J. L. Hall
Without question, the matter of salvation is at the heart of God, for it is the underlying purpose of His redemptive initiative in Jesus Christ.
Although Adam and Eve were created in the sinless image of a Holy God, they were soon stained by their sin of disobedience, a stain that was passed to all mankind. But the Fall in the Garden of Eden became the backdrop for God to unfold His redemptive drama that reached its climax at Calvary and its culmination in the outpouring of the Holy Ghost on and since the Day of Pentecost. Through faith in Jesus Christ, which includes obedience to the gospel message, a person can now be reconciled to God and restored to a place of holiness.
Our sins made us aliens from God’s kingdom and enemies of righteousness; they closed the door to God’s holy presence. But God’s love and grace looked for a way to save us from our sins, not a way to change His nature or mind but a way to redeem our fallen nature. Thus Jesus came to redeem us, to die for us, to regenerate us, to bring us back to Himself (II Corinthians 5:19)
In that God is eternally separated from sin, He exists in a dimension beyond us in sinless splendor. As sinners, we cannot cross over the chasm between us and God, and if such a feat were possible, we could not endure the glory of His holy presence. Thus people in the Old Testament realized that no one could look upon the face of God and live (Genesis 32:30; Exodus 3:6, 33:20; Judges 6:22).
Yet God, dwelling in His own unapproachable light of unstained holiness, dimmed His splendor by the Incarnation so that we could see His glory in His Son, Jesus Christ (II Corinthians 4:6; John 1:14). In that He took upon Himself the form and flesh of man, (Philippians 2:5-8), He identified with us, and now the man Christ Jesus serves as the mediator between God and men (I Timothy 2:5).
Someone observed that Jesus Christ became one of us in His birth; that is, He wore our humanity; He became one with us in life, that is, He shared our infirmities; He became one for us in His death, that is, He bore our iniquities; and He is one in us by His Spirit, that is, He imparts to us His holiness.
While we could not approach God because of our sins, His love built a bridge with the cross of Calvary to provide the path for us to regain the place with Him we lost in the Fall. He came to us in the likeness of sinful flesh to die in our place, taking our sins into His own stainless bosom, and He exhausted sin’s power by His love (II Corinthians 5:21). He took our curse that we might receive His blessings (Galatians 3:13-14). While He still sits upon the throne of holy Judgment, He cleanses our lips with the flaming coals from the altar of the Cross. He still inhabits the endless regions of eternity, but He also dwells in the person who comes to Him through Jesus Christ.
To the Hebrews, salvation was uniquely identified with God: “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation” (Isaiah 12:2). Historically, the Hebrews thought of salvation as deliverance from bondage in Egypt (Exodus 14:13; 15:2); from exile in Babylon, and from oppression by their adversaries.
In their personal, social, political, and economic experience the Hebrews recognized that they needed the help of God. Since they could not resolve their sinful problems by themselves, they sought God’s grace and help. God was their deliverer, but He also taught them about His holiness and their need for forgiveness.
The prophets proclaimed an amazing promise: God Himself would come personally to save them. The prophets wrote: “Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense; he will come and save you” (Isaiah 35:4). The prophet continued by stating that when God comes, the eyes of the blind will be opened, the deaf shall hear, the lame shall leap and walk, the mute shall speak, and the “ransomed of the LORD shall return…with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (Isaiah 35:5-10).
It is both interesting and instructive that Jesus associated this prophecy with His ministry. In His answer to John the Baptist’s question, “Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?” (Matthew 11:3). Jesus said. “Go and shew John again those things which ye do, hear and see” (Matthew 11:4).
The Hebrews realized that God was the source of their personal prophecies that God would choose a time when He would come to them as a man to save them lifted their eyes to a Messianic vision. They heard that Messiah would be a “child born and a son given” (Isaiah 9:6) and that He would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14). Moreover, His coming would be announced by a forerunner: “Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God” (Isaiah 40:3; Matthew 3:3).
The ministry of John the Baptist stirred the Jews to ask Messianic questions, and Jesus’ ministry convinced many people of His identity and mission.
The name Jesus means Jehovah has become my salvation, reflecting the words in Isaiah 12:2: “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my, salvation.” The angels declared at His birth that He was the “Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). This statement would be blasphemous if Jesus was not Jehovah manifested in flesh, for Jehovah is the only Savior (Isaiah 43:11). Jesus is “Emmanuel, which…is God with us” (Matthew 1:23). And Paul wrote that God was manifested in flesh (I Timothy 3:16), and that God was in Christ reconciling us to Himself (II Corinthians 5:19).
As the Lamb of God, Jesus bore our sins on the cross, opening the door of forgiveness and regeneration. Through the death of Jesus, the Son of God, God saves people from sin and its consequences. Thus Jesus, who is both God and man, is our Savior, and through His name we
obtain remission of our sins (Acts 4:12; 2:38: Hebrews 2:10; 9:11-15), and are reconciled to God (Ephesians 2:13-16), and experience the regeneration of our flawed nature (John 3:3,5; Titus 3:5).
Through the Tabernacle services God taught the Hebrews that sin
requires a sacrifice of atonement, providing a pattern for salvation that awaited the coming of Jesus Christ.
The cross revealed “the grace of God that bringeth salvation… to all men” (Titus 2:11). In other words, in Jesus God saves both Hebrews and Gentiles (Ephesians 2:1-22), for the gospel Christ is the “power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).
Salvation includes repentance, forgiveness, water baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, justification, reconciliation, regeneration, redemption, new birth, sanctification, deliverance, eternal life; it is freedom from guilt and condemnation, from the dominance of sin, and from the power of Satan. It restores the soul, revives the sprit, and remakes the character.
Salvation brings peace with God and the peace of God. It implants joy, confirms faith, stirs hope, and fills with love. It makes us not only sons of God but also friends with God. Salvation is each of these, all of these, and even more than all of these.
In promise, salvation is our resurrection, the rapture, redemption of our bodies, rewards, New heaven and New earth, New Jerusalem, and an inheritance that is “incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away” (1 Peter 1:4;1 Thessalonians 4:13-17; Romans 8:11-23; Revelations 22:12; 21:1 27).
God initiated salvation for us with the coming of Jesus Christ, His Son, and Jesus’ death on the cross. Today, God’s forgives us and regenerates our nature when we believe on Jesus, call upon His name in repentance and water baptism, and allow Him to fill us with His Spirit. We now await the return of Jesus, at whose coming we will be changed to be like Him.
This article “Saved by Jesus” written by J. L. Hall is excerpted from The Christian Newspaper, June 2000.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones”.