The Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7.
Often we regard as hopeless subjects the very ones whom Christ is drawing to Himself. . . . Many will be in heaven who their neighbors supposed would never enter there. Man judges from appearance, but God judges the heart.
Some among the redeemed will have laid hold of Christ in the last hours of life, and in heaven instruction will be given to these, who, when they died, did not understand perfectly the plan of salvation.
To Jesus in His agony on the cross there came one gleam of comfort. It was the prayer of the penitent thief. . . . In Jesus, bruised, mocked, and hanging upon the cross, he sees the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world. Hope is mingled with anguish in his voice as the helpless, dying soul casts himself upon a dying Saviour. “Lord, remember me,” he cries, “when thou comest into thy kingdom.” Quickly the answer came. . . . Verily I say unto thee today, Thou shalt be with Me in paradise.
Such faith may be represented by the eleventh hour laborers who receive as much reward as do those who have labored for many hours. The thief asked in faith, in penitence, in contrition. He asked in earnestness, as if he fully realized that Jesus could save him if He would.
Those whom Christ commends in the judgment may have known little of theology, but they have cherished His principles. . . . Among the heathen are those who worship God ignorantly, those to whom the light is never brought by human instrumentality, yet they will not perish. Though ignorant of the written law of God, they have heard His voice speaking to them in nature, and have done the things that the law required. Their works are evidence that the Holy Spirit has touched their hearts, and they are recognized as the children of God.
How surprised and gladdened will be the lowly among the nations, and among the heathen, to hear from the lips of the Saviour, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me”! How glad will be the heart of Infinite Love as His followers look up with surprise and joy at His words of approval!
– Maranatha, pg. 320