You are referring to our January 30th post where one asked about the sinner’s prayer. We saw that there is not one example in all of Scripture of the so-called sinner’s prayer where one says something like this: “God I know I’m a sinner but I believe that Jesus Christ died for my sins so I could be saved. I accept Him now as my Lord and Savior.” We also saw that every time the gospel was preached in the book of Acts they ended their message by appealing to the sinner to “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 16:31; 10:43; and 13:38-39). Now let’s look at Luke 23:39-43 verse by verse:

Verse 39: “Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, ‘If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us’” (NKJV). We learn from Matthew 27:44 that “the robbers who were crucified with Him reviled Him.” So, initially both robbers were in a state of unbelief and mocked the Lord Jesus.

Verses 40-41: “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.’” What was it that made the one thief change his mind about Christ? Ah, we firmly believe it was the Lord’s words in verse 34, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Those gracious words, along with the Lord’s calm and humble dignity as He bore the reproaches of men, went straight to the heart and conscience of the thief and brought him to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The change in him was radical, for he went from a mocking criminal to a man who was willing, in spite of the jeering crowd, to condemn himself and to defend the Lord Jesus. When he said, “This Man has done nothing wrong,” we believe he laid hold of the truth that Jesus was a sinless Man, one who “did no sin” (1st Peter 2:22). His faith went beyond that, as we see in the next verse.

Verse 42: “Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” He not only saw that Jesus was a sinless Man, but he saw that he was “the LORD of glory”; that is, that he was not only a Man but He was “God manifest in the flesh” (see 1st Timothy 3:16). His faith went even further, for in saying, “remember me when You come into Your kingdom” he realized that Jesus would rise from the dead and one day return to earth to establish His kingdom. I have often said that this man is a perfect illustration of Romans 10:9-10 which reads, “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. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Faith sprang up in this penitent thief’s heart and his mouth followed by confessing Jesus as Lord, the One who would rise victoriously over the grave.

Now one might think, “Isn’t the thief’s request (to be remembered by the Lord when He sets up His kingdom) an example of “the sinner’s prayer?” Not at all, for as we saw he had already laid hold of Jesus as his Lord and Savior and confessed Him as such. In other words, he was ALREADY SAVED before he uttered his request to the Lord. The “sinner’s prayer” that is used in evangelical circles today involves a sinner “saying the prayer” TO BE SAVED. The thief didn’t “ask in order to be saved”; he “asks the Lord to give him a place in the coming kingdom.” And guess what? HE GOT A LOT MORE THAT HE ASKED FOR, as we see in our last verse!

Verse 43: And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” The thief was looking forward to place in Christ’s kingdom in A FUTURE DAY, but the Lord assured him a place in Paradise THAT VERY DAY! What did the thief do to deserve a place in heaven with Christ? He did what every sinner needs to do in order to be saved and go to heaven; he “believed on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 16:31). Has my reader put their faith in Christ crucified and risen?  (358.3)  (DO)