To what degree is salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ "not by works of righteousness which we have done?" (Titus 3:5; emphasis added). To this degree:
"And 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. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when Thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with Me in paradise" (Luke 23:39-43).
The man's hands and feet were impaled to a cross. He could not work. He could not walk. He could not perform the most menial of religious tasks or any hint of ritualistic ceremony. He could do nothing except look to the One beside Him who seemed doomed like Himself, but who actually hung between Heaven and earth as the gift of God and the hope of man. The thief clearly believed that the Lord Jesus would live beyond the cross - "Remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom." He also knew himself to be a sinner worthy of condemnation: "We receive the due reward of our deeds". He also affirmed the Savior as innocent and sinless - "This man hath done nothing amiss." Thus, he fulfilled the prerequisites of salvation, or rather, he trusted in the One who accomplished for him the hope of redemption. He trusted that Christ in His life beyond death could be for him and do for him what he could not be and do for himself.
The impaled thief who could do nothing became a redeemed saint. His story has provided the most vivid expression of salvation by grace to millions through the ages who believed their sin to be too great, and their life too wasted. The man did nothing, and thus cast his lot completely on the Lord Jesus. Most importantly, the Savior did everything for the robber turned recipient. This is salvation, the grace of the freest gift purchased by the highest cost. How free is the gift? Sublimely, wondrously, gloriously, entirely, breathtakingly free! We cannot pay for that which the Lord Jesus has already purchased with with His very life. We can only receive the gift by faith, with our hearts, and by "looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2). Having received such grace, we then join the thief turned saint in seeking to serve as living testimonies of the freest gift and the highest cost.
"He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him."
(II Corinthians 5:21)
Weekly Memory Verse
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.