That was the title of a Tony Evans sermon I STARTED to listen to (before being interrupted by what we will call "early morning considerations"). What I did catch got me to considering the question while I was missing another chunk of it.
Consider that while one Gospel tells the story of one man's conversion- one of the thieves hanging beside Jesus- another says they both joined in the jeering of the crowd. Biblical inconsistency? No, Biblical "making you think".
Consider: One thief joined in the jeering- initially. But as the long, horrible hours passed, he watched the reactions of Jesus. What He did- and did not do. His heart turned within him; he questioned, he prayed, and soon became convinced. Enough so that he finally had to speak out for Jesus, and petitioned for salvation. As Tony Evans said- without benefit of baptism, purgatory, or works of his own. At the end of his life, he came to Jesus and was saved.
On the other side, that thief came to Jesus as well. But with challenge- if you are the Christ, PROVE IT. Take me from my circumstance, save me on the physical plane, THEN I'll believe you.
Consider: Was it laughing chance that put these two men beside Jesus at their deaths? Of course not. They are stark examples of fallen man and the choice before him. Of what Jesus offers- salvation in the NEXT life, not this one- and the manner in which to come to the right path.
Even at His death, Jesus saved. Even at HIS death, the thief found salvation. A salvation that required nothing but faith and repentance. Was it the best way to do it, waiting until the end was near? I'm betting that thief would say no, I wish I'd have done it before it came to this, but nonetheless valid.
Consider the other criminal. He, too, waited till the end to come to Jesus. But by that time, he wasn't watching Jesus' gentle example and repenting; he was hearing the crowd and echoing them. He never once thought about the next life, or what Jesus was truly about, he just wanted relief from the suffering of this life. Jesus did NOT answer him.
Now, consider yourself. You can wait to come to Jesus. He'll be there at the end, just like He's there now. But remember this- will you be watching His example by then- or just echoing the crowd?