What about the thief on the cross?

How Would You Answer?

Imagine you’re speaking to someone about Jesus and you bring up the subject of baptism. Just as Philip did in Acts 8. You say something like, “The Bible says that one must be baptized in order to be saved.” They immediately shake their head and say, “What about the thief on the cross?” [Luke 23:43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.]

It’s not really that hard to imagine. This exchange occurs nearly every single time I speak with a person about Jesus, salvation or the bible. I’m sure you’ve had the same experience.

Before you respond, let me remind you of a proper attitude you must maintain while giving an answer; Ephesians 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

This verse needs to be memorized by every Christian.

We need to give an answer with love and compassion. If they get upset let it be with God’s word rather than your attitude.

So, HOW WOULD YOU ANSWER THEM? In order to provide the answer, I need to point out a few things that are wrong with their questions.

FIRST, their question is steeped in a misunderstanding on how to determine scriptural authority. [Invite them to the “Are you certain?” Classes.]

Most denominations have no concept of how to determine God’s will. They think that if it’s in the Bible, that makes it scriptural. They misunderstand that in order for something to be scriptural, it must be determined by context, audience and speaker. There are some clear “rules” for determining scriptural authority. Not difficult ones, nor are they unique to Bible interpretation only. These rules are shown to us in scripture, but we use them automatically in our secular lives. One answer I use is to introduce them to this concept and invite them to study with me about How to determine Scriptural Authority [Permissions].

SECOND, your prospect is giving a proof text without context. One way to correct their error is by asking them, “Under what system of Law were Jesus and the thief living?”

Now that you understand where their error lies, we can look at several answers, all of which are united with each other in Truth…

ONE – While on earth, Jesus had the authority to forgive sins. We see this with the paralytic Luke 5:18-26, and the sinful woman in Luke 7:36-50. With the thief, Jesus clearly offered him salvation.

TWO – This thief was saved BEFORE the command to be baptized was given. Matthew 28:18-20 shows the command to be baptized was given AFTER Christ had risen from the dead. Additionally, we are baptized into His death, Romans 6:3-4.

The thief was never subject to baptism for it was commanded after his death. Just like Abraham, Noah, Moses etc. The thief never had a baptism command to obey. There was John’s baptism, but we can read the answer to that in Acts 19:4-5.

THREE – The thief lived, died and was saved BEFORE the new covenant began. Deuteronomy 5:2-3 shows the Old Covenant, which came to an end when Jesus died on the cross. [Ephesians 2:14-16; Colossians 2:14] Then in Hebrews 8:6-7, 13 we see that the first covenant was done away, and we now live under a New Covenant.

I hope this helps you as you to give answer for the hope that is in you. 1Peter 3:15


Ferguson, Deflategate & Johnny Depp

The country has been on fire as of late, literally. Cities being burned because folks are angry, protesting the supposed abuse by police among African American communities. We’ve tolerated the looting and destruction by calling it a protest. We’ve also tolerated some authorities to be above the law they’re sworn to protect!

In another story, a lot of folks are commenting on the “deflategate” scandal that has rocked the football world. Most are suggesting that this is no big deal. Making comparisons to the many sports figures receiving lighter punishments, that have beaten their wives or girlfriends, they suggest that this is a non-issue.

Then this morning I heard a story about Johnny Depp. It’s alleged that he smuggled his Yorkshire terriers, Pistol and Boo into Australia, skirting the law that requires them to be quarantined to be certain they are rabies free.

How these stories are related you ask? Simple, it’s a growing trend in our culture that allows people to be above the law if: they’re famous, rich, or angry. In all of these examples we will hear; “the facts don’t matter”, “It doesn’t change the results” or “what’s the big deal.” This is very troubling.  If facts don’t matter, or the end justifies the means, or it’s no big deal, then how is our society to function?

Ferguson – Tom Brady – Johnny Depp

The driving attitude behind all of these stories is ARROGANCE. Arrogant is defined as; having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities. In each example, the parties involved believed that they are above the laws that govern the rest of us.

The abusive officer is above the law because he’s got a gun or is an authority figure. It’s ARROGANCE. The offending character is above the law because he’s poor, or black. It’s ARROGANCE. The protestors are above the law because they feel abused or pushed down. It’s ARROGANCE. Tom Brady is above the law (rules of the game) because he’s a great quarterback. It’s ARROGANCE. Johnny Depp is above the law because he’s rich and famous. It’s ARROGANCE.

We’re all becoming more arrogant and it’s sinful. The Bible, God’s word, talks about this;

“A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,” [Pr 6:17]

God is very clear about arrogance and pride, He hates it!

The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.” [Pr 8:13]

When Paul wrote to the Church at Corinth, he condemned their arrogance in overlooking sin; “And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.” [1Corinthians 5:2] The problem is that they thought they were more important than the commands of God! When we ignore His commands, ignore His will for our lives, ignore what He thinks is right, we’re ignoring Him, THE CREATOR. We’re really saying, “the facts don’t matter”, “It doesn’t change the results” or “what’s the big deal.”

If we ignore God, we miss all the blessings He’s promised, we miss the lessons that help us to avoid trouble in our lives, and we miss the mark. If we continue to ignore God, thinking more of ourselves, we miss heaven! We miss heaven because when we ignore God, we also ignore Jesus, the Christ….

“He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. 49 For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.” [John 12:48-49]

If we fail to learn the lessons about arrogance, continuing to think more of our own importance, we’ll never learn to obey God. We see it already in our homes, disobedient children [Ro 1:30], and in our work places [Ephesians 6:5], and we see it in our country [Romans 13:1-6].

There’s only one reason when we’re permitted to disobey man’s law,

“Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.” [Ac 5:29](KJV)

Spencer Blackwelder, is an Evangelist in Borger, TX and has been working to recover from his own swollen head.