Chapter 6 of  Saving Faith

Jesus is Savior

by Bernie Koerselman
 


Table of Contents


 Introduction

Suppose you're  enjoying one of our beautiful San Diego beaches.  You wander into the water on a hot August day, delighting in its coolness.  The waves are fun and soon you're paddling on, and in, and through them.  You even try body surfing.  A wave catches you wrong and scrapes you in the sand; you decide  that's not for you.

You paddle beyond the breakers where it's much smoother.  You love the feeling of lift from the waves.  You lie on your back, floating and enjoying.

You didn't notice that you drifted south along the beach into an area which has a strong undertow.  It's getting cool and you want to sunbathe so you try swimming to shore, only to find a current so strong that you make no headway.  Soon you're worried.  As you tire, you panic.  You yell for help, but see none.  You shout again, but take in water as you try to attract attention.  You choke and can hardly breathe; you can't yell, and you lose strength.  When you're about to give up, a strong arm grabs you from behind.  Your face is lifted out of the water.  You can feel the strength of the tow.  Then everything becomes a blur.

The next thing you know you're on the beach, being held up by the waist as someone drains the water out of you.  You manage to cough and breathe on your own.  You look around to see people standing in a circle staring at you, and see the smile on the face of the young man bending over you who asks, "Feeling better?  Seems as though you were in trouble out there.  Hope I wasn't too rough with you."

Later you learn from bystanders that the young man had been swimming further offshore than you were.  When he heard your cries for help he immediately started toward you.

That young man was your savior.  What do you feel for him?  Surely you feel gratitude.  What else do you feel?  Do you love him?  Probably not, though for a moment you may.  Will you invite him to dinner, then to your home, and develop an intimate friendship with him for the rest of your life?  Probably not.

Would you have any continuing relationship with the young man because he saved your life?  Likely not, though you might send him Christmas cards for many years thereafter.  After your first overwhelming feelings of gratitude, thoughts of him may fade.  After a few weeks or months or years you may hardly remember his name, though you will never forget the incident or what he did.

Response to Jesus As Savior

What if salvation could be had by accepting Jesus as our Savior?  What would be our principal response to him?  It would be gratitude, would it not?  We do feel gratitude toward Jesus as our Savior, don't we?  I surely do.  But if that were the message of the New Testament, we could use a scissors and cut away most of the New Testament because most of it deals with Jesus Christ as Lord.

Is Jesus our Savior?  Yes!  Is it correct to state that if we accept or receive Jesus as our Savior we will have eternal life?  No!

Does Scripture say that believing in Jesus as Savior, or having faith in him as Savior, or accepting him as Savior, or receiving him as Savior is sufficient for salvation?  Not in my Bibles.  Nowhere does Scripture state any such idea.

All heresies seek to have us believe in someone other than the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  When a heresy is radically different than biblical Christianity it's easy to recognize.  Mormonism, for example, is easy to spot as heresy, as is Jehovah's Witnesses.  The heresy we're talking about is so subtle that it has captured a large part of American Christendom.  The reason is that it uses all the right words.  It speaks of Jesus as Lord, as the Christ, and as the Son of God.  But it claims we can be saved by believing in Jesus as our Savior and fails to honor Jesus as Lord, as the Christ, or as the Son of God.

 Response to Jesus As Lord

Consider the difference in your response when you realize you are the servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Sovereign Ruler of the universe, one whose titles include King of kings and Lord of lords, and who is Lord of all.  As you begin to understand that this supreme Lord, who is head over all, wants a personal relationship with you, how do you respond?  Remember the parts of Scripture that you cut away with your scissors?  That's the part that tells us what God wants our response to be to himself,  to his Son, and to each other based on Christ Jesus as our Lord.  We'll discuss that in Section II:  What Is a Saving Faith?

 SALVATION IS IN WHOM?

In whom are we to believe so we may have eternal life?  In prior chapters we've learned that anyone who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ will be saved.2   Scripture associates salvation with the titles Lord, and Christ, and Son of God, but not with the title Savior.

