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By Curtis Pugh


The Lord Jesus was nailed to a tree between two guilty thieves. Matthew 27:44 says, The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth,” referring to the mocking words of those who passed by. Both thieves mocked the Lord Jesus with the same words as the others. Their mocking included these words: “He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God,” (Matthew 27:42-43). Both were clearly unbelievers just as the other mockers were.

Luke records additional details giving us the testimony of the one thief: “And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. 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,” (Luke 23:39-41). While one thief continued mocking the Lord Jesus, something happened to the other one: something inward, something that changed his mind about himself, his sinfulness and about the Lord Jesus.

This thing that happened is called the new birth or the birth from above. Theologians call it regeneration. It is an instantaneous work of the Holy Spirit by which a sinner is changed inwardly. It results in spiritual sight or understanding causing the unbeliever to suddenly become a believer in the person and finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ. In speaking about this inward work the Lord Jesus likened the Holy Spirit to the wind. He said, “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit,” (John 3:8). That old word “listeth” means pleases or chooses. The idea is that the Holy Spirit is neither controlled nor influenced by anyone or anything outside Himself. He does as He pleases!

There is no other way to explain what happened to the changed thief. He had once had a carnal mind. Romans 8:7 says: “...the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” The impossibility of a sinner changing his mind is clearly stated here. But God can and does in an instant give elect sinners a change of mind, an understanding of spiritual things so that he believes savingly in Christ.

The believing thief turned to the Lord Jesus and said, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom,” (Luke 23:42). Have you experienced this new birth by which you were changed from an unbeliever into a believer in the Lord Christ Jesus? The Lord Jesus said, “...Ye must be born again,” (John 3:7).

Grace Bible Baptist Church
26080 Wax Road
Denham Springs, LA 70726

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