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Salvation of the Dying Thief - 5

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman
The Truth Network Radio
October 9, 2019 1:00 am

Salvation of the Dying Thief - 5

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman

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October 9, 2019 1:00 am

This is the last of five messages from Dr. John McKnight from the 2019 Fall Bible Conference, Stories of Conversion.

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Also, we return in the Scriptures to Luke chapter 23 where we have read the account of the crucifixion that portion of the account that relates to us the conversion of the thief on the cross was the secondary focus of our consideration tonight. The primary focus of course being the Lord Jesus Christ, of whom and to whom we have just some I want to express my great appreciation my gratitude to all of you for your faithfulness to the services of the fellowship that you have extended so richly and warmly to me during my time here.

I've told the pastor Barkman that this is a very easy and blessed place to preach for there is such an eager and waiting congregation so attentive and so responsive and I thank the Lord for that I thank God for the pastors that he has given to you as I fellowship with each of them. These three days I've been been well so I say is stricken with the with the unusual nature of having three men such as this, who have labored together here for decades and the blessing this is been I know to you as a congregation with each of these dear brethren, devoted to the calling God has placed upon their lives and ministering in a unique way to the needs of this congregation. Each with his own individual role in that combining in such a rich and strong ministry.

How blessed this congregation has been and I appreciate these brethren so much and counted one of God's great favors to me that I am allowed to be within their company and in their fellowship as a minister of the gospel and I'm grateful to for those of you that are provided hospitality meals.

You could tell by looking at me that I can eat, and you could tell by looking at me to that if I went for the week without eating. It probably wouldn't hurt me at all, but nonetheless I you have been so kind and gracious and I am blessed to be here and blessed to open the word with you this week focusing upon the greatest subject that can be known to man and that being the glory of our Savior in his saving of lost souls such as we are.

We look tonight at the conversion of the thief on the cross. The conversions we have considered this week might be described as somewhat dramatic sexiness. This ungodly tax collector who had been dishonest was suddenly transformed and see. And it happened instantaneously.

There was a dramatic event. There and then the woman at the well, who was an outcast. As far as Jewish society was concern not only because she was a Samaritan, but also if others learned about her life. They knew she was an adulterous and that would have disqualified her and put her far outside the bounds of acceptable Israel. The culture in society and yet she suddenly is confronted with the Lord Jesus Christ and realizes by God, opening her eyes that it is Messiah and she is see in a number of Samaritans also believe, and then we considered the woman taken in adultery, in the sudden, unexpected turn that occurred as her accusers were in fact found to be guilty and wanting and vacated the scene before they can hurl anymore accusations of her and that was dramatic, but tonight's conversion would seem to us to be dramatic about all of the others. Inasmuch as we have a capital criminal who is on the death rack being hanged to die then and there transformed and what a transformation it is and it is dramatic. It is spectacular.

And yet, in a very different and real sense is no more spectacular than my salvation dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in his day, and there may I go file as he washed all my sins away when the soul is sate. It is a miraculous event.

This is one of the things it is been lost, I fear. And much of American evangelicalism where the conversion of the soul has been reduced down to nothing more than a decision that an individual makes in the role of the preacher is to induce him to make that decision by whatever means he might employ, psychologically, dramatically entertainment wise, and consequently many decisions have been made which I fear are not backed up by the power of God. The apostle Paul was very concerned about that lesson.

The second chapter of first Corinthians. He told him when he came he did not come with excellency of speech, or man's wisdom because he feared their faith would stand in the wisdom of man rather than in the power of God that I fear describes much of modern evangelicalism know the salvation of the soul is a miracle every bit as great as the miracle of Christ resurrection from the two for it is a soul that is day in trespasses and sins that is resurrected to life by being made a partaker of the very life of God. The divine nature and we see it take place in the thief on the cross and I trust you seen it take place in your own life and that you know you have been made to live in Christ this evening as we look at this passage I think we need to begin by considering the circumstances that Luke presents to us which are not presented in other portions of the Scripture. Both Matthew and Mark report the presence of the thieves being crucified along with Christ, but both of their writings speak only of both of the thieves in their blasphemy against Christ together. The criminals were set against the Lord Jesus joining with the mob surrounding the cross in cheering and ridiculing and blaspheming but look tells us that suddenly the demeanor of one of them was dramatically reverse and on the spot he became the opposite of what he had been as we consider that transformation, we cannot ignore the added information that Luke also supplies beginning in verse 33 where Luke informs that when they were come to Calvary. They crucified Christ and to sleeves with him on the right and one on the left hand and reporting it that way.

