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What Does Jesus’s Promise to the Thief On the Cross Mean?

Core Christianity / Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier
The Truth Network Radio
March 27, 2023 6:02 pm

What Does Jesus’s Promise to the Thief On the Cross Mean?

Core Christianity / Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier

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March 27, 2023 6:02 pm

Episode 1192 | Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier answer caller questions.

Show Notes


Questions in this Episode


1. Does 1 Samuel 15 teach that God can regret things?

2. Is the rise in transgender cases reflective of “trading the truth for a lie”?

3. What are other false gospels to be aware of?

4. What does Jesus’s promise to the thief on the cross mean?

5. What do the terms “works-righteousness” and “antinomianism” mean?

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What does Jesus' promise to the thief on the cross mean? That's just one of the questions we'll be answering on today's edition of CORE Christianity. Well, hi, this is Bill Meyer, along with Pastor Adriel Sanchez, and this is the radio program where we answer your questions about the Bible and the Christian life every day.

You can call us right now with your question at 833-THE-CORE. You can also email us your question at Well, in case you haven't heard, there has been another tragic school shooting, this one at a Christian school in Nashville, Tennessee. Three adults and three children were killed. This happened at Covenant Presbyterian Christian School there.

We know the shooter was a teenage girl, and she was actually killed by the police. And we really want to just take a moment here at the beginning of the show to pray. Let's pray for those families and all of those kids who were impacted by this tragedy today. Yeah, Bill, I just want to invite those of you listening right now to join together in praying for the families of the victims, just asking for God's mercy to be poured out. Heavenly Father, we join our hearts and our minds together right now and cry out to you, asking for your mercy.

We hear tragic stories like this one. And so, Lord, we come before you and just say, God, have mercy. Have mercy upon the people there, those who attend this school. Have mercy upon the families of the victims. I pray that your Holy Spirit would intervene in a powerful way, bringing comfort in this very difficult situation. God, that your church there especially, would come together in comfort and care. Father, we ask for your help and pray, O God in heaven, that you would make an end, bring an end, Lord God, to these terrible stories that we keep hearing about over and over again.

God, that you would grant wisdom and righteousness and justice. And Lord, we cry out to you in Jesus' name. Amen. Amen. Well, let's go to the phones.

We have a call coming in from Alberta, Canada, from Brandon. Brandon, what's your question for Adriel? In verse 11, God regrets that he made Saul king, but then in the same passage in 1 Samuel 15, verse 29, Samuel says, Also the eternal one of Israel will not lie or have regret, for he is not a man that he should have regret. So I know that it's not contradictory because the word of God won't contradict itself, but if you could give a little exposition about this passage, that would be appreciated.

Yeah, thank you. Excellent question, Brandon. So it's interesting, right, because when Samuel's talking there in verse 29, he says, Look, the glory of Israel will not lie or have regret. God, as he is in himself, when we think about God, we don't use or can't use, or at least assume that they mean the same thing. When we use language like God has regret, or God was angry, or God was pleased, it doesn't mean the same thing from when we use that language about ourselves, because God is qualitatively different than we are. And so, Brandon, one of the ways that people have addressed this problem is they say, Look, everything in Scripture, and this is just true, everything in Scripture, as God is being described to us, it's almost like an analogy. Because God, as he is in his essence, no one can grasp. We can't, with our finite minds, grasp God as he is in his essence. And so when he reveals himself to us in his word, he gives us these sort of creaturely analogies. He can read things like this where it talks about God having regret, or God being angry.

And that communicates something to us that's true about God, insofar as he's helping us to understand something about his law, about his word, about his person. But we have to be careful that we don't assume that that means the exact same thing as it means when we have regret. Because God, as the prophet Samuel said there in verse 29, doesn't have regret like a man.

He is not a man that he should regret. And so then, in terms of making sense of what it says earlier in verse 11, where the word of the Lord came to Samuel, I regret that I have made Saul king, or the text that you bring up in Genesis 6, you know, when God is flooding the whole planet. Here's, I think, what we have to say. We have to say, look, this is something true that God is revealing to us about himself. Certainly we know that God, again, because we're thinking about God as the Lord, he knows all things.

