Monday, June 26, 2017

Words from the Cross: Salvation

Chuckle: Alex: “Weren’t you afraid when the robber pulled a knife on you?” Will: “No, I knew he wasn’t a professional. The knife still had peanut butter on it.”
Quote: “The Cross is where history and life, legend and reality, time and eternity, intersect. There, Jesus is nailed forever to show us how God would become a man and a man become God.” --Malcolm Muggeridge

Jesus said: "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:43 NIV).
As Jesus died on the cross, God used the anger of human beings to glorify himself. It also offered Jesus an opportunity to display his great love, grace, and mercy even as his own life slipped away. Today, let's look at the interaction between the repentant criminal and Jesus as they hung there on their respective crosses.
We often hear the phrase, "his/her last words were. . ." Some of the most enduring quotes are the final words of people before their deaths. The last words of the two criminals crucified with Jesus show the great contrast between them and revealed the type people they were. One continued to reject and mock Jesus with a sneer to the very end. The other must have understood the spiritual nature of Jesus' message and requested to be a part of Christ's kingdom. Our passage is the loving response of our Savior to the man's "deathbed" confession of his sins. Jesus said the man would share a life with him beyond the grave.
It doesn't matter how old you are or how many years you have lived a life of sin and rebellion against God, you can repent of your sins and be saved by God's grace through faith -- anyone can. A wise pastor once said: "I believe in deathbed confessions. I believe one can be saved in his last moments. I've seen several, and I know deathbed confessions are valid and accepted by God."
There can be no doubt about the authenticity and sincerity of the thief's confession because Jesus validated it with his response. It seems the dying criminal had greater faith than the rest of Jesus' followers put together. The thief was saying, "I'm sorry for my sins. I accept you for who you say you are. Please let me share with you wherever you go." This is all any of us can do, regardless of our age or circumstance. No one is saved by being good, but by throwing oneself on the mercy of God through repentance and faith. When we approach God in this way, we have his promise that our sins will be forgiven and that we will spend eternity in His presence. "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9-10 NIV).
A certain atheistic barber was talking with a minister as they rode through the slums of a large city. The unbelieving barber said, "If there is a loving God, how can he permit all this poverty, suffering, and violence among his people? Why doesn't he save them from all this?" Just then an unshaved and filthy man crossed the street. He had long scraggly hair hanging down his neck. The minister pointed to him and said, "You are a barber and claim to be a good one, so why do you allow that man to go unkept and unshaven?" "Why, why . . ." the barber stammered, "He never gave me a chance to fix him up." "Exactly," said the minister. "Men are what they are because they reject God's help!"
Love, Jerry & Dotse


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