If your understanding of "water and the Spirit" were
correct, then salvation would not have been possible for the thief
on the cross. If the thief on the Cross were considered an exception
to the rule, then God would not be just, because He broke His own
rule for entrance into the Kingdom. How can you explain the salvation
of the thief on the cross?
At that time, all Jews were waiting
for the Messiah who God has foretold. Therefore, they knew well
about "the Law and the sacrificial system," which God
has given through Moses, more than any another people. They believed
that the Messiah would come according to the law of God, and would
free them from all their sins.
However, they did not believe the fact
the baptism of Jesus by John Baptist was from God and was to lay
all the sins of the world on Jesus (Mark 11: 27-33), but rather
considered Him as a man who led the people astray and thus crucified
Since Romans were protected from being
scourged or crucified by the Roman law (Acts 22:25-29, 23:27), we
can know that the thieves on the Cross were not Romans, but Jews.
We can also know that the thief was a Jew who feared God from his
words, saying, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom"
(Luke 23:42) because the gospel of the kingdom of heaven was not
preached to the Gentiles until the Peter preached the gospel to
them (Acts 10:1-11:18). The thief already knew the Law and the sacrificial
system, which God gave to Moses. So he believed that the Messiah
would come according to the law of God.
He who comes to God must confess that
he is a sinner, destined to go to hell for his sin. The thief confessed
his sins, saying, "And we indeed justly, for we receive the
due reward of our deeds" (Luke 23:41). We can also know that
the thief feared God and his hope was in the kingdom of heaven from
his words, saying, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your
kingdom" (Luke 23:42).
He said, "But this Man has nothing
wrong" (Luke 23:41). What did the thief know about what Jesus
did? He believed that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, was
born of the virgin Mary, was baptized by John the Baptist, the representative
of mankind, took away all the sins of the world, and was crucified.
He was a Jew who believed what Jesus did in his heart, even though
he was crucified to receive the due reward of his deeds on the earth.
Those who confessed their sins through
the baptism of John acknowledged God's justice when they heard all
their sins were laid on Jesus through His baptism. However, those
who didn't receive John's baptism of repentance rejected the will
of God for them because they didn't believe in the baptism of Jesus,
either (Luke 7:28-30).
On the contrary, the thief who was
saved confessed that everything that Jesus did was correct and righteous
while the other Jews didn't. He could say that Jesus was righteous
because he confessed his sins through the baptism of John and believed
that Jesus took away all his sins through His baptism. Accordingly,
he could be saved. He was also a man who believed in the gospel
of water and the Spirit. Because God is just, He justifies those
who believe in the baptism of Jesus and the Cross according to His