So he's not caught off guard by anything. So then, well, why would he regret? If God already knew, why would he regret? Well, what's being communicated to us is the fact that sin is a grievous thing, that Saul's disobedience was a grievous thing, an offense to God and to God's law. And what God is doing here is actually, I mean, he's just being faithful to his word, what he had outlined, you know, the curses for disobedience back in Deuteronomy chapter 28, for example. So this isn't, you know, God going back and forth, changing his mind. But what's being communicated to us is the displeasure that the Lord had on the basis of Saul's, because of Saul's disobedience, rejecting again and again the word of the Lord. And so God rejected him. And as a result, David is anointed as king in Israel. We're going to see that in the very next chapter. And so I would say we just have to understand God's revelation to us as a kind of analogy. God giving us this baby talk, helping us to understand something true about him.

But it's not it's not exhaustive. And we ought never to think of God as, you know, in heaven, you know, having a bad day because of our sins or something like that. No, he's he's the eternal, immortal, unchangeable one. And that's precisely what Samuel says there in verse twenty nine. He's not a man.

He's not like us. And yet he communicates to us in these creaturely ways so that we can have an understanding of the God that we worship. Thanks for your question, Brandon.

Great explanation. Thank you for that, Adriel. This is core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez.

If you have a question about the Bible or the Christian life doctrine, theology, you name it, we would love to hear from you. Our phone lines will be open for the next 20 minutes or so. And here's the number to call. It's eight three three the core.

That's one eight three three eight four three twenty six seventy three. Let's go to John calling in from St. Louis, Missouri. John, what's your question for Adriel? Yeah. Yeah.

Sorry. I hate to hear about that shooting in Tennessee school, but, you know, it seems like the trends just, you know, keep pointing towards the, you know, innocent children or innocent lives being lost. But I want to ask you a question about the transgenderism.

Now, when it says in the Bible that that they exchange the truth for a lie, is that part of the the it's those, you know, the sexual orientation of, you know, boys not being boys or girls not being girls. And when did that. Why did that suddenly transition so quickly in this country? That this transgender is all right.

I mean, he's always on the fringe. But how did it all sound? It seemed like suddenly just became acceptable in churches. And now it's now slowly invading all aspects of life.

But is that part of the delusion where they exchange the truth for a lie? And thanks. And thanks for your show. I appreciate it. Yeah, John. So you bring up the question of transgenderism and then also just when did this start?

How did this happen? There is, I think, a good historical analysis written by historian Carl Truman. He has a book called The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self. It's a pretty it's a pretty meaty book. He's also written one I think that's a little bit more accessible.

I think it's called Strange New World or something like that. But you might want to check out Carl Truman's work. And one of the things he highlights is just as a society, we've gone from having this this view of ourselves where our identity is something that's given to us from the outside. Right. You're born into a family of merchants or blacksmiths. And that's just who you are. Right.

You're given this identity too. As time has progressed and technology has advanced, something's very good. There's also been this sort of shift in society where we've sort of come to believe that we can be and do whatever we want to be and do. And especially when you think about some of the developments in psychology and the way people think about personhood over the last several hundred years, it makes sense that all of a sudden people would come to a place where now they're starting to say, well, you know, my my my true identity is rooted not so much in something objective like biology or what God says about me, but in my my feelings and the way that I feel deep down inside in my psychology. And so he gets into that.

And I think that I think that there's there's that's a helpful place to look in terms of trying to trace some of these ideas out. But certainly you ask, is this a part of the strong delusion, this confusion that's out there with regard to things like gender identity? Now, of course, there are, I think, significant medical issues and mental health issues. And then there's also just the broader culture, which is but, you know, hook, line and sinker into into ungodly, untrue understandings of the self and personhood and sexuality. And I think that's rooted in sin and blindness. And so, you know, the text you brought up is Romans Chapter one, where Paul says, speaking of those who reject God's natural revelation, just the truth of God in nature that we see all around us. He says, God gave them up to the lusts of their hearts, to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the creator who is blessed forever.

Amen. For this reason, God gave them up to dishonorable passions for their women, exchange natural relations for those that are contrary to nature. And the men likewise gave up the natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves a due penalty for their error. Now, there specifically, I think the apostle Paul is condemning homosexuality, gay and lesbian relationships, that as sin. But I think with that, you also have the natural distortion and sinfulness that we see so evident in things like the transgender movement as well, and all the things that go along with that. And so I do think that you're onto something. And of course, I do also think that there are people who really do have serious mental health issues that need desperate help and encouragement, but also to be called to the truth of God's word and the gospel. And one of the things we're seeing in our culture, in our society today, is instead of wanting to do that, many people are just saying, peace, peace, where there is no peace. Believe whatever you want about yourself, do whatever you want.

