Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 17 Number 5 May 2015
Page 9

Today Shalt Thou
Be with Me in Paradise

George JensenWhile on the cross, Jesus spoke seven sayings that have been recorded. The first three were uttered during the period between 9:00 a.m. and noon.

Roman execution of criminals was public and prolonged. It was customary to affix a small sign above the condemned person’s head naming his offense. Since there was no valid crime to report for Jesus, Pilate had a tri-lingual sign posted, which read: “Jesus of Nazareth, The King of the Jews” (John 19:19-20). Along with Jesus, two other men received their torture and death. Many who passed nearby ridiculed Jesus, and “the robbers also cast upon him the same reproach” (Matthew 27:44).

However, later, one of the thieves seemed to soften his attitude. He said to his fellow: “We receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss” (Luke 23:41). The second saying of Jesus, while on the cross, was spoken to this man. “Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43).

Through the years, this thief has been popular. Many say they want to be saved “just like the thief on the cross.” Is it even possible to be saved today in the way he was? An examination of some simple Bible truths will answer the question.

Jesus shed His blood upon the cross for His New Testament (Matthew 26:28; 1 Corinthians 11:25). A will or testament, though, goes into force once the will-maker dies. “For a testament is of force where there hath been death: for it doth never avail while he that made it liveth” (Hebrews 9:17). The New Testament is the Will of Jesus the Christ (Hebrews 8:6). Obviously, Jesus was alive when He spoke to the thief, so the New Testament had not yet gone into force. However, once Jesus died, the New Testament became operative. All salvation after the death of Jesus would be according to His New Testament Will. Examples of conversions recorded in Acts demonstrate that an obedient response to the New Testament Gospel is necessary for salvation (e.g., Acts 2:37-42; 8:26-40, etc.; cf. Romans 6:2-4, 17).

Another point to learn from this saying of Jesus is that He died and went to Hades. “Hades” comes from the Greek compound of an alpha privative, which negates a word, and a word meaning “seen.” Thus, it is literally the “unseen” (realm). Hades is the place of disembodied spirits. The realm is divided by a great barrier (Luke 16:26) separating Paradise and Torments. The Divine spirit of Jesus left His body at death (see James 2:26) and was in Paradise until His resurrection. Peter’s Gospel sermon affirmed that “neither was he [Jesus] left unto Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption” (Acts 2:31). Notice this verse refers to the Spirit of Jesus being in Hades while His body (flesh) was in the tomb. Jesus never went to Hell.

Muslims, Christians
and Belief in Jesus Christ

Robert Lupo

Robert LupoWhat does not make any sense is that Muslims say they believe that Jesus is a prophet of God. Now, that presents some problems. If Jesus is a prophet of God, but lied about who He is (being the Son of God and eternal, John 8:58), then He is a false prophet. If Jesus told the truth about who He is and mankind neither believes in Him nor obeys Him, men are in serious trouble (John 8:24; Luke 6:46).

It kind of reminds me of what Jesus asked the Pharisees of His day and of the circumstances and implications of that event.

And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority? And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one question, which if ye tell me, I likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven or from men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why then did ye not believe him? But if we shall say, From men; we fear the multitude; for all hold John as a prophet. And they answered Jesus, and said, We know not. He also said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things. (Matthew 21:23-27)

Muslims look to their father, Abraham, but there are additional problems with this (see John 8). The Jews (hated by the Muslims), had the same problem. They appealed to their father, Abraham. “They answered and said unto him, Our father is Abraham” (John 8:39). Jesus, though, quickly pointed to the error of their way when “Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I heard from God: this did not Abraham. Ye do the works of your father. They said unto him, We were not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God. Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I came forth and am come from God; for neither have I come of myself, but he sent me" (John 8:39-42). In John 8:58, “Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was born, I am.” Yes, Jesus is the prophet of God. Yes, Jesus is God. Yes, Jesus is eternal. Jesus will judge all men (Acts 17:30-31; John 12:48-50; 2 Corinthians 5:10-11).

If you believe Jesus to be a prophet of God, then listen to Him. Obey Him! However, Muslims are not the only ones guilty of believing in the Prophet, but failing to obey. In John 8:31-32, “Jesus therefore said to those Jews that had believed him, If ye abide in my word, then are ye truly my disciples; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Some of the Jews were guilty of this (John 12:42-50). Peter said in Acts 3:19-26:

Repent ye therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that so there may come seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord; and that he may send the Christ who hath been appointed for you, even Jesus: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, whereof God spake by the mouth of His holy prophets that have been from of old. Moses indeed said, A prophet shall the Lord God raise up unto you from among your brethren, like unto me. To him shall ye hearken in all things whatsoever he shall speak unto you. And it shall be, that every soul that shall not hearken to that prophet, shall be utterly destroyed from among the people. Yea and all the prophets from Samuel and them that followed after, as many as have spoken, they also told of these days. Ye are the sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Unto you first God, having raised up his Servant, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities.

It will do no good to simply believe in the Prophet. He must be obeyed.

How many so called “Christians” today claim to believe, but fail to obey? Again, I mention Luke 6:46, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” According to God, disobedient Christians are worse (and in a worse condition) than unbelieving Muslims (Luke 12:42-48; 2 Peter 2:20-22).

Many have been deceived into thinking they are OK due to false teaching denominational preachers who preach “once saved always saved.” John wrote, “My little children, let no man lead you astray: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous” (1 John 3:7). They pervert verse 9 of the same chapter and teach that once one becomes a Christian, it is impossible for them to sin. John did not teach that; he taught just the opposite (1 John 1:5-10; 2; 3). “Cannot” here, means “not permitted.” Christians (as children of God) are not permitted to sin. You may fool yourself into believing that after you become a Christian that you can go on practicing sin instead of righteousness and still go to Heaven, but God will not be fooled. John went on to say, “In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother” (1 John 3:10). Jesus taught in John 8, if you are not obeying Him, “you are of your father, the Devil” (8:44-45). My prayer for Muslims and all men (including erring Christians) is that they will obey the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord, is “not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” That is my desire for them as well.

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