The Dying Thief in a New Light
Charles H. Spurgeon
But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom (Luke 23:40-42).
A great many persons, whenever they hear of the conversion of the dying thief, remember that he was saved in the very article of death, and they dwell upon that fact and that alone. He has always been quoted as a case of salvation at the eleventh hour, and so, indeed, he is. In his case it is proven that as long as a man can repent he can obtain forgiveness. The cross of Christ avails even for a man hanging on a gibbet and drawing near to his last hour. He who is mighty to save was mighty, even during His own death, to pluck others from the grasp of the destroyer, though they were in the act of expiring.
But that is not everything that the story teaches us. It is always a pity to look exclusively upon one point and thus to miss everything else-perhaps miss that which is more important. So often has this been the case that it has produced a sort of revulsion of feeling in certain minds so that they have been driven in a wrong direction by their wish to protest against what they think to be a common error. I read the other day that this story of the dying thief ought not to be taken as an encouragement to deathbed repentance. Brethren and sisters, if the author meant-and I do not think he did mean-that this ought never to be so used as to lead people to postpone repentance to a dying bed, he spoke correctly. No Christian man could or would use it so injuriously. He must be hopelessly bad who would draw from God's long-suffering an argument for continuing in sin.
I trust, however, that the narrative is not often so used even by the worst of men, and I feel sure that it will not be so used by any one of ...
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