Messiah Lutheran Church 6201 W Patterson Av
Chicago IL 60634
773-725-8903
 

March 2016

ALMOST PARADISE

When Jesus said his first words from the cross, "Father forgive them for they do not know what they do", He not only was including the people who had plotted and been responsible for his being nailed to the cross he was hanging on, He also was including the rest of mankind whose sins compelled Him to offer up His life as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins ofthe world, including you and me!

And yet, even though Christ's forgiveness was made available to all, not everyone will be saved.

In the two thieves hanging next to Jesus, we see a glimpse of what will take place on the final -Iudgment, when a great separation will take place between those who believed in Jesus as their Savior and those who rejected Him as Savior, known as the sheep and the goats.

On one hand of Jesus was a thief, and on the other hand was another thief, both sinners, deserving of temporal and ultimately eternal punishment by God. And, yet, somehow the Holy Spirit was able to work saving faith in one of these thieves, as he personalized what Christ was accomplishing right before Him, forgiveness of sins and salvation through His sacrificial death on the cross.

While the other thief rejected Christ and His work of salvation and is destined for the Lake of Fire prepared for the devil and his angels. Just think moments before this same thief had joined the other thief in mocking Jesus, a sinner headed down the same path of destruction.

And so God in His grace can do a similar work on any penitent sinner, no matter how far they have fallen, transforming them from being a sinner destined for hell into a Saint destined for Paradise! God would have all to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.

But, as mentioned before, not all people will be saved. Only those who believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, through the Holy Spirit working faith in their hearts, will be saved.

Because of the work of Jesus Christ, atonement for all sin has been made. What awesome news is that for us to believe, as it was to the thief on the cross! So that when you die, you can be assured that your soul will be in paradise, as you await the resurrection of your body at the Final Judgment.

But sadly, people do reject Jesus as Lord and Savior, as the other thief on the cross did, and will be condemned to Hell. Romans 10: 17 tells us that faith comes from hearing and hearing by the word of God. In this case the penitent thief beheld the Word of God made flesh, dying for his sins right before him, and the Holy Spirit worked faith in his heart to

confess Jesus as His Lord, to whom He made the request, "Remember me!" To which Jesus responded, "Today you will be with me in Paradise!"

As a result he became part of the flock of the Good Shepherd, whom Jesus knows by name.

And his name has been written in the Lamb's Book of Life!

Put yourself in his place, and behold by faith the Savior hanging on a cross for you! The crucified, derided, and dying Christ right there before you for your sins. How would you respond?

MICKEY CATES IN HIS SONG ENTITLED, "HOW COULD YOU SAY NO" ASKS:

Thorns on his head spear in his side Yet it was a heartache that made him cry He gave his life so you would understand

Is there any way you could say no to this man?

If Christ himself were standing here Face full of glory and eyes full of tears

And he held out his arms and his nail printed hands Is there any way you could say no to this man?

How could you look in his tear stained eyes, Knowing it's you he's thinking of?

Could you tell him you're not ready to give him your life?

Could you say you don't think you need his love?

Jesus is here with his arms open wide

You can see him with your heart if you'll stop looking with your eyes He's left it up to you, he's done all that he can

Is there any way you could say no to this man?

How could you look in his tear stained eyes Knowing it's you he's thinking of

Could you tell him you're not ready to give him your life?

Could you say you don't think you need his love?

Thorns on his head your life in his hands

Is there any way you could say no to this man? Is there any way you could say no to this man?

Jesus was surrounded by scoffers, just as He continues to be surrounded by scoffers today.

But it's not always a good idea to go along with the crowd, especially when the crowd is on the broad path that leads to destruction.

The first words that Jesus uttered form His cross was a prayer for His enemies.

In these second words we find an answer to this prayer, when he says to the penitent thief on the cross, "Today you will be with me in Paradise!

And i.f you are reading this newsletter, penitent over your sins and confessing Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then you too are an answer to Jesus' prayer for His Father's forgiveness.

The Good Shepherd knows you by name

Your name has been written in the Lamb's Book of Life ....

And you too can be assured that when you breathe your last, you will open your eyes and find yourself with Your Savior in paradise! Amen

Copyright 2016 Messiah Lutheran Church All Rights Reserved