Many scriptures answer the question, "Salvation is in Whom?"  Paul wrote one to the Thessalonian believers who were worried they had missed the second coming of Christ.  Paul reassured them:  "God did not appoint us to suffer wrath, but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ."3   He summarized the gospel for the Romans:  "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."4

Salvation is in the Lord Jesus ChristChrist Jesus our Lord.

 The Name of the Savior

Let's use another tack to come to the same conclusion.  What is the Savior called?  Or, asked differently, what is the name of the Savior?

Angels announced the birth of the Christ-child to shepherds in a field watching their sheep.  The angels said to them, "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord."

Another time Paul wrote to the Philippian church.  After he exhorted them to live the Christian life and not as enemies of the cross, he said, "Our citizenship is in heaven.  And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ."6

What is the name of the Savior?  The angels called him Christ the Lord.  Paul said he is the Lord Jesus Christ.  The Savior is Christ (the one who has fulfilled the prophecies about the Christ) the Lord (who has all power and authority in heaven and on earth).

 WHAT CHRIST'S DEATH ACCOMPLISHED

A parallel heresy is sometimes stated:  "If you believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins, you will have eternal life."  There is no statement in Scripture that comes close to agreeing with that.

Christ's death on the cross didn't save us, but we couldn't be saved without it.  It is because of his death that Scripture states we are saved by grace, that our salvation is a gift of God.  Before anyone knew that it was necessary, he died so that all who believe in him may live.

No person on earth asked Jesus to die for him.  God asked him to die so we could be saved; Jesus agreed and was crucified for us.  The gift of God is already given.  It's nothing we can earn, nothing we deserve; it is truly unmerited favor.

That's not the end of the story.  Everyone isn't saved.  By itself Christ's death didn't save anyone, but his death made it possible for everyone to be saved.8

What did Christ's death accomplish?  How did his death make it possible for you and me to be saved?  Scripture speaks of what he did several different ways.  Jesus reconciled us to God; he saved his people from their sins; he atoned for our sins, he was a ransom for us; he redeemed us.

Looking at what he did, we quickly get the sense that we're  in deep trouble.  There's an obvious sense that we're being held for ransom, that we're captives that need to be redeemed, that we're under sentence and need atonement, that we're alienated and need reconciliation, that we're condemned for our sins and need to be saved.

 He Saved His People from Their Sins

An angel told Joseph that Jesus would save his people from their sins.9   That's what he did.10   Notice that it is "his people" he will save from their sins.  Paul said the Lord Jesus Christ gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age.11 
Was Christ's death on the cross necessary?  Yes, because the wages of sin is death,12 but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.13

Because of our sinful nature, all of us were alienated from God and were his enemies in our minds because of our evil behavior (our sins).14 

 God Reconciled Us to Himself through Christ

God reconciled us to himself15  by Christ's physical body through death to present us holy16 in his sight, blameless and free from accusation.17   Notice who reconciled us?  Repeatedly Scripture emphasizes that God reconciled us to himself through Christ.18
We are reconciled to God if we continue in our faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord.19

 Everyone Is Prospectively Reconciled

Is everyone reconciled to God because of Christ's death?  No, but everyone can be.20

Paul told the Colossians they were reconciled by Christ's physical body through death;21  to the Romans he wrote that they were reconciled to God through the death of his Son.22   These letters were to the believers23  who had been reconciled to God by the death of the Christ.

If we're reconciled, are we saved?  Paul taught:  "How much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life.  Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ,24  through whom we have now received reconciliation."25

We are reconciled to God through his death.  We are saved through his life,26  by a saving faith in the living Lord Jesus Christ.27

 Be Reconciled to God

Paul explained.  "All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:  that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them.  And he has committed to us that message.28

"We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.  We implore you on Christ's behalf:  Be reconciled to God."29

 He Redeemed Us

What does it mean to be redeemed?  (a)  To buy back, such as to buy back mankind from slavery to sin.30   (b)  To free from captivity by means of a ransom; mankind has been held captive to sin; the ransom is the blood of Christ Jesus.  (c)  To release from blame or debt.  We were subject to the judgment of God because of our sin; Christ Jesus paid our debt with his blood; he redeemed us.

When the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.31  He rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.32   He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.33   For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.34

He redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written:  "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree."35 He gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.36 

It was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that we are redeemed, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.37   In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace.38   He entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.39

He Atoned for Our Sins

To atone means to supply the satisfaction for a debt or a penalty.  God presented Jesus as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood.40    Jesus supplied the satisfaction for the penalty required because of our sin.

What is that penalty?  It is spiritual death – the second death – the lake of fire, for all eternity!41   When Jesus died on the cross and shed his blood, he once for all42  paid the price – his life and shed blood, a penalty we could not pay.43   His atonement was truly an act of grace.44

 He Became a Ransom for Us

To ransom means to free from captivity.  Mankind was taken captive by sin,45  but the Son of Man came to give his life as a ransom for many.46

There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men.47   He is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance – now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.48

 Christians Are Justified by Christ's Blood

What else did Christ's death on the cross accomplish?  Christians are justified by Christ's blood that was shed on the cross for us.49

What does it mean to be justified?  We are no longer alienated from God or his enemies because of our sin; the penalty for our sin has been paid.  It was paid by the blood of Jesus; his shed blood satisfied the just requirement of God's law.50   Webster has a simple definition:  To release from sin and accept as righteous.

 Is Everyone Justified Before God?

Everyone isn't justified before God just as everyone isn't reconciled to him.  But everyone who meets God's conditions can be justified.51   Scripture says we can be justified freely.52   God doesn't seek to withhold justification; he wants it for everyone.53

 How Can We Be Justified?

The only one way each of us can be justified before God is by faith.54   For centuries the Roman Catholic Church taught that justification is by works, but Scripture teaches the opposite.  Paul sternly told the Galatians:  "You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace."55

Judaizers had come to the Galatians and tried to convince them that they had to follow the Jewish law in addition to their belief in Christ.  Paul forcefully said that was not true.  That was a different gospel – a heresy.56   Paul warned:  "If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!"57

What did Paul tell the Galatians was the correct understanding about justification?  "We who are Jews by birth and not `Gentile sinners' know that a man isn't justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.  So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified."58

The question must have been talked about at length in the early church.  Paul addressed it again when he wrote to the Corinthians.  After reminding them that many of them were morally debased before coming to Christ he said:  "But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name59 of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."60

Justification is by faith – faith in Jesus Christ our Lord.

 CONFESS AND BELIEVE

To understand what God requires of us, let's look more carefully at a familiar passage: What is the emphasis in these verses?  Isn't it that Jesus is Lord and that salvation is in Jesus as Lord?  They say we are to confess that Jesus is Lord, that the same Lord is Lord of all, and that all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Looking again at the first paragraph of the verses, note two things we must do to be saved.  We must confess that Jesus is Lord, and believe that God raised him from the dead.

 Our Lord Is Alive and Risen!

Why believe that God raised him from the dead?  Because we serve a risen Lord, a real, live, personal Lord.  The Lord Jesus Christ can only be one with all authority in heaven and on earth if he is alive.  He can be the head of his church and Lord of all, only if he is alive.  He is alive; God raised him from the dead.  Believing that is essential to our salvation.62

Why confess that Jesus is Lord?  Doubtless because God requires us to make public the fact that Jesus is our Lord.63   To confess Jesus is Lord is not simply to repeat those words.  It is a personal confession, not only that Jesus truly is Lord and that he is Lord of all, but that he is my personal Lord.

Did you notice the tense of the verb?  Jesus is Lord!  That is present tense.  He must be and continue to be our Lord.  That's exactly what Paul told the Colossians:  we are reconciled to God if we continue in the faith.64

 Crossing the Chasm

Imagine a huge chasm before us.  There is a beautiful country on the other side, but the chasm seems to have no bottom and the other side is far away with no way to bridge it.  The other side is visible enough to see it's infinitely better than our side, but there's no way to get there.65

The ruler of that beautiful country sent his Son, Jesus, who placed a narrow road across the chasm to permit those on our side to cross to the other side.  At the entrance to the road on our side Jesus placed a gate and over it a sign, "JESUS IS LORD."

