GET  ACQUAINTED:  Besides Jesus, who is the most perfect person you know or know of?  What makes them close to perfect in your eyes?

SCRIPTURE: 39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, ‘Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!’ 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.’  42 And he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ 43 And he said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.’” (Luke 23:39-43 )

Open your time together with prayer.  NOTE: This is only a guide! Feel free to select the points you want to discuss and adapt them to your needs.

OBSERVATION: What assurance do we have that we are saved?  Believing in Christ provides assurance, and through His interaction with two criminals as He hung from the cross, Jesus illustrates for us what we must know and do to be saved, how we can be certain that we are saved, and when and where we can be saved.  Much like us, the man dying on the cross next to Jesus, did not have all the answers, but he knew enough to be saved.  In this session, let’s learn what this dying man knew and reinforce our faith with assurance from Christ.

What must I know and do to be saved?

  1. The criminal knew he would face God after he died.  According to Hebrews 9:27 what happens once we die?  How does this show the man’s understanding of the eternal consequence of sin?
  1. The criminal knew he had sinned against God.  What is the consequence of sin as stated in Romans 6:23 ?  Do you think the criminal understood that he would receive eternal life from God through his acknowledgment of Him?  What is the gift that believers receive after the acceptance of Christ in their lives?
  1. The criminal knew Jesus was more than a man.  Luke 23:41 shows how the man realized that Jesus did not deserve the same fate as him.  Do you think the dying criminal knew that Christ was truly sinless?  Why or why not?  What does 2 Corinthians 5:21 say about Christ and what He does for believers?
  1. The criminal knew that only grace found in Jesus could save him.  Under what conditions does Ephesians 2:8-9 offer salvation to those who have faith in Christ?  Why did the dying criminal simply ask Christ to “remember him” in Luke 23:42 ?  Was this enough?>/li>
  1. The criminal knew Jesus would save him if he asked.  Luke 23:42 shows us the dying criminal’s understanding of the deity of Christ.  What does a future kingdom imply?  What did he believe would be the reward of being remembered by Christ in eternity?

What is my assurance of salvation?  The promise of God’s word.

Read Luke 23:43 : Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”  What did Jesus say to emphasize to the criminal that He would be with Him in paradise?

  • IMMEDIATE: How do we know the criminal’s assurance of salvation is immediate?
  • INDISPUTABLE: How do we know the criminal’s assurance of salvations is certain?
  • INTIMATE: How do we know the criminal’s assurance of salvation is a relationship?
  • INFINITE: How do we know the criminal’s assurance of salvation is a place forever?

When can I be saved?

According to 2 Corinthians 6:2 , when did Jesus say we are able to receive God’s favor?  Considering the authority of Jesus’ statement, what sort of time frame are we to settle our eternal destiny?

In Romans 10:13 , who is sanctioned (official permission or approval) to call upon the name of the Lord?  For those who call upon the name of the Lord, what do they receive?

Personal application and commitment:  When sharing the certainty of our salvation with others, how might knowing that our salvation is not predicated on being too good or too bad, but on the perfect nature of Christ, help us best reflect God’s gift to His creation?  Commit this week to showing this certainty to someone who needs it.

Prayer: Dear God, we open our hearts to You.  We know we are far from perfect and have made our share of mistakes.  We ask for Your loving forgiveness, and we pray that You will remember us as we live our lives in You.  Thank You for Your care and grace.  In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen!