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A Stranger In Paradise

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            A STRANGER IN PARADISE – LUKE 23:43

What is Paradise?

Paradise - an intermediate place or state where the righteous departed await resurrection and judgment

C: heaven

2: a place or state of bliss, felicity, or delight

We must all keep in mind that we should never judge a person. We have neither heaven nor hell to put anyone in. God ultimately makes that final decision. If god wants them to go to heaven, they will go to heaven. If God wants them to go to hell, they will go to hell.

But I dare to believe:

You will see the true saints there.

You might see so many preachers and bishops and pastor there.

But you might see some former pimps, prostitutes and players there.

You might see any choir members there, but I dare to believe that there will those who were in the night clubs and in the dance halls there.

I dare to believe that you might not see some the AMEs, Pentecostals, Baptists, Presbyterians or Church of God in Christ, there, but you will see some of the dope dealers, murderers and thieves there. Why because God is no respecter of persons.

Each response = our choice – We can either scoff at Christ or cry out to Him.

  • Criminals undeserving of anything other than death
    • Insults / doubt / mockery / scoffing toward Christ > in fact Matt. 27 & Mark 15 record that both of the men crucified with Jesus “hurled insults” at Him at first.
    • Recognition of need > One of the criminals changed his mind, though. He recognized that he was without hope apart from God’s mercy. His only hope was a pardon from the King.
    • “I assure you” / “I tell you the truth”
    • “Today you’ll be with me” > its relational

    Dying man making a statement to another dying man.
  • You have heard and it has been said that when you leave this earth you can’t take nothing and no one with you to the grave. As a matter of fact, no one living expects to go with you when they lower you down in the ground.

  • I just found out that the only person ever alive that could do that was Jesus. He took another crucified man with him to paradise

Point of the story:
No matter what you’ve done, it’s never too late to call on Christ. When we come to Christ in humility and recognition of who He is, he remembers us and offers us salvation.

The Big Idea:
It’s never too late for God’s mercy and grace.

Grace – getting something we don’t deserve, God’s unmerited favor.

God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Rom 5:20-21

it’s nothing that we have done or can do . . . . It’s grace.

Grace covers every sin.

What have you done that you want covered?

The story of the NT is the story of grace.
• Woman at the well
• Good Samaritan
• woman caught in adultery
• Saul/Paul
• it’s all about grace

Remember: It’s never too late. Doesn’t matter how many times / how long / how wrong / how old / how bad

All you have to do is turn to Christ. Trust him. Follow him.

6 Seek the Lord while he may be found. Call on him now while he is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake his ways and the unrighteous man his thoughts. Let him return to the Lord and he will have mercy on him. And to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. Is 55:6-7 (NKJ)

it is the grace of God that allows us to be with him.

That’s why the song writer ask the question in an old Negro Spiritual; “Were you there when he saved my soul. Were you there when he made me whole? It causes me to tremble, tremble. Were you there when they crucified my lord? Someone said

At the cross, at the cross, where I first saw the light and the burden of my heart rolled away. It was there by faith, that I received my sight and now I am happy all the day.

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