I would like to share comments on a portion of chapter 23 with you today. Verses 39-43 give the account of the two malefactors hanging beside Jesus on the cross. Let us briefly contrast them. First, both malefactors were equally near to Christ. They both had the same opportunity of believing and receiving Him. The distinction is that of a man who is willing to by faith receive Jesus Christ as his own personal Saviour, and one who has hardened his heart and turned away from Christ. How true were the words of the repentant malefactor when he said he was justly receiving the due reward for his deeds. He confessed his sins; he recognized that Christ was the sinless Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, and, as a result, Jesus told him, "...today shalt thou be with me in paradise.".
Many people have asked me if I believe in deathbed repentance. My response is that I do, but I do not recommend that a person wait until he is on his deathbed before receiving Christ; because we have no promise of tomorrow. In II Corinthians 6:2 we read, "...now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." Procrastination is one of the main reasons why men and women are not saved. People keep putting off making a decision for Christ. I have had many people tell me they plan to be saved tomorrow or next week. A dear friend once said, "There are many people in hell today who planned to be saved in the eleventh hour, but died at 10:30.".
Just as the two malefactors had the free will of making a choice for or against Christ, so does every individual today. God has given us that free will so that we might make our own choice. God will never force Jesus on anyone. But, neither will He ever reject anyone who comes to Jesus by way of the cross. Through the means of radio, television, the printed page, and every other human effort available, we should try to get the good news of Christ to all men. God has promised in His Word that every effort in His name will be honored. In Psalm 126:6 we read, "He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." What a joy and privilege it is to serve a risen and living Saviour, and to know that He loves us and will sustain us throughout our daily lives.
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