Inexplicably, most don't choose to take Jesus' route to the other side.  Admittedly his route and the gate are so narrow that nothing can be taken along.  His route must compete with a big, wide, beautiful road with signs that say it goes to that beautiful country on the other side.  But it doesn't.

That's the story Jesus told:  "Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."66

The heresy we discuss in this section fulfills Jesus' story.  Millions follow the easy, attractive way of believing in Jesus as Savior in order to cross the chasm.  Unfortunately, their wide road doesn't get to the other side; it leads to destruction.

 Salvation Is in Him

What about the gate?  Jesus said it was narrow.  He also said, "I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.67
The thrust of the salvation passages is that our salvation is found in a person – the Lord Jesus Christ.  By now you're aware of that.  Knowing that, other passages will come alive in a wholly new way.

Consider Jesus' statement, "I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me."68   He is the life.  Now it seems so clear why we must believe that God raised him from the dead.69   We must confess him as Lord because he – the Lord Jesus Christ – is the way, the only way to the Father.

 Heresy Followers Cannot Enter

Suppose you believed that all you had to do was accept Jesus as your Savior and you'd have eternal life.70   Then you die and go to the final judgment.  You're called before the great white throne.  As you look around and watch the proceedings, you see that everyone there is being condemned.  Then it's your turn.  You present your defense:  "I'm entitled to enter heaven because I accepted Jesus as my Savior."

The Lord Jesus responds, "I don't know you."

You're astonished.  How can this be?  Does he have you confused with someone else?  You remind him, "I know the exact day I walked down the aisle in church and accepted you as my Savior.  I attended church regularly.  I took communion.  I taught Sunday School."

The Lord Jesus replies, "I don't know you or where you come from."

A similar scenario is recited in Scripture by Jesus:

How could anything be more horrible?  Facing an eternity of hell because you weren't taught, or wouldn't accept, the plain teaching of God's Word, that we are to have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and that he must be our Lord.

Let's look at a slightly different situation.  Suppose you were raised in the church.  You often refer to Jesus as Lord and even call him Lord when you pray.  But you didn't receive him as your Lord; you didn't obey him as your Lord.  You were active in church.  You even did miracles in Jesus' name.  When you die you appear before the great white throne for judgment.  Your name is called.  You confidently respond, "I'm entitled to enter heaven because I accepted the Lord Jesus as my Savior."

The Lord Jesus responds, "I never knew you."

Horror fills you.  Are you to be condemned as the others around you have been?  You make another appeal:  "Lord, I did miracles in your name!  I was a pillar of my church.  I gave regularly.  You must remember."

The Lord replies, "Away from me, you evildoer!  I never knew you."

That scenario was also taught by Jesus.  Jesus spoke about what will happen at the last judgment to those who didn't receive him as Lord and obey his word:

Then the angel will command the condemned ones assembled before the great white throne:  "At the name of Jesus you shall bow the knee.  Now confess aloud that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."73  

 No Scripture Shows Salvation in Jesus As Savior

Could any rational mind accept that God would cause his Scripture to show us how to have salvation by believing in the Son of God and the Lord Jesus and Jesus Christ, and then omit showing us that we can have salvation by believing in Jesus as Savior if salvation is possible by believing in Jesus as Savior?  I think not.

 JESUS DIDN'T CLAIM TO BE SAVIOR

In prior chapters we saw this warning by Jesus:  "If you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins."74

Who did Jesus claim to be?  He claimed to be Lord, the Christ, the Son of God, the Son of Man, and Teacher.  The purpose for which he came to earth was to save his people from their sins.75   That purpose will be frustrated for those who don't believe Jesus is the one he claims to be.

Jesus never called himself Savior, nor did anyone ever address him as Savior in the gospels.76   Two gospels, Matthew and Mark, don't use the title Savior even once.  In both Luke and John, the title Savior is used only one time in each book in referring to Jesus.77

Jesus saves us78  from our sins if we believe he is who he claimed to be.  If we believe only in him as Savior, something he didn't claim, we will die in our sins.  There is no salvation for anyone who dies in their sins.  If there could be, Jesus would have died in vain.79   We must understand the urgency of correctly believing who Jesus is.  It isn't a casual matter or simply a matter of semantics.  It is fulfilling or denying the clear warning of Jesus;  we will  either have our sins forgiven or die in them.

