Home
About Us
Search Library
Library Index
Whats New
Links
Training
Statement of Faith
About Us
Admin Login
Believersweb Header

The Believing Thief

Written by: Spurgeon, C.H.    Posted on: 04/07/2003

Category: Sermons

Source: CCN



                                                                                 

                                            The Believing Thief



                                                        A Sermon                                                       (No. 2078)                                 Delivered on Lord's-day Morning, April 7th, 1889,                                                   C. H. SPURGEON,                                     At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington



              "And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto               him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise."Luke 23:42-43.

                    SOME TIME AGO I preached upon the whole story of the dying thief.* I do not propose to do the                     same to-day, but only to look at it from one particular point of view. The story of the salvation of the                     dying thief is a standing instance of the power of Christ to save, and of his abundant willingness to                     receive all that come to him, in whatever plight they may be. I cannot regard this act of grace as a           solitary instance, any more than the salvation of Zacchaeus, the restoration of Peter, or the call of Saul, the           persecutor. Every conversion is, in a sense, singular: no two are exactly alike, and yet any one conversion is a type           of others. The case of the dying thief is much more similar to our conversion than it is dissimilar; in point of fact,           his case may be regarded as typical, rather than as an extraordinary incident. So I shall use it at this time. May the           Holy Spirit speak through it to the encouragement of those who are ready to despair!               Remember, beloved friends, that our Lord Jesus, at the time he saved this malefactor, was at his lowest. His           glory had been ebbing out in Gethsemane, and before Caiaphas, and Herod, and Pilate; but it had now reached the           utmost low-water mark. Stripped of his garments, and nailed to the cross, our Lord was mocked by a ribald           crowd, and was dying in agony: then was he "numbered with the transgressors," and made as the offscouring of all           things. Yet, while in that condition, he achieved this marvellous deed of grace. Behold the wonder wrought by the           Saviour when emptied of all his glory, and hanged up a spectacle of shame upon the brink of death! How certain is           it it that he can do great wonders of mercy now, seeing that he has returned unto his glory, and sitteth upon the           throne of light! "He is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to           make intercession for them." If a dying Saviour saved the thief, my argument is, that he can do even more now           that he liveth and reigneth. All power is given unto him in heaven and in earth; can anything at this present time           surpass the power of his grace?               It is not only the weakness of our Lord which makes the salvation of the penitent thief memorable; it is the           fact that the dying malefactor saw it before his very eyes. Can you put yourself into his place, and suppose           yourself to be looking upon one who hangs in agony upon a cross? Could you readily believe him to be the Lord           of glory, who would soon come to his kingdom? That was no mean faith which, at such a moment, could believe           in Jesus as Lord and King. If the apostle Paul were here, and wanted to add a New Testament chapter to the           eleventh of Hebrews, he might certainly commence his instances of remarkable faith with this thief, who believed           in a crucified, derided, and dying Christ, and cried to him as to one whose kingdom would surely come. The           thief's faith was the more remarkable because he was himself in great pain, and bound to die. It is not easy to           exercise confidence when you are tortured with deadly anguish. Our own rest of mind has at times been greatly           hindered by pain of body. When we are the subjects of acute suffering it is not easy to exhibit that faith which we           fancy we possess at other times. This man, suffering as he did, and seeing the Saviour in so sad a state,           nevertheless believed unto life eternal. Herein was such faith as is seldom seen.               