Pentecostal Church Mannheim
THE BEGINNING OF ETERNITY
Luke 23,40-45 But the other answering rebuked him, saying,
Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And he said
unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said
unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.
Here on the cross at Calvary, we have an excerpt from the conversations that took place between three people who were condemned to death and were under great pressure of inhumane pain. Two of this people were nailed to the cross due to theft and murder, as punishment and to scare and be a warning for everyone else. Both of them were guilty, which one of them himself also acknowledged.
However, the one who was in the middle of them who being crucified, he was not a murderer or a thief, and yet he had been nailed to the cross because they wanted to see him dead. There were several reasons for his death sentence: Pilate knew that they had handed him over due to being envious. The leaders of the Jews deliberately stirred the crowd up to get their own will through. The scriptures tell us that the saviour would come. They thought, salvation – yes - but they did not think that he would do it in the way that Jesus had promised.
And yet things had to be the way that He said: He who had no sin bore our sins on the cross. The prophet Isaiah wrote about him: He bore our transgressions, our pain, and punishment for our iniquities. Only in this way could He pay the price which the law required. His life for ours, that is why He came into the world - to die so that we would have life through Him. From the conversation of those being crucified we hear how one of them mocks and cries out, “If you are the saviour, save yourself and us.” The leaders of the Jews who were standing in front of the cross and were blaspheming him, also cried out the very same thing.
Whoever thinks like they did is not familiar with the scriptures and Jesus, who is the author thereof. The other thief and murderer noticed that Jesus is different because he did not curse his persecutors. He did not even start threatening in the hour of death and was silent like a lamb. At some particular time whilst on the cross, the thief repented of his deeds. Mercy was something that he did not expect in the least; they had released Barabbas, but for him, today would be the last time that he would see the sun, then eternity would also begin for him. Full of fear he cried out to Jesus, not really expecting much. He felt that his guilt was too great for God to be able to forgive him. Was it not the case, that as according to the law, murderers had to die. Yes, and yet again, yes. Nevertheless, he cried out to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” It was not much and yet it was the only hope which he had. Perhaps things would still turn around for him. If I die, then I might not have to end up at the eternal place of the damned and ungodly. If I ask Him, perhaps He will have mercy - this is the only thing which I am still able to do. I should have listened to John and let myself be converted - now it is too late. How many people make big mistakes and only then realize when it is almost too late? Here is someone who sincerely repents, who is not playing games with God, and makes the request, “Remember me.” And the cry of his soul, “Can I still be forgiven before I go out into eternity?” I must ask Him, He cannot say more than no. What more can He do than show contempt for my deeds? Minutes of uneasiness go by, then the answer comes from Jesus, “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” Paradise is the place for the deceased righteous, who are awaiting their resurrection into eternal life. Through grace, this former thief has now received certainty for his salvation. Despite his pain on the cross, he was able to look out into eternity and see that everything was going to be good.
But how is it with you? Have you obeyed the gospel? The Bible is not some kind of a fairy-book, but rather it is the Word of God, from the One for whom it is impossible to lie. Heaven and hell are not fiction, but on the contrary, they are a terrible reality. Are you ready for eternity? In which place will you be? You have to make your reservation now. Not only you but also every single individual on this earth. Whoever does not have a desire to be saved and is not obedient to the gospel of Jesus, he will miss the door and will not receive salvation. Eternity is time without end, which is difficult for us to perceive, and which happens to lay ahead of every person and which begins after his death. This is the reason why Jesus is so serious about this subject, and this is the reason for the cross upon which He died - for a message which every human being needs to hear. God is offering a new covenant which never existed before. This is the last one before the last great judgement. Whoever is still able to mock here, must be very sick and worldly minded to be able to ignore such a day in the future. Eternity will begin – nobody can do anything about it to stop it. And yet, nonetheless, it is still possible for a person to get things right with his Creator and to obey His gospel! rw