The Thief On The Cross

Faith-only proponents hold up the example of the thief who was crucified alongside Jesus. Christ not only forgave him, but also made a promise:

And Jesus said unto him, “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” — Luke 24:43

The thief was not baptized, and yet Jesus took him into His kingdom – gave him forgiveness and salvation. Why?

Quite simply, it’s because baptism had not yet been instituted as the means to enter the kingdom. One could not be baptized into Christ’s death because Christ had not yet died. Baptism into the body of Christ was part of Christ’s last will and testament, which did not take effect until Jesus died.

For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh; how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. — Hebrews 9:13-17

As God, Jesus has the power to forgive sins. While He walked the earth, He forgave sins even if those people had not been baptized, because, as stated above, His death had not yet come to pass to bring the testament into effect.

When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.” But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, “Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?” And immediately when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, He said unto them, “Why reason ye these things in your hearts? Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, ‘Thy sins be forgiven thee’; or to say, ‘Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk’? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins” (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) “I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.” And immediately he arose, and took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were amazed, and glorified God, saying, “We never saw it in this fashion.” — Mark 2:5-12


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