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Some neighbor kids and I made wooden boats and floated them in a drainage ditch near our house. A neighbor warned us the ditch was deep and the water was muddy; we could drown if we fell in. My boat floated under a bridge and, as I reached out from the shore to grab it, I slowly slid into the water.
I couldn't swim. I remember going under twice and was on the way down for the third time. Meanwhile the kids were up on the bridge screaming. The neighbor who had warned us heard the noise and jumped in to pull me out. He could not see me in the muddy water, but he kicked me as he jumped in. He was getting ready to go to town; a few minutes later and he would not have been there to save me.
I remember saying, "You saved my life. You saved my life."
We sometimes hear in the news of people who risk their lives to save someone else: firemen, policemen, etc.
The Bible often refers to God, especially Jesus, as our Savior.
John 4:42 - The Samaritans said, "...we have heard for ourselves and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world."
"Savior" means one who saves, delivers, rescues others from peril, danger, or calamity.
We want to consider some examples in which God has saved people from various dangers throughout history. We will consider specifically what it means to you and me today: why do we need Jesus as our Savior? Then we will consider what Jesus did so we could be saved, and what we must do to receive His salvation.
Consider the following facts about Jesus as our Savior:
The Bible reveals a pattern that God has repeatedly saved people from danger and destruction. Consider some Old Testament examples:
* Lot - Genesis 19:19 - God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for their evil, but first sent Lot out. Lot said (to the angel) that he had mercy and saved Lot's life. Note that God punishes the wicked, but saves the righteous.
* Jacob and his family - Genesis 50:20 [45:7] - Joseph's brothers had sold him as a slave into Egypt. Eventually he became governor of the land and brought his family there to keep them alive through a famine. He said that his brothers had meant to do him harm, but God used it to save many people alive. Note that God used the evil of wicked people to bring salvation to the righteous.
* Israel at the Red Sea - Exodus 14:13 [15:2] - When Israel was trapped between the Egyptian army and the Red Sea, Moses said to not be afraid but see the salvation of the Lord. God opened the sea so they passed on dry ground, then caused it to collapse and kill the Egyptians. Note that the means that God used to save the righteous also became a means to punish the wicked.
* Gideon and Israel - Judges 7:2,7 - God deliberately reduced the size of Gideon's army so they would not think they had saved themselves by their own hand. Instead, God said He would save them from the Midianites. Note that God requires men to act in order for Him to save them, but He makes clear that He Himself is the one who saved them. [6:14,15,36,37]
* David and Israel - 1 Samuel 17:47 - When David faced Goliath, he said that God does not save by sword or spear, but He would give victory over Goliath.
These and other examples illustrate the concept of a savior. A savior rescues or delivers others from peril or hardship.
The examples show that God can deliver people from problems that no one else can solve. When our situation seem hopeless and helpless, when we are powerless to save ourselves, that is when we need a Savior. God is the ultimate Savior. Only He has the solution to our greatest needs.
[Matthew 14:30; 2 Chronicles 32:22; Jeremiah 42:11; Nehemiah 9:27; Daniel 6:27; Numbers 10:9; 1 Samuel 7:8; 14:23; 2 Kings 19:34; 2 Chronicles 20:9; Hebrews 11:7; 2 Peter 2:5]
God has proved His power to rescue people from danger or calamity from which they are powerless to save themselves in the Old Testament. But why do you and I need a savior? What great danger or calamity do we face?
Matthew 1:21 - Before Jesus was born, the angel promised Joseph that Mary would bring forth a Son. He said to "call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." "Jesus" means "Jehovah is salvation" (or Jehovah is the Savior). But the salvation Jesus would bring was salvation from sin. [Luke 2:11]
Luke 19:10 - Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost. The reason man needs salvation is that he is lost in sin and cannot solve the problem by himself.
Acts 5:31 - God exalted Jesus to His right hand to be a prince and Savior and give repentance and forgiveness of sins. So the reason we need salvation is that we are guilty of sin. To be saved we need to repent so Jesus can forgive our sins.
1 Timothy 1:15 - This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Sin is transgression of God's law (1 John 3:4). The consequences of sin are such that sinners are condemned to eternal punishment and cannot save themselves.
1 Thessalonians 5:8,9 - God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. Our sins make us God's enemies, doomed to suffer eternal wrath. This wrath is described as a second death in a lake of fire (Rev. 20). But this is not what God wants for us. He wants us to be saved from sin through His Son.
