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Jesus Christ Our Savior

Second in a Series on the Fourfold Gospel

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For many years I have watched with amusement as parents determine the names that their children will bear. In some families, like mine, there is a strong predisposition to choose names that honor much loved family members. Other parents simply pick names that they like because they are “pretty” or “strong” or just plain popular. Some opt for unique “one-of-a kind” names that stand out. I’m pretty sure that Sha-quille O’Neill’s parents were into rhyming in a big way! The ancient Hebrews tried hard to choose names that would speak prophetically about the character or mission of their children.

In nearly every era and culture, however, one common fac-tor is that it is the right of the parents to name the child. But for Mary and Joseph, this was not the case. An angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and said: “’. . . [G]ive him the name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins.’” (Matt. 1:21). From the beginning, God wanted it to be very clear that the most important thing about His earthborn Son was that He would be our Savior.

Jesus shared the perspective of His Father. In the closest thing He ever came to a public statement of purpose, He said: “’. . . the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost’” (Luke 19:10). In a similar vein, He told the disciples on another occasion: “’. . . the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many’” (Mark 10:45).

The writers of the New Testament were equally clear about Jesus’ mission. Paul wrote: “This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners . . .” (1 Tim. 1:15). The earliest Christians even identified themselves to one another in a world that was very dangerous with the sign of the fish because the Greek letters of the word for “fish” formed an acrostic for the phrase “Jesus Christ God’s Son—Savior.”

Every person with even the most rudimentary Christian faith knows that Jesus is the Savior. But my suspicion is that most of us have never stopped to think about all that is entailed in that simple truth. Some time ago, I made a list of all of the other things that are true because Jesus is my Savior. The exercise left me nearly breathless and ended in one of the richest times of thanksgiving and praise that I can remember.

Because Jesus is my Savior: My sins have been forgiven (every single one of them, including the ones I haven’t yet committed!); my guilt is gone; I have peace with God—I am no longer an outlaw; His wrath has been satisfied and the penalty paid; I have been declared “righteous” and literally clothed in the righteousness of Christ; I am a new creature (yes, everything is new!); I have eternal life—I am going to live forever with God; I have been adopted by God (there is no logical or necessary connection between forgiveness and adoption. He could have forgiven me and told me to “go away”); His Holy Spirit lives in me; Jesus is now my advocate—literally my defense attorney representing me before the throne of God against every accusation that could be made against me; nothing can separate me from God’s love—no one, no how, no thing; death has no more power over me; I have an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. And that, my friends, is only a partial list!

In addition to teaching us all of the things that accompany the salvation that Jesus came to bring, the New Testament also gives us some understanding of the kind of Savior He is. He is first of all a universal Savior. He did not come to simply save His own people, the Jews. He said “‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life’” (John 3:16) and commissioned His followers to take His gospel to “all the nations.” He is also an exclusive Savior. He said: “‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’” (John 14:6). In a relativistic world of contradictory truth claims, Jesus is the only Savior.

The early Christians summarized it very well indeed: “Jesus Christ, God’s Son—Savior.” Is He your Savior?

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