Recollect, also, that he was surrounded by scoffers. It is easy to swim with the current, and hard to go against           the stream. This man heard the priests, in their pride, ridicule the Lord, and the great multitude of the common           people, with one consent, joined in the scorning; his comrade caught the spirit of the hour, and mocked also, and           perhaps he did the same for a while; but through the grace of God he was changed, and believed in the Lord Jesus           in the teeth of all the scorn. His faith was not affected by his surroundings; but he, dying thief as he was, made           sure his confidence. Like a jutting rock, standing out in the midst of a torrent, he declared the innocence of the           Christ whom others blasphemed. His faith is worthy of our imitation in its fruits. He had no member that was free           except his tongue, and he used that member wisely to rebuke his brother malefactor, and defend his Lord. His           faith brought forth a brave testimony and a bold confession. I am not going to praise the thief, or his faith, but to           extol the glory of that grace divine which gave the thief such faith, and then freely saved him by its means. I am           anxious to show how glorious is the Saviourthat Saviour to the uttermost, who, at such a time, could save such           a man, and give him so great a faith, and so perfectly and speedily prepare him for eternal bliss. Behold the power           of that divine Spirit who could produce such faith on soil so unlikely, and in a climate so unpropitious.               Let us enter at once into the centre of our sermon. First, note the man who was our Lord's last companion on           earth; secondly, note that this same man was our Lord's first companion at the gate of paradise; and then,           thirdly, let us note the sermon which our Lord preaches to us from this act of grace. Oh, for a blessing from the           Holy Spirit all the sermon through!               I. Carefully NOTE THAT THE CRUCIFIED THIEF WAS OUR LORD'S LAST COMPANION ON           EARTH. What sorry company our Lord selected when he was here! He did not consort with the religious           Pharisees or the philosophic Sadducees, but he was known as "the friend of publicans and sinners." How I rejoice           at this! It gives me assurance that he will not refuse to associate with me. When the Lord Jesus made a friend of           me, he certainly did not make a choice which brought him credit. Do you think he gained any honour when he           made a friend of you? Has he ever gained anything by us? No, my brethren; if Jesus had not stooped very low, he           would not have come to me; and if he did not seek the most unworthy, he might not have come to you. You feel           it so, and you are thankful that he came "not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." As the great           physician, our Lord was much with the sick: he went where there was room for him to exercise his healing art.           The whole have no need of a physician: they cannot appreciate him, nor afford scope for his skill; and therefore           he did not frequent their abodes. Yes, after all, our Lord did make a good choice when he saved you and me; for           in us he has found abundant room for his mercy and grace. There has been elbow room for his love to work           within the awful emptiness of our necessities and sins; and therein he has done great things for us, whereof we are           glad.               Lest any here should be despairing, and say, "He will never deign to look on me," I want you to notice that the           last companion of Christ on earth was a sinner, and no ordinary sinner. He had broken even the laws of man,           for he was a robber. One calls him "a brigand"; and I suppose it is likely to have been the case. The brigands of           those days mixed murder with their robberies: he was probably a freebooter in arms against the Roman           government, making this a pretext for plundering as he had opportunity. At last he was arrested, and was           condemned by a Roman tribunal, which, on the whole, was usually just, and in this case was certainly just; for he           himself confesses the justice of his condemnation. The malefactor who believed upon the cross was a convict,           who had lain in the condemned cell, and was then undergoing execution for his crimes. A convicted felon was the           person with whom our Lord last consorted upon earth. What a lover of the souls of guilty men is he! What a stoop           he makes to the very lowest of mankind! To this most unworthy of men the Lord of glory, ere he quitted life,           spoke with matchless grace. He spoke to him such wondrous words as never can be excelled if you search the           Scriptures through: "To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise." I do not suppose that anywhere in this Tabernacle           there will be found a man who has been convicted before the law, or who is even chargeable with a crime against           common honesty; but if there should be such a person among my hearers, I would invite him to find pardon and           change of heart through our Lord Jesus Christ. You may come to him, whoever you may be; for this man did.           Here is a specimen of one who had gone to the extreme of guilt, and who acknowledged that he had done so; he           made no excuse, and sought no cloak for his sin; he was in the hands of justice, confronted with the death-doom,           and yet he believed in Jesus, and breathed a humble prayer to him, and he was saved upon the spot. As is the           sample, such is the bulk. Jesus saves others of like kind. Let me, therefore, put it very plainly here, that none may           mistake me. None of you are excluded from the infinite mercy of Christ, however great your iniquity: if you           believe in Jesus, he will save you.               