The two thieves crucified with Jesus
Two criminals were crucified, one on each side of Jesus. The Bible says that we, like the two thieves, are all like criminals in the sight of God. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”, Romans 3:23.
The Bible clearly records the reactions of the two criminals to Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Who was crucified between them:
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. Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.”
But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due rewards of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise”. (Luke 23: 32-33, 39-43.)
Today one of the criminals is in Hell, and will always be there. He had an inappropriate reaction to Jesus Christ. The most common use of the word “Jesus Christ” is as a swear word.
The other criminal is now in Heaven, and will be there forever. He looked at Jesus Christ, recognised that He was God, and that he, the criminal, was sinful. The reaction of the second criminal was quite different from that of the first. As a result, he went to Heaven, whilst the first criminal did not, and is now in Hell.
Jesus said that Heaven and Hell are real places
Jesus Christ said that both Heaven and Hell are real places, as real as planet Earth. Heaven is where Jesus Christ is now, and He wants you to join Him there when you die.
- Jesus said “Except a man is born again he will not see the kingdom of Heaven” (John 3:3).
- Jesus also said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 18:3).
- So, clearly, entry to the Kingdom of Heaven is something highly to be desired.
- In fact, God wants everyone to go to Heaven: “The Lord is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
A new Heaven and a new Earth
John the apostle foresaw the future, and wrote,“I saw a new Heaven and a new Earth, for the first Heaven and the first Earth had passed away” (Revelation 21:1).
Jesus warned us about another place called Hell
Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptised will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16).
Jesus said, ‘The kingdom of Heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind, which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth’ (Matthew 13: 47-50).
Jesus said, ‘There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day. But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angel’s to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man died and was buried. and being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom’ (Luke 16:19-23).
- The point is that the rich man closed his eyes and died in this existence, and immediately opened his eyes in Hell.
- Jesus Christ is the only One who claimed to be God, has died, been to Hell, and been resurrected. He is the only One qualified to comment. He said that those people who die without salvation open their eyes in Hell.