Gospel Day 10 That Whosoever: Digging Deeper

Digging Deeper Days

Finding the original intent of Scripture and making good application to our everyday lives as we become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Today is 2-for-1 Friday!
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The Questions

1) What does this exchange tell us about the assurance of the gospel?

 2) Both men spoke to Jesus, why did Jesus only promise Paradise to one of them?

 3) What does it mean to “be in Paradise”?

Luke 23:39-43

39 Then one of the criminals hanging there began to yell insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

40 But the other answered, rebuking him: “Don’t you even fear God, since you are undergoing the same punishment? 41 We are punished justly, because we’re getting back what we deserve for the things we did, but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

43 And he said to him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
and on all that your hands produce.”

Original Intent

1) What does this exchange tell us about the assurance of the gospel?
Christ was crucified between two criminals, both of whom were equally deserving of death for the crimes they had committed. One received the gift of eternal life, while one did not. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:18, “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” In these two men, we see a microcosm of the eternal outcome for the entire human race. For every single person who has ever lived, or ever will live, each are faced with a choice to either submit to Christ as Lord or reject Him entirely. There are no half-way options. Full belief or complete rejection. Christ Jesus, disgraced, mocked, spit upon, beaten beyond recognition, deserted by His disciples, reviled by His nation, forsaken by His father, falsely accused, struggling for breath, losing blood, held up on a hill as a prominent thief, while entirely innocent, breathes out promised, assured, certain hope. He stays on the cross precisely for this thief, for his salvation, and our own. Christ on a criminal’s cross for our sin, with bold authority goes beyond the thief’s request to “remember him” and promises the thief Paradise today. Only a King can give that kind of promise. Not a dying king, but a king with full rights, rule, and authority. In His death, Christ opened Paradise for all who, like the thief, would believe and trust in His work. 

2) Both men spoke to Jesus, why did Jesus only promise Paradise to one of them?
Only Luke’s gospel records this incredible event in such detail, but both Matthew and Mark record, “In the same way even the criminals who were crucified with Him taunted Him.” All three men were on their crosses for hours, and both criminals witnessed the unique events surrounding Jesus’ crucifixion, including Him calling out, “Father forgive them, they do not know what they are doing.” At one point, both robbers mocked Jesus, but there came a moment when one man changed his language. While one continued railing at Christ, “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”, the other man rebukes the thief and his brief speech arrests our attention. “Don’t you even fear God, since you are undergoing the same punishment? We are punished justly, because we’re getting back what we deserve for the things we did, but this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me, when you come into your kingdom.” The mocking criminal had the audacity to mock the Savior while still insisting He save him if He could. This man concluded that if Jesus could save, He would save. He also indignantly felt he somehow deserved to be saved. In sharp contrast, the other thief begins with an interesting question about “fear(ing) God”. Proverbs 1:7 notes that the “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” and the psalmist writes, “The LORD takes pleasure in those who fear Him.” This man admits his guilt as a sinner deserving punishment while recognizing that Jesus was blameless. Then the sinner-turned-saint places full trust in Jesus as He not only recognizes that Christ is blameless, but also assumes His deity by assuming He has a “kingdom”. Unlike the mocking criminal, this man doesn’t assume he deserves to be saved, only that Jesus “remember” him. This is the faith that gives eternal life! Like the Father welcoming home the prodigal son who returns hoping to simply be a servant, Jesus assuredly responds, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with Me in Paradise!”.

3) What does it mean to “be in Paradise”?
The Paradise Jesus spoke of is a real, physical place and entrance to it is immediate upon death in this life. (2 Corinthians 5:8) When Jesus rose from the dead, He had a real, physical body with supernatural abilities. His was a resurrected body. In Paradise, we will have these new bodies with which to enjoy the delights of eternity.
Jesus used the word “paradise” on purpose as it hearkened back to the original Paradise where Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden. (Genesis 2:8-9) It was stunningly beautiful, perfect in every way, but the most precious aspect was the unity between created beings and the Creator God. Sin had left no rift in their relationship. God walked in the Garden with Adam and Eve and they enjoyed sweet communion together. (Genesis 3:8) Later, in John’s Revelation, he wrote, “To the one who conquers, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” (Revelation 2:7) This is the same Paradise Jesus references to the thief on the cross. What makes “Paradise” truly paradise is the presence of the Almighty God living once more in restored perfect peace with His created beings, us!

