Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"
An old poem "glories" in the cross of Christ "towering o'er the wrecks of time." There at His cross all humankind line up under two clearly demarcated categories. We all are defined as "thieves," either (a) the repentant one who begged Jesus, "Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom," or (b) the unrepentant one who refused to believe what his fellow thief had seen--that the One between them was indeed "the Savior of the world." No third person was crucified that day; we are all "there" on His right or left.
What did the believing thief "see"?
Don't despise his understanding. The greatest scholars in the world can humble themselves to learn from him. You can learn to "see" a lot of theology in just a few moments when you are crucified side by side with the Son of God--if you will believe. Truth flashed into the mind of that thief: this Man in their midst is "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). He is "the Savior of the world" (John 4:42), Paul's "Savior of all men" (1 Tim. 4:10). He is the second or "last Adam" who has reversed all the condemnation that the first Adam brought on the human race.
Anyone can learn an enormous lot when at last he faces the real thing known as death. The repentant thief "saw" that when Christ took away the "verdict of condemnation" that Adam brought on us all, He gave us instead forgiveness, His "verdict of acquittal" (Rom. 5:15-18, Revised English Bible; Eph. 1:3-7). Don't under-estimate that saved man's knowledge: Jesus gave him an "A+" that morning. His "curse" was transformed into justification. Any theological seminary would be honored to have that repentant thief as a professor.
But if we "see" that Christ has given us all the "gift" of "justification unto life," is that a heresy--being "born justified"? It's not heresy. We are all "born condemned" in Adam; so why can't we be "born justified" in Christ if He is "the Savior of the world," "the Savior of all men"? You believe like the one thief, or you dis-believe like the other.
--Robert J. Wieland
From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: June 1, 2003.
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