This man was not only a sinner; he was a sinner newly awakened. I do not suppose that he had seriously           thought of the Lord Jesus before. According to the other Evangelists, he appears to have joined with his fellow           thief in scoffing at Jesus: if he did not actually himself use opprobrious words, he was so far consenting thereunto,           that the Evangelist did him no injustice when he said, "The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the           same in his teeth." Yet, now, on a sudden, he wakes up to the conviction that the man who is dying at his side is           something more than a man. He reads the title over his head, and believes it to be true"This is Jesus the King of           the Jews." Thus believing, he makes his appeal to the Messiah, whom he had so newly found, and commits           himself to his hands. My hearer, do you see this truth, that the moment a man knows Jesus to be the Christ of           God he may at once put his trust in him and be saved? A certain preacher, whose gospel was very doubtful, said,           "Do you, who have been living in sin for fifty years, believe that you can in a moment be made clean through the           blood of Jesus?" I answer, "Yes, we do believe that in one moment, through the precious blood of Jesus, the           blackest soul can be made white. We do believe that in a single instant the sins of sixty or seventy years can be           absolutely forgiven, and that the old nature, which has gone on growing worse and worse, can receive its           death-wound in a moment of time, while the life eternal may be implanted in the soul at once." It was so with this           man. He had reached the end of his tether, but all of a sudden he woke up to the assured conviction that the           Messiah was at his side, and, believing, he looked to him and lived.               So now, my brothers, if you have never in your life before been the subject of any religious conviction, if you           have lived up till now an utterly ungodly life, yet if now you will believe that God's dear Son has come into the           world to save men from sin, and will unfeignedly confess your sin and trust in him, you shall be immediately           saved. Ay, while I speak the word, the deed of grace may be accomplished by that glorious One who has gone up           into the heaven with omnipotent power to save.               I desire to put this case very plainly: this man, who was the last companion of Christ upon earth, was a           sinner in misery. His sins had found him out: he was now enduring the reward of his deeds. I constantly meet           with persons in this condition: they have lived a life of wantonness, excess, and carelessness, and they begin to feel           the fire-flakes of the tempest of wrath falling upon their flesh; they dwell in an earthly hell, a prelude of eternal           woe. Remorse, like an asp, has stung them, and set their blood on fire: they cannot rest, they are troubled day and           night. "Be sure your sin will find you out." It has found them out, and arrested them, and they feel the strong grip           of conviction. This man was in that horrible condition: what is more, he was in extremis. He could not live long:           the crucifixion was sure to be fatal; in a short time his legs would be broken, to end his wretched existence. He,           poor soul, had but a short time to liveonly the space between noon and sundown; but it was long enough for the           Saviour, who is mighty to save. Some are very much afraid that people will put off coming to Christ, if we state           this. I cannot help what wicked men do with truth, but I shall state it all the same. If you are now within an hour           of death, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved. If you never reach your homes again, but drop           dead on the road, if you will now believe in the Lord Jesus, you shall be saved: saved now, on the spot. Looking           and trusting to Jesus, he will give you a new heart and a right spirit, and blot out your sins. This is the glory of           Christ's grace. How I wish I could extol it in proper language! He was last seen on earth before his death in           company with a convicted felon, to whom he spoke most lovingly. Come, O ye guilty, and he will receive you           graciously!               Once more, this man whom Christ saved at last was a man who could do no good works. If salvation had           been by good works, he could not have been saved; for he was fastened hand and foot to the tree of doom. It was           all over with him as to any act or deed of righteousness. He could say a good word or two, but that was all; he           could perform no acts; and if his salvation had depended on an active life of usefulness, certainly he never could           have been saved. He was a sinner also, who could not exhibit a long-enduring repentance for sin, for he had so           short a time to live. He could not have experienced bitter convictions, lasting over months and years, for his time           was measured by moments, and he was on the borders of the grave. His end was very near, and yet the Saviour           could save him, and did save him so perfectly, that the sun went not down till he was in paradise with Christ.               