Everyday Application

1) What does this exchange tell us about the assurance of the gospel?
One day, all of us will give an account for our lives. As we stand before the Judgement Seat of Christ, only one thing will matter: our acceptance or rejection of Christ as the sacrifice who died in our place. Did we claim Him as our Lord, or merely give a lip service nod to Him as the other thief did? Only one way to enter Paradise with the Savior. Both men were criminals, just like all of us. Both of them were condemned to death because of their actions, just like all of us. Maybe you never murdered or made an armed robbery, but you and I have both sinned because we have fallen short, far short, of the perfect standard of holiness. God is the author of life, and holds all authority, He alone determines the standard of holiness and He says it’s faultless without blemish or stain just as He is. (Leviticus 11:44-45) One malicious thought. One rude remark. One lustful look. One hint of anger. One white lie. Each mark us as less than holy. Each separate us from a just and holy God. Praise God, one thief recognized Christ as Lord, saw his own sin, and trusted Jesus for eternity as his remaining breaths were few! How grievous for the one thief who saw Christ, was prompted by the other thief to reconsider, yet still rejected. Eternity hung in the balance that day for those two thieves and for us. Choose, Sister! Choose life! And if the blessed Savior is truly yours, preach this gospel to yourself again today and every day, praising Him for who He is, what He has done, and then extend this assured hope to all! 

2) Both men spoke to Jesus, why did Jesus only promise Paradise to one of them?
Paradise was made available to both dying men that day as Christ opened Paradise for every “whosoever” that ever has or ever will live. Yet, only one sinner humbled his heart by fearing God above himself and became a saint. Both men mocked Christ, and so do each of us until one radical moment when we become cognizant of the deep reality of who we truly are: sinners estranged from a Holy God. As A.W. Tozer said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” Who do you say God is? Who are you in light of that? The only way we can be sure who God is and who we are is what God has said about Himself in Scripture. His Word says He is holy, spotless, blameless, and we are His enemies because we have chosen sin over holiness. A gap exists. One we cannot cross. One criminal felt if Jesus could save, He would automatically save him. But that isn’t justice. We have sinned. A just God cannot simply ignore our sin or its consequence: eternal separation and death. It can be easy for us to think along the same lines as that thief. I’m not “that bad”, if God really does love everyone, He can’t possibly send anyone to Hell. But these are lies. God doesn’t “send anyone to Hell” and He most certainly is capable of saving as proved by Jesus’ own words, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with Me in Paradise!”. We choose Hell, eternal separation from God, when we arrogantly ignore Who God is (holy) and who we are (sinners). Like the rescued criminal, Paradise is ours when we take ownership of our own sin, recognize we deserve Death, but place our faith unequivocally on the Holy Christ.

3) What does it mean to “be in Paradise”?
While Jesus spoke of the physical, perfect Paradise detailed in many places all over Scripture from Old Testament to New, “to be in Paradise” has its beginnings here on earth as we ask Jesus to be our Savior just like the thief. The criminal’s time on earth was nearly over, he had no time to deepen the relationship he had just begun with Jesus. For us, we have the opportunity to use whatever time we have remaining, to grow in that relationship once it has begun. Because the essence of “Paradise” is being with Christ, we can experience the joys of Paradise now! If you have surrendered your life to God, begin dwelling with Him today! Every moment that passes is an opportunity to grow deeper and know Him more! Sit with the Savior, be consistent in meeting with Him over His Word. Speak with Him continuously, both verbally and in the depths of your soul. Worship Him, relish in His presence, and grow deep in truth as His Spirit faithfully shows your heart what it looks like to live in Paradise before you actually get there!

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Digging Deeper is for Everyone!

1) Take this passage (or any other passage).
2) Read it, and the verses around it,
several times
3) Write down your questions
as you think of them.
4) Ask specific culture related questions and be ready to dig around for your answers. Google them, use www.studylight.org, or look them up in a study Bible and read the footnotes (click on the little letters next to a word and it will show you
other related verses!). (www.esvbible.org)
5) Check your applications with other trusted Christians that you are in community with and embrace the fullness of God
in your everyday!

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Why Dig Deeper?

Finding the original meaning is a huge deal when we study Scripture and can make all the difference in our understanding as we apply God’s truths to our everyday lives.

In our modern-day relationships, we want people to understand our original intention as we communicate; how much more so between God and humanity?!

Here’s a little bit more on why we take Digging Deeper so seriously.

Study Tools

We love getting help while we study and www.studylight.org is one of many excellent resources, providing the original Hebrew (Old Testament) or Greek (New Testament) with an English translation.

Want to know more about a specific word in a verse? Click on “Strong’s Interlinear Bible” then click the word you’d like to study. Discover “origin”, “definition” and hear the original pronunciation – That Is Awesome!

Want more background? Click “Study Tools”, then pick a few commentaries to read their scholarly approach, keeping in mind that just because a commentary says it, doesn’t mean it’s true. (just like the internet :-))

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