And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Truly, this day you will be with me in paradise. Luke 23:42
There is the old story about the thief on the cross. You know, the one to whom Jesus said, "Today, you shall be with me in paradise," that one. You can read about it in Luke chapter twenty-three.
So the story goes that the thief got to the pearly gates, waited outside, till St. Peter came out. St. Peter comes out, says to the thief, "So, are you a Christian?"
The thief says, "I dunno."
"Are you a Catholic?" "Don't think so."
"Are you a Baptist?" "No."
"Are you a Methodist?" "No."
"Do you go to church?" "No."
"Do you pray?" "Not much."
"How long since your last confession?" "What's that?"
So, St. Peter, exasperated by this time says, "What are you doing here?"
The thief replied, "The man on the middle cross said I could come in."
And so the old parable gets right to the bottom line. It is the year we call 2012. And now we have a name for all the hundreds of religious preferences
known to modern man, sorry, modern humankind.
Some say you get to heaven through the sacraments. Some say by good works. Others say you get there by having your family name in some book in a cave out west. Oh no, says another group, you have to know the four spiritual laws. Or, "you have to work your way there every day."
Nope, nope, nope and nope again. According to the man on the middle cross, it is whether or not He says you get in.
Actually, the apostle Paul says it pretty simply: For it is by grace that you are saved, and that, not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.
So once again, the bottom line. Do you believe on the Son of God? Brand names are only good down here. We can call ourselves by any name in the dictionary, but the final question is: What does the man on the middle cross say?