The Text

Luke 23:32–43 (CSB)
32 Two others—criminals—were also led away to be executed with him.

33 When they arrived at the place called The Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals, one on the right and one on the left.

34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided his clothes and cast lots.

35 The people stood watching, and even the leaders were scoffing: “He saved others; let him save himself if this is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One!”

36 The soldiers also mocked him. They came offering him sour wine

37 and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself!”

38 An inscription was above him: This Is the King of the Jews.

39 Then one of the criminals hanging there began to yell insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

40 But the other answered, rebuking him: “Don’t you even fear God, since you are undergoing the same punishment?

41 We are punished justly, because we’re getting back what we deserve for the things we did, but this man has done nothing wrong.”

42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

43 And he said to him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

The Chapter

All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all; yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed, for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.

The Confession

All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all

Different translations have differing reading grade levels. I pulled this list from ChristianBook.com

  • KJV — 12
  • RSV — 12
  • NRSV — 11
  • NASB — 11
  • ESV — 10
  • HCSB — 7-8
  • NIV — 7-8
  • CEB — 7
  • CSB — 7
  • NKJV — 7
  • NLT — 6
  • GW — 5
  • Message — 4-5
  • NCV — 3
  • NIrV — 3

You can brag about reading a more challenging translation to understand. You could argue about this list. But the facts are, differing translations take different comprehension.

But even if we were to take the Jesus Storybook Bible (Grade K), there are some stuff that is hard to understand. Jesus walking on water? Really? Without a supernatural, alien, outside-of-ourselves, there is no way we can comprehend that.

Look at what Peter says about Paul’s letters to the churches:

2 Peter 3:16 (CSB) He speaks about these things in all his letters. There are some things hard to understand in them. The untaught and unstable will twist them to their own destruction, as they also do with the rest of the Scriptures.

I can list a few things off the top of my mind. Paul’s account of a man caught up in the “third heaven”. What is this? What does Paul say about it?

I don’t know. God knows.

And I cannot tell you how many times throughout history people miss that and make the third heaven like a primary doctrine. Spoiler alert: it ain’t.

Or how about this:

1 Corinthians 15:29 (CSB) Otherwise what will they do who are being baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, then why are people baptized for them?

Out of context, it sounds like the Bible teaches that we are to be baptized for the dead. In context of the Bible, we can clearly see that this is a rhetorical question because the Bible teaches no such thing.

Trying to make doctrine out of rhetorical questions in the Bible and you can make your own religion like the Mormans. (Baptizing for the dead is doctrine for the Mormons.)

The whole point of this is that difficult to understand things must be difficult to understand. Let the mystery of God stay the mystery of God.

It does say:

Proverbs 25:2 (CSB) It is the glory of God to conceal a matter and the glory of kings to investigate a matter.

But it also says:

Hebrews 5:11–6:3 (CSB) We have a great deal to say about this, and it is difficult to explain, since you have become too lazy to understand. Although by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the basic principles of God’s revelation again. You need milk, not solid food. Now everyone who lives on milk is inexperienced with the message about righteousness, because he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature—for those whose senses have been trained to distinguish between good and evil. Therefore, let us leave the elementary teaching about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works, faith in God, teaching about ritual washings, laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And we will do this if God permits.

We assume that we are mature and that can we demystified the mysteries of God. I am not saying don’t study. Do study. But do so with your brothers and sisters. Dig deep into the salvation of God and his great grace and mercy and love for us.

yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed, for salvation are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned

Learned, unlearned. Some schooling, no schooling. Can read, can’t read. 99% of the people in the Bible could not read nor write. But they could receive the word of God. They could sit under the preaching of the word by the priest or the preacher. They could have someone translate if they were deaf.

And what God has made crystal, undeniably, basic, rudimentary, elementary, abundantly clear: that God saves sinners through His Son, Jesus Christ, who is God, our Lord and King, who rules and reigns forever and ever.

in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.

Go back and read Luke 23 again:

32 Two others—criminals—were also led away to be executed with him.

33 When they arrived at the place called The Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals, one on the right and one on the left.

34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided his clothes and cast lots.

35 The people stood watching, and even the leaders were scoffing: “He saved others; let him save himself if this is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One!”

36 The soldiers also mocked him. They came offering him sour wine

37 and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself!”

38 An inscription was above him: This Is the King of the Jews.

39 Then one of the criminals hanging there began to yell insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

Jesus was scorned. Beaten. Suffering. Excruciating agonzing pain and torment. In the midst of that anguish, Jesus prays and preaches again:

Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.”

There are two people will look upon the undeniably historical life, death, resurrection and ascension of the Jesus of Nazareth and it will provoke two responses:

Then one of the criminals hanging there began to yell insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

Those of the world are so desperate to hang onto this life because this is the best it’s going to get. I might be speculating here but the criminal did not believe Christ could save him. All he cared about was not dying in this life. All he cared about was getting down off that cross so he could go back to the world. The world which torments and mocks and spits and crucifies the innocent Son of Man. They want nothing from God other than more in this life.

The other response belongs only to those who believe on Christ for eternal life. They see the world and then they see their own sin that hung Jesus upon that tree. They made a decision. The criminal says, “Give me Jesus who was cursed for me!” and then they die to this life.

Then they call out on His name so that they can be saved.

“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

The criminal called upon Christ. And Christ saved him.

The criminal had nowhere else to go. No baptism. No conference. No church service. No ministry. No tithing. No offering. No seminary. No bible study.

Saved by faith and faith alone in Christ who is the author and finisher of our faith.

The Resources

To the Judicious and Impartial Reader: Baptist Symbolics Volume 2.
by James Renihan.
Founders Press. 2022.
Goodreads


A New Exposition of the London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689
by Rob Ventura.
Mentor. January 17, 2023.
Amazon


Truths We Confess: A Systematic Exposition of the Westminster Confession of Faith.
Sproul, R. C.
Orlando: Reformation Trust, 2019.
Goodreads


The Baptist Confession of Faith 1689: Or the Second London Confession with Scripture Proofs
by Peter Masters.
Wakeman Trust. January 1, 1981.
Goodreads


Modern Exposition of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith.
by Samuel E. Waldron.
Evangelical Press. 2013.
Goodreads


The Westminster Confession: The Confession of Faith, The Larger and Shorter Catechism.
Westminster Assembly.
The Directory for the Public Worship of God, with Associated Historical Documents. 2018.
Goodreads


The Creedal Imperative.
Carl R. Trueman
Crossway, 2012.
Goodreads