Jesus said these words to the thief on the cross "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise (Luke 23:43)". What an awesome feeling it must have been for the thief to have the Lord Jesus Christ say those words to him. We should so desire for Him to say those same words to us when our time has come. Unfortunately, many people today are attempting to follow the thief's example, rather than that of Jesus. AFTER the death on the cross, when Jesus was resurrected, He appeared to His apostles and told them to "Go into the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved (Mark 16:15,16)." It is clear from the scriptures that Jesus wants his disciples to be baptized for salvation. Many people today who want to believe that baptism doesn't save will attempt to justify their belief with the example of the thief on the cross. I would like to comment on this.
First of all, (not that it matters-but) the thief may have been baptized by
John or Jesus and his apostles "And all the country of Judea was going
out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by
him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins" (Mark 1:5) "Jesus
was making and baptizing more disciples than John. (though Jesus Himself did
not baptize, but His disciples) (John 4:1,2)".
Secondly, the thief on the cross lived under the law of Moses, not the New Testament . Jesus did not command baptism for salvation until after the death of Himself and the thief.
Thirdly, the thief was incapable of being baptized, because he was on a cross for the rest of his life. If Jesus made an exception for the thief, why would you think He would make that exception for you? Are you on a cross? Are you unable to find water to be baptized? Which makes more sense: to follow a thief's example, or to obey the words of Jesus Himself?
Many people will justify their belief by the fact that Jesus did not say "He who does not get baptized will be condemned". Let's compare two identical sentence structures:
He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who doesn't believe will be condemned. (Mark 16:16)
He who graduates and passes a drug test will get this job, but he who doesn't graduate will not get the job.
It would be absurd to say that a person who graduates, yet fails a drug test will automatically get the job. The employer could make an exception and employ a drug addict, but that is the exception, not the rule. Likewise, Jesus has the power to save anyone, whether they obey Him or not. I would assume that would be the exception, not the rule. It would also make Him a liar, because He said that we will be judged by His words (John 12:48). Paul was told to be baptized to "wash away his sins" (Acts 22:16). Why should we follow the example of a thief instead of an inspired apostle? If you believe that you are saved when you are not, Satan already has your soul. Is it worth it to risk your soul because a thief was spared?
By Richie White
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