Sunday, July 28, 2013

Die Today, Sure of Going to Paradise?

Imagine you die today
I have to admit it; I can be naughty sometime. “Are you sure of going to paradise?” I asked my friend. He replied, “I wish I could be sure… but there’s no way for me to know if I’m going there or hell. So I try to live a decent life – if God willing – I will go there”. “But”, I continued, “wouldn’t it be nice to be sure that if you died you would go straight to paradise?” “Be real! No one can be sure of going to paradise…” “I’m sure” I said. And then he asked how and left. He probably thinking but I was praying.

Jesus was led out to be executed on the cross together with two criminals. They were nailed. Jesus was scoffed by the religious leaders and mocked by the Roman soldiers. Even the other criminal dares to join the crowd! “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!’ But the other criminal protested, ‘Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom’. And Jesus replied, ‘I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:39-42, NLT).

In essence Jesus answered him: I assure you (or ‘assuredly’. In Greek means ‘it is fixed’; ‘it cannot be changed’), today (‘that day’. Wow, that fast?!) you will be with me (Wow, with Jesus. What a privilege!) in paradise (Wow!). As soon as Jesus died and had finished taking the punishment that we deserve for our sin on the cross, as soon as he cried out, “It is finished!” (John 19:30) Jesus went immediately to his Father’s presence in paradise and the criminal who put his trust in and believe in Jesus went with him. His faith that saw beyond the present shame of Jesus to his coming glory saved him. The criminal confessed and repented of his sin (though there was no way for him to show the evidences of his conversion).

How can we get to paradise? Jesus is the way. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6) Life Application Study Bible rightly comments the verse: “As the way, Jesus is our path to the Father. As the truth, he is the reality of all God’s promises. As the life, he joins his divine life to ours, both now and eternity. Jesus is, in truth, the only living way to the Father”.

The faithful criminal don’t have to do good works, there was no way for him to put right the past, no money to give to the poor, no time to perform fasting, don’t have to be a special person, don’t have to be in a special place, don’t have to say special words or prayers, don’t have to have special accomplishments – all he have was faith in Jesus. By God’s grace through faith in Christ, he was saved (Note: Good works doesn’t save us, but we are saved for good works. True Christians will do good works if they really are being saved. Faith produces work).

Saved from what? He is saved (or set free) from the penalty of sin. He is saved (or delivered) from the power of sin. He shall be saved (or freed) from the presence of sin. One day Jesus Christ will come back to judge the world. On that day, he will punish those who rejected him, but those who trusted in him and followed his commands will be rewarded. He will deliver them from the presence of sin. And be with God.

I tell you, you can be sure of going to paradise.
I ask you, will you be there?
Will you confess your sin to God and give your heart and life to Jesus Christ?
Entrance into paradise is a gift from God,
received through faith in Jesus Christ
” (E.M. Hicham)
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