The Thief on the Cross – Explained!
The thief on the cross has been used as an example of New Testament conversion for millennia, and always erroneously. Someone somewhere in history read the passage in Luke 23 of the crucifixion of Christ and decided that the way the thief was saved was easier than following the words of Christ. In that person’s mind, the thief on the cross was saved because he believed Jesus Christ. The question is often asked “What about the thief on the cross? Let’s answer that question.
What isn’t known about this thief?
1) We don’t know his name.
2) We don’t know where or when he was born.
3) We don’t know any of the circumstances of his life.
4) We don’t know what led him to a life of crime.
5) We don’t know what he stole.
What is known about this thief?
1) We know he heard about Christ.
2) We know he had faith in Christ.
3) We know that he had a repentant heart.
4) We know that he confessed Christ, calling Him Lord.
5) We know that he wasn’t baptized into Christ, and this is where it gets sticky.
I can talk to any religious person, and they will agree with me that the thief was a bad guy, he deserved his punishment, and they’ll put him in heaven right next to Christ for all eternity, until they see these biblical facts: Acts 2:34-35, King David is not in heaven; Luke 16:19-31, Paradise is not heaven; Acts 1:9-11, Jesus returned to heaven after His resurrection. Most will say that the thief is in heaven with Jesus, to which I ask them, “If the thief is in heaven with Jesus, why did Jesus leave, only to go back a second time?”
Dear reader, the fact is this: The thief is NOT in heaven! He’s still in Paradise, just as Jesus told him, Luke 23:43. Jesus went to the Hadean world to speak to those who had died before He was born, 1 Peter 3:18-20, to give them a chance for redemption. This was during the time His body was buried in the tomb after His death. The thief lived and died under the Law of Moses, which didn’t require baptism for the remission of sins. Jesus saved him even though he didn’t ask to be saved. Jesus had the power to do this, Matthew 9:1-6. Some will say that the thief is an example of conversion, but the Bible says differently. In order to be saved, one must Hear the gospel of Christ, Romans 10:17, which is His death, burial and resurrection, 1 Cor. 15:1-4.
Question: Did the thief see Jesus die on the cross? Answer: Yes.
Question: Did the thief see Jesus buried in a borrowed tomb?
Answer: No.
Question: Did the thief see Jesus raised from the tomb on the first day of the week?
Answer: No.
Therefore, the thief was not subject to the gospel, but you and I are.
Upon Hearing the gospel, one must Believe it to be true, Romans 10:9, because without faith it is impossible to please God, Hebrews 11:6.
One must Repent of sins, Acts 17:30. Some will say that “Jesus paid it all,” and that Christians can’t sin, but that’s not even remotely true. Satan comes for faithful Christians first and the hardest! His motive is to get the faithful to slip off the straight and narrow way. The death of Christ paid for past sins, Romans 3:25, not present or future sins.
One must Confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, Romans 10:10, Matthew 10:32, 1 John 4:15. Confession of Him brought about His death, but it brings life to the confessor.
Lastly, one must Be Baptized in water for the remission of sins, Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38. Baptism imitates the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Baptism washes away sins, Acts 22:16. Baptism imitates the death burial and resurrection of Christ. Baptism washes away sins Acts 22:16. This is the gospel that apostles taught, the death burial and resurrection of Christ, and this is what the baptized believers adhered to, Acts 2:42. Some will say that the water doesn’t save, that the blood of Christ saves, and they’re correct, but a believer cannot access the blood of Christ without being baptized John 19:34. (One thing about the water: It has no power to it. Unbelievers will say that Christians believe the water saves them, we don’t believe that. What we believe is that the water represents Christ’s blood, which is what saves a repentant sinner.)
By Kathy Brundidge

Return to the General Articles page

Home / Bible studies / Bible Survey / Special Studies / General Articles / Non-Bible Articles / Sermons / Sermon Outlines / Links / Questions and Answers / What Saith The Scriptures /Daily Devotional / Correspondence Courses / What is the Church of Christ / Book: Christian Growth / Website Policy / E-mail / About Me /