The episode of The Thief on The Cross (Luke 23) truly represents the Awesome SIMPLICITY of Salvation.
While one of the thieves mocked Jesus, the other thief (the penitent thief) defended Him: “But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” (Luke 23:40-41)
Then the penitent thief turned to Jesus… “And he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.’ And He said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:42-43)
In this brief exchange, the penitent thief literally goes from a future of eternal death to the promise of Eternal Life in an instant (in a NANOSECOND)!!!
He acknowledges he is a sinner in need of a savior and calls upon THE Savior, Jesus Christ, to save him which Jesus promises He will do that very day! (Salvation is an instantaneous event!)
Jesus doesn’t ask the thief if he believed in his heart as well as believing in his mind.
Jesus doesn’t tell the thief it’s too late to get saved because he didn’t get water baptized.
Jesus doesn’t tell the thief he must repent of every individual sin he ever committed during his life to be saved and if he misses one he goes to hell.
Jesus doesn’t tell him that he will wait to see if the thief produces an adequately changed life and sufficient fruit in the next few hours on the cross before guaranteeing him eternal life.
Jesus doesn’t tell the thief that He was only going to die for part of the thief’s sins and that the thief would have to go to purgatory to get the rest atoned for (burned off) or repent for all his future sins.
Jesus didn’t tell the thief he needed to speak in tongues to prove he was really saved.
The ONLY requirement for the thief to be saved was acknowledging he was a sinner in need of a savior and trusting (BELIEVING) in THE Savior, Jesus Christ, to save him!
The thief repented (changed his mind) and went from NOT believing in Jesus as savior to BELIEVING in Him as savior and asked Jesus to save Him! The thief’s very brief encounter/exchange with Jesus perfectly demonstrates the SIMPLICITY of Salvation! He admitted he was a sinner in need of a savior and trusted in Jesus alone to save him!!! The thief on the cross BELIEVED that Jesus was the Messiah, The Eternally Existing Son of God, God The Son, ALL the OT prophets spoke of Who was in the process of shedding His blood for the remission of ALL the thief’s sins & Who promised to give Him eternal life THAT VERY DAY with Jesus in PARADISE!!!!!
Some falsely teach that the thief on the cross is an exception to the rule and that God granted him a “waiver” on the other “requirements” many false teachers teach are requirements for salvation (water baptism, speaking in tongues, having a changed life, following the commandments, repenting of his sins daily etc…).
But in reality, the thief on the cross represents the standard…the ONLY WAY a person is saved… By acknowleding you are a sinner in need of a savior and trusting (BELIEVING) in THE Savior, Jesus Christ, ALONE (and in no other works) to save you! It’s that simple!
Every person who has ever been saved has been saved the exact same way the thief on the cross was saved from Genesis to Revelation!!!
By BELIEVING on the Lord Jesus Christ as savior! Either looking forward to and trusting (BELIEVING) in the promised Coming Messiah (“seed of the woman”) as all the OT saints did or looking back and trusting (BELIEVING) in Christ’s finished redemptive work on The Cross (His death, burial and ressurection) as we do now!
“BELIEVE on the Lord Jesus Christ and you WILL be saved” (Acts 16:31)
“For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever would BELIEVE on Him would not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16)
“For it is by GRACE you have been SAVED through FAITH. This is not of yourselves. It is the GIFT of God. Not of works lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
“Verily, verily I say unto you. He who believes in Me HAS everlasting life” (John 6:47)