The Face of Forgiveness: the Thief Part 2
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
Second, God’s forgiveness is given apart from religious performances or ordinances.
This man had no opportunity to be baptized, so baptism is not necessary to wash away our sins. He had no opportunity to receive communion, so such an ordinance is not necessary to receive God’s forgiveness. This man had no opportunity to join a religious group or institution, so belonging to a church is not necessary to enter heaven. Forgiveness is a free gift apart from religious trappings.
Next, notice that God’s forgiveness comes through repentance.
This man openly expressed his guilt and that he deserved the death sentence. Repentance is extremely difficult for many people. It means to reach the point where we can sincerely admit, “I have sinned. I am a sinner.” Repentance is essential because God cannot forgive a sin that we will not acknowledge.
Lastly, we can see that God’s forgiveness comes by faith.
After we acknowledge our sin, we must turn to Jesus for forgiveness. We must do what the thief did. We must ask Jesus for forgiveness. Though he did not say it in exact words, Jesus knew what the man meant and wanted. This is faith! The freeness of God’s forgiveness makes it possible for all people to be forgiven at any place and any time in life. Though the story of the thief does not encourage us to wait for deathbed repentance, it does encourage us to believe that it is never too late to turn to Christ.
God forgives freely and fully!!!
There were two thieves crucified with Christ. The one we have been talking about was saved, but the other wasn’t. In the beginning, both thieves ridiculed Jesus. But during the six hours, they were on the cross, especially the last three hours, one thief saw that something unusual was taking place. He recognized that Jesus was not dying for Himself but for another. Although he knew that Barabbas should be on that cross, he also seemed to realize that Jesus was dying for him. He recognized that this was a transaction between God and Jesus and that Jesus was God. Then he turned to Him in faith. That very day this thief who was not fit to live on earth, according to the Roman government, went to be with the Lord.
This man was a bad thief, not a good one, but because of his faith in the Son of God, he became a saved thief. This man had faith to believe that the Lord Jesus was coming into a kingdom, and it would come after His death! Obviously, this thief had come a long way theologically while hanging on the cross.
God is a God of forgiveness!!!
In the death of His Son on the cross, God made full provision for the forgiveness of your sin. Now He awaits your response. Will you, like the thief, ask Him to forgive your sins and become the Lord of your life?