This is the salvation that God offers through Jesus under the gospel.
[Romans 5:9,10; James 5:19,20; 2 Tim. 1:10; Heb. 2:2,3; Tit. 2:13,14; Rom. 6:23; Luke 1:77]
Many people do not appreciate the salvation Jesus offers because they do not realize they need it. But all people become sinners, so everyone needs salvation.
John 4:42 - The Samaritans said they had learned that Jesus is the Savior of the world.
Titus 2:11 - The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.
1 Timothy 2:3,4,6 - God our Savior desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. This is why Christ gave Himself as a ransom for all.
Romans 1:16 - The gospel is the power of God to salvation to everyone who believes, Jew and Gentile.
Mark 16:15,16 - This is why the gospel must be preached to every creature in the whole world.
Jesus is not the Savior of just a certain nation or race of people, nor of a certain group predetermined unconditionally before the world began. He offers salvation to everyone in the world, because everyone needs it.
All people eventually commit sin (Romans 3:23). This includes you and me. Our sins alienate us from God and doom us to eternal punishment. Since we have sinned against God, only God can declare the basis on which the sins will be forgiven. We are powerless by ourselves to remove the consequences of sin.
This means you and I need Jesus as our Savior. Only Jesus has the power to save everyone in the whole world from sin. He offers that salvation to all. It is up to you and me to decide whether or not we are willing to meet the conditions to receive it.
[John 12:47; Acts 13:47; 1 John 4:14]
Hebrews 7:25 - Jesus is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him. Sometimes people fear that they have committed some sin that can never be forgiven. This is true only of sins for which we will not repent. But if we are willing to completely turn from sin and come to Jesus for forgiveness according to the gospel, He is able to save to the uttermost.
And sometimes people have followed the gospel teaching to be forgiven, yet their consciences still bother them. They fear they are still going to be punished despite the forgiveness. True, there are sometimes consequences of our sins that carry over in this life. And we will always regret the fact we committed sin. But once the sin is forgiven, we are saved to the uttermost. There is simply no more guilt before God.
You and I need salvation by Jesus. No other power in the world can save from sin. Without Him, we are powerless. But His power can save all people from the eternal consequences of all our sins. Are you willing to accept His salvation?
What did Jesus had to do in order to become our Savior?
Luke 19:10 - The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.
1 Timothy 1:15 - Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.
Before He came to earth, Jesus was in heaven with God the Father, enjoying all the glory and power of Deity. He was the eternal Creator (John 1:1-3). But we His creatures were disobedient and doomed to punishment. God loved us so much He determined a way to avoid this for all who are willing to accept salvation.
Our goal is to leave earth and go to heaven. In order to become our Savior, Jesus had to leave the joys and privileges of heaven to come to earth to live as a man.
Romans 5:6-10 - When we were without strength - helpless and unable to save ourselves - Christ died for the ungodly. This is how we can be saved from wrath and reconciled to God. This is why Jesus had to come to earth as a man. As God, He could not die. But by becoming a man, he could suffer death and pay the penalty for our sins.
So you and I could be saved from the consequences of sin, Jesus was treated as a sinner. He suffered punishment He did not deserve so we could escape the punishment we do deserve. He suffered and died on the cross. Some people would suffer for a righteous man and maybe for a good man. But Jesus did this for us who are sinners.
Hebrews 9:28 - So Jesus was offered once to bear the sins of many. Our salvation will be complete when He comes again to take us to our eternal reward.
Romans 5:10 said we are reconciled by His death and saved by His life. This refers to His life after His death - i.e., His resurrection from the dead.
Hebrews 2:14 - Through death, He destroyed the power of death. But this required Him to be raised from the dead, thereby proving that someday we will all be raised from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:20-26).
1 Corinthians 15:17 - If Christ did not rise, then our faith is vain we are still in our sins. Had Jesus not been raised from the dead, Satan would have been the victor. By rising, Jesus proved His superior power over Satan, demonstrating His power to save us from sin.
1 Thessalonians 1:10 - Jesus, whom God raised from the dead, is the One who can deliver us from the wrath to come.
Jesus paid the greatest price anyone could pay to be our Savior. Through His suffering and victory, you and I have the hope of eternal life. What will we do with the opportunity? Do we appreciate how much we need Jesus as our Savior?