This sinner, whom I have painted to you in colours none too black, was one who believed in Jesus, and           confessed his faith. He did trust the Lord. Jesus was a man, and he called him so; but he knew that he was also           Lord, and he called him so, and said, "Lord, remember me." He had such confidence in Jesus, that, if he would           but only think of him, if he would only remember him when he came into his kingdom, that would be all that he           would ask of him. Alas, my dear hearers! the trouble about some of you is that you know all about my Lord, and           yet you do not trust him. Trust is the saving act. Years ago you were on the verge of really trusting Jesus, but you           are just as far off from it now as you were then. This man did not hesitate: he grasped the one hope for himself.           He did not keep his persuasion of our Lord's Messiahship in his mind as a dry, dead belief, but he turned it into           trust and prayer, "Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom." Oh, that in his infinite mercy many           of you would trust my Lord this morning! You shall be saved, I am sure you shall: if you are not saved when you           trust, I must myself also renounce all hope. This is all that we have done: we looked, and we lived, and we           continue to live because we look to the living Saviour. Oh, that this morning, feeling your sin, you would look to           Jesus, trusting him, and confessing that trust! Owning that he is Lord to the glory of God the Father, you must and           shall be saved.               In consequence of having this faith which saved him, this poor man breathed the humble but fitting prayer,           "Lord, remember me." This does not seem to ask much; but as he understood it, it meant all that an anxious heart           could desire. As he thought of the kingdom, he had such clear ideas of the glory of the Saviour, that he felt that if           the Lord would think of him his eternal state would be safe. Joseph, in prison, asked the chief butler to remember           him when he was restored to power; but he forgat him. Our Joseph never forgets a sinner who cried to him in the           low dungeon; in his kingdom he remembers the moanings and groanings of poor sinners who are burdened with a           sense of sin. Can you not pray this morning, and thus secure a place in the memory of the Lord Jesus?               Thus I have tried to describe the man; and, after having done my best, I shall fail of my object unless I make           you see that whatever this thief was, he is a picture of what you are. Especially if you have been a great offender,           and if you have been living long without caring for eternal things, you are like that malefactor; and yet you, even           you, may do as that thief did; you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, and commit your souls into his hands, and           he will save you as surely as he saved the condemned brigand. Jesus graciously says, "Him that cometh to me I           will in no wise cast out." This means that if you come and trust him, whoever you may be, he will for no reason,           and on no ground, and under no circumstances, ever cast you out. Do you catch that thought? Do you feel that it           belongs to you, and that if you come to him, you shall find eternal life? I rejoice if you so far perceive the truth.               Few persons have so much intercourse with desponding and despairing souls as I have. Poor cast down ones           write to me continually. I scarce know why. I have no special gift of consolation, but I gladly lay myself out to           comfort the distressed, and they seem to know it. What joy I have when I see a despairing one find peace! I have           had this joy several times during the week just ended. How much I desire that any of you who are breaking your           hearts because you cannot find forgiveness would come to my Lord, and trust him, and enter into rest! Has he not           said, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest"? Come and try him, and that           rest shall be yours.               II. In the second place, NOTE, THAT THIS MAN WAS OUR LORD'S COMPANION AT THE GATE OF           PARADISE. I am not going into any speculations as to where our Lord went when he quitted the body which           hung on the cross. It would seem, from some Scriptures, that he descended into the lower parts of the earth, that           he might fill all things. But he very rapidly traversed the regions of the dead. Remember that he died, perhaps an           hour or two before the thief, and during that time the eternal glory flamed through the underworld, and was           flashing through the gates of paradise just when the pardoned thief was entering the eternal world. Who is this that           entereth the pearl-gate at the same moment as the King of glory? Who is this favoured companion of the           Redeemer? Is it some honoured martyr? Is it a faithful apostle? Is it a patriarch, like Abraham; or a prince, like           David? It is none of these. Behold, and be amazed at sovereign grace. He that goeth in at the gate of paradise,           with the King of glory, is a thief, who was saved in the article of death. He is saved in no inferior way, and           received into bliss in no secondary style. Verily, there are last which shall be first!               