“And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:42-43)
One of the two thieves on the cross continued in unbelief right up until the time he died (Luke 23:39), but the second repented and believed unto salvation. The one assures us that no one need despair, since it is always possible to accept Christ at any time before death. The other warns us, on the other hand, that no one should presume. Long-continued rebellion against God is likely to become so fixed in one’s character that sincere repentance may become impossible.
The repentant thief, beholding Christ and hearing the first of the seven so-called “words from the cross” (Luke 23:34), came to believe that Jesus truly was Lord and that He could, indeed, grant forgiveness and salvation.
The penitent thief had no opportunity to be baptized, to change his lifestyle, or to do anything whatever except repent, believe on Christ, and confess his faith (Romans 10:9-10). And that was sufficient!
Both thieves would die that day, and the soul of the unrepentant thief would soon descend into Hades, there to await condemnation at the future judgment day. The other, because of his trust in Christ, would go with Him to paradise.
The tragedy is that far too many people, assuring themselves that it is never too late, keep waiting until it becomes forever too late! “Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1). The overwhelming majority of people who come to trust in Christ for salvation do so when they are young. Very few come to the Lord when they are old or about to die. “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). HMM