Thursday, April 8, 2010
Witnessing Tips from a Thief
In honor of the Easter season I thought it would be a good idea to look at the thief on the cross next to Jesus at the Crucifixion. Jesus gave His disciples, and us today, the charge to tell people about Him (which we call “witnessing”), and I believe we can learn a thing or two from this thief.
First, we see that Jesus had two converts while He was dying. One of the Roman solders who was working the executions that day was forced to conclude that “truly this man was the Son of God (Mark 15:39).” And then there is the thief who was crucified next to Jesus. We see his prayer of salvation: “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom (Luke 23:43).” While Jesus was dying he had more converts to Christianity than most Christians will have in their lives. This is a great reminder to us as Christians that we should always be mindful of the unsaved people around us, and their eternal destination if we do not tell them about Jesus.
Another thing we can learn is the importance of planting a seed. This is not gardening talk, but more Christian terminology. We might tell somebody about Jesus, only to have them reject the message, but this is not a total loss. It plants a seed that might be cultivated over time and still lead to that person’s changed life.
That thief on the cross next to Jesus clearly had a seed planted in his heart before he was crucified. How else could he have come to his conclusion about who Jesus was when Jesus barely spoke that day? The thief obviously knew the Scriptures, and that there were prophecies that the Son of God would come to take away the sins of the world, and then later establish a kingdom. He knew the Scriptures, and had most likely rejected the idea that this carpenter was the one prophesied about. But that seed that had been planted continued to grow in his heart, and he is in heaven today because of it. Christians, even if you do share your faith but don’t see converts, keep your chin up. You are planting seeds.
We can also learn that, while Bible knowledge is important, that is not what brings salvation. The thief did not ask to go to paradise with Jesus, but that is where he went that day. He thought he would immediately become part of some new kingdom on earth, but that kingdom will not become literal until after the Great Tribulation. The point is this: you might not know the ends and outs of the book of Revelation, you might be totally confused on issues of free will or election, and you might have no clue what “propitiation” or “substitutionary atonement” are, and that’s OK. While those things are good to know, they are not requirements for your salvation. What are the requirements? Believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and allow that belief to change your life so that you live for Jesus as the Lord of your life.
Finally, we can learn that we can learn from a thief. Yes, this convicted career criminal can teach us sanctified believers a few things. Even though he never told another person that he found the one the Scriptures prophesied about, his final recorded sentence has testified for two thousand years.
May we do the same.