And we're seeing the devastating effects of that upon our society. And so we ought to pray and cling to God's word and to the truth of God's word. Thanks for reaching out. So well said.

Thanks for that, Adriel. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. Love to hear from you.

Maybe you've got a particular passage in the Bible you've always wondered about to kind of stump you and you'd like some clarification on it, or maybe there's something going on in your life and you really could use prayer or you're facing some type of persecution at work or school. We'd love to hear from you. Here's our number. It's 833-843-2673.

That's 833, the core. Let's go to Eric calling in from Iowa. Eric, what's your question for Adriel?

Hi. Last week you talked about the prosperity gospel and you mentioned that there's other false gospels. I was wondering what are some of the other false gospels that we're exposed to here in the United States that we should be aware of and not fall prey to? Yeah, Eric, that's a great question because I think we often sort of beat up on the prosperity gospel, I think in part because it's so prevalent and there are so many people who fall into that error. But there isn't just one false gospel out there.

There are many. Now the first thing I want to say is what's so important for us is to know the true gospel, to be grounded in that. Because the fact of the matter is we're spending our day trying to study and respond to all the false gospels that are out there.

We're just going to be overwhelmed. There's new ones, if you will, cropping up every single day. But some of the ones that have been more prominent, not just today but throughout the centuries, I would say the false gospel of legalism is one, and I'm getting this from the book of Galatians. That is the idea that you can make yourself right, justify yourself before God. That by your good works, by the things that you do, God is going to be appeased and grant you entrance into heaven on the basis of your inherent righteousness.

So that is justification by law keeping. And I say this is something that's prevalent today because I think that there are churches that maybe would say we believe in justification by faith alone. You're saved by grace. But then essentially what they do is they heap the law and condemnation back onto people and say, well, if you don't do these things, you're not really saved. Okay, well, that sounds very much like the error that Paul is addressing in the book of Galatians because he was writing to a church, the church in Galatia, that was being deceived by a group of agitators, people that were coming along and saying, okay, you've accepted Jesus, that's great, but you also need to do these other things if you want to be justified, if you want to have a right relationship with God. And he says in verse six of Galatians chapter one, I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel. Not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. And so anytime we have the true gospel of Jesus, maybe people talk about Jesus and grace and mercy and the law, but then that's distorted.

Well, that's when you run into real problems, issues that can strike at the vitals of the message that we preach. So you have legalism, I think, which sometimes presents itself as good news, a gospel news, but in reality is deadly, and that's what Paul is addressing there with the Galatians. You also have other, I think, false gospels.

Maybe we might say that the gospel of antinomianism, the gospel of lawlessness, which says, oh, yeah, Jesus died for your sins, and now you're free from the law. You don't even have to follow God, really. I mean, your sins are forgiven, you do whatever you want.

There's no such thing as sin for you anymore, and so go in peace and do your thing, and there's no real sense of even a relationship with God. How many people have gone to some Christian concert or something like that and said a prayer to accept Jesus into their hearts, and they think, okay, that's the gospel, and they don't really understand. They think it's some sort of decision or something like that, and then they live their lives not believing, actually, in the true gospel of the forgiveness of sins. Instead, they just go on living in sin and rejecting that true gospel. So those are some big-picture things.

You have this legalism, you have this lawlessness. It's so important for us, then, as I said, to understand the true gospel, which is what God has done for us in Christ to forgive all of our sins, to lose us of our sins, to set us free in His Son, Jesus. We're justified and called to walk with Him, to glorify Him, with the hope of the resurrection in the future, that glorification that God is accomplishing all of this, the work of God, which should lead to our rejoicing and thanksgiving. So that's what we need to recover, the truth of the gospel, and be grounded in that so that when we're confronted with these other strange ideas that are out there, whether it's the prosperity gospel or the gospel of antinomianism or whatever you want to call it, we'll be able to identify them and reject them and cling to the truth. God bless.

That is so well said, and I heard this analogy a while back, Adriel, that they train U.S. Treasury agents to identify counterfeit money by studying the real thing, by the print, the color, the numbers on it, the image, and then they get that down so well that they can easily spot a counterfeit. And that's what we're called to do as believers, just like you said. Amen. I think that's so important because I think people can get so caught up in, boy, there's this false teaching there and this heresy there and that false gospel creeping up. Well, yeah, we need to guard against all of that, but the way we guard against it is by knowing the real thing, by walking with Christ and embracing the truth of the word. That's what fortifies us against the deceptions that are out there.

