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“Remember me,” were the words of one of the thieves on the cross. Jesus replied, “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” This event has been much debated and used to explain why “water baptism” and the receiving of the “Holy Spirit” is not necessarily needed to be saved? Believers of this scenario also say that the thief could not be “born again”, i.e., “water baptised” because he was crucified, and therefore unable to be baptised and to receive the Holy Spirit. This belief misleads people into believing various types of theories of why the thief was saved without being water baptised and receiving the Holy Spirit. The water baptise naysayers use this in denying that water baptism is necessary for salvation. But when one thoroughly looks into Hebrews chapter 9, they will see the reason why the thief was saved without having to be baptised.
For example, if I had a “will,” and in that will contained my personal belongings that I would bequeath to family and friends upon my death, they could not be the beneficiaries until my death. The thief on the cross falls into this same scenario for one simple reason, the thief, was still “UNDER THE LAW” because Jesus, “had not died yet!” Also, the Holy Spirit was not yet given until the Day of Pentecost. The New Covenant could not go into effect until there is a death. Jesus had to die before the New Covenant took effect.
For the thief, Jesus not only represented a sin sacrifice for him, which according to the law, requires the bringing of your animal for your sin sacrifice, but also being the last sacrifice, once, for all people.
So you’ll find the Scriptural reason in Hebrews chapter nine, verses 16 and 17 for the reason why the thief on the cross was saved without having to be baptised.
To reiterate, the thief on the cross was still “under the law” because Jesus “had not died yet.” The New Covenant could not go into effect until Jesus died. The thief simply exhibited faith still being under the law, and that’s why the thief was saved without having to be water baptised and not receiving the Holy Spirit, as it was not yet given.
Hebrews 9:1 Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.
Hebrews 9:2 For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary.
Hebrews 9:3 And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all;
Hebrews 9:4 Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant;
Hebrews 9:5 And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly.
Hebrews 9:6 Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God.
Hebrews 9:7 But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people:
Hebrews 9:8 The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:
Hebrews 9:9 Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience;
Hebrews 9:10 Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.
Hebrews 9:11 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;
Hebrews 9:12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.
Hebrews 9:13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:
Hebrews 9:14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
Hebrews 9:15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.
Hebrews 9:16 For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.
Hebrews 9:17 For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.
Hebrews 9:18 Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood.
Hebrews 9:19 For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people,
Hebrews 9:20 Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you.
Hebrews 9:21 Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry.
Hebrews 9:22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.
Hebrews 9:23 It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.
Hebrews 9:24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:
Hebrews 9:25 Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others;
Hebrews 9:26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
Hebrews 9:28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.