The Thief on the Cross


On a recent broadcast, Johnny Robertson was discussing the thief on the cross.  Lee, a regular poster here, wrote about the subject.  He says:

“A viewer called Johnny last night, he was telling him what a good job he was doing. One of his last requests was to have Johnny comment on the thief on the cross, to which he stated that the thief was under the Old Testament.

I couldn’t wait to call, but was unable to get on air as it was at the end of the show.  I did however speak to him off air.I asked him about his statement and he agreed that I heard him correctly.  I then asked if it was more than likely that the thief died after Jesus, he said it was possible.

I wanted to know how the thief was under a different plan of salvation than I was if we both lived after Christ’s death.  He said he didnt see the contradiction.   If that’s not one than somebody help me.”

Hey, Lee.  Good question.  Here’s my take – and others (including Johnny) should feel free to give their thoughts:

The thief was NOT under the Old Testament, but he wasn’t playing by the same rules as we are, either.  Why?  Because he died during the ministry of Jesus.  If Jesus saved him (“Today you’ll be with me in paradise”), then Jesus saved him.  It’s as simple as that.  If you are the CEO of a company, you get to decide who is hired into your company and who is not.  In the same way, Jesus had (and has) the power to save – which he did.

Now, I’ve heard Norm Fields make the claim on his broadcast that the thief was already saved – that the thief was already a follower of Jesus when he died, and that’s how Jesus was able to save him (he’s been baptized already?).  I debunked that theory pretty quickly on this blog.  You can look it up, or I can give my argument against that if someone would like.

Anyway, that’s my thought.  Anyone else?  Johnny?

Sola Dei Gloria,


25 thoughts on “The Thief on the Cross

  1. Although the thief could have died after Christ, the question they could ask you is ” what testament was the thief under “WHEN” Jesus told the thief “this day you will be with me in paradise”. And another commonly ask question is “would you want to be saved like the thief on the cross”?


  2. One question I would like to ask these men: How many plans of salvation does God have, or how many did God have. Either there are many plans of salvation in the bible or one plan…

    I can already hear the questions…so before Shawn or someone has a chance, I will say from beginning to the end its by Faith

  3. Just want to remind the viewers of the tactics used in debates. When you watch “what does the bible say” Cable 18 look for these tactics.

    Tell The Truth, The Whole Truth, and Nothing But The Truth
    This can be highly effective, and very convincing, if you know your subject material well, and are a good speaker.

    Lie By Omission and Half-Truths
    This is also known as Suppressed Evidence.
    This one is more subtle. It has the advantage that you can’t get caught in a lie, because everything that you say is true. You just happily fail to mention all of those bothersome little facts that do not support your point of view. Should a critic point out one of those annoying undesired facts, you can at least feign innocent ignorance, or claim that the fact is really just an unimportant, trivial detail, not worth mentioning.

    You don’t blatantly lie; you just stretch the truth a good bit. This also has the advantage that even if you get caught at it, you can always argue that you were telling the truth, and it’s all a matter of degree, and people just got the wrong impression, or took it the wrong way…

    Straw Man
    The Straw Man technique is a stunt where you prop up an easy-to-defeat opponent, like a Straw Man, and then attack him and knock him down, to make yourself look big, strong, and victorious.

    Hypnotic Bait and Switch

    The Either/Or Technique — Bifurcation — the Excluded Middle
    Present the audience with only extreme either/or, black-or-white choices, while admitting to no gray areas inbetween. Consider only the two extremes in a range of possibilities, to make the “other side” look worse than it really is. Carl Sagan called this the “excluded middle” technique.

    Play On Emotions, Appeal To Emotions
    We have lots of emotions that can be manipulated: Fear, lust for power, hope, pride, vanity, egotism, insecurity, ambition, machismo, “patriotism”, greed, love, loneliness


    Confuse your listeners with contradictory, illogical, or incomprehensible jabber:

    Answer A Question That Was Not Asked (To Avoid Answering One That Was Asked)

    Ask the same question over and over

    Answer a Question With A Question

    Do not — simply do not — answer your opponent’s question. Immediately counter-attack with another question that may or may not be relevant to the subject under discussion.

    Hit And Run
    Launch an attack on your opponent, and then run away before your opponent can counter-attack or ask you to prove your accusations.

    Laugh It Off
    When somebody says something that you don’t like, just laugh it off. Refuse to take it seriously. Imply that whatever your opponent just said is silly, absurd, ridiculous, brain-damaged, or just awfully darned funny.

    Dominate the Conversation, Talk Non-Stop, and Interrupt Constantly
    Just never quit talking, never let up, never give your opponent a chance to get a word in edgewise. Even shout and scream to drown out the voice of your opponent.

    Nit-Pick and Split Hairs
    This is easy to understand. Everybody knows what nit-picking is:
    “Hah! You misspelled some words! That totally blows your credibility. Now I’m not going to believe anything else you say.”

    Quibble over irrelevant tiny details, quibble over the definitions of words, quibble over anything you can find that will divert attention from your opponent’s points.
    Obtuseness — Refuse to See the Point
    Just stubbornly refuse to see your opponent’s points, no matter how good his arguments may be. When an opponent makes a point, just ignore it and pretend that it doesn’t exist. Pretend that you didn’t hear it; do not in any way recognize that it even exists.

    Spin Doctoring
    Often, how people take the news depends on how you present it.

    Ad Hominem, Launch Personal Attacks On Opponents
    When you can’t refute factual arguments, kill the messenger. Have fun with character assassination. Attack the arguer and not the argument. Ad Hominem includes slurs, slander, libel, innuendo, baseless accusations, irrelevant criticism, groundless denunciations, and calling names.

