Luke 23:39-43; “One of the criminals who were hanged [crucified] railed at Him, saying, ‘Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us.’ But the other rebuked him saying, ‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.’ And he said to Jesus, ‘Remember me when You come into Your kingdom.’ And He said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.'” (ESV – all emphasis mine)
Though our Lord and Savior was suffering terrible agony, He still showed us the steps to follow, or ABCs, to have eternal life with Him. The thief that was repentant confessed and admitted that he was a sinner deserving the punishment he was receiving. He believed that Jesus is the true Messiah, Savior of the World, and called out for eternal Salvation. Because of this, Jesus gave him the promise that before that day would end, the thief would be a new creature in Paradise.
The other thief basically joined the jeering people and dared Jesus to prove Himself. This was not repentance or belief, and his cry was insincere. When he took his last breath on this earth, he was like the rich man of Luke 16:19-31 and is already suffering torment in whatever the holding place is for the lost.
This is the prelude for all who refuse to receive and accept Jesus as their Savior. The White Throne Judgment of Revelation 20:11-15 will be their destiny before being cast into the lake of fire made for Satan and his demons (Matthew 25:41). The very first actual occupants of the final hell will be the antichrist and false prophet (Revelation 19:20), followed a thousand years later by Satan (Revelation 20:10), and then all the lost souls from creation to the end of the Millennial Reign of Jesus on the earth.
What is so sad is there are many people who are basically good, but because they would not ask the Savior to be their eternal Shepherd, they will spend eternity separated from Him. No one is good enough on their own merits to be given a home in Heaven.
The two judgments that will take place after leaving this earth are the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10) and the White Throne, as given above. The outcome of those judgments is exactly opposite from each other.
At the Judgment Seat of Christ, all who are there will have been in the will of God before Calvary, and those who received and accepted His Son, Jesus, from Calvary to the end of the final hour of this earth’s existence. This Judgment is to receive or lose rewards for what we have done during our lifetime here on earth. No one is condemned to the lake of fire at this Judgment; we will still be with Jesus forever.
We are all sinners (Romans 3:10, Romans 3:23, and Romans 6:23) and deserve to be punished. However, the Father gives us mercy because we chose to become a part of our Savior’s precious flock. Our final destination will be eternity with our Lord and Savior, all the righteous Heavenly Host, and all the saints from earth’s total history.
It would be wonderful if everyone would be in Heaven, but our Savior Himself stated in Matthew 7:13-14 that more souls would be lost to condemnation than would be on the straight and narrow path that leads to eternal life in Heaven.
Everyone who ends up in the long line at the White Throne will be shown all the opportunities they had to receive Salvation rather than condemnation while they were on this earth. There will be no room for any valid arguments for their exact reason for being there. At this point, they cannot call out for forgiveness, nor can they receive the free gift that Jesus provided for all who would receive and accept it. There will be those who undoubtedly will say they were just about to call out but died just before they got that chance. That opportunity was lost to them at their last breath here.
The message of the cross is foolishness to the majority of people (1 Corinthians 1:18), but they will see the truth at the end. For all true believers, each drop of the sinless blood that was shed by our Savior is more precious to us than all the treasures of this world. The Father promised that all who truly call on the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 3:23).
Galatians 6:14 states, “But far be it from me to boast except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” With this in mind, in 1869, Fannie Crosby (1820-1915) wrote a hymn called “Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross.” The message of this song is as valuable today as when it was written, and will be as long as this earth exists.
1.) Jesus, keep me near the Cross; there a precious fountain, free to all a healing stream, flows from Calvary’s mountain.
Ref.) In the Cross, in the Cross, be my glory ever till my ransomed soul shall find rest beyond the river.
2.) Near the Cross a trembling soul, love and mercy found me. There the Bright and Morning Star shed His beams around me. (ref)
3.) Near the Cross, O Lamb of God, bring its scenes before me. Help me walk from day to day with its shadow o’er me. (ref)
4.) Near the Cross, I’ll watch and wait, hoping, trusting ever till I reach the golden strand just beyond the river. (ref)
Ms. Crosby is said to have written more than 8,000 hymns, many of which are still popular today. Though she was blinded as a child of six weeks old, she had a special love for the Savior, and during her lifetime, she gave us a wonderful view of Heavenly things. “To God Be the Glory”; Draw Me Nearer”; Jesus is Tenderly Calling”; Blessed Assurance”; A Wonderful Savior Is Jesus Our Lord”; “Pass Me Not O Gentle Savior”; are just a few of the thousands she wrote.
As the evil in this world grows stronger each day that passes, each and every person needs to consider having a true relationship with the only One who can actually give us eternal life in Heaven. John 14:6, “Jesus said to him, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through Me.” Acts 4:12, “And there is Salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under Heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Both verses are very specific about the true straight and narrow pathway to Heaven. There are no works that anyone can do, no monetary price anyone can pay, no special recitals or rituals to perform to earn one second of time in Glory.
Don’t end up at the Revelation 20:11-15 Judgment because you may believe there is plenty of time to “get right with God.” You aren’t guaranteed the next minute, much less adequate time to make a decision about your Salvation. Right now would be a great opportunity to call out to the Savior. He’s never too busy to take your call.
The simple steps as given earlier are to admit you’re a sinner as we all are; believe Jesus is the Son of God, and therefore is God (John 10:30); and ask Him to forgive and save you. See Romans 10:9-13 for Paul’s instruction on Salvation. Won’t it be wonderful when the time comes that we will be able to hear our Savior say, “Well done, good and faithful servant”? (Matthew 25:21 and 23).
The Trumpet of God is about to sound, and the shout from the archangel will take place. It will be wonderful if we all rise up together to bow at the feet of our Jesus! Hope to see you there!
Maranatha – Come, Lord Jesus!