According to many Theologians, Churches, and individual Christians, a person cannot be saved apart from Baptism, or membership in their particular church. The final authority on all matters of doctrine resides with the Bible, not what men say, nor the tradition of the church. According to Jesus, the requirements for salvation are extremely simple and even the worst sinner may find forgiveness and eternal life–even during the final moments of their life.
As a person goes through each one of the individual parts of the Old Testament prophecies that Jesus fulfilled, we are struck with the details that are included in these many faceted predictions.
In the prophecies of Isaiah chapter 53, we see the specific detail that the Messiah will be condemned and put to death along with other criminals. Although this may be seen as a very common occurrence in the carrying out of a sentence for crimes committed, in the case of a prophecy written over 700 years in advance of its fulfillment, this detail is a stunning inclusion.
Isaiah 53:12c Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors.
Luke 23:32-33 There were also two others, criminals, led with Him to be put to death. And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left.
When we examine the New Testament, we discover that there were two thieves who were also condemned to die by crucifixion along with Jesus. They are placed on either side of the Lord. At first, it seems that both condemned men ridicule Jesus for also being crucified along with them. After one of these men witnesses the grace and the love with which Jesus endures His suffering, praying for those who placed Him on the Cross, this dying criminal has a change of heart. He cries out to Jesus: Lord, Remember me when you come into Your kingdom. A subtle statement of salvation from a man doomed to die, during the final moments of his life. Though his confession is short and simple, yet it is sufficient to move Jesus to pronounce him: forgiven and worthy of eternal life.
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