Safe and Sure

 •  8 min. read  •  grade level: 6
Luke 23:33-4633And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. 34Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. 35And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God. 36And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar, 37And saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself. 38And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. 39And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. 40But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? 41And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. 42And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. 43And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise. 44And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. 45And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst. 46And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost. (Luke 23:33‑46)
THERE are two parts in the grace of God—it brings out of one thing, and it brings into another. The prodigal son got more than a crust when he came to his father, he only thought to get mercy and to save his life, but he got much more. How few there are now who know more than God's mercy. If I ask a man what God has done for him, if he happens to be what you would call a bright Christian, he will tell me, perhaps, that God has forgiven him his sins, but that is all the length he goes. "What!" I say, “is that all? if you cannot tell me more than that, you are robbing God of His glory." Suppose some one had met the prodigal the day after his return, and asked him about it, and suppose he had only said that his father had met him, covered him with kisses, and forgiven him, why you would say he was most ungrateful, if that was all he had to say. Now, I don't boast, I deserve nothing but the lake of fire, but if you ask me what God has done for me, 1 cannot say He has only forgiven me, I must tell not only what He has saved me out of, but what He has brought me into. We get a picture of it in this poor thief.
Now we will look at the scene in the passage before us. There were three crosses that day, and on the middle one hung “The King of the Jews." Let us pause and think of Him, Son of the Eternal God. In John 1 we have His Deity brought out in a wonderful way. There never was a time when He was not the Eternal Son of God, Creator of the universe, and that One hangs on that cross, crowned with thorns, One who had gone about among men for years, bringing down all the power of God into the midst of all their sorrow, and sin, and misery. He had gone about "doing good,” manifesting the love of God's heart towards men, and all they had for Him was a cross. Man I look at that cross, and boast of enlightenment and intelligence. Man is not changed since then, he would do it again, for unless saved by the grace of God, deep down in every human heart, is hatred of Christ. God divides men into two classes, they are either reconciled to God by the death of His Son, or they are the enemies of God. See Rom. 5:1010For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. (Romans 5:10). Which are you? You say, perhaps, "I am not reconciled, but I am not an enemy of God.” Yes, you are one, God counts you so. There is no such thing as neutrality in the things of God.
Look at that cross again. I will tell you what makes it so precious, it is my deep, deep need of a Saviour that brought Him, there. Can you say? "My sins put Him there." Now don't go generalizing, and say, “We had all need of a Saviour. We are all sinners.” Can you tell me any one person who needed such a sacrifice? Did you? Was it a necessity that God must give up His Son to death, before you could be saved? It is no time to trifle. When will you appear in the presence of God? How soon will you cross the limits of eternity?
Look now at the other two crosses. Round them were gathered the religious people of the time, scribes and Pharisees. They never thought that there was no difference between them and the thieves, that they were themselves as bad or worse. The thieves' hands had stolen, but they had imbued their hands in the blood of Christ. Which was the guiltiest?
These two thieves are fair samples of the whole human race. Man began by thieving, and he is the same still, yet the wrath of God passed over both these crosses, and was poured out on the middle one. The Just suffered for the unjust.
Even the thieves reviled Him, they knew He was not one of themselves, but presently one rebukes the other, ".Dost not thou fear God?" Now look at the working of the Spirit of God in this poor thief, and see how beautifully the light breaks in on this poor man's soul. In Prov. 9:1010The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. (Proverbs 9:10), I read, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” The light breaks in on the thief, and he wakes up to find two things—that there is a God, and that He is to be feared. Eternity is before you, and there is a God that inhabits it a God perfect in holiness, and you have to meet Him. What is the result to this man when he finds it out? He views his deeds in the light of God's holiness, and says, " We indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds," he confesses the justice of his sentence.
People don't generally confess their sins, they rather cover them. The Bible says, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy " (Prov. 23:1313Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. (Proverbs 23:13)), but too many go on sinning every day, and then perhaps at night, as a sort of salve to their conscience, they say, "Forgive me my sins,” and go on doing the same things next day, but this is only covering them up. People say, too, “Oh! I have never committed any very great sin;" but suppose you have only committed one little one, how could you stand before God? One little sin will shut you out from the presence of God, as much as 50,000 big sins. Suppose I were put in hell to-night, I could only say I deserve it. Have you got to this yet?
But there is another side of God's character besides holiness. He is also love, and this love it is that draws us towards Him in spite of ourselves, so the thief says, "Lord, remember me when Thou comest in Thy kingdom," he discerns in that lowly man a king with a kingdom. Just look at the faith of the man as he asks to be remembered. We might have rather thought he would have said, “Forget me," in a scene such as this coming kingdom must be of holiness. One would have thought that such a man as he, with such a character, would have preferred to be forgotten; but no, he says, "Remember me," he reckoned that there was enough goodness in the heart of God, even for him. Dear friend, we never give God credit for enough. The poor thief thought perhaps he might be remembered some time by-and-bye, but he gets all Christ can give him on the spot. “To-day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise." A full, present salvation. There is no good in telling you of to-morrow. If I talk to you of to-morrow, and offer you salvation then, I am only mocking you, for your life hangs in the balance, and is not worth five minutes' purchase— nothing but a present salvation is of any use.
What a salvation the thief got, that day, with Christ, in Paradise. Surely that was something like redemption, a thief made fit to be the companion of Jesus in Paradise! The work of Christ done for us on the cross puts our sins away, and this you must not confound with the work of the Spirit in you. The thief had a work done in him; he was brought to judge himself, and to confess Christ, but it was not that, but the work of Christ for him, His blood-shedding, that opened heaven for him, and made him fit to go there. Then it was the Lord's word to him, that made him sure he would go there. Do you think he knew he was going to heaven? "Oh! yes," you say, "he was told it." As a woman once said to me when I said the thief knew he was saved, she replied, "But he was told so.” Well, thank God, we are also told so (see John 5:22-2422For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: 23That all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He that honoreth not the Son honoreth not the Father which hath sent him. 24Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. (John 5:22‑24)). “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son; that all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent Him. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation (or judgment); but is passed from death unto life.”
Thus anyone who has heard the Lord's word, and believed on God who sent Him, “hath everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment." Could anything be surer? Christ is presented as the One who will be Judge by-and-bye, and can speak with authority, so we have His word, to make us sure we have eternal life, and that we shall not come into judgment, and that was what the thief had.
Thus the Spirit works in us to lead us to Christ. Jesus has done the work for us, that makes us safe. Jesus has spoken the word to us, that makes us sure. Are you safe and sure? M.