 The Heresy Has No Basis in Scripture

By now you have seen evidence piled upon evidence that the heresy that salvation may be had by accepting80  Jesus as Savior is a concoction of man.  It has no basis whatsoever in Scripture;  it is an invention of man designed to tickle men's ears so they may be told what they want to hear.81

 The Heresy Promotes the Wrong Response to Jesus

We mentioned before that the heresy promotes a feeling of gratitude toward Jesus because he is our Savior.  That is not the response that God requires of us.  What he requires will be shown in Section II:  A Saving Faith.

GOD IS OUR SAVIOR

Did you know that God the Father is also described in Scripture as our Savior?  More than that, God is spoken of as the primary person responsible for our salvation.  If you said, "No, I didn't know," you echo my answer before I studied this issue.  No wonder this heresy has convoluted everything.  It also tries to cause us to lose sight of God's great part in our salvation.

 God As the First Cause of Our Salvation

The most familiar verse in Scripture shows God's part in our salvation: Notice that God so loved, and God gave,84 and God sent in order to save the world.  What else did God do?  God has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight.85   God sent his own Son to be a sin offering.86   It is God who justifies87  those who have faith in Jesus.88   God presented the Christ as a sacrifice of atonement.89   God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.90   God has given us new birth into a living hope.91   The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.92   According to the will of our God and Father, Jesus gave himself for our sins.93

God's roles are primary to our salvation.  God loved, God gave, God sent, God reconciled, God justifies, God appointed us to receive salvation, God has given us new birth into a living hope, God gave the gift of eternal life, and according to God's will, Jesus gave himself for our sins.

 God As Savior and Jesus As Savior Work Together

Immediately prior are seven scriptures which show God's role in our salvation.  Note that most of the verses also refer to the Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, and his part in our salvation.94

The following scripture states, more powerfully than any other, God's role as Savior who saved us.  Twice it emphasizes that God saved us:

The above scripture uniquely describes the participation in our salvation of God the Father, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus Christ.

 God's Participation Is Fundamental to Our Salvation

It isn't even possible for you and me to come to a saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ without God the Father's help.  Jesus said this most surprising statement:  "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him."97 

Heresy which claims salvation consists of believing in Jesus as Savior seems to deny God's role as our Savior.  It's not unusual to hear it said that we have only one Savior and that Savior is Jesus.  We know from the prior scriptures that isn't true.

 Jesus Taught That God, His Father, Planned Our Salvation

To deny God as our Savior is contrary to the teachings of Jesus.  Jesus made God pre-eminent in everything.  He even said, "My Father is greater than all.98   The Father is greater than I."99

Consider some of the ways in which Jesus emphasized the role of God in our salvation:

Jesus Said God the Father Sent Him

Over and over Jesus told the people that God, his Father, sent him.100   Sometimes he just referred to God as "him who sent me."101   Jesus said he was from God;102  he came from God;103  he did not come on his own.104   He was sent into the world.105

Jesus said it was important that the people believe that God sent him.106   He cried out, "When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me."107

Jesus Said He Taught and Did Only What the Father Told Him

The good news of the gospel was not something Jesus made up.  It came from the Father.  Jesus said, "He who sent me is reliable, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.108   For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it.109   I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say."110   "These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me."111

He continued, "The world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me."112

Jesus Said We Must Do His Father's Will

Because everything Jesus said came from God, what Jesus taught and commanded is God's will.  Jesus said that only those who do the will of his Father will enter the kingdom of heaven.113

Jesus' Brothers Are Those Who Do the Father's Will

Jesus emphasizes that doing the Father's will is all-important.  Jesus illustrated his relationship with those who do the Father's will by saying, "Here are my mother and my brothers.  For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother."114

Jesus Said We Must Believe "Him Who Sent Me"

Whatever Jesus said is what the Father told him to say.  Knowing that, we know that to believe what Jesus said is to believe what the Father told Jesus to say.  Then we can understand Jesus' statement, "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life."115

