This post contains the content of a pamphlet, which includes a photograph relevant to the passage, I distribute. I hope you find this post encouraging. If you would like some copies, please email me.
LUKE 23:39-43 GIVES HOPE TO THE HOPELESS
If you are facing a seemingly impossible situation, God’s Word gives you certain hope for your eternity per Luke 23:39–43 (NLT):
39 One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!” 40 But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? 41 We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” 43 And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
If you have a seemingly hopeless situation, please feel free to write it down. Let’s see how your situation compares to that of the two criminals in the above passage.
The two criminals crucified on either side of Jesus faced eminent death. They were nailed to their crosses and were about to experience their just punishment for violating Roman law. At this point they were helpless to save themselves.
Our first parents – Adam and Eve – violated God’s law resulting in their separation from God and resulting physical death and a spiritual death sentence. Whether we think it is “fair” or not, their death sentence has been passed down to all of mankind. There is nothing anyone can do on their own (e.g., good works, generosity, kindness, going to church, etc.) to bridge the separation between God and themselves. Like these criminals, everyone who has ever existed is helpless to save themselves from an eternity in hell.
But, the criminals’ situation was not as desperate as it appeared because Jesus was close. Nothing stood in the way of them calling out to Him for salvation. Likewise, for all of mankind no matter the circumstances, Jesus has always been just a plea away.
These two criminals had the choice to respond to Jesus’ presence, and they did so in eternally different ways. Like the criminals, each person on the face of the earth has a choice to accept or reject God’s free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.
The first criminal rejected Jesus, sealing his destiny to an eternity in hell. Today, a person has that same option to reject God’s free offer of salvation through Jesus Christ. But, if they do, just like the first criminal, they will seal their destiny to an eternity in hell.
The second criminal appreciated that he was a man who deserved death because of his sins. He also appreciated that there was nothing he could do to change his hopeless situation. Yet, he recognized that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah who could save his soul from hell. So, he responded in faith, asking Jesus to remember when He came into His Kingdom. And Jesus answered that man’s cry with the most comforting words he could have heard, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Like the second criminal, today, a person has the option to cry out to Jesus to save them. And, if they do, they will experience the same acceptance by Jesus Christ in response to their cry for salvation.
If you are saved, you can take comfort in the truth that Jesus remembers you, and you will spend eternity in His presence.
However, if you have never repented of your sins and trusted alone in what Jesus did for you on the cross, you need to skip to the back page. Then, please (1) read through “God’s Plan of Salvation” so you can understand what God did for you through His only unique Son, Jesus Christ, and (2), from the bottom of your heart pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” meaning every word. If you do, you will be reconciled to God – saved – through Jesus Christ.
Upon your salvation, you must engage in daily Bible reading. The Gospel of John is a good place to start. Also, you must find a spiritually solid Bible-believing church that (1) teaches that the sixty-six books of the Bible are the inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word of God, (2) believes in the doctrine of the Trinity, which means that there is one God who eternally exists as three distinct Persons — the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – and each Person is fully God, and (3) teaches that salvation is by grace through faith and not by works (e.g., water baptism by immersion).
Please do not make the mistake of thinking that once you become a Christian, your life will become easy. Most likely, it will become more difficult. God’s blessing of salvation and life’s difficulties are not mutually exclusive. Jesus told His disciples, “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.” John 15:18.. Always keep in mind that you have an eternal home in heaven waiting for you per John 14:2–4 (NLT):
2 There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.”
After reading this pamphlet, do you feel that your situation is not as hopeless as you first thought? I hope that is the case.
For more information, please contact Steve Belsheim at email@example.com. (Devotional No. 3 Rev 1.0)
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
GOD’S PLAN OF SALVATION
In the beginning, God, who is holy, created the entire universe. As a part of His creative actions, He made humans in His image to know Him. For a while, everything was right between God and our ancestors, Adam and Eve. But Adam sinned, and his sin was passed down to all of humankind whereby we became separated from God. Nothing we could do on our own could bridge that separation so that without God’s intervention, hell would be our eternal destination.
Fortunately for us, in His great love and mercy God provided humankind with the only means of salvation, which is through Jesus Christ who is God’s only unique Son. While retaining His deity, God the Son became a man in Jesus, lived a perfect life, and died on the cross, thus fulfilling the law Himself and taking on Himself the punishment for the sins of all those who would ever repent and trust in Him for their salvation. Jesus rose from the dead, showing that God the Father accepted Christ’s sacrifice and that God’s wrath against us has been exhausted. He now calls us to repent of our sins and trust alone in what Christ did to save us.
If we repent of our sins and completely trust in Christ alone that He died for our sins and rose to life from the dead, we are born again into a new life, an eternal life with God.
Scripture References: Genesis 1:1, 27, 31; Habakkuk 1:13; Genesis 2:7, 18, 21-25; Genesis 3:1-7, 23-24; Isaiah 59:2; Romans 3:19-20, 23; 5:17-19; Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 6:23; John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; 1 John 4:10; John 3:16-18; Mark 1:15; Romans 1:4; 4:25; John 3:5-8; 1 Peter 1:3.
Lord, Jesus Christ, the only unique Son of God, thank You for Your free gift of eternal life. I know I’m a sinner who cannot save myself no matter what I do, and I deserve to spend eternity in hell. But, I know that because You loved me so much, You voluntarily died on the cross for me taking my sins upon Yourself, and You physically bodily rose from the grave showing that Your sacrificial death was sufficient payment to give me eternal life in Heaven. I now repent of my sins and trust alone in what You did for my eternal salvation. Please take control of my life as I now receive You as my Lord and Savior. Thank You so much for saving me. I am now Yours forever! (Scripture references: John 1:1-4, 11-14; John 3:16; Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 3:21-26; Isaiah 53:4-6; Mark 1:15; Acts 16:31; Acts 4:12; Romans 10:9-10, 13; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; John 10:27-29).