The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…
"A Powerful Gospel"
Matthew and Mark record that both thieves crucified with the Lord Jesus Christ mocked and reviled Him. "They that passed by reviled Him, wagging their heads, and saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save Thyself. If Thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking Him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; Himself he cannot save. If He be the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now, if He will have Him: for He said, I am the Son of God. The thieves also, which were crucified with Him, cast the same in His teeth" (Matthew 27:39-44).
Luke, however, reveals that one of the thieves repented and believed. "One of the malefactors which were hanged railed on Him, saying, If Thou be Christ, save Thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss" (Luke 23:39-43).
What caused the change in one of the thieves' hearts? The Lord Jesus answered this question before He suffered and died on the cross. "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me" (John 12:32). One thief responded to the lifting up of Christ on the cross. Thereupon he witnessed the redeeming love of God as the Lord Jesus gave His life as a sacrifice for sin. Thus, he changed his mind, and the Holy Spirit changed his heart as the man not only believed in the suffering Savior, but also in a resurrected and reigning king. "Lord remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom" (Luke 23:42). This is the Gospel, displayed in the very hour of our Lord's sacrifice for our sins. "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the Gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand… For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures" (I Corinthians 15:1; 3-4).
We must have great confidence in both the Lord of the Gospel and its message. The Apostle Paul declared that "the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth" (Romans 1:16). As with the thieves, some will believe, and some won't. Moreover, as the Lord Jesus counselled and chided Nicodemus, we do not concern ourselves with the whys and the wherefores of that reality, any more than we attempt to discover the origin and destiny of the wind (John 3:6-8). We rather bear witness to the saving grace of a crucified, risen, and ascended Savior, trusting that His lifting up will accomplish the redemption of all who hear and respond to our personal testimony and principled proclamation of the Gospel. As mentioned in yesterday's message, thieves become saints and evangelists through the glory of such Truth, even as we gratefully realize the degradation and damnation from which our Lord delivered us. Christ died. Christ arose. Christ is Lord. This is the truth believed by the thief who became the saint transformed by God's grace and truth in the Lord Jesus. And this is the truth we proclaim in the assurance of the Holy Spirit's affirmation and confirmation to human hearts.
"The righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? That is, to bring Christ down from above. Or, Who shall descend into the deep? That is, to bring up Christ again from the dead. But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."
Weekly Memory Verse
This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.