home

The world will be completely transformed if we embrace Biblical Principles concerning Love, Dating, Marriage and Sex

For every copy of our book that is being sold on Amazon.com, 1US$ will be donated to Compassion International to help sponsoring a child in need

The criminal crucified with Jesus

Blog -> Bible



And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto you, Today shall you be with me in paradise. (Luke 23:43)

Many of us know this story. Jesus was crucified next two two criminals, being executed for their crimes. One of them curses Jesus along with the crowd. The other one however realizes who Jesus is. He realizes: "We deserve this. But Jesus didn't do anything wrong. He is innocent." And then he says the words that changed his eternal destination: "Remember me when you come into your kingdom". This guy realizes: Jesus is God. I'm a sinner. He is the way to heaven. So all he can do is making one last request: "Take me with you, please!" And Jesus declares: "OK, let's go to paradise together. Your request has been granted." 

Wow. So simple. So what are the key elements of the criminal's faith?

  • He recognizes that he is a sinner, that he deserves his punishment
  • He recognizes that Jesus is perfect
  • He knows Jesus will be in paradise after this
  • He declares that Jesus is the one who can take him to heaven, that he cannot save himself

That's the kind of faith that saves. 

 

Now unfortunately many people try to add something to the story that isn't really there. Many people say that "because this criminal turned to Jesus on the last day of his life, we can do the same". And that is certainly true. If a person turns to Jesus on their death bed, repent of their sins and acknowledge Jesus as their savior, they will be saved. I fully agree with this Biblical truth.

But here's the problem: Many people use this as a reason to turn away from Jesus. "Well, if I can simply pray a sinner's prayer at the end of my life, then I'll just ignore God for now, do all the things I really want to do, commit all kinds of sins. And then later, when I'm older, or when I'm about to die, then I'll just pray a prayer, ask Jesus into my life, and I will still go to heaven. So I can have both. I can commit all the sin I want to commit now, have the kind of fun that Jesus doesn't like, and still go to heaven. Perfect."

Unfortunately, this is the conclusion that many people come to when they read this story about this criminal crucified with Jesus. 

However, this interpretation is not in line with scripture. 

Yes, it's true that once we receive Jesus, all our sins are forgiven. Yes, the old is gone, a new life has begun. Yes, no matter what kind of terrible sins we might have done, God forgives all.

Most people only think about the day of "receiving Jesus" that changes our lives. However, there is another day that changes the way God looks at us: The day of revelation. 

For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful expectation of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much worse punishment, suppose you, shall he be thought worthy, who has trodden under foot the Son of God, and has counted the blood of the covenant, with which he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and has done insult unto the Spirit of grace? (Hebrews 10:26-29)

There's a day when we realize that Jesus is indeed God's son. We realize that He is holy, that we are sinful and in need of a savior. The Holy Spirit gives every single person on the planet at least one chance in his/her life to hear about Jesus. It might not always be the full account of Jesus (not everybody has access to the Bible). But to some measure every single person will get a chance to realize that God is holy, we are not, and we are in need of a savior. Maybe through nature, maybe through missionaries, maybe supernaturally by our conscience (Romans 2 talks about that). But every single person gets a chance to hear the basic message of the gospel. Nobody will have to go to hell because he or she never heard. Everybody gets a chance to hear and to respond. 

I call that day the Day of Revelation. A unique season in a person's life when he or she gets a chance to understand the gospel and to respond to it. 

And from that day onwards, God's standards change. Before this day we had no concept of sin. We weren't aware that we did anything wrong. We did horrible things. I did terrible things before I was a Christian. We used to live a life completely opposed to God and His teachings. Now if we turn to  God in this state, everything is forgiven. God will always forgive the person who repents and turns away from such sin on the Day of Revelation.

However, after this day, things change a bit. Because after this day, God is telling us: "Now you should know better." Before this day we sinned unknowingly. After this day, we now sin not only knowingly, but also willfully. We know we turn against God. And we know that our livestyle is opposed to God's teaching. And THAT is very different from the kind of life that we used to live before we knew about  God.

The criminal crucified with Jesus recognized who Jesus is on that day. And so he responded to the revelation God has given him right at that moment. That's why he was saved.

However, a person who has the revelation of who God is at the age of ... 20 and still has decades to live,... that's a different story. And that's what the writer of the book of Hebrews is getting at. There are two key words to that passage:

Deliberately

We are not talking about sinning out of weakness. All of us do that. The verse talks about deliberate sin. When we know that what we are doing is wrong, it's against God's law, then we are sinning deliberately. We willfully choose to ignore Jesus' moral teaching, even though we know better.

Keep on sinning

This is an indication of a continous lifestyle. We are not talking about "deliberately committing one sin over the course of a lifetime". We all do that. But "keep on sinning" is an indication of a lifestyle. An attitude that we have not just for a day, but for many months or years, probably in many areas of our lives.

 

Friends, once we have the knowledge of God's love, forgiveness, sin and His moral teachings, Jesus' standards towards us change. Before that we didn't know any better, and God forgives us of any sin. But once we know, things change. And we cannot simply go on with our lives and "just do it later". The verse says that one day it will be too late. Yes, God is gracious. Yes, God loves us. Yes, He is patient. And yes, He wants to do everything He can to give us eternal life, to have us with Him in eternity.

But this is not a licence to simply keep doing the things we've done so far. Once we know about Jesus, God's standard changes. And sooner or later, it will be too late for us to respond. One day God will say: "Enough. 'You had your chance. Now it's too late for you."

The nation of Israel is a great reminder of this truth. God is gracious, Throughout the Old Testament He has been calling out to His people to turn back to Him. But if they didn't do it for too long, He eventually allowed the nation to be overtaken by enemies. They had to suffer the consequences for their rejection of God over many years.

