Who was the first person to go to the Father through Christ Jesus? Would you be surprised to learn it was someone who had lived their life in an unfaithful manner? Can you believe that person was...a criminal?
Consider the parable that Jesus told about the vineyard owner who hired workers throughout the day, then at the end of the day he gave orders for the pay to be given starting with the last group. Moreover, each one was to be given the same, agreed upon wage..a denarius for a day's work. When those who had begun work at the start of the day complained the vineyard owner reminded them they had agreed upon the wage and that it was his business to do with his money as he wished. This parable is about life and the acceptance of God's free gift in the salvation offered by the blood of Jesus.
Consider now the portion of scripture that depicts Jesus upon the cross. Luke 23:32 states: "They crucified him with the criminals there, one on his right and one on his left." One of the criminals challenges Jesus: "IF you are the son of God, save yourself and us!" This criminal didn't get it. He doesn't believe evidenced by his use of "if". He wants Jesus to work a miracle for his own selfish purpose and there is no repentance in his heart or soul. However, the other rebukes him: "Have you no fear of God, since we are under the same sentence? And rightly so since we deserve this punishment, but this man has done no wrong." Then turning to Jesus he says: "Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom." Jesus replies: "Truly I say TO YOU, today you will be with me in paradise." Repentance stated, forgiveness asked, salvation given to that criminal. A worker who was called by the vineyard owner in the last hour, who humbly accepted his wage.
Good works are expected by the Father as we carry out his mission here on earth, but they alone will not make us better candidates for salvation. Repudiation of a sinful life, true repentance for sins and constant asking for forgiveness are required for saving grace. These together with belief in the Christ, Yeshua are the keys to the kingdom. In whatever stage we are in life, may we ask: "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."