Luke continues to tell us then said Jesus father forgive them for they know not what they do. Christ prayed for forgiveness and we must ask the question for whom did he pray now so often as I have heard reference to this verse of Scripture in preaching. It has been a sympathetic reference to the gentleness and kindness and selflessness. Christ showed in praying for his enemies. And indeed, when he did so in exhibited a gentleness, a selflessness, a compassion upon his enemies, but of all that we see here is Jesus praying for whatever sentimental effect it might have upon the hearers around or upon the readers. In later centuries if all that we see in Christ prayer is oh what a wonderful nice guy. He wives I think we miss what Luke is telling us. Let us recognize that when Jesus Christ prayed, it was never for sentimental effect when Jesus Christ prayed, it was not in order to set a warm and fuzzy atmosphere when he prayed he spoke earnestly and sincerely unto God the father. James tells us that the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man, a veil of much and have you stop to consider with that text that there was only one righteous Christ himself and any prayer Jesus prayed have to be answered exactly as he had petitioned for. He was the God man in his every prayer was an utterance of the will of God in praying.

He was not like we are, for we know not what to pray for as we ought, and must have, therefore the assistance of the Spirit of God to imprint upon our hearts those petitions which are according to the will of God, but not so Christ is very desire was the will of God. Only he could say I do always those things which please my father which is in heaven and in his praying. That was certainly the case. He here put a petition before his father. Father forgive them for they know not what they do and if, as is popularly suggested he was simply praying kindly for all of the people at the cross. What we recognize is that if that's who is praying for every one of them had to be forgiven but we know that standing around that cross were sinners who would never be forgive. We know that participants in the betrayal. The trial and crucifixion of Christ are lost today. We know that Judas Iscariot is a condemned sinner today and so we are justified in asking the question who then did he pray for when he prayed father forgive them for they know not what they do when a part of the answer to that is included in the prayer itself. He did not pray for those who knew what they were doing and there were assembled at the cross. People who knew exactly what they were doing. There was Pontius Pilate who knew that Christ was an innocent man affirmed by many witnesses and by his own conscience, who thought he could wash his hands and water in front of the accusers and thereby somehow escape responsibility. He knew he turned an innocent man over him to death his wife and warned him to be aware, having been warned herself in a dream the night before. We know that around the cross. There were the religious leaders who were the accusers and murderers and manual. They had hired lawyers to bring false charges against him. They knew what they had done they knew he was an innocent man.

They knew that foreign fee they were selling him off. Christ did not pray for those who knew what they were doing. He said father forgive them for they know not what they do and so it was for a people who knew not what they were doing in the crucifixion of Christ that he prayed so as we consider this prayer on the cross to get a grasp of what is happening, we need to review a little bit of exactly what was taking place there because what was taking place at Calvary had been portrayed in the history of Israel for centuries sunset yesterday evening until sunset this evening is Yom Kippur Jewish holiday.

The day of atonement, the instructions for the day of the atonement of their day of atonement were given the 16th chapter of Leviticus will not turn there. But let me just review with you what the involved.

On the day of atonement, the high priest of Israel was to take a bullock and place his hands upon its head, thereby signifying the transferral of the priest sins and corruption to the substitute beast and he was then kill the beast and sacrifice it and take its blood into the most holy place. Most of you I'm sure understand something of the architecture. If we can call it that, of the tabernacle in the wilderness. There was the outer courtyard, where was an altar for burning the sacrifices and behind it the laver a container of water for the ceremonial washings of the priests and then behind that was a compartment divided into the front of it being the holy place in which was to the right a table with fresh show bread baked and placed on a daily a picture of Christ, the bread of life and to the left, there was an altar candlestick with the lamps burning with especially compounded oil. A picture of the spirit of God, illuminating for the people of God and against a curtain behind. There was an altar of incense where incense burden signified the rising of the prayers of God's people up to heaven and into the holy place the priests of Israel went daily in the ministry of the tabernacle, but behind the holy place was the most holy Place or holy of holies and within the holy of holies there was one item of furniture. It was the ark of the covenant that wooden box overlaid with gold on the top of which was the mercy seat, a gold covered covering of the ark, and inside that box that ark of the covenant was a copy of the tables that God had given to Moses about the tables that Moses had provided.

After the first ones were broken and there was the law all that man had broken in that ark of the covenant and on the day of atonement as the priests sacrificed a block unto which his own sins and been transferred.

He then would take the blood from that offering into the most holy place and would sprinkle that blood on the mercy seat atop the ark of the covenant when that blood was placed upon the ark of the covenant God, who lived among the people of Israel in that most holy place in the form of a cloud God, looking upon the blood would not look through the broken wall that was housed in the box beneath and so is the priests sprinkle the blood upon the mercy seat signified that a God prescribed substitute for the priest had died and that shedding and spreading of his blood showed that indeed an acceptable sacrifice was provided. Priest would then leave the most holy place and return back to the courtyard of the tabernacle where there would be two goats chosen lots would be cast for the goats. One would thus be chosen as the scapegoat and the other as Jehovah's the priest again would lay his hands upon the head of these animals, having had his own sins, atonement by the offering and sprinkling of the blood he now could be an atonement and pure priest on behalf of the people and so placing his hands upon the heads of the goat again signified the priests transfer of the People's iniquities upon those substitutes. Scapegoat would then be carried by an able-bodied man outside the camp to such a distance, that it could never return signifying the one who would come one day and be announced with the words behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. And so the scapegoat a picture of Christ bearing away the sins never to be returned, and then Jehovah's guilt would be offered in sacrifice its bloodshed and once again the priest then would take that blood into the most holy place and sprinkle it on the mercy seat now making a covering for the sins of the people.

