"The Saint On the Cross"
I'm sure you are familiar with the Scriptural narrative of "the saint on the cross."
"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, Today shalt thou be with Me in paradise" (Luke 23:39-43).
As referenced in yesterday's message about Ebeneezer Scrooge and the Apostle Thomas, I think it is misguided to think in the commonly expressed terms of the so-called "thief on the cross" (unless we refer to the malefactor who did not believe). The former thief who believed ended his life as a redeemed saint of God, so much so that for 2,000 years, his story has preached the Gospel and been responsible for many late hour conversions. Indeed, without Luke's narrative, we might well think that no possibility exists for those who waste most of a lifetime in unbelief and alienation from God. Certainly it is true that such conversions are rare. We only have one such account in the Bible. Generally speaking, those who have disregarded the Lord in life will disregard Him as death approaches. However, late in life conversions can happen when a brand is snatched from the burning through faith and confession of the Lord Jesus. "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Romans 10:13).
Surely it is best to believe early in life. Most believers come to the Lord sooner rather than later, as it were. A long lifetime lived through and for the Lord Jesus is a beautiful thing. "Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth" (Ecclesiastes 12:1). It is much better to live life with a Christ-filled heart of giving rather than a soul of self-centeredness. The thief who became a saint would surely tell us that. We nevertheless rightly seek to lead both young and old to the Lord. Moreover, the Lord can infuse a great measure of His glory into a short span of time. The saint we reference had but moments to live. Again, however, his narrative glimmers as a bright Light of truth in the Scriptures. In just a few moments, a taker became a giver through the Lord Jesus. He has been giving for twenty centuries in a ministry that reveals the marvelous mercy of God's grace in His Son. Yes, rightly considered, the man is who he became, namely, the saint on the cross now dwelling forevermore with his Lord as a saint in Heaven.
"Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God."
(I Corinthians 6:9-11)
Weekly Memory Verse
We have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.