Here I would have you notice the condescension of our Lord's choice. The comrade of the Lord of glory, for           whom the cherub turns aside his sword of fire, is no great one, but a newly-converted malefactor. And why? I           think the Saviour took him with him as a specimen of what he meant to do. He seemed to say to all the heavenly           powers, "I bring a sinner with me; he is a sample of the rest." Have you never heard of him who dreamed that he           stood without the gate of heaven, and while there he heard sweet music from a band of venerable persons who           were on their way to glory? They entered the celestial portals, and there were great rejoicing and shouts. Enquiring           "What are these?" he was told that they were the goodly fellowship of the prophets. He sighed, and said, "Alas! I           am not one of those." He waited a while, and another band of shining ones drew nigh, who also entered heaven           with hallelujahs, and when he enquired, "Who are these, and whence came they?" the answer was, "These are the           glorious company of the apostles." Again he sighed, and said, "I cannot enter with them." Then came another           body of men white-robed, and bearing palms in their hands, who marched amid great acclamation into the golden           city. These he learned were the noble army of martyrs; and again he wept, and said, "I cannot enter with these."           In the end he heard the voices of much people, and saw a greater multitude advancing, among whom he perceived           Rahab and Mary Magdalene, David and Peter, Manasseh and Saul of Tarsus, and he espied especially the thief,           who died at the right hand of Jesus. These all entered ina strange company. Then he eagerly enquired, "Who           are these?" and they answered, "This is the host of sinners saved by grace." Then was he exceeding glad, and said,           "I can go with these." Yet, he thought there would be no shouting at the approach of this company, and that they           would enter heaven without song; instead of which, there seemed to rise a seven-fold hallelujah of praise unto the           Lord of love; for there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over sinners that repent.               I invite any poor soul here that can neither aspire to serve Christ, nor to suffer for him as yet, nevertheless to           come in with other believing sinners, in the company of Jesus, who now sets before us an open door.               While we are handling this text, note well the blessedness of the place to which the Lord called this penitent.           Jesus said, "To day shalt thou be with me in paradise." Paradise means a garden, a garden filled with delights. The           garden of Eden is the type of heaven. We know that paradise means heaven, for the apostle speaks of such a man           caught up into paradise, and anon he calls it the third heaven. Our Saviour took this dying thief into the paradise of           infinite delight, and this is where he will take all of us sinners who believe in him. If we are trusting him, we shall           ultimately be with him in paradise.               The next word is better still. Note the glory of the society to which this sinner is introduced: "To day shalt           thou be with me in paradise." If the Lord said, "To day shalt thou be with me," we should not need him to add           another word; for where he is, is heaven to us. He added the word "paradise," because else none could have           guessed where he was going. Think of it, you uncomely soul; you are to dwell with the Altogether-lovely One for           ever. You poor and needy ones, you are to be with him in his glory, in his bliss, in his perfection. Where he is, and        

Doc viewed 8020 times.

Related Content


This articles keywords/phrases are:

Salvation

The articles in the list below have 1 or more of the same keywords or phrases as the article you are viewing. If you wish to hone in on a single keyword, click on that keyword and you will see a list of articles that match just that keyword.




WHAT ARE WE TO DO?   in Christian Living

THE SUDDEN CALL   in Christian Living

ALL of GRACE   in Classic Christian Library

Our Salvation Depends on Christ   in Classic Christian Library

Salvation Doctrines   in Theology

A Revival Sermon   in Sermons

Revival Work   in Sermons

Go in Peace   in Sermons


Jacob and Esau   in Sermons

Justice Satisfied   in Sermons

Plenteous Redemption   in Sermons



Issues of the Heart   in Sermons


TRUE BELIEF   in Sermons

THOUGHTS FOR YOUNG MEN   in Sermons






Development and hosting
for non-profits and more