Now there were 2 Events Taking Pl. in each active atonement on the day of atonement. There was the sacrifice slain, and its bloodshed and then there was the sprinkling of that blood upon the mercy seat. If the beast was slain, but the blood never applied to the mercy seat, there would be no atonement both of those events had to take place in this set before us.

What is on the one hand, the application of the judgment of God upon sin in the shedding of the animals, blood, and in the other act, the pleading of the merits of the sacrifice offered sacrifices slain for sin well and good and necessary, then there must be pleading of that blood here all God in your most holy place is the blood of the victim to testify that atonement price has been paid and only as both of those events took place was there and atonement. Now that was repeated year after year. Through the centuries and we come back to Calvary, and is Jesus Christ is bleeding upon the cross, the Lamb of God is being offered in sacrifice, but it will not be an effectual sacrifice unless there is a pleading and intersession. Based upon that sacrifice. Thus, as Jesus prays, father forgive them for they know not what they do. He is in essence sprinkling the blood of the sacrifice he is interceding on behalf of the sinners as the priest did when he sprinkled the blood of the goat upon the mercy seat. Had Christ on Calvary simply shed his blood, but never offered intersession on the merit of that blood would not be an atonement. But in one act that day at Calvary. Christ offered his body as the sacrifice for sin and having done so, then prayed father forgive them pleading the merit of his sacrifice, thus becoming for us.

A perfect hi priest, having done this is a part of the enablement of him to say it is finished and atonement had been made and this is what Christ is doing at Calvary there must be the sacrifice. There must be the sprinkling.

He does so by offering himself and by praying. So with that understanding of what Christ is doing on the cross we approach the prayer that he prayed father forgive them for they know not what they do and it is Luke who in this passage reveals to us that immediately that prayer was answered, and answer that continues to be experienced by God's people to this day.

In the immediacy of the answer is seen in the fact that in an instant, a shearing sneering, blaspheming criminal is transformed and there becomes a new creature, old things have passed away and all things have become new because of Christ's intersession. And that's how everyone apostasy.

Christ intercedes for us so notice as we come down to verse 2039 and 40 that when the one criminal continued in his jeering and blasphemy. This thief who was suddenly converted rebuke to rebuked him for doing the very thing which he only moments earlier had been doing rebuked him for his sacrilege against the Lord Jesus Christ you notice in the 40th verse he says do you not have fear of God. Suddenly this man has the fear of God within him. That's a transformation from what he had been and then he continued in verse number 40 acknowledging in verse 41. We are getting what we deserve. Many death row protesters there are and never acknowledge their guilt. Not so this man now is ready to acknowledge. I'm guilty I'm getting what I deserve.

But he went further and said concerning Christ.

This man has done nothing amiss. In other words, he also acknowledges Christ's righteousness, how does he know that Christ has done nothing amiss except that the spirit of God himself has taught this man in an instant, transforming him from what he was to what he is under this day continued their in verse number 42, and said to Jesus, Lord, remember me. He confessed Christ as his Lord. He acknowledged there a superiority of Christ and the submission of his own heart and spirit unto Christ, he said, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. He recognized then and there that Christ is the king not how does one come to recognize that the man on the middle cross who is being crucified by the religious establishment combined with the Roman empires people present. How does one conclude this guy's a king and not only conclude that he is a king but conclude with confidence that he possesses a kingdom. Even now and then recognize that this king is the only means of entrance into that kingdom, and therefore he cries Lord, remember me when thou comest into my kingdom. Perhaps someone here tonight needs to join with the thief in that cry. Remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. Can you imagine for a moment at the crucifixion scene someone approaching that thief and by means of reasonable argumentation and persuasive discussion convincing him that everything he says about Christ is true so that if he changes his mind can imagine any human being doing that I cannot, for in fact what is happened with this thief is that there has been a complete gray wiring.

We might say of his perceptions of his conceptions of his observations. There has been an awakening within him. That is no less dramatic than a resurrection from death to life. Recall from John chapter 11 how the Jesus friend Lazarus had died and had been buried for days. DD in a cave that was his two to give a likeness to what we have with the thief. Can you imagine several of his friends entering into that tomb and walking the distance back in the cave with lantern in hand to the place where his wrapped body lies decomposing and then setting up shop there to endeavor to convince him that he ought to come alive again. Of course, the only thing that can bring Lazarus out of the two is the word of Christ. And so he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.

