“I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43 NLT)
When the criminal hanging next to Jesus on the cross asked Jesus to remember him, Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43 NLT). With his response, Jesus was also giving us four characteristics of salvation that we can trust and believe in.
First, he said “today.” That means salvation is immediate. The moment you ask Jesus Christ to save you, it is done. When you die, you either go straight into the presence of God or you go straight into separation from God.
Second, salvation is certain. He said, “Today you will.”
Not “You might,” not “I hope.” Not “Let me think about it.” When God says “You will,” you will. When you accept Christ, you can be certain of your salvation.
Third, salvation is a relationship. He said, “You will be with me.”
Salvation is not a religion. It’s not rules or regulations or rituals. Salvation is a relationship. That relationship doesn’t begin when you get to Heaven; it begins here on Earth. Jesus Christ wants to be your best friend, wants to talk to you all the time. God made you for a relationship with him!
Fourth, Jesus said, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” Heaven is a real place, and it is forever.
There were two criminals crucified with Jesus, one on either side. Jesus gave them the choice of salvation, and he gives you the same choice. He’s not going to force you to love him. He’s not going to force you to trust him, and he’s not going to force you to accept Heaven. There are two responses. One of those criminals rejected Jesus, and the other turned to him in faith. You can make the same choice.
Romans 10:13 says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved” (NLT). If you’re ready to call on the name of the Lord and you acknowledge these truths about salvation, then settle this issue of your eternal destiny once and for all.
“This is the hour to receive God’s favor; today is the day to be saved!” (2 Corinthians 6:2 TEV)
Talk It Over
What is the proof in your life that you are assured of your salvation?
How should the reality of Heaven and Hell change the way we share the Gospel with others?
Ask God to lead you to someone who is calling on the name of the Lord that you can help lead to salvation or disciple. Who is God bringing to your mind?