[I Tim. 1:15; I John 4:14; Eph. 5:23,25; I Pet. 2:24; Heb. 7:25]
Some people deny that we need to do anything to be saved. They tell us that Jesus is the Savior, so if we think that we must do something, we are denying or belittling Jesus as Savior. However, every example of salvation that we have studied demonstrates that God offers salvation, but people must act in order to receive it.
* Lot - Genesis 19:19 - God saved Lot from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, but Lot had to leave the city. Action was required.
* Jacob and his family - Genesis 50:20 [45:7] - God used Joseph to saved his family from the famine. But the people had to travel to Egypt to be saved. Action was required.
* Israel at the Red Sea - Exodus 14:13 [15:2] - God saved Israel from the Egyptian army by parting the Red Sea. But the people had to march through the sea. Action was required.
* Gideon and Israel - Judges 7:2,7 - God said He would save Israel by delivering them from the Midianites. But Gideon's men had to surround the enemy camp, blow trumpets, and hold torches. Action was required. [6:14,15,36,37]
* David and Israel - 1 Samuel 17:47 - God saved David from Goliath, but David still had to fight.
In every case, God was the Savior who met the people's need that they could not meet for themselves. But in every case the people had to act. They had to obey God's command to receive His salvation.
Hebrews 5:9 - Jesus is author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.
Philippians 2:12 - Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
We have learned that God offers salvation through Christ to all of us, and we all need that salvation. But just as in Old Testament examples, so today there are requirements we must meet to receive the salvation. As long as we deny or neglect the need for obedience, we will never be saved. [James 2:14-26]
What are the conditions we must meet?
Acts 11:14 - The angel told Cornelius to send for Peter who would tell him words by which he and his house could be saved. That message is the gospel.
James 1:21 - James instructs men to receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save our souls.
[1 Corinthians 1:18,21; 15:2; 2 Timothy 3:15; 2 Peter 2:20]
Romans 1:16 - The gospel is the power of God to salvation to everyone who believes, Jew and Gentile.
Mark 16:15-16 - Jesus said, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned."
The gospel is the message by which God reveals how we can be saved from sin. To receive that salvation, we must learn and believe the message.
[Romans 10:9,10; Acts 16:31; Ephesians 2:8,9;
Acts 5:31 - God exalted Jesus to His right hand to be a prince and Savior and give repentance and forgiveness of sins.
2 Corinthians 7:10 - For godly sorrow produces repentance to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.
Repentance requires us to be willing to change our lives to serve God according to the gospel message. When we realize what God has done through Jesus to offer salvation, and when we understand the consequences of not being saved, what sensible person would refuse to repent?
Romans 10:9,10 - With the heart one believes to righteousness and with the mouth confession is made to salvation.
One must have strong enough conviction about Jesus as his Savior that he is willing to openly profess that he knows who Jesus is.
Mark 16:15,16 - We have seen that the faith that a person needs in order to be saved is a faith that must lead him to obey Jesus' teaching. Jesus specifically stated that faith must lead to baptism if one is to be saved.
1 Peter 3:21 - Baptism also now saves us.
Baptism is a condition necessary to receive salvation by the blood of Jesus, because one is baptized into Christ (Romans 6:3). In baptism, ones sins are washed away (Acts 22:16), so he receives the remission of sins (Acts 2:38).
Matthew 10:22 - He who endures to the end will be saved.
When people truly understand their need for salvation and the great sacrifice that Jesus made to make salvation possible, surely they should willingly meet the conditions of salvation.
[Acts 2:47; Eph. 5:23,25; 1:13; 2 Thess. 2:10,13; Heb. 10:39; I Cor. 1:21; 15:2ff; 1 Tim. 4:16; Tit. 3:5; Mk. 8:35; Luke 9:24; 8:11,12]
God has repeatedly admonished people that He offers salvation that no one else can offer.
Isaiah 43:11 - Besides Me there is no Savior. [45:21,22; Hosea 13:4]
Acts 4:12 - Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."
You and I need salvation that only God can offer. He has proved repeatedly in the past that He does have the power to save. He has sent His only begotten Son to die for our salvation. Will you accept the salvation only He can give?
2 Corinthians 6:2 - Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. Why not receive the salvation God offers today?
Copyright 2009, David E. Pratte; www.gospelway.com
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Scripture quotations are generally from the New King James Version (NKJV), copyright 1982, 1988 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. used by permission. All rights reserved.