15/06/16An awesome truth we must keep reminding ourselves of is that we have a Saviour. And two, that He isn’t you or me. The Saviour is Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of the Living God.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the only Saviour of the believer’s spirit, soul and body, and nothing the believer does or does not do, adds to or negates His place in our lives as Saviour.
Now, this may sound obvious to some readers but I have found out that very few born again Christians (at least in Uganda where I live and do most of my ministry) really have a functional understanding of what Jesus being our Saviour means. So often, I have asked people this question: ‘What do you mean when you say Jesus Christ is your Saviour?’ The responses I get reveal to me how so few of God’s precious children really have a revelation of the absolute completeness of work Jesus Christ accomplished to save us from sin and its penalty.
What percentage is Jesus your Saviour?
Many born again Christians believe that the salvation of their lives cannot be guaranteed 100% simply by trusting in Jesus’ sacrificial death alone; but rather that the believer also has to maintain a level of good works (or holiness) if they are to be sure that they will eventually qualify to go to heaven. In other words, salvation is dependent on Jesus’ performance maybe up to 50%, or 70% or even 90%, but certainly not 100%. We have to add our good performance to what Jesus accomplished if we are to be certain that we shall be saved eternally. What this belief really translates into is that Jesus is our Saviour up to a point, and we are our own saviours the rest of the way.
I heard a preacher once try to illustrate how the grace of God helps in our salvation. He said it is like a weak, tottering man is on his way to a city, but he is taking forever to get there. And then Jesus comes along with grace, and strengthens the man and helps him, and so the guy eventually gets to the city. Thus Jesus was not this man’s solution 100%, but merely part of the solution in his journey. The man had to work hard to reach the city, Jesus only helping along. If he had sat somewhere and stopped struggling to reach the city, he would never have reached, even if Jesus came along into his life. In ignorance, people clapped and cheered the preacher over this illustration but really, this is heretical!
The good news, my friend, is that the Lord Jesus did not come to earth merely to help us along as we struggle to save ourselves. Jesus came as our total and only Saviour. He didn’t come to help us as we help ourselves; He came to help us because we could never help ourselves!
Salvation is not the result of trusting in Jesus plus trusting in our goodness. Salvation is the product of trusting in what Jesus accomplished through His death and resurrection and nothing else. (I use ‘salvation’ here to refer to all that Jesus died to avail to mankind, which is far more than just going to heaven. Salvation includes forgiveness, answered prayer, intimacy with the Lord, healing, deliverance, peace, joy, health, happy marriage, etc). Jesus plus nothing equals salvation. Jesus plus our good works equals religion, and true Christianity has never been a religion! Yes, we are to maintain good works and live holy, but not so we can help Jesus in saving us!
Love found a way
On the night the Lord Jesus was born, an angel announced His birth to a couple of shepherds in the following words:
‘Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord’. (Luke 2:10-11).
The angel said the birth of Jesus was the birth of a Saviour, and that this was good news (gospel) of great joy to all people, not just to the Jewish people.
Now, to understand what the angel was talking about, we have to go back to the beginning. Back in Genesis, God created mankind as His children, whom He loved and turned over the earth to them as their inheritance (Genesis 1:26; Psalm 115:16). It was a fabulous relationship of deep intimacy that Papa God enjoyed with His kids in the Garden of Eden.
Then we all know what happened: Adam and Eve sinned, and Papa God’s agenda of having a large family to love, care for and share His life with was disrupted.
Now, God is also the Supreme Judge and Law Giver (Isaiah 33:22) who must be just. As Judge, He had to mete out justice to His children who had chosen to sin, and the penalty was that mankind had to die i.e. to be separated from God, and come under the same sentence as the devil, who was the first to ever sin (1 John 3:8). The devil filled man’s heart with his attitudes and ways, and people started hating and fighting against God, and destroying themselves and one another, as well as the earth.
But even as He meted out justice, Papa God’s heart was broken at the sight of His beloved kids being tormented and harassed by the devil. God’s heart welled up with love for His lost children, and so He made up His mind that He was going to find a way to get His family back, no matter the price! And how costly indeed that price proved to be!
Redeeming mankind back to the Family required that a sinless man must take the place of sinful humanity, and suffer the penalty that sinful man deserved. Man’s sin had to be punished. God could not just ignore or brush aside man’s sin, else He wouldn’t be just.
But since all people were sinners and were thus all subject to suffer sin’s penalty (Psalm 49:6-9), it turned out that the only way out was for God Himself to become that sinless man.
And that was what happened on the night Jesus was born. God Almighty stepped out of the majesty and glories of deity, entered into the womb of a little virgin girl, clothed Himself with human flesh (John 1:1, 14) and became like one of us so that He could pay the full penalty of our sin. God became one of us so that He could make a way for us to become some of His!
It was love, not anger, motivating Him. On the night God was born into the world as a Man, the angels sang out the Gospel, the good news of how Love had found a way to take man back into Papa God’s house and arms!
‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men’
The Saviour had been born. God was of good will toward mankind!
Born to die
But the journey wasn’t over just yet. The Holy Child born that night must die on our behalf before it would all work out. He wasn’t destined to live and raise a family, or own property, etc, like us. His mission was to save mankind and that required that He had to die. He became a Man so that He could die (Hebrews 2:9). He was born to die, so that we could live again!
And so 33 years later Jesus cried out as He hang on the cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30). It was a painful but triumphant cry: He had completed the task for which He had come. Sin was defeated. No longer would sin have the power to stop people from walking in God’s presence and fellowshipping with Papa God. Henceforth, all people who would put faith in Jesus and His death for them would have unrestricted access into relationship and fellowship with God (Hebrews 10:19). He had saved us from the ultimate penalty of sin, which is separation from God!
We have a Saviour
The work of salvation has been accomplished, and it was done by the Lord Jesus, not any of us. We didn’t suggest to Him that He should be born as a Man so He could die for us. We didn’t help Him die for us and so we should never try to help Him save us. Our Lord had to die to forgive our sins and bring us back to God because we could never do it ourselves. Therefore, it is an insult to Him to claim that our good works must be added to His suffering before we can be sure of salvation and intimacy with God. That is an affront against His Cross.
Jesus is the Saviour, and He is enough
The message of the Gospel is this: we have a Saviour, who paid the full price of redemption and all that He now requires from us is that we trust that what He did for us was enough. That is what brings peace and confidence in our walk with God. Oh, what a life awaits us when we finally learn to stop struggling and just rest in what the Master has done for us!
I remember the years I wallowed in defeat and misery, before I discovered the truth that Jesus is my only, total and complete Saviour, and that His work alone guarantees me access to God, to answered prayer, to intimacy with God, etc. Like many sincere believers, I thought being a serious Christian meant I had to add my performance to what Jesus had accomplished. So I put my trust half in Jesus and half in my good works such as confessing my sins, praying, reading the Bible, doing ministry, going to church, giving, etc. The problem was that no matter how hard I tried, my conscience kept reminding me that I was not measuring up in my good works to the mark required of me. And so I passed through long periods when I believed God wouldn’t have much to do with me because I had failed again, and again, and again! And when I thought I did good, I would get bloated inside with pride for how awesome and holy I was but soon, I would hit the bottom again, and I would wonder: what is wrong with me that I never measure up!!
I remember how I lived in guilt and self-condemnation for six years. It was terrible. I felt so low, so wicked, so nothing! I had committed what I considered to be a really big sin (it was a mistake concerning ministry) and I believed that God wouldn’t use me again until I suffered enough to pay for my sin. I believed God “put me on the shelf” and wouldn’t talk to me, fellowship with me, etc, until I learnt my lesson. Finally after 6 years, I felt like God said, ‘Okay, I give you another chance, but be a good boy this time, or you do that again and the punishment will be longer’. With the understanding I have now, I know it wasn’t the Holy Spirit beating me down with guilt all those six years. It was simply my un-enlightened conscience condemning me, according to what I had been taught that God relates with me based on my performance, and not on the performance of Christ.
I pray that the Lord will give each one reading this the understanding that we have a Saviour. God is no longer mad at us. Sin has been defeated. Anyone who puts faith in Christ is free from guilt and condemnation (Romans 8:1), not because of their performance but because of Christ’s performance. If our performance could save us, Jesus would never have needed to be born to die for us (Galatians 2:21).
Relax, child of God! Rest! You have a Saviour! If you have believed in Jesus as Lord and Saviour, you have total security of salvation. He paid for it with His life. Stop thinking you have to pay your way into God’s good books before He will bless you. God’s heaven and blessings are not on sale to the best performer. There is no best performer in this Kingdom, apart from Jesus! Salvation and all the benefits that go with it come to us as gifts of grace, fully paid for by our Saviour!
‘He that spared not His own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things’ – (Romans 8:32)
Put all your trust in Christ; in His love for you; in His ability to hold you up, and in His promise that He will present you to Himself without spot or wrinkle (Ephesians 5:25-27). You aren’t the one who rids yourself of spots and wrinkles and blemishes; He does, because He is the Saviour!
Forget about yourself and focus on Him. Look unto Him who is the author and finisher of your faith (Hebrews 12:2). He was born, He died and He rose again so He could save you totally, to the utmost. He defeated sin and death. He ascended back to heaven. He is seated at the right hand of God, and He is coming back soon. Focus on Him. He is the Saviour! The Saviour is here. Don’t try to take His place. Don’t try to do what only He could do. Let Him be your Saviour 100%, all the time! Do not insult Him by trying to also save yourself with your goodness! The only good He ever recognizes in you anyway is what He produces in and through you. Let Him be your only God and Saviour indeed, and you will be amazed at how enjoyable this salvation will become.