THE THIEF'S CONVERSION
by Ed Stevens
Christ's reply to the crucified thief's prayerful request, "Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom", leaves no doubt as to his conversion.
It cannot be successfully refuted that from cover to cover, the Bible contains but one plan of salvation, namely, penitent trust in the promised "Seed of the woman" (Gen.. 3:15), Jesus Christ, the Savior of men, that He, as "the last Adam" would and did completely make atonement for all sin brought on the human race by the first Adam. See Romans 5:12-21 here. Did Abel, Abraham, etc., need water baptism? Why should God discriminate in commonly sinful humanity, demanding now such works of the flesh and not formerly? As in Old Testament times so today still: "Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him", Christ. "Offer the sacrifices of righteousness and put your trust in the Lord." Psalms 2:12; 4:5. "The just shall live by his faith." Hab . 2:4. Faith is believing that Christ "by the grace of God should taste death for every man" (Heb. 2:9); that "Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures; and that He was buried; and that He rose again the third day, according to the scriptures" (I Cor. 15:3.4) Paul declared this to he "the gospel wherein ye stand and by which also ye are saved!"
Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."Joel 2:32; Acts 2-21; Rom. 10:13. The dying thief did call upon the name of the Lord and thus was saved: "Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom!" Calling Him "LORD" showed saving faith in the promised Savior! Note Paul's statement in I Cor. 12:3, "no man can say that Jesus is the LORD but by the Holy Spirit." The Holy Spirit had enlightened the thief because he had come to fear God Luke 23:40,41). The truth of Romans 10:9 fits into the thief's conversion: "Because if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as LORD and believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." (A R.V.) That the thief believed Christ would be resurrected as prophesied in the Old Testament (Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:27-32; 13:351 is seen in his words, "when thou comest into thy kingdom", i.e., into possession thereof.
Surely, the conversion of the thief manifestly sets forth the simplicity of God's one plan of salvation — TRUST in the "FINISHED" cross-work of Christ.
"There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel's veins; and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains. The dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in his day; and there may I, though vile as he, wash all my sins away." (William Cowper),
Water-Salvationists have said, "There is not a case of conversion in Scripture where baptism is lacking." In the thief's conversion baptism is not mentioned, neither in the conversion of the 5,000 in Acts 4:4. In desperation to justify their teaching of "another gospel" (Gal. 1:6-9) that works, religious and otherwise, are necessary for salvation, faith alone being not sufficient, these demand chapter and verse saying the thief was saved by faith. that he asked for salvation, and where it is said that he was not baptized. This, of course, springs from unbelief. Since the Bible nowhere verbally states water baptism to be necessary for salvation, what does it matter if the Bible doesn't say whether the thief had a water baptism. The other points are definitely proved.
Since Christ, who "baptizeth (Present perfect tense) with the Holy Spirit" (John 1:33), did not begin this spiritual baptism until Pentecost (Acts 2), the crucified thief did not have this baptism predicted by Christ: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." All believers since Pentecost have been thus spiritually baptized by Christ "into one body", His church. I Cor. 12:13. This is the "one baptism" (Eph. 4:5) remaining since Israel with the "diverse washings and carnal ordinances imposed on them" were set aside (Heb. 9:10; Acts 28:28; Rom. 11.15).
Those sects which deem water baptism to be not necessary for salvation but do demand it to "join" their organization are seen merely to "walk as men" (I Cor. 3:3), just as, for example, banks demand signatures in doing business. The Bible tells us that Christ adds "daily" to His church without water baptism "such as are being saved." Acts 2:47, R. V. Since no sect can claim this sum total in its membership how can any be the true church?
Return to Navigation