Summary: In our text today, God gave us 3 wonderful truths FIRST, GOD HAS COME TO MEET US WHERE WE ARE. SECOND, GOD ACCEPTS US JUST AS WE ARE. FINALLY, GOD WILL SAVE ANYONE WHO WILL CALL UPON HIM.
IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD
”And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."
Two Christians lived very healthy lives. When they died, they went to heaven. As they walked along, marveling at the paradise around them, one of the men turned to the other and said, “Wow. I never imagined heaven was would be good as this!” “Yeah,” agreed the other. “And just think, if we hadn’t eaten all that oat bran we could have gotten here ten year sooner.”
The word "Paradise" is a Persian word meaning "a walled garden". When a Persian king wished to do one of his subjects a very special honour he made him a “companion of the garden” and he was chosen to walk in the royal garden with the king. It was more than immortality that Jesus promised the penitent thief. He promised the honoured place of a companion of the garden in the courts of heaven. "You will be with me" said Jesus.
In Luke 23:43 Jesus said, “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”
I know that some day most of us will see each other in very place of God is heaven.
In our text today, God gave us 3 wonderful truths about his offered salvation, the TRUTH that will bring us to heaven, TO CLAIM OUR INHERITANCE in His very own place.
FIRST, GOD HAS COME TO MEET US WHERE WE ARE
It wasn’t by accident that those men were in that place in the presence of Jesus. It wasn’t by accident that Jesus was crucified in the middle of these two men - it was the divine plan of God. God arrange the meeting of Jesus with these two men:
Mark 15:25-28 “Now it was the third hour, and they crucified Him. And the inscription of His accusation was written above: THE KING OF THE JEWS. With Him they also crucified two robbers, one on His right and the other on His left. So the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "And He was numbered with the transgressors."
Perhaps this was the first time these men had an opportunity to experience the presence of God. But when they needed Him most, there He was. Right in the midst of them. Reaching out to them. One thief dying on the cross took advantage of God’s closeness ... “Then he said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom."
God also speaks through Prophet Isaiah: “I bring My righteousness near it shall not be far off, My salvation shall not linger.” (46:13a)
In the routine of your life and in the crisis of your life, God is near to you. He is your hope in the midst of all that happens in your life. God places Himself there so that you my experience His salvation, His comfort, His love and His passion for you.
SECOND, GOD ACCEPTS US JUST AS WE ARE
The thief hanging on the cross was still a thief when he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” -- but he was no longer a thief when Jesus said to him, “Today you will be with Me in paradise.”
Isaiah 55:6,7a Seek the LORD while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
There is a transformation that takes place in the presence of God. What has been isn’t what always has to be. The despair and helpless-ness melts away in the presence of God. The problems that confront our lives become possibilities. The fear that sometimes grips us melts into fortitude in the presence of God. And the filth of sin is washed away in the presence of Jesus:
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders, nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
Apostle Paul also told us: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17