Jesus Said the Father Lives in Him

The Father is intimately involved in our salvation, even to the point of being in Jesus.  Jesus said "Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does.  But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.116   Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me?  The words I say to you are not just my own.  Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.117   Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.118
 
Jesus showed us our part in that relationship:  "I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you."119

Eternal Life Is from the Father and the Son

Jesus said, "My Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life.120   Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.121

Jesus Did God's Will

Jesus said his food is to do the will of God and to finish his work.122   Though Jesus prayed that the crucifixion be taken from him, he added, "Yet not as I will, but as you will."123   It is apparent that it was God's will that Jesus sacrifice himself for our sins.

The Holy Spirit Comes from the Father

Jesus said he will ask the Father and he will give another Counselor (the Holy Spirit) to be with believers forever.124   The Father will send the Holy Spirit in Jesus' name.125   Jesus also said, "When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me."126 

God Gave Jesus Authority

God, the Father, gave Jesus authority over all people that Jesus might give eternal life to all the Father gave him.127   He gave him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.128   The Father gave his Son authority to lay his life down and authority to take it up again.129   Finally, God made Jesus Lord of all, granting him all authority in heaven and on earth.130

 Unfair Denial of God's Role in Our Salvation

Jesus sought to bring his disciples to God, his Father.131   In a wonderful reciprocity, it is God the Father who draws people to Jesus,132  and provides that everything associated with our salvation must be in, by, or through the Lord Jesus Christ.133


