Summary: Jesus’ 2nd cry from the cross and how it relates to admission to paradise (salvation)
WHAT MOVED THE HEART OF JESUS
Part 2: The Promise of Paradise
> v43 . . . Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.
You know, I have seen a few things and a few places in life. I haven’t seen as much nor traveled as extensively as some of you who’ve been around since the continents first divided, but I have seen a few things. I have seen the beauty of countless hours of snow covered plains and forests, crossing the heartland of Russia on a train. I have known the beauty of camping on a deserted island with friends and family in the Gulf. I have seen the beauty of this country, of ours. From the snow capped peaks of the Rocky Mountains jutting toward the sky, to the endless rows of mountains peeking one after another from the mist of the Smokey Mountains. I have seen the beauty of desert springs, and aspen turning gold in the fall. I have hiked parts of the Appalachian Trail and listened to the birds and animals singing all around me. I have known the joy of exploring trails on horseback with friends in the mountains of Arkansas and listened with joy as the folks there filled the summer evenings with music played in the town square. I have known the joy of canoeing the St. John’s with a canopy of Palms draped overhead, and of canoeing Spring River where every turn reveals another rapid to shoot. I have climbed hills in Zion National Park with my son at my side and have peered from the rim, with my family, into the immeasurable beauty of the Grand Canyon. I have explored caves, where God reveals his creative imagination in stone formations of every color. I have seen fields gold with wheat, white with cotton, and ablaze with sunflowers. I have seen running rose and honey suckle blooming from every ditch in Mississippi, and listened as endless flights of geese and ducks passed overhead. I have watched the sun rise over the wave kissed beaches of our East Coast, and watched it set in the mountains of the west.
But let me tell you, all of the beauty I have seen and all of the joy I have known pales to insignificance when compared to that place Jesus here calls Paradise. Here Jesus says, “Today you shall be with Me in Paradise!” Can you imagine, being in Paradise with Jesus?
Recent surveys show that the majority of people in this country and around the world, still believe in heaven of some sort. We may differ a bit about the details of heaven, but most believe in a better place after this life. The place where we find the most disagreement though, is in how we go about getting there.
After conducting a recent survey of 320,000 U.S. Protestant churches, George Barna discovered that just 51% of pastors in America have a biblical worldview. One of the criteria he used to determine that, was their belief in whether salvation, and thus admission to heaven, came by grace alone or whether it required something more. (“Only Half of Protestant Pastors Have a Biblical Worldview” by Barna Research Group. Barna Research Group, Jan. 12, 2004.)
After reading of the study in World Magazine Mike Simon wrote, “I find it intriguing that ‘salvation by grace alone’ was on the list of core biblical beliefs in the Barna Survey.” (World Magazine, March 6, 2004. p47)
My friends, I believe Jesus makes it clear in this passage that salvation for you and I, admission to heaven comes through grace and through grace alone.
I. SALVATION COMES BY GRACE
> Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
1. No Purgatory required – There are some who believe that in addition to believing in Jesus Christ, and that in addition to accepting Him as your Lord and Savior, that after this life you must go to some holding place, and there somehow pay for part of your sins. You must suffer for a while in order to get into heaven.
My friend, when Jesus turned to the thief beside Him, after hearing his prayer, Jesus did not tell the man that after this life the man would have to suffer for a while, he would have to be punished for a while and then he would gain admission to paradise. No. Jesus said, TODAY you will be with Me in Paradise.
Paul said in :
>2 Corinthians 5:8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.