Monday Minutes: How Could He Know?

with Pastor Chris McCool (September 11, 2023)

How could the thief on the cross know that Jesus was his only hope of help? How could he go from cursing and mocking Him one minute, to crying out to Him the next? In this article, Elder Michael Ivey answers this question in the way the Bible answers it: he knew that Jesus was Savior by the new birth, which was the direct operation of the Holy Spirit upon his otherwise spiritually dead soul!

I hope we are encouraged as we are reminded that our regeneration is solely in the hands of the God Who loved us from before the foundation of the world, and Who calls us from darkness into His marvelous light!

May the Lord bless you is my prayer.

Elder Chris McCool, Pastor

How Did He Know?

(Seeing More than Situation Alone Can Reveal)

by Elder Michael Ivey

Thief to thief as they hung on crosses: “…..we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.”

Thief to Jesus hanging on a cross: “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.”

Jesus to Thief: “And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”

The unnamed thief’s statements imply He believed Jesus is God’s Messiah. This is truly remarkable given the situation. How is it the thief would conclude Jesus is the Christ given at-that-moment He was being crucified between two common thieves by insistent Jewish leaders and at the behest of Roman authority? The situation gave all appearance of Jesus being just a man; for how could any earthly power put God to death? Yet, the thief recognized Jesus was unjustly accused (for He IS THE KING of kings) and sentenced to die.

How could he know this? Not from the false witnesses who testified against the LORD and neither could he know Jesus is the Christ from the terrible beating the Savior endured. He did not learn Jesus is king from mockers who pierced his brow with the derisive crown of thorns they placed on the Savior’s head. Neither did he know from the nails that pierced his hands and feet. He did not know Jesus is the Messiah from the on-lookers who jeered and scorned our LORD as he hung on the cross; and he could not know from the apostles who had fled, or else fearfully stood by in stunned silence.

Even more than knowing Jesus was unjustly accused, the thief somehow knew He is the King of Glory! He knew Him to be the Divine one whose kingdom is not of this world. He knew Jesus as the arbiter of God’s justice, mercy and compassion. Therefore, he pleaded His cause to the master of all creation: “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.”

But, How could he know? He knew the same way the Savior told Peter he was able to know Jesus is the Christ. “And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 16:17) The thief knew Jesus is the Savior the way Paul teaches every child of God knows, by direct conjoint Spirit/spirit witnessing: “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with ourspirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ..” (Romans 8:15-17)

We thus see external situation alone does not cause us to know Jesus. Rather, we know Christ by the new birth; which instantly, proactively and continually bears Spirit/spirit conjoint witness in our born-again-selves as to His Being and our relationship with Him. Just so, when the reality of a given situation (for instance, being with Jesus for the born again thief, and for others hearing the gospel) corresponds to inward Spirit/Spirit conjoint witnessing it can give rise to conscious belief by mentally affirming what is assuredly known inwardly is real and true.