And Lazarus didn't get up and come out of that. He couldn't walk he was wrapped in the grave clothes which made at straitjacket around the house. He was catapulted out of that to be standing before the mourners and Jesus had to save lives and go in at the word of Christ. He was brought to life and brought out of that too alive by the very power of Christ word. Same thing happened to Calvary with the thief power of Christ's intersession removed his guilt removed his sin and re-made his person. He hanging on that Christ crossed became a new creature and it can be attributed to nothing but the sacrifice and intercession of Christ then and there.

The shedding of his blood and then the pleading of the merits of his blood and thereby the thief was transformed he was saved there on the cross and that day he would be in heaven with the Lord Jesus Christ. He would be glorified is notable that Luke also tells us that along with the jeering of the thief. The soldiers had participate but suddenly there is an equally dramatic transformation of one of the soldiers for we read in verse number 47 of the century, who has witnessed all that is happening, has heard that prayer from Christ then has heard Christ say to the thief, today thou shalt be with me in paradise and then is heard Christ say father into my hands I commend my spirit and hearing that the century. In response, surely this was a righteous man in the glorified God. Another man is he didn't know what he was doing. He was just a commander of the soldiers whose duty that day was to crucify three criminals had doubtless superintended such crucifixions. Many times the Romans weren't afraid to use that method with this day. It's not just another day on the job this day. He is overcome this Gentile overcome by the power of grace and brought to the point of confessing Christ is no mere man surely this is the son of God, and he glorifies God. You see, years later, the apostle Paul would speak to Timothy in the epistle to Timothy about his own undeserving this and wickedness.

He would say God have mercy because I did it ignorantly and in unbelief. Christ prayed for those who know not what they do. And Paul was among the ones he prayed that day at Calvary.

I was present as well. Not physically observing what was happening, but the Scripture teaches me in many points that Christ died as a substitute for sinners and if my God appointed substitute has fulfilled in my place.

The duty which is upon me, then I am deemed to have fulfilled that duty in my God approved substitute so that as Christ was hanging on the cross represented in him were all the people who would ever believe NBC. This I believe is why the prophet Isaiah foretold when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, Christ was not on the cross in medicinal ignorance about what he was doing the good Shepherd knows his sheep and he calls them by name and he leads him for a my follow, as Christ was being crucified for sinners near those sinners firmly was dying and he prayed father forgive them for they know not what they do. We get a prelude to that when in John 17, the great prayer of our Savior is recorded, where he said to the father I pray for them. I pray not for the world but for them which thou hast given. For they are thine.

There we have the biblical foundation of the prayer he prayed on Calvary when he said father forgive them. He was praying for those whom the father had given to and therefore the thief could not but be saved in the century, could not but be saved in the apostle Paul a persecutor of Christians could not let me see, and I could not but BC by the work of Christ in his sacrifice and intercession, and intercession, which continues forevermore because he came alive from the tomb and ever lives to make intercession for us. And so as we witnessed the scene of Christ on the cross, we find that when he to all human assessment was at his very weakest, beaten bleeding, dying that then he exhibited his greatest strength in snatching a sinner out of the very throat of hell to place him in paradise. We find as well that his foes, who seem to have won the day. The religious leaders of the Roman empire teamed up together for executives for his execution.

What could anybody do more amid those circumstances they are finished It's curtains. It's over. In fact on the cross he was expanding the boundaries of his kingdom.

He was not being defeated, but he was bringing in what two men would be the most unlikely candidate into citizenship forever in his kingdom of grace and truth.

What we see at Calvary is that Christ's intersession prevails will not fail. It cannot fail. He will save everyone whom the father has given unto him by means of his bloodshed and his pleading the merits of that bloodshed is intercession hymn writer puts it to us. This way rise. Mine's soul arrives, shake off like guilty fears. The bleeding sacrifice on vibrate half appears before the throne my surety stand.

My name is written on his hands. Christ prayed father forgive them for they know not what they do. He prayed for everyone who will ever BC, and that is why there see. He intercedes for his people without together as we pray our God and our father, we thank you for that man at thy right hand, exalted in the never ending glory who lives forevermore in order that he might intercede for us sinners. We thank the for the blood of his sacrifice, which is the only commodity that can redeem a soul from destruction. We thank you for that blood of Calvary, which is the only agent which can cleanse the stain of sin.

We thank the for the perfect intercession that grows out of that bloodshed and that his every prayer is the effectual fervent prayer of the righteous one may have resold hearing these words tonight know the cleansing and redeeming power of that blood in the saving power of Christ's intersession. We pray in Jesus name, amen

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