The Promise of Paradise – Luke 23:39-43
Two criminals were crucified with the Lord Jesus Christ at Golgotha, outside Jerusalem. The prophecy of Isaiah recorded, some 700 years before the event, that the Lord Jesus would be associated with criminals in His death – ‘And He was numbered with transgressors’ – Isaiah 53:12.
There is no record of the names of these thieves but their reaction to Jesus is written in scripture. One of them sadly died the way he lived – in the bitterness of sin; the other with the blessing of forgiveness.
In the final hours of his wasted life this hardened criminal turned to the man on the middle cross and spoke remarkable words of faith: “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom”. He knew the cross was not the end of Jesus. In response he heard words of assurance that brought comfort to his aching heart as he realized the extent of divine grace. The Lord Jesus said to the repentant thief, “Today you will be with Me in Paradise”.
Are you sure of heaven at the end of life? The thief left it late, very late, almost too late. He finally changed his mind about Christ, acknowledged his own sin and expressed his faith by making a request. What a beautiful surprise to go from the wretchedness of a cross to the wonder of paradise. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the only way. The Bible says: 'If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made
unto salvation' - Romans 10:9-10.
Stop & Think!
Is My Name Written There?
'There is one case of death bed repentance recorded, that of the penitent thief, that none should despair; and only one, that none should presume'.
‘As a bird cannot fly except in the air, and a fish cannot swim save in the water, so man cannot exercise the necessary functions of his life save in relation to God’.
What is Your Life?
There's an old gospel hymn that says: 'Life at best is very brief'. How true! Yet, we live our lives as if tomorrow is guaranteed and confidently plan for the future while forgetting just how uncertain it is. The Bible reminds us, in answer to the above question, that your life it is just like ‘a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away’ - James 4:14.
Like steam that rises from boiling water only to disappear in seconds or like the mist of morning that is soon dissipated by rays of sunshine or like the smoke of a fire that quickly blows away with the wind – our lives are transitory and fragile. Illness or accident can unexpectedly cut short our stay in this world. But even if we do make it to a ripe old age, our life will still be exceedingly brief.
How then should we live? The Bible tells us that with all our plans we should say “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that” - James 4:15. This acknowledges our dependence upon Him for life itself, recognizes that He is sovereign over our lives and reminds us that everything we do ought to be subject to His will. It is the true believer in Christ that lives according to this standard and with the assurance that should the Lord come for His people or call them home to glory, they are ready to go. Are you?
‘He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose'.
The Spread of Leaven
Leaven is yeast, the ingredient in bread that causes the process of fermentation which makes the dough ‘rise’ or ‘fill out’. In the Bible the nature of leaven is used to illustrate the pervasive power of evil.
The Lord Jesus told His disciples “to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees” – Matt 16:11. He was warning against the destructive and corrupting influence of their false teaching and hypocritical lifestyle – Matt 16:12; Luke 12:1.
The apostle Paul, when addressing the problem of gross sexual immorality within the church at Corinth, challenged the believers with these words: ‘Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?’ – 1 Cor 5:6. They had failed to grasp, like many professing Christians today, that moral corruption spreads like a plague and contaminates everything it touches.
Any society tolerating and celebrating the ‘leaven’ of evil of whatever kind soon discovers that its corrosive and corrupting influence spreads to every level and aspect of life with ugly and dire consequences such as those described by the apostle Paul in Romans 1:28-32.
Do you care? We do have a choice. We can either allow ourselves to be deceived and corrupted or we can repent and believe the gospel.
‘The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses from all sin’ – 1 John 1:7.
‘The safest road to Hell is the gradual one-the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts’.
'The seeds of every wickedness lie hidden in our hearts. They only need the convenient season to spring forth into a mischievous vitality' .
‘The resurrection of Christ and the fact of the empty tomb are not part of the world’s complex and continuing mythologies. This is not a Santa Claus tale – it is history and it is reality’.
"The little place by the side of the road" - Currien Gospel Hall, Florence Court Co Fermanagh NI
If I Gained the Word
‘We have been told quite recently that in these days men do not want to hear about sin, that men are putting sin out of their vocabulary as a word, and are attempting to put it out of their thinking as a fact; but they cannot put it out of their experience. Drop it out of your vocabulary if you will be so foolish. Cease taking account of it in your arrangements if you will be so mad. It will be the madness of the ostrich that hides it head in the sand of the desert and dreams it is unseen because it cannot see’.