Date: 1 November, 2015
Text: Luke 23:39-43
Title: The Deciding Day
Adonirum Judson "Friend... who influenced him... was a member of the class ahead of him. In after years, his name was charitably disguised as "E_," but he was almost certainly Jacob Eames of Belfast, Maine, "Amiable, talented, witty, extremely agreeable in person and manners, but a confirmed Deist. A very strong friendship sprang up between the two young men, founded on similar tastes and sympathies; and Judson soon became, at least professedly, as great an unbeliever as his friend."
def. Deist : belief in the existence of a God on the evidence of reason and nature only, with rejection of supernatural revelation (distinguished from theism ). 2. belief in a God who created the world but has since remained indifferent to it.
quote: Continued from above - "To the Golden Shore"
question: What if this was your last day on earth? Are you ready to die? What if you only had today to get ready for eternity.
Our Scripture story this morning in Luke 23:39-43 is about 2 men who only had a few hours to get ready for eternity. This was there deciding day. They would have no further opportunity for mercy.
Joel 3:14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.
WE ARE LIVING IN OUR DECIDING DAY. Have you decided for Christ? Perhaps you don't know where you stand this morning. Our story contains two men who will chose opposite ways. One will get off the cross and go to Heaven. The other will get off the cross and go to @#!*% . We don't know their names but we can call these two thieves, the Skeptic and the Seeker. Which are you this morning?
I. The skeptic.
exp. This man is the Deist or the Atheist. If he believes in God, he doesn't believe much about God and doesn't believe in the revelation of God'sWord.
A. Rail against God.
39 And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying,
exp. People in pain often strike out at anything and everything around them. They blame God for their problems. This man is on the cross because he is a thief, but he has the audacity to blaspheme the Holy Son of God.
Matthew 27:43 He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God. The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.
ill. Man in Clermiston - 73. "I've been a devout atheist for 30 years. I was watching Richard Dawkins this morning. Religion causes all the problems in the world!"
ill. Young man in Bonnyrigg, "I want nothing to do with Christianity. It destroyed my family!"
ill. Other's "If there is a God why does he let all the good people die or allow children to be harmed?"
app. Oh the bitterness inthe heart of man. We ought better to ask, "Why would he love you so much that he would crucify His Son for you?" "Why would he mercifully give you an opportunity to be confronted with the Gospel?" "Why hasn't he cast you straight into @#!*% when it is what you deserve?" "Why do you blame God when you don't begin to be smart enough to understand the perfect justice of God which will deal with every supposed injustice."
B. Doubt Jesus.
If thou be Christ,
def. Christ: Messiah
exp. The skeptic is full of unbelief even when brought into contact with the very Son of God. This man is right next to Jesus but can't see Him because his heart is full of unbelief.
ill. Adonirum Judson grew up in a minister's home. But, it wasn't until after he left home that he came to faith in God. If he had just believed the truth He had received, he could have been saved those wasted years.
Heb 3:12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.
app. Do you have an evil skeptic's heart this morning? The thief on the cross thought Jesus was a liar - AND HE WAS WRONG.
1 JoHN 5:10 He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.
C. Desire to be freed but not forgiven.
save thyself and us.
exp. He thought the cross was @#!*% but it was not. He didn't want mercy, forgiveness, everlasting life. He just wanted a reprieve from what he viewed as @#!*% .
ill. Speaking to unbelievers, "This is @#!*% ." They are not....
· eternally damned
· falling in a pit
· gnashing their teeth in pain.
exp. The thief on the cross was in a bad way. BUT IT WAS NOTHING COMPARED TO @#!*% AND EVEN THOUGH HE WAS IN IMMENSE PAIN HE COULD HAVE TURNED TO CHRIST INSTEAD OF TURNING AWAY.
app. Do you only "believe in God" to escape your problems? Your not burdened about your sin and your need for forgiveness. You just can't stand you burden and think that if God exists he ought to change your circumstances in life!
note: He commanded Jesus to deliver him and he didn't - thereby proving to his unbelieving mind that GOD HAS NOT COME ANYWHERE CLOSE TO HIM.
app. Are you waiting for God to answer your unbelieving skeptical command? Don't bother. He won't respond to your unbelief any more than he did to the Skeptic on the cross.
transition: However, there was another man on the cross. He is not a skeptic. He is a seeker.