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Footnotes

1 The section "What Is A Saving Faith?" presents the response God seeks from us when Jesus is our Lord.
2 Acts 16:31, John 3:36, and John 17:3.  As the title Son of God is equivalent to Lord, but used far less often, the text will refer to Jesus as Lord but include Jesus as the Son of God whenever appropriate.
3  1 Thessalonians 5:9.  This is the third time this scripture is used to prove the point of the person in whom salvation is found.
4  Romans 6:23.  Other scriptures were written by Paul to his spiritual son, Timothy, who was young and needed Paul's fatherly advice.  Using himself as an example, Paul said, "I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 2:10).  Paul acknowledged that Timothy had known the Scriptures from infancy, which, he told Timothy, "are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 3:15).
5  Luke 2:11.  The angels didn't use the name Jesus because he hadn't yet been named by his parents.  Note the angels said "a" Savior.
6  Philippians 3:20-21.  Note that Paul said, "a" Savior.
7  Ephesians 2:8-9.
8  Hebrews 2:9; 7:27, 9:26, and 1 Peter 3:18.
9  Matthew 1:21.
10  Hebrews 9:26 says Christ appeared once for all to do away with sin by sacrificing himself.  Hebrews 9:15 states that Christ died as a ransom to set us free from our sins.
11  Galatians 1:4-5.
12  Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned (Romans 5:12).
13  Romans 6:23.
14  Colossians 1:21.
15  See also 2 Corinthians 5:18:  All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ.  See Paul's similar statement to the Romans:  "When we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son" (Romans 5:10).  God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross (Colossians 1:19-20).
16  "To present us holy" may be more easily understood "in order to present us holy" as it has a qualification.  See also Hebrews 10:10:  And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
17  Colossians 1:22.  Those verses should never be quoted without the verse completing the thought:  if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel.  This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant (Colossians 1:23).
18  We saw earlier that God also is our Savior, that he is the one who loved and gave and sent and reconciled.  Paul said we rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation (Romans 5:11).
19  Colossians 1:23.
20  Hebrews 7:27.
21  Colossians 1:22.
22  Note that the titles Christ and the Son of God are often equivalent.
23  Paul began his letter to the Colossians:  To the holy and faithful brothers in Christ at Colosse: Grace and peace to you from God our Father (Colossians 1:2).  To the Romans he wrote:  To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints (Romans 1:7).
24  Note the introduction of a third title, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Paul freely interchanged the titles Son of God, Christ, and Lord Jesus Christ, but not Savior.  Though the passages speak of the very act by which the Christ is said to have saved us, he is not referred to as Savior in those verses.
25  Romans 5:9-11:  Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!  For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
26  Romans 5:9-10.  The Apostle John said that he who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life (1 John 5:12).
27  Romans 10:9-10,13.
28  2 Corinthians 5:18-19.
29  2 Corinthians 5:20.
30  Romans 7:14:  I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.
31  Galatians 4:4-5.
32  Colossians 1:13-14.
33  Galatians 3:14.
34  Romans 3:23-24.
35  Galatians 3:13.
36  Titus 2:14.
37  1 Peter 1:18-19.
38  Ephesians 1:7.
39  Hebrews 9:12.
40  Romans 3:25.
41  Revelation 20:15.
42  Hebrews 7:27, 9:26, 10:10, and 1 Peter 3:18.  It is because Christ's sacrifice was once for all that the Catholic Eucharist is such serious error.  In it, the priest claims to sacrifice Jesus again each and every time.
43  God required a perfect sacrifice, an unblemished lamb.  We could not qualify; we've all been tainted by sin.  Only Jesus could qualify as the perfect lamb (John 1:29); he was without sin (Hebrews 4:15).  See also 2 Corinthians 5:21:  God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
44  Grace means unmerited favor, nowhere more perfectly shown than in Christ's death on the cross.  We could not have merited his sacrifice.  It occurred before we were aware of our need for it.
45  Romans 6:16:  You are slaves to the one whom you obey – whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness.
46  Mark 10:45.  Also Matthew 20:28.
47  1 Timothy 2:5-6.
48  Hebrews 9:15.
49  Romans 5:9.
50  Hebrews 9:22:  Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin.
51  Are these conditions difficult?  Jesus said, "My yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:30).  Even in Old Testament times, under the prior covenant, God's conditions were not too difficult to fulfil.  Moses said of the Mosaic Law:  "Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach" (Deuteronomy 30:11).
52  Romans 3:24.
53  2 Peter 3:9:  The Lord is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.  See also Matthew 18:14:  In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.
54  Romans 3:28.
55  Galatians 5:4.
56  Galatians 1:6.
57  Galatians 1:9.
58  Galatians 2:15-16.  Why would Paul say that some were Jews by birth and not "Gentile sinners?"  He pointed out that the Jews, in the past obligated to obey the Judaic law, knew they were not justified before God by observing it.  Paul stated three times that the object of faith must be Christ.
59  Remember that to believe in or have faith in the name of someone meant to have faith in all that he is.  This is particularly significant when considering the name Lord Jesus Christ.  It incorporates everything about Jesus, his divinity as the Son of God, his fulfillment of all prophecy, his great power and authority over all in heaven and on earth, even his blood.  That is why Paul could say, "God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood" (Romans 3:25).
60  1 Corinthians 6:11.
61  Romans 10:9-13.
62  I must have been in hundreds of Roman Catholic cathedrals in Europe and elsewhere.  Christ is usually presented as hanging on a cross or dead in the arms of Mary, or in some other scene preceding his death, such as the twelve steps of the cross.
