“I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43 (NLT)
When the criminal hanging next to Jesus on the cross asked Jesus to remember him, Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43 NLT). With his response, Jesus gave four characteristics of salvation that you can trust and believe in.
First, he said “today.” When you die, you either go straight into the presence of God or you go straight into separation from God. And salvation is immediate too. The moment you ask Jesus Christ to save you, it’s done.
Second, salvation is certain. He said, “Today you will.” He didn’t say, “You might” or “I hope.” His answer wasn’t, “Let me think about it.”
Jesus said, “You will.” When you accept Christ, you can be certain of your salvation.
Third, salvation is a relationship. Jesus said, “You will be with me.”
Salvation is not a religion. It’s not rules or regulations or rituals. It’s a relationship. That relationship doesn’t begin when you get to heaven. It begins here on Earth. Jesus Christ wants to be your best friend; he wants to talk with you all the time. God made you for a relationship with him!
Fourth, Jesus said, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” Heaven is a real place, and it’s forever.
Two criminals were crucified with Jesus, one on either side. Jesus gave them the choice of salvation, and he gives you the same choice. He won’t force you to love him. He’s not going to force you to trust him or accept heaven.
One of the two criminals rejected Jesus. The other turned to him in faith. You have the same choice.
Romans 10:13 says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (NIV). Do you believe these truths about salvation? Are you ready to call on the name of the Lord?
The Bible says, “This is the hour to receive God’s favor; today is the day to be saved!” (2 Corinthians 6:2 GNT).
Choose to settle the issue of your eternal destiny today. Trust Jesus’ promise of salvation. You can start by praying this prayer:
“Dear Jesus, you have promised that if I believe in you, everything I’ve ever done wrong will be forgiven, I will learn the purpose of my life, and you will accept me into your eternal home in heaven one day. Thank you that I can be sure you will fulfill your promise, that I can be assured of my salvation.
“I confess my sin, and I believe you are God, my Savior. I receive you into my life as my Lord. Today, I’m turning every part of my life over to you. I want to follow you and do what you tell me to do.