II. The seeker.
40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying,
A. Fear God.
Dost not thou fear God,
exp. This thief rebukes the one who is blaspheming Jesus. He is not yet born again. But, he has a fear of God. He can't abide hearing his friend blaspheming God.
note: The skeptic does not fear God.
ill. James Huckabee - breaking down on the way back from the refugee camp and having to push their vehicle through mud which covered them up to their waste. Children running up from everywhere and wanting to help - but they are fearless. Because of that one slipped and had his foot run over by the vehicle.
exp. Fear is a good protection. If you don't fear God, you will not seek to stay away from His wrath.
Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.
B. Forsake Sin.
exp. They were tried and found guilty of thievery. It is very likely that the skeptic thief is in denial and lying about his guilt. Nowhere does he acknowledge his crime. However, the seeker is transparent about his sinful failure.
1. The Roman judgment upon Jesus was upon both of them.
seeing thou art in the same condemnation?
exp. They didn't have the wrath of God and the sins of the world like Jesus, but what they had was the same earthly sentence.
2. Their sin had been found out, tried, and punished.
41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds:
· This man doesn't try to justify his thievery.
· He doesn't exclaim that the punishment is greater than the crime.
· He takes the full weight of his guilt and admits that he is worthy of what He has received.
ill. The prodigal son - wasted his father's money - his inheritance. He didn't try to come to his father - blaming circumstances, bad company, etc. He owned his crime against his father.
Luke 15: 18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,
19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.
22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:
23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:
24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.
exp. There is something refreshingly wonderful about humility. It doesn't deserve mercy, but it finds mercy.
app. If you are too proud to confess your guilt and the justice of your eternal damnation, you will not find mercy. But, if you will own your sin and your punishment, God in His love will accept you into His family!
C. Face the cross.
but this man hath done nothing amiss.
exp. I believe that these men have been witnesses to much of the passion of Christ. They probably heard Pilate say, "I find no fault in Him." This thief wasn't self consumed like the other man. He is able to think about the innocent man who would be dying beside him on the cross. Jesus was dying in the place of their friend, Barrabus. Barrabus should have been on the centre cross.
questioned: Are you so consumed with your problems, that you neglect to think about the innocent man who died on the cross for your sins.
ill. Witnessing to people and asking them about God, Jesus, eternity and they say, "I never think about it."
exp. Skeptics are consumed with their lives. Seekers, take time to think about Jesus dying on the cross - innocent and obedient. Paying the price of their sins.
Isaiah 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
D. Find forgiveness.
42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
exp. This was a tough man. Perhaps he had taken the crucifiction without shedding a tear. But, if there are tears in his eyes at this part of the story, I believe it is because he has finally seen Jesus for who He is. The Seeker is suffering with the king of Heaven.
note: This man will be able to show us the nail prints in his own hands that are so like our Lords. He will tell us how he almost went to @#!*% but that God in his mercy put him on the cross next to Jesus.
app. The blood of Jesus began immediately to save sinners and has not stopped ever since! Do you know the joy of forgiveness.
E. Follow Jesus.
43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.
exp. He would walk into Heaven with the Lord Jesus Christ on this very day.
note: Friends - he being dead yet speaketh. He couldn't get off the cross and witness. He only had a matter of hours to follow Jesus. But, those who have found Christ through this story, have mercifully been put upon the account of this poor thief on the cross. The cross was divided. Jesus was in the middle. Heaven and @#!*% were on either side. The Seeker and the Skeptic would part ways for all eternity. It was a deciding day!
Conclusion: Friend, what side of the cross are you on? Are you a skeptic or a seeker? Are you on your way to Heaven or @#!*% ?
Adonirum Judson had a deciding day. It was the day his Deist friend went to @#!*% . God in his mercy had let him listen to his friends deciding day.
Friends - it is a deciding day. It may not be your last. But, it could be. Won't you....
· Fear God
· Forsake Sin
· Face the cross
· Find forgiveness
· Follow Jesus
2 Corinthians 6:2 (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)