7/28/19

Savior

 

Paul said a trustworthy saying is that “Jesus came into the world to save sinners, and [he] was the worst” (1 Timothy 1:15)

 

By all accounts George Frederic Handel was only an average musician in the process of retiring at age 56 when a friend gave him a libretto, an opera text, based on the life of our Savior.  It was really just text after text from Scripture, from predictions of His birth to His triumph in Revelation as “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”  Han-del shut himself in his apartment in London for 24 days, and composed the music, so enthralled that he took little time to eat or drink.  At its first performance, when the “Hallelujah Chorus” ended, the King of England led the standing ovation!    

 

I would have no trouble convincing you how good it feels…

 

…to be full if you had been starving, …to be warmed if you had been freezing, …to find companion-ship if you had been always painfully lonely, …to be well if you had always been sick, …to be clean if you had been filthy, …to be found if you had been lost.

 

But can I convince you of how good it feels to be “lost” and then found by Jesus?  Many here have known that good feeling; He has found you!  In the past, you heard clear Bible truth, considered your spiritual condition, saw you had a sin problem, and knew the only solution was Jesus.  You trusted, obeyed. 

 

But many are unconvinced… even though the Bible says we need a Savior because we are dead in sin and captive to Satan’s power (whose intent is to keep us dead), and children of God’s wrath (Ephesians 2:1-3).

 

Satan puffs us up with pride and tells us we are self-made and good people who need no saving… not by God or anyone.  In fact, we are our own “God” and “Savior.”  Preaching “Savior” makes no sense since we are convinced we don’t need one.  Such thinking makes the notion of “salvation” nonsense to our society because it is unflattering to our pride.  Though we might hear of Jesus and His salvation, Satan snatches any humble acceptance away… “Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.” (Luke 8:12)

_______________________________

 

   I have a Savior / He’s pleading in glory. / A dear loving Savior, / Tho’ earth friends be few. /

And now He is watching / in tenderness o’er me. / But, oh, that my Savior / were your Savior, too.

   I have a robe / ‘Tis resplendent in brightness, / Awaiting in heaven / My wondering view.

And when I receive it / All shining in brightness, / I pray I will see you / receiving one, too.

   I have a Father, / To me He has given / A hope for eternity, / blessed and true;

And soon He will call me / To meet Him in heaven; / But, oh, that He’d let me / bring you with me, too.

   When Jesus has found you, / Tell others the story / That my loving Savior / is their Savior, too.

Then pray that the Savior / will bring them to glory / And prayer will be answered; / T’was answered for you.

   (Chorus) For you I am praying, / For you I am praying, / For you I am praying… / I’m praying for you.

        (Samuel O’Malley Cluff, 1878)

 

Though many of the songs we sing call Jesus “Savior,” it is not the most prominent title we use for Him.  What’s more common for us is “Lord” or “Jesus” or “Christ” or “Messiah.”  But saying “Jesus” is saying He’s Savior… “Jesus” means “God saves.”  To say “Messiah” is to call Him Savior because “Messiah” means “the anointed One who will save...”  So to call Him “Christ” is also to call Him Savior because “Christ” is the Greek translation of the word “Messiah.”   

 

We relate most to Jesus as our Shepherd, or King, or Rock and Refuge… and He is all that and more.  But there’s one relationship with Him that makes all other ways of relating to Him possible is that, first and foremost, He is our “Savior.”  He does nothing greater for us than save us.  Today, were our little kids asked to select a word as His title, they would likely pick “hero” or “superhero.” 

 

Remember the disciples rowing across Galilee Sea?  Jesus was asleep in the stern of the boat… and a threatening storm blew up.  Some of them were seasoned boatmen, but the storm was so vicious they feared for their lives.  So they awakened Jesus pleading, “Save us!  We’re about to drown!” (Matthew 8:25) 

 

Remember also on Galilee Jesus walked on the water in the night?  When the disciples first saw Him they didn’t know who He was… He reassured… and Peter asked to walk out to Him.  As Peter was sinking because He took his eyes off Jesus, he cried out to Jesus, “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:30)

 

Jesus could save us from a storm or from drowning.  He has power to save from all the troubles and crises life brings.  But His first and primary work is to save us from sin and the consequences attached to it, now, and later in eternity.  But can we be convinced of that – that we’re “lost” and needing a Savior? 

