The answer is “Yes, God does accept death bed confessions,” and we have the perfect example of that in the conversion of the thief on the cross. Let’s read Luke 23:32-34, 39-43:

“There were also two others, criminals, led with Him to be put to death. And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left. Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.’….Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, ‘If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.’ But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise’” (NKJV).

This passage proves, beyond a doubt, that if one turns to Jesus Christ in their “dying hour” and confesses Him as their Lord and Savior, God will accept this confession of faith and save them. Think of it, this vile criminal had such a “change of heart” (compare this passage with Matthew 27:44) that he was willing to confess that he was a sinner who was “receiving the due reward of his deeds” (verse 41); in other words, he knew he deserved to die. Then he boldly confessed that Jesus was a “sinless Man” and that He was “Lord” (verses 41b-42a). The faith that had sprung up in his heart went even further, for he truly believed Jesus would “rise from the dead and come back to establish His kingdom” (verse 42b). These “confessions of faith” illustrate beautifully the truth of Romans 10:9, “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” The Lord’s response to these confessions assures us that this criminal, who had truly repented of his sins and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior, was indeed forgiven. The fact is the Lord Jesus gave him more than the assurance of forgiveness; He gave him the promise that he would “be with Him” in heaven that very day (verse 43). This no-good thief opened his eyes that morning as a condemned man but the moment he closed his eyes in death he found himself in heaven!

This not only teaches us that one can be converted on their death bed; it also teaches us the ONLY WAY ANYONE CAN BE SAVED, whether we are dying or have many years left to live. We are not saved by good works that we do; we are saved by believing in the finished work of Christ on the cross. “For by grace you have been SAVED THROUGH FAITH, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, NOT OF WORKS, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). In John 3:14-16 Jesus said, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

In closing, we need to point out that though we see there is hope for one to be saved on their deathbed, there is also a warning that one may still die in unbelief and perish forever. This is seen clearly in the “other thief” who said, “IF You are the Christ, save Yourself and us” (verse 39). This man did not see that he was a sinner worthy of death, nor did He recognize the Lord Jesus as the Christ who was a sinless Man and the Lord of glory. He was only concerned with being “saved from death by crucifixion” and failed to see that he needed to be “saved from perishing in hell.” His last words betray his unbelief in the little word “IF.” That word condemned him and instead of joining the Lord Jesus in Paradise (heaven) like his fellow-thief, he went out into a lost eternity, separated from God forever. So, though there is hope for one who may turn to Christ in true repentance and faith in their last hour, there is also the warning that one may remain hardened in their sins and reject Christ to the very end. In view of this warning, I would plead with my reader to turn to Christ NOW while there is yet time to be saved, for “Behold, NOW is the accepted time; behold, NOW is the day of salvation” (2nd Corinthians 6:2).  (451.3)  (DO)