And God is saying that the same is true for us: As long as we don't know, before the Day of Revelation, He will forgive once we turn back to Him. But if we choose to ignore Him, AFTER receiving the Revelation of who He is, then that's a different story. Theh Holy Spirit will continue speaking to our hearts. He will continue to draw us to Himself. He will continue to shower His love on us. But one day, God will say: "You had your chance."

I don't know when that day will come. I'm not the judge. I don't know how He measures when time is up.

But one thing I'm absolute certain of: I never want to come anywhere near that point when God is considering closing the door on me. 

So let's get right with God today. And make sure that we'll never even have to ask the question whether God might be thinking about closing the door on us. 



Share & Comment

Related Blogs

Category: Blog -> BibleIt is NOT about the nail

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalms 139:23-24)

 

A few days ago I came across this video. (Hosted by Youtube, so the video might not be accessible in all countries)

 

 

 

I love these kinds of videos. They are very entertaining, but they really speak truth int our lives. 

Heart attitudes REALLY get exposed in marriage. It's easy to hide when we are single. But in marriage we just have to face the ugliness in our own hearts. There's no hiding anymore. There's no running away. There are only two extremes: Face realities about the state of your heart. Or separation. There's nothing in between, at least not long term. 

...
2015-02-27 06:36:11
Category: Blog -> BibleFaith in the face of danger

Then it shall come to pass, that the sword, which you feared, shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt, and the famine, of which you were afraid, shall follow close after you there in Egypt; and there you shall die. (Jeremiah 42:16)

A few years ago my wife and I went through a crazy stretch. We didn't have our kids yet, but life was just hectic. Both of us having fulltime jobs (Back then I was working as a programmer, not working for our church), both of us being heavily involved in ministry. Then we had a trip to Germany in that season. We just felt completely overwhelmed. And we thought: "This is not going to work, something has to go." So we seriously considered resigning as leaders of the Alpha Ministry in our church, taking a step back, and focusing on what is more important: Marriage and job. We prayed and asked God what He wanted us to do. 

The answer we received was the very verse I started this blog with, Jeremiah 42...

2015-02-12 06:37:11
Category: Blog -> BibleRight Action, Wrong Motives

Then said David, you shall not do so, my brethren, with that which the LORD has given us, who has preserved us, and delivered the company that came against us into our hand. For who will hearken unto you in this matter? but as his part is that goes down to the battle, so shall his part be that waits by the supplies: they shall part alike. (1 Samuel 30:23-24)

 

Ministry can play a bad trick on us, if we are not careful, right? It can bring us to the point where we become proud. I fall into this trap far too often. Doing something “for God”, and it all seems great and noble. Until one day in my quiet time, God asks me this simple question: “Why did you do what you did?” And too often I have to then confess my pride, my arrogance and my selfish motives. God started exposing my false motives around 18 months ago, and I’m still disgusted at how wrong some of my motives still are, despite knowing better in my head.

...

2015-02-04 08:16:34
Category: Blog -> BibleThe size of our Faith determines the size of the Miracle

And it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said unto her son, Bring me yet a vessel. And he said unto her, There is not a vessel more. And the oil stopped flowing. (2 Kings 4:6)

All of us want to receive God's blessing. Some of us for slefish reasons (God, give me a big house, a cool car and enough money so I can take my whole family across the ocean for vacation at least three times every year). Others ask for material blessings so that they can bless others. And again others ask for more eternal blessings, e.g. they ask for the Fruit of the Spirit to be developed in their lives. But all of us want to be blessed by God.

And of course it's God's desire to bless us. He wants us to live great lives in this world. Think of Solomon and the wealth he received. Think of Job, once he passed the test. God's desire is to bless us all in one way or the other. Not necessarily always financially. But He does want to bless us and g...

2015-01-22 07:17:03
Category: Blog -> BibleThe ultimate Freedom

I had an interesting experience with my kids a couple of days ago. It all started when we saw a rock climbing place. Near a river they put up a small area where you could climb up different levels of difficulty. The easiest part was just like a ladder, to get used to the height. The most difficult wall was absolutely impossible for someone like me to climb. 

When our kids Anna (6 years old) and Noah (4 years old) saw the wall, they were very excited. Since we weren't prepared for this, we didn't bring any equipment. So we allowed them to climb the easiest part (the ladder). But what amazed me was how differently I treated the kids. 

With Anna, things were very simple. All I had to tell her was this: "Anna, when you feel scared or not safe, then just stop, and come back down." She completely understood, I didn't have to tell her anything more. She gave it a try, took a few steps, got scared, came back down. A few minutes later she t...

2014-12-26 16:17:10
Category: Blog -> BibleLiving a victorious life

1 Chronicles 14:10 And David inquired of God, saying, Shall I go up against the Philistines? and will you deliver them into my hand? And the LORD said unto him, Go up; for I will deliver them into your hand. 

1 Chronicles 14:14-15 Therefore David inquired again of God; and God said unto him, Go not up after them; turn away from them, and come upon them opposite the balsam trees. And it shall be, when you shall hear a sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, that then you shall go out to battle: for God has gone forth before you to smite the army of the Philistines. 

 

A few days ago I had an interesting enounter with God's Truth from His book. Not that I didn't know this before. But sometimes we need to be reminded of the Truth again.As I was reading through the book of 1 Chronicles, I was again amazed at how much David actually relied on God in everything that he ...

2014-12-19 15:06:08
Back to complete Blog List


Subscribe to our Newsletter

If you would like to be notified by email when new blogs or updates are being posted, then please enter your email address here:

Email Address



top