Not by Works Nor Deeds
By Paul Montgomery
Luke 23:32-38 And there were also two other, malefactors, led with him to be put to death. And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God. And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar, and saying, If thou be the King of the Jews, save thyself. And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin and Hebrew. This is the King of the Jews.
Who crucified the Lord? The answer is the children of God. It was not the non-elect, but the elect family of God. Jesus did not die for the non-elect; he died for the whole entire family of God. Who crucified the Lord? Who cursed the Lord? We did. We did not do the actual work of crucifying Him but in essence we did because our sins put him on the cross.
Matthew 27:22,23 Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto Him, Let Him be crucified. And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? Jesus said: Father; forgive them; for they know not what what they do. He was talking about those who were doing the actual act of crucifying him. But, I believe Jesus asks forgiveness for all his children. First John 2:12 I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his nameís sake.
The point I am trying to get here is that we are the ones who crucified Christ, and that all of our sins were placed on the cross. It doesnít matter how big or little our sins are, they all were placed on the cross. Because of that, All of our sins are Forgiven. If you are a child of God, then it doesnít matter how much wrong you have done or will do, you are going to heaven. For we believe in salvation by grace not salvation by works. Ephesians chapter two.
So, I guess this means that we can do whatever we want? Second Corinthians 5:15-17 And that He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. When we are regenerated, we do not want to live after the flesh any more. We wish to do right and to please the Lord.
So, we believe that it is by grace and not by our works that saved us from our sins. Now, if we believe in this, then we cannot say if someone is a child of God or not. Because whatever good or evil we do, that doesnít make us or a child of God. And of course, we donít have the authority to judge. But, by the evidence of oneís fruits we can say that they Can be a child of God. Matthews 7:16,17 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. By the fruits of men we can see evidence if they are of God.
There are many people, present and past, who I believe to be children of God.
Letís take this thief on the cross for an example. Matthew 27:38 Then wereí there two thieves crucified with Him, one on the right hand, and another oní the left. We see that there were three men being crucified here. Two have nothing to~ do with our salvation, but one does and that is Jesus Christ. We should mostly be concerned with Jesus because his crucifixion saved us, but let us not forget the two thieves. I believe there is a lesson to be learned from these two
In Luke we see that they are called malefactors. The meaning I get from this is evildoer. In other words, a sinner. So Christ had two sinners crucified with him.
Matthew 27:44 The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth. Mark 15:32.. And they that were crucified with him reviled him. The definition I get for the word reviled is to reproach or to be abusive in speech. And, the meaning I get for the word reproach, is to accuse of and blame for a fault or to bring shame and disgrace upon. And, I am sure you know what abusive in speech means. So these two thieves in a way are cursing the Lord.
Have you ever noticed in Matthew and Mark both men cursed the Lord? Matthew uses the word thieves in the plural meaning more than one. Mark uses the word they as in more than one. But, in Luke only one cursed Jesus and the other defended him. Luke 23:39-43 And one of the malefactors which hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. Here is one who is rebuking or testing Jesus. But, the other answer and says ... Doest thou fear God, seeing thou are in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this man hath done nothing amiss. This is evidence that this man is a child of God, for only a child of God can see that he is a sinner. He feels a condemnation for the deeds that he has done. He sees that Christ has been condemned by the courts of man for something he was innocent of. This is the mind of a child of God; seeing that he is a sinner and that Christ died for his sins.
Now I know that this malefactor is a child of God. A non elect would not asked the Lord this question. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise. Oh, what comfort came to this man. I am sure that he still felt the pain of being crucified, but I am also sure that his mind was on heaven. I have seen others on their death bed where their body was filled with pain but because their minds were on Heaven, they did not feel that pain. I know that this malefactor is now in heaven and is experiencing salvation. Also, on the short time that was left on the cross, he felt the hope that you and I have right now. This hope is eternal life that brings peace to our minds. Romans 8:24; For we are saved by hope...After Jesus told him that he will be in paradise, I am sure he had this hope.
If this thief is not a child of God, then we must say that Peter and Thomas were not children of God. For Peter denied the Lord three times. Luke 22:55-62, while Thomas doubted Christ, John 20:25. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. We see how the Apostle Paul stood and watched Stephen being stoned to death. Acts Chapter 7:58. Also, how he committed men and women to prison because they worshipped Christ. These three men at sometime in their life have cursed the Lord one way or another. How can these men be children of God? There is a simple answer to the question and the answer is grace. We all are sinners and again Iíll say that it is by the grace of God that saved us from our sins.
Brothers and Sisters I believe that these three and the thief are children of God. For we see in Acts 2 that~ Peter was filled with the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost. We see in John 20:27,28 that Jesus came to the disciples and said unto Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side; and be not faithless, but believing.
And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and My God. Only a child of God would be in Christ. We see in Acts chapter nine when Paul was on his way to Damascus, how the Lord spoke unto him saying, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And in the fifteenth verse we see the Lord speaking to Ananias, Go thy way; for he (Paul) is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and the Kings, and the Children of Israel. And this thief asked unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest in thy kingdom.
Brothers and Sisters have you ever denied the Lord? Have you ever doubted the Lord? Have you ever acted against a child of God as Paul did? Maybe not in the same way, but in like manner? And when times have gone bad, have you ever questioned the Lord why He is not helping you? We are like this thief on the cross. At times we ask why the Lord is not helping us. At times we are like Peter, too embarrassed or frightened to be known as children of God. There are times that we have doubted the Lord as Thomas. Like Paul we have persecuted the Lord.
Are you happy that it is not by works to receive eternal salvation? If it were so, then none of us would go to Heaven. Reading second Timothy 1:9 we see salvation is not by works. Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began. In Romans 9:11-13 we read that God loved Jacob and hated Esau even before they were born. For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth; It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. Before Jacob and Esau could do any good or bad, the Lord chose who he would love and hate.
So as this thief on the cross, we see that it is the Lord that saved us from our sins and that he paid the price you and I should not pay. Then we say, as this thief, ... Lord remember me and He says, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.
Brothers and Sisters, if you ever are down and distressed in this life, remember this verse. Someday, we all shall be with our Lord in Paradise. God be with you always.
In Christian Love,
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Not by Works Nor Deeds