is true for the vilest sinner today.


How near a dying believer is to rest and glory! The word ‘today’ (v. 43) contains a body of divinity. It tells us that the very moment a believer dies his soul is in happiness and in safekeeping. His full redemption is not yet come. His perfect bliss will not begin before the resurrection morning. But there is no mysterious delay, no season of suspense, no purgatory between his death and a state of reward. In the day that he breathes his last he goes to paradise. In the hour that he departs he is with Christ. (Phil. 1:23).


Let us remember these things when our believing friends fall asleep in Jesus. We must not sorrow for them as those who have no hope. While we are sorrowing they are rejoicing. While we are putting on our mourning and weeping at their funerals they are safe and happy with the Lord. For ourselves to die is a solemn thing. But if we die in the Lord then we need not doubt that to die is gain.




For meditation:      Do you, like the thief think yourself worth nothing more than a place in Christ’s thoughts? Such humility Christ rewards.

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