Does The Thief On The Cross Prove Sinners Today Can Be Saved Without Water Baptism?

First, we do not know that the thief (of Luke 23:43) was never baptized. He could have been baptized with John the Baptist’s baptism before he was put up on the cross.

Second, Rom 10:9 reads “… if thou shall … believe … that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” The thief couldn’t have believed in the resurrection of Christ (as an accomplished fact) – so obviously he lived under a different covenant than we do (else he couldn’t have been saved according to Rom 10:9).

Third, the thief on the cross didn’t need to be baptized for basically the same reason that Adam, Moses, and a whole host of other Old Testament children of God were not baptized; that is, the New Testament law had not come into effect yet. We can see that from a passage like Heb 9:15-17 – “And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament … For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.”

Keep in mind:

· The thief was forgiven before Jesus died (therefore was not forgiven based upon New Testament law).

· The thief on the cross died before the “great commission” of Mark 16:16 was ever given (therefore was not amenable to the command to be baptized in the name of Jesus in order to be saved).

· Luke 24:47 new covenant preaching and remission were to begin “at Jerusalem” (after the thief died)

Verses like Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16, and I Pet 3:21 prove a sinner must be baptized in water to be saved. The story of the Thief On The Cross doesn’t contradict those passages.


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