    Engage in Name Calling
    This technique is simple and obvious: you just call your opponents names, preferably really derogatory and slanderous names, like this:
    “You are a drunkard, etc…”

  4. An Ex-Coc’er here.

    This argument is beyond silly and I’m surprised its still used in the ultra conservative wing of the CoC. I am not even sure as to why some of these folks have an OT in their bibles.

    Glad I found your blog. I have suffered greatly in my own faith life and there is no doubt that part of my demise or lack of faith comes from this ultra wing of the CoC, where I originally came to faith in Jesus. I believe that when the legalistic views I once held started to fall apart my entire faith would soon fall as well. I lost trust and could no longer stand the fighting.

    Instead of faith, these folks appear to be more concerned about having the answers on every doctrinal issue. Do they not allow even a little wiggle room for mystery?

  5. nathan,
    if your statement that Jesus could save anyone he chose to
    because he is the CEO is accurate then wouldnt it stand to reason that his death wasnt necessary.
    couldnt he simply save all throughout the ages who had faith in him? i belive the bible teaches that christ preached to all the old testament saints in abrahams bosom. although they offered sacrifices and lived by faith this only pointed to christs sacrifice.” he was slain from the foundation of the world”
    if this could have been avoided surely he would have. i believe that then and there is where they were truely saved.
    anyway thats how i read it.
    praise the lord.

  6. i forgot, back to why i was even asking johnny in the first place
    everything he says is predicated on there being absolutely no
    room for discussion. and even more so in the matter of salvation, how many times has he used the thiefs salvation as an example of gods plan BEFORE christs death.
    he has a question here that he cannot answer.
    i have been reading all of the posts, and i am sad to look at comments that say they arent against johnny.
    is anyone watching the same program that i see?
    i can tell you no matter how much he says that he is brokenhearted over the surrounding area, you dont have to listen very closely to his program to see the superior attitude
    he will quickly show. i dont buy it

  7. He was under the OT it was when Jesus died that being baptized was nessacry (MATT 28:19) so that makes us under the NT.

  8. Matt is right, Jesus died before the thieves. But He was under the law when He told the thief “this day you shall be with me…

  9. by the way matt if jesus can do as he pleases you are in
    effect saying that his crucifiction was unnecessary.
    the bible says there must be payment of sin, it must be remited. the blood of bulls and goats only covered sin it
    was ineffective at its removal.
    i know god has all power but he also operates within his own laws.

  10. Posting on the net can sometimes not include everything that was going on in my mind. and yes lee i should have stated that better.

  11. I’d agree with that, too, Lee. But, you have to admit that if God didn’t want to operate within his own laws, He’d have the right to do so. In fact, he did that (and does that) when He performed miracles through Jesus – and even when he rewrote the covenant from the old to the new.

    He’s God, after all!

  12. hi nathan,
    at the begining of this posting my point was the way johnny
    and friends say salvation is either pre or post cross.
    you cant miss it i was simply pointing out the inconsistancy
    and change that pic…………………ok?
    you seem like too reasonable a person to be possibly confused with him.

  13. just checked out the other coc site and looked at some postings with shawn. what a waste of time…… yours i mean
    and by the way i dont think you should be offering him
    blessings. it sounds too close to god speed and you know what the bible says about that. and if i can interject the oscar
    wilde ref……..not helping friend.

  14. Oh, I know it’s wasting my time. It’s like arguing with a wall. But really, with the possible exception of Norm Fields, it would be like that Johnny Robertson and James Oldfield, too. Of course, that’s only supposition, because none of them will spend any time answering our issues. That’s why I’ve had to go over to Topix.

    But it’s not wasting my time. It’s actually a good use of my time, for a number of reasons, none of which I can write here.

    Not sure I know what you mean about the “Oscar Wilde ref”…

    Thanks for checking up on it!

    Have a great rest of your weekend!

  15. Are you kidding me? “The Importance of Being Earnest” is brilliant! One of my favorite plays.

    Yeah, he had moral failings, but he was a fantastic writer. I don’t have to approve of a person’s lifestyle to recognize their abilities professionally.

    I’m surprised Shawn didn’t pick up on that and try to use it against me.


  16. It’s not a complete waste of time what he’s doing over at topix. I’ve had to look up a lot of scripture just to keep up with this Shawn fellow. I’d say I’ve probably read enough scripture to cover my Bible reading today. (although I’m actually reading through the Bible chronologically every night, so I’ll still have some reading to do tonight)

    In fact I bet it’s caused a few of the other readers to do their own Bible studies. nothing that gets you into your Bible could ever be a waste of time.

    Just let me say though, don’t let this stuff keep you from reaching the lost.

  17. Why are most people in denominations baptized? As an outward sign of faith and to picture the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.

    You must acknowledge that, even if Jesus died before the thief on the cross, that Jesus had not been resurrected. The thief could not believe in the resurrection as it had not happened yet. Without the resurrection there would be no Christianity.

    The Law of Moses did not pass away until Jesus fulfilled it, so the thief would have been under the Law of Moses (just as Jesus was). Since Jesus IS God, he had the ability to forgive sins in any matter he chose while upon this earth, which is exactly what happened with the thief. If you want to be saved like the thief today then you would have to be personally pardoned by him.

  18. jesus said” you must be born again” all he said to the thief
    was “today thou shalt be with me in paradise”
    when the man got there he had jesus preached to all the
    old testament saints including its newest member the thief.
    he then “led captivity captive” and there is no longer anyone
    left in paradise. praise god!

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