 

God is always Savior” to those who love and follow Him.  Repeatedly, He has saved (delivered) His chosen ones from trouble…

 

Noah and his family from the flood… Israelite throng from the deathtrap between Pharoah’s army and the Red Sea, …David from the “paw of a lion and a bear” and the giant Goliath… Daniel and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from plots to take their lives in Babylon (Daniel from lions, the three children from the fiery furnace’s flames)… Esther and God’s people from Persian enemies… and so many more stories.

 

Because of all this history, Israel’s worship songs are filled with God’s daring exploits to deliver… He is a superhero God, always delivering and saving.  One psalm says it so plainly: “When you were in trouble, you called for help, and I set you free” (Psalms 80:7).  So, too, are our songs filled with God’s deliverance through Jesus!  Pick one up and check an index for “Jesus as Savior” (46 songs listed on p. 1053).

 

God’s people are no longer a nation but rather a kingdom: “all who call on His name for salvation,” all Who believe and are baptized…” (Mark 16:16).  All who trust and obey are His family. 

 

Remember the announcement of Jesus’ coming birth to Joseph?  The angel said, “She [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)  And etch Peter’s words about him on your brain: “There is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

 

The word for “salvation” in the Bible is “soteria” (deliverance, salvation, rescue).  It pre-supposes a danger from which one needs rescue.  Gaining it means safety, health, and well-being.  It’s the spiritual version of saying to someone dear, “I hope you are well.”  Just a few instances of where it’s used will clarify:

 

Genesis 28:1 – Jacob covenants with God: he will serve God; God will bring him back home in safety.

Genesis 44:17 – Any man without the silver cup in his sack can “go home in safety.

Exodus 14:13 – Trapped between the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s army, Moses said, “Stand still and see the

     salvation of the Lord.”

Bible “songs” (Miriam, Moses, Hannah, David, Mary, Zachariah) are all songs of salvation (safety).

“He restores my soul” is a statement of receiving God’s salvation again.

Old Simeon had been promised by God that he wouldn’t die until he had seen God’s salvation

 

God is the Old Testament “Savior” –  His “job description” more than a title, saving from a wide range of threats: war, disease, distress, natural calamities, poverty.  But even then – always – His great salvation was from the harm that sin brings (death).  Anyone blessed by it sings for joy.

 

But now, God has sent His Son into the world “not to condemn the world but that the world through him might be saved(John 3:16, 17).  “There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved(Acts 4:12).  Jesus is the “author of salvation (Hebrews 2:10). 

 

Think with me of Luke 15… the Godhead are Shepherds who’ve found a lost lamb, a woman leaping for joy at locating her lost coin, a frantic father dropping every-thing and waiting at the gate for a son who made a wrong decision and nearly perished in sin.  When one of His children pays attention to Him, God feels like He has reclaimed His most valuable possession that had been lost.

 

So now see Calvary… and think with me about the thieves.  Are they ruined?  Destroyed?  Useless?  Oh, yes!  But one of them grasps for a straw…

 

39 One of the criminals hanging there began to shout insults at Jesus: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Then save yourself, and save us too!”

40 But the other criminal stopped him. He said, “You should fear God. All of us will die soon. 41 You and I are guilty. We deserve to die because we did wrong. But this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you begin ruling as king!”

43 Then Jesus said to him, “I promise you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43)

 

As Jesus was dying, angels were rejoicing!

 

Are you convinced of your need for a Savior?  Jesus is Savior!

       

O What a Savior!

        Once I was straying in sin’s dark valley / No hope within could I see…/ They searched through heaven and found

           a Savior / To save a poor lost soul like me…

        Oh hallelujah!  Oh, what a Savior!  His heart was broken on Calvary; / His hands were nail-pierced, His side was

           riven, / He gave His life-blood for even me.

 

        He left His Father with all His riches, / With calmness sweet and serene…/ Came down from heaven, and gave                      His life-blood / To make the vilest sinner clean…

        Oh hallelujah!  Oh, what a Savior!  His heart was broken on Calvary; / His hands were nail-pierced, His side was

           riven, / He gave His life-blood for even me.

 

For EVEN ME! (Say it with me… FOR EVEN ME!)