In the last moments of a heretofore-wasted life, grace entered and redeemed the heart of a man whose story became one of the great evangels of the Christian faith.
“Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom” (Luke 23:42 ).
Universally referred to as “the thief on the cross,” the man is more accurately “the saint of Heaven” and “preacher of the Gospel.” Indeed, how many souls have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ, many in the late hours of life, because the Bible records the story of a thief crying out to the God so desirous to redeem that dying breaths can become saving confessions of the Savior?
One might think that the thief become saint expressed a great audacity in seeking grace while hanging on a justly deserved cross. This would be true were it not for the fact that it was not the man who sought grace, but grace that sought the man. This is always the Divine order of salvation, that Christ is revealed for who He is by the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. No one in history ever had a clearer view of the true nature of the Lord Jesus than the men who hung beside Him on Mount Calvary’s crosses, and thankfully, one responded to the mercy he witnessed flowing from the wounds of the Lamb of God.
We may boldly proclaim our message of hope to those who have little time left in a lifetime wherein God was ignored or denied. I suspect that a significant portion of the redeemed population of Heaven will fit this company of souls snatched from the fire in the very nick of time. Why else would the story of the thief become saint have found its way into the pages of Scripture? Thus, we go forth to dying scenes of the most reprobate, declaring that the Spirit of the Lord Jesus searches far into the night to, as preachers of old used to say, “save the soul that is nearest hell.” Yes, our Lord is that loving, that merciful, that desirous to save, and that completely possessed of a grace that transforms lifelong thieves into late hour saints who will doubtless love Him forevermore with a unique and sacred devotion.
“Wherefore He is able to save them to the uttermost, who come unto God by Him, seeing that He ever liveth to make intercession for them.”