The thief’s request on the cross and the promise that he would enter into paradise after his confession (Luke 23:39-43) is the go-to response for Christianity when confronted with working for the kingdom of God. They argue that only faith is required, which is why the thief was able to enter paradise. The faith-only argument then leads to the question, can a deathbed confession suffice to enter paradise? This post provides a comprehensive answer from the scriptures as to why deathbed confessions will not get you into paradise but a sure way to the fire.
The Standard Response
Christianity argues against working for the kingdom of God, despite clear evidence that faith yields action. At the same time, their ambition seeks to subscribe the believer’s energy to their religion instead of the direction of God.
To invest your energies into the kingdom you serve seems quite apparent; “Choose today who you will serve” the words of Joshua (Joshua 24:15) resonate with this understanding. Still, a debate has flamed for hundreds of years that all that matters is faith without that faith manifesting works (James 2:18).
This stance can be explained, but it won’t be easy to receive due to years of indoctrination and the beginning of sin, which is pride.
Religion has not only been infiltrated but was created as a cheap model of the levitical priesthood to lie in wait for anyone the Spirit wakes. For this reason, everyone believes whenever they desire to search for God, the place to go is the church, mosque, temple or the place assigned by the religion. The deception is not limited to a few people within the organisation, the congregation, or a few wayward or misinterpreted doctrines; the trap is the entire institution.
The Deathbed Dilemma
A stalwart doctrine taught by Protestant Christianity is that the only valid scriptures are those found within the 66-book Bible. This is not only unfounded but highlights two main points I wish to bring to the forefront:
- The shrinking of the “canonised books” with every schism of religions, including Christianity.
- The lack of interest each person has in searching out the truth, brushing that hand off their back, attempting to ease them on the so-called correct path.
Manasseh the Impious
Here we see the king of Israel, the Southern Kingdom, Manasseh, living a sinful life and standing as an adversary to God. God finally brought his judgement through Nebuchadnezzar, conquering Judah, Benjamin, Reuben, Gad and half the tribe of Manasseh. Through his suffering, he repented, but although God accepted his prayer, he was rejected from paradise because of how he lived his life. [Instructions to kings: Wisdom of Solomon 6:1-11]
The reason that God accepted his prayer but refused his entry into paradise can be seen in this verse in the book of The Wisdom of Solomon.
The Severity of the Judgement
There is a responsibility of those in charge of leading others or who have the power to influence or determine the path of others. This fact results in leaders having responsibility for their souls and charges. Their actions significantly impact those beneath them in the hierarchy; thus, leaders must ensure that they lead correctly as their decisions have a cascading impact.
The men who lead their families must also beware of their responsibilities to everyone in their household.
The Sinful Soul
In this scriptural example, the man who lived his life wickedly lied to God, attempting to hide his sins after seeing what was in store for those who lived their lives in opposition to God God while they were alive. Despite all this, instead of his sins for his entire life, God took into account only the last five years of his life. If he had only lived for God in his final five years, all of his sins would not be remembered.
Legacy of Solomon
Solomon’s example, alongside the previous two, shows that anyone who does not follow God in the twilight of their lives will not enter the kingdom of heaven. The race is not for the swift, but for those who can endure (Matthew 24:13). Thus, the queen of the south will be a testimony against everyone who has followed the above examples (Matthew 12:42) and who has worshipped money and the things of this world as did Solomon (Mark of the Beast).
The Thief on the Cross
How the thief who entered paradise lived his life, the scriptures do not explicitly elaborate; however, from the three examples or witnesses (pieces of evidence) presented, there is a good chance he lived his life for God.
Per God’s instructions, the death penalty is not prescribed for stealing as we see today (Exodus 22:1); instead, that person should repay much more than they stole. On the other hand, in the Bible, stealing also applies to people (Exodus 21:16, Deuteronomy 24:7), which today we call kidnapping. For the thief to be put to death, he had to be guilty of kidnapping or in possession of someone of his brethren who were sold after being kidnapped.
To be a partaker of such a sin can occur in many ways, but even if he were guilty of deliberately planning and executing such an act, it does not constitute the life he lived up until that point. One act of sin does not blanket how he lived the last five years of his life, and it was evident that he repented with sincerity and believed in the Son of God. He understood that Jesus wanted to die for our sins and was indeed the Messiah, and he accepted the truth.
The thief, not being a leader, experienced the leniency in judgement that would not be enjoyed by a leader who lived his life against God. Despite the respite, from what we see of the “sinful soul” in The Apocalypse of Paul, one still needs to live his life for God to be accepted into His kingdom.
Living for God and serving his kingdom is vital, but enduring till the end is even more critical. Relying on the example of the thief on the cross with the misunderstanding that he lived his life sinfully is misguided. This will undoubtedly enter many into destruction, while those who watch and wait for the return of the Messiah, the King, will no doubt live their lives accordingly.
Do not be fooled by the fortified Christian doctrine, and do not be afraid to walk with God and away from any institution that teaches otherwise to his instructions. Serve God all your life, and do not put your hope in a deathbed confession.