Posted by Johnny Richards

Salvation. The process of asking Jesus to come and live in our hearts (my definition). Salvation: preservation or deliverance from harm, ruin, or loss. (Dictionary definition) As I read and re-read our passage of scripture for this past Sunday, each time it amazed me that the thief on the cross was able to be saved at the very last second of his life. He did not have to talk to a preacher, though he did have to ask Jesus to not forget him. He did not have to attend church, or go to Bible study, or do any of the things other people may have told him he needed to do to “gain” salvation.

While it is true he did not have to do any of those things, the fact is, we have the opportunity to do those things in order to help us grow in our relationship with God. I am glad the thief made the decision to ask Jesus to help him enter into paradise. But I am a little sorry that he did not get to experience any of the things we get to experience in our relationship with Christ. As I think back over the years of my life, I can remember some great experiences.

I think of homecoming services complete with “dinner on the grounds”. It was great seeing friends who are living in different areas coming back to church to laugh and fellowship together. I think of Revival services. Hearing a visiting preacher share about the love of God and how we can make our relationship with God what it needs to be was exciting. I think of Sunday school and Discipleship training (Training Union) where we would pray for friends and family and study God’s word. There are so many things I am thankful to God for the opportunity to experience.

While I am a little sad the thief did not get the chance to experience any of these things, I am amazed at the grace of God to allow salvation at the last second of the man’s life. He was on the cross, about to die at any minute, when he decided to take a step of faith and cry out to Christ (in a weak voice) and Christ answered his prayer. What Christ did should not really surprise any of us. We all have experienced that “last minute” salvation. You may wonder what I mean. After all, I accepted Christ at the age of 9. I am now 58 so my salvation was not last minute. Or was it? Was I promised my next breath? No. Was I sure I would be alive at the end of that day? No. So, in a way, I had, and we have all had, a last-minute salvation experience. None of us are promised our next breath. “None of us are guaranteed tomorrow”. We have heard this time and again. However, the thief on the cross proved that we need to take advantage of the time we have to enjoy a relationship with Christ.  Until next week…

Peace and Blessings…  Johnny