“Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43
D. James Kennedy was startled awake one Sunday morning by a preacher’s stern question coming out of his clock radio, regarding one’s eternal hope. By God’s grace, Kennedy was soon saved, and entered gospel ministry. In 1962, he founded Evangelism Explosion, a ministry aimed at equipping believers to spread the gospel in their communities.
Evangelism Explosion used two diagnostic questions, one of which was the same question that D. James Kennedy had woken up to years earlier: “Suppose that you were to die today and stand before God and he were to say to you, “Why should I let you into my heaven?” What would you say?”
Alistair Begg answers the question this way: “If you and I answer that in the first person, we’ve immediately gone wrong – Because I believed – Because I have faith – Because I am this. Loved ones, the only proper answer is in the third person – Because He!” Alistair goes on to consider a possible meeting between himself and the thief on the cross in heaven. Alistair asks, “How did that shake out for you? Because you were cussing the guy [Jesus] out with your friend. You’ve never been in a Bible Study. You never got baptized. You didn’t know a thing about Church Membership. And yet…you made it!”
Alistair then imagines an angel questioning the thief concerning entrance into heaven: “Son, we just have a few questions for you. First of all, are you clear on the Doctrine of Justification by Faith?” The thief answers, “I never heard of it in my life.” The angel responds, “Let’s just go to the Doctrine of Scripture immediately.” But the thief has no response, and finally in frustration, the angel asks: “On what basis are you here?” And the thief answers: “The man on the middle cross said I can come.”
That was the only hope for the thief on the cross and it is our only hope as well! Alistair goes on to say, “Without preaching the cross to ourselves all day and every day, we will very, very quickly revert to faith plus works as the ground of our salvation.” May we continually preach the gospel to our own hearts so this good news will permeate us completely and overflow to all around! “Because the sinless Saviour died, my sinful soul is counted free, for God the Just is satisfied to look on Him and pardon me!”