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Instant Grace Received by the Thief on the Cross

These are notes from Pastor Robert Taylor’s sermon at Santa Barbara Seventh-day Adventist Church on 8 June 2013.

During a British conference on comparative religions, experts from around the world debated what, if any, belief was unique to the Christian faith. They began eliminating possibilities. Incarnation? Other religions had different versions of gods appearing in human form. Resurrection? Again, other religions had accounts of return from death.

The debate went on for some time until C. S. Lewis wandered into the room. “What’s the rumpus about?” he asked, and heard in reply that his colleagues were discussing Christianity’s unique contribution among world religions. Lewis responded, “Oh, that’s easy. It’s grace.” Only Christianity dares to make God’s love unconditional.

What does its mean to be in a saving relationship with Jesus Christ?

Grace is offered even to those that don’t deserve grace.

Ephesians 2:8-9
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

There are only 2 principles that God uses to deal with human beings: Law or Grace. Sinners deserve death. We cannot be delivered from this penalty. Only grace saves us.

All other religions teach that humans are saved by their works. Let us look at what Jesus has done for the sinner.

1 Peter 3:18
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit.

Jesus bridges the Gap between God and Man. Jesus has purchased my Salvation by His Blood.

1 Peter 1:18-19
Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

1 John 2:2
He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.

1 John 4:10
In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Ephesians 1:7
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.

We can have forgiveness as Jesus covers us.

Romans 3:23-24
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

When Christ is received as our Personal Savior, we are saved through Grace. Most of the world is familiar with the following Bible verse:

John 3:16
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Ellen White wrote in Testimony to Ministers page 370 that the message of Grace must be preached. Let us now look at what it takes and how quickly we can have Grace.

Terms of Salvation

Luke 23:42-43
Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”

43 And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

In these two short verses, The Thief ( sinner ) was saved in just 2 sentences. The thief saw himself. He saw Jesus. The thief realized his sinful life compared to the sinless life of Jesus and appealed to Jesus in a humble faith. The thief went from raunchy to redeemed instantly. The thief went from a Law Breaker to a Law Keeper, from the Son of the Devil to the Son of God, from Sinner to Saint, from eternal damnation to eternal salvation.

Matthew 5:48
Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

Did the thief become perfect that fast?

Steps to Christ page 43.
God’s promise is, “Ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13.

The whole heart must be yielded to God, or the change can never be wrought in us by which we are to be restored to His likeness. By nature we are alienated from God. The Holy Spirit describes our condition in such words as these: “Dead in trespasses and sins;” “the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint;” “no soundness in it.” We are held fast in the snare of Satan, “taken captive by him at his will.” Ephesians 2:1; Isaiah 1:5, 6; 2 Timothy 2:26. God desires to heal us, to set us free. But since this requires an entire transformation, a renewing of our whole nature, we must yield ourselves wholly to Him.

The warfare against self is the greatest battle that was ever fought. The yielding of self, surrendering all to the will of God, requires a struggle; but the soul must submit to God before it can be renewed in holiness.

The government of God is not, as Satan would make it appear, founded upon a blind submission, an unreasoning control. It appeals to the intellect and the conscience. “Come now, and let us reason together” is the Creator’s invitation to the beings He has made.

The bottom line is Beginner’s Salvation is so important. It is all a Gift: Grace, Forgiveness, Salvation, Righteousness, Eternal Life, Sanctification, Mercy, Redemption.

Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

John 1:12
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.

1 John 5:11-12
This is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

If I ask Jesus to be my Savior, He will respond. Don’t make it complicated. The thief found it all immediately. When God looks at you, all God sees is His Son Jesus! The Lamb of God takes away the sins of the world, rejoice in your redemption!

Romans 10:13
For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Ephesians 2:8-10
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Jesus wants to be the center of your Life. When your friends-family see you, who do they see? Are you extending Grace-Kindness-Love? This reflection of Jesus to the world is Christianity’s greatest gift. Even during strife and trials and difficulties, we can still share that Grace and Mercy to other people!

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