63  Fifty-seven times the words "our Lord" appear in the New Testament, emphasizing the personal possessive nature of our relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ.
64  Colossians 1:23.  The need to continue is stated many times elsewhere, e.g.:  Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.  By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you.  Otherwise, you have believed in vain (1 Corinthians 15:1-2).  Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off (Romans 11:22).  We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first (Hebrews 3:14).
65  We were alienated from God and were enemies in our minds because of our evil behavior (Colossians 1:21).
66  Matthew 7:13-14.
67  John 10:9-10.
68  John 14:6.
69  Romans 10:10.
70  This refers to people who have not confessed Jesus Christ as their Lord.  We must make that distinction as there are many who profess that one need only accept Jesus as Savior to have eternal life, but who naturally also confess him as their Lord.
71  Luke 13:24-27.
72  Matthew 7:21-23.
73  Philippians 2:10-11.
74  John 8:24.  Note the important use of the pronoun "I."  Jesus did not include what others said about him.  He said we must believe what he said about who he is.  Others said he is Savior.  Jesus said he is Lord, the Christ, the Son of God.  As we've seen in prior chapters, all salvation passages of the Bible have one or more of these three titles.
75  The angels prophecy about Jesus to Joseph:  "Mary will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21).
76  This is not to suggest that Jesus didn't know he was a Savior.  In non-explicit ways, Jesus told that he would save.  For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost" (Luke 19:10).  "I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.  He will come in and go out, and find pasture" (John 10:9).  But he never claimed that he was a Savior by using the title.
77  The two scriptures in the gospels which mention Jesus as Savior are:  "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:11) and "They said to the woman, `We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world'" (John 4:42).
78  "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost" (Luke 19:10).  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him (John 3:17).
79  Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15).
80  Or believing or receiving or having faith in Jesus as Savior.
81  Paul prophesied to Timothy:  "For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine.  Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.  They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths" (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
82  See also Romans 5:8.  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
83  John 3:16-17.  See also 1 John 4:14:  The Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.
84  Because Jesus is spoken of as God's "only begotten Son," we know that God refers to God the Father.
85  Colossians 1:22.  Paul taught the same message to the Corinthians:  All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ (2 Corinthians 5:18).
86  Romans 8:3.
87  Romans 8:33.
88  Romans 3:26.
89  Romans 3:25.
90  1 Thessalonians 5:9.
91  1 Peter 1:3.
92  Romans 6:23.
93  Galatians 1:4.
94  Though God's primary role is evident, it is with the participation of Christ Jesus our Lord.  Consider this:  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him (John 3:17).  It is God who sent Jesus to save the world.  Our salvation is accomplished through God's Son.
  Peter spoke of the cooperative roles of the Father and the Son in our salvation:  "Through Jesus you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God" (1 Peter 1:21).
95  In addition to the specific mention of God as Savior in this passage, God is referred to as Savior seven additional times in the New Testament:  Luke 1:47, 1 Timothy 1:1, 2:3, 4:10, Titus 1:3, 2:10, and Jude 1:25.
96  Titus 3:4-6.  Paul wrote similarly to Timothy:  ". . . God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel" (2 Timothy 1:8-10).
97  John 6:44.  Repeating that, John 6:65:  No one can come to Jesus unless the Father has enabled him.  As an example of the Father's involvement in our salvation, consider Peter's confession of faith; Jesus said the Father revealed it to Peter (Matthew 16:17).
98  John 10:29.
99  John 14:28.  This is consistent with Paul's teaching in 1 Corinthians 15:  Then the end will come, when he [Jesus] hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power.  For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet (24-25).  When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all (28).
100  John 5:23,36,37, 6:44, 8:16,18,42, 17:3.
101  John 4:34, 5:24,30, 6:39, 7:16, 8:26, 12:44.
102  John 7:29.
103  John 8:42, 17:8.
104  John 8:42.
105  John 10:36.
106  John 11:42, 17:8,21,23,25.
107  John 12:44, 13:20.  We've learned that we are to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and we will be saved.  When we believe in Jesus as our Lord, we are also believing in God who sent him.
108  John 8:26.
109  John 12:49.
110  John 12:50.
111  John 14:24.  See also John 14:10.
112  John 14:31.
113  Matthew 7:21.
114  Matthew 12:49.
115  John 5:24.
116  John 10:37-38.
117  John 14:10.
118  John 14:11.
119  John 14:20.
120  John 6:40.
121  John 17:3.
122  John 4:34.
123  Matthew 26:39,42.
124  John 14:16.
125  John 14:26.
126  John 15:26.
127  John 17:2.
128  John 5:27.
129  John 10:18.
130  Matthew 28:18.
131  Jesus began the prayer he taught his disciples, "This, then, is how you should pray:  "Our Father in heaven.'" (Matthew 6:9).
132  John 6:44:  "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him."  John 6:65:  No one can come to Jesus unless the Father has enabled him.
133  Two examples of in Christ:  Romans 6:23:  For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  God justifies those who have faith in Jesus (Romans 3:26).  An example of by Christ is Colossians 1:22:  But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight.  Two examples of through Christ:  John 3:17:  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  Romans 5:1:  Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.