Amen. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. I want to tell you about a great resource we have. A lot of people call us asking, how do I figure out God's will for my life? And that's exactly what this resource talks about.

Yeah, sorry to almost cut you off there, Bill. I was just so excited about this resource. It's called What is God's Will for Me? And if that's a question you've been wrestling through in your own life, I want to encourage you to go to and get a hold of this booklet for a gift of any amount. It's going to walk you through how to discern the will of God from a biblical perspective.

And so I know that you'll appreciate this. It would also make maybe a helpful gift to pass along to someone who's trying to discern the will of God in their life right now, too. And as I said, head over to to get a hold of this resource. Love to get in your hands? Go to forward slash offers and look for What is God's Will for Me?

Well, we do receive voicemails here at the core. And here's one that came in from one of our listeners named AJ. My question is, when Christ was on the cross and the thief said, Remember me when you come into your kingdom. And he said, Today you will be with me in paradise. That meant that him and that thief went into hell that day and let out the people that were waiting in paradise across the great gulf from those that were in Hades to let those out so they could be free and go with Christ and that thief.

Is that true or not? Where's that found? Have a nice day and thank you. Okay, so when Jesus said to the thief on the cross, Today you're going to be with me in paradise. What exactly did he mean? You're referring to what's sometimes called the descent of Christ. Christ victoriously after his death, proclaiming his victory over the grave, if you will, being vindicated. And this being something, there are different ways in which Christians historically have talked about this, but this picture of the harrowing of hell, if you will, Christ releasing the captives.

I don't know. I think we'd be reading into Jesus's words a little bit more there if we're going to just say, Well, that's where the thief on the cross is going. I think he's saying, Look, this person has faith. I mean, even this sinner, this thief on the cross who's been condemned for something, I mean, something serious enough that it would lead to his crucifixion.

Here's a guilty person crying out for mercy, essentially, there in the final moments of his life. He sees that Jesus isn't a fake. He sees how Christ is being treated. He knows that Jesus is the righteous one. And so he says, Remember me in your kingdom. And Jesus's response, I think, again, I don't think we need to read into it too much. I think he's just saying, You're going to be with me in paradise. And we believe that all those who believe in Jesus Christ, that their souls, the moment they die, are perfected in holiness, that they immediately pass into glory.

And I think that's what happened with the thief on the cross. And that's what every believer, as I said, looks forward to, that transformation, if you will, being perfected in holiness and looking forward to the resurrection of the dead, that restoration of all things on the final day. God bless.

So well said. Thank you for that. By the way, we have a wonderful Easter devotional we want to tell you about that we're encouraging you to read throughout Holy Week. It's called Sayings from the Cross. You can find that by going to forward slash offers.

Let's go to Dale who's calling in from Nebraska. Dale, what's your question for Adriel? Hey, earlier I heard you speaking about works righteousness or something like that. And the other term that came to mind was antinomism that I draw a blank on. I was wondering if you could explain those two things a little thorough and slower this time, bud.

Yeah, Dale, thanks. So somebody called asking about different false gospels that are out there. And I said, well, one is the false gospel of works righteousness. That is that we can be declared righteous before God on the basis of our own works, justified on the basis of our works. And we know that we can't be saved by works. I mean, read basically any of the Pauline epistles.

It makes it absolutely clear. Paul makes it absolutely clear that we're not saved by our works, by what we do, but by the work of God for us in Jesus Christ. And so a person who says, I'm saved by my works, this gospel of quote unquote works righteousness, that's not a true gospel.

That's a false gospel. On the other end of that, antinomianism is the idea that the law of God doesn't have any place in the Christian life, that it's just been totally set aside, that we don't have an obligation, a calling upon us as believers to obey God's moral law. Now, we do have that calling, not so that we can be justified, but as the justified, as those who have been freed from our sins, we are called now as believers not to be antinomianisms. Namos is the Greek word for law, so anti-law, not to be antinomians, but to be those who love God's law and follow it by the grace of the Spirit. Again, not so that we can be justified because we can't be justified by the law. That's the false gospel of works righteousness, but out of a heart of thanksgiving and joy because we've been justified as sinners by the blood of Christ and the mercy of God. God bless. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-02 14:32:08 / 2023-04-02 14:42:03 / 10

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