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Luke 23:43

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 43 And Jesus said to him, "Truly I say to you, Today you will be with me in paradise."1

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1 To the Thief on the Cross, Jesus said: "Truly I say to you, Today you will be with me in paradise." Many people justify all instant salvations on the basis of the Thief on the Cross, next to Jesus as he was crucified, taking comfort in Jesus saying to him, "Today you will be with me in paradise." Of course the thief's circumstances were exceptional. Consider these:

1) he was watching another convicted criminal (Jesus) next to him being crucified.
2) this man, [Jesus] who claimed a special relationship with God, did nothing to prevent his crucifixion.
3) the criminal himself was in unimaginable agony from the pain of his own crucifixion.

and, still his faith was strong enough to rebuke another criminal, who was also being crucified and hurled insults at Jesus: "Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!" This [other] criminal replied: "Don't you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong."Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."

I would submit this man's faith was so strong, still active in excruciating pain, still active watching the man who claimed to be the Son of God being horribly executed; that such faith, being beyond what I can claim to be able to show similarly, he could have been rewarded for it being extraordinary and exceptional; the Lord can make any exceptions he wants.

Part of judgment is to learn the truth. Part of learning the truth is to see paradise. Like all who are not purified in this life, after judgment in paradise, the thief would probably have to leave paradise for a time in Hell; before he could come back to paradise to live in the outer court, without measure, the court of the uncircumcised-in-heart, spiritual gentiles. (See Is There Hope for All for details.) The following scriptures also show how men will be judged in paradise and then banished or gathered out:

And when the king came in to see the guests, [Note! At the marriage feast, in paradise] he saw a man who did not have on a wedding garment.
And he said to him, 'Friend, how did you come in here and not have a wedding garment?' And he was speechless.
Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, and take him away and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Mat 22: 11-13
. [Note! The wedding garment is a robe, washed white in the blood of the lamb, Rev 7:14. Walking in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanses us from all sin, 1 John 1:7. The guest had not been cleansed or purified, and so he was unfit to be in heaven or paradise.]

Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name? And then I will declare to them,‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ Mat 7:21-23

The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Mat 13:41-42. (Note! Not gather out of the earth, but gather out of the kingdom, which is paradise.)

For anyone to claim this criminal's superhuman example as the basis for their entering the Kingdom of God, escaping Hell, because they "believe in Jesus," fails to consider the magnitude of the criminal's faith, which almost all would be hard pressed to duplicate; or that once he was judged in paradise, he was banished for a time.

As I was told by the Word of the Lord within: "If you had been with me on the night I was arrested, you would not have believed I was the Holy One of Israel."

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