Did the Criminal on the Cross Have Faith That Works?
After preaching and teaching from James 2:14-26, which tells us that “The Only Kind of Faith That Works, Is Faith That Works” someone asked a good question: what about the “thief” on the cross?
If “faith” without works is dead (Jas 2:17, 26), did the “thief” on the cross have true faith if he had little time for works? What if someone doesn’t have time for their faith to “work” (i.e., be put into practice)? How long does it take for salvation to “kick in”?
The Appeal of Grace, The Appeal of Faith
These were the main questions I meant to address with this study. Some of the main conclusions are as follows:
- Son of Man on a Mission: Jesus endures an painful, public, humiliating death on the cross while being mocked and insulted – despite his innocence [for “Son of Man” see Dn 7:13-14 cf. Mk 14:62]
- Name That Tune: Jesus fulfills Scriptures written in the Psalms (e.g., Psalm 22, Ps 31:5, Ps 69:21)
- Jesus fulfills the prophecy of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 53 (starting at Is 52:13) who was pierced for our transgressions (Is 53:5) while numbered with the transgressors (Is 53:12), and graciously making intercession for the transgressors (cf. Is 53:12)
- Perhaps one criminal finds Christ’s gracious intercession (Lk 23:34) so appealing, he has a change of heart
- The criminal then makes an appeal of faith – not only believing that Jesus can save him, but believing in Jesus to save him
- He puts his faith into action by confessing his sin and asking the King for mercy
- May we also graciously intercede for others
- May our gracious actions be so appealing, that others make an appeal of faith (cf. Mt 5:16)
There are two videos embedded on one of the later slides, but I only had time for one of them. I used this clip of an illustration of how gracious acts can be amazingly appealing to others.
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