On the day that Jesus was crucified, he joined two criminals appropriately charged and sentenced to execution for the crimes they had committed. One of them saw their true self in the light of the righteous Savior hanging next to him. Humbly he cried out for Jesus to remember him.
And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” – Luke 23:43
Many people think they are not good enough to be in the presence of God for eternity. And even worse than that is that many people think they are good enough. But the truth is that no one is! We have all sinned and by that fact alone, we fall far short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) We are all infected with the impurity of sin. (Isaiah 64:6)
But just like the criminal on the cross beside Jesus – we have been given a free gift of mercy that is not something we deserve. We have been given the amazing opportunity to be righteous through Jesus Christ. We have been introduced to Jesus – and all we need to do is to cry out to him. There is one way alone to be assured of eternal life. There is one way alone to know that when you face the final, unavoidable judgement, you will hear Jesus invite you to join him in paradise.
“The message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart.” And that message is the very message about faith that we preach: If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” – Romans 10:8-11
And just like the criminal on the cross beside Jesus – our time is short. We don’t have forever to acknowledge that Jesus is Lord.