Matthew 1:21. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
Christians use the word “saved” a lot. Are you saved? When were you saved? How many people got saved? I’m not sure I’m saved. Saved by grace. Saved by the blood. Jesus saves!
Of course it’s not wrong to talk this way at all. The angel told Joseph to name the baby Jesus (Yahweh is salvation) because he will save his people.
But what does the word save mean? Well, it means what you’d think it means. It means to be rescued. When the Bible talks about salvation it is talking about being delivered from harm, or rescued from danger. And let’s be perfectly clear, here is the gospel truth – we cannot save ourselves. We can only trust in someone else who can and will save us. The knight saves the princess from the dragon, the superhero saves the city from the bad guy, and so on. People who are saved have been rescued by someone else. A hero.
But why do we need saving? Because we were living trapped under the domain of darkness. We were brainwashed rebels fighting God at every turn. Rejecting him. Completely afraid and completely powerless to escape our captivity to sin and suffering. Prisoners of our own self-righteousness trying to spruce up our prison cell. The Law’s demands wouldn’t let us go. Sin’s condemnation forbade our release. And Death ruled over us without any hope of mercy.
But then God’s grace APPEARED.
Titus 2:11. For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,
Grace appeared in the face of a child born to us that day in Bethlehem. Grace appeared in the incarnation of baby Jesus. Grace appeared when God took on flesh to bring us his life, his righteousness, his peace, his love, his mercy, his freedom, his hope.
And then came the rescue mission. The child grew into righteousness. The baby born to Mary lived his entire life by faith in God. He kept the Law. He never sinned. And he never quit. And yet, despite his perfection, our salvation would come only through his death.
By his death Jesus saved us from the penalty of sin. God placed our sin and guilt on Jesus.
2 Corinthians 5:21. For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.
And by his resurrection Jesus then gave us his righteousness and even became our righteousness:
1 Corinthians 1:30. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God — that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.
Theologians call it the great exchange: our guilt was put on him, and his innocence was put on us. What grace. What mercy. What kindness.
But wait there’s more.
Salvation not only means that we are declared innocent, but it also means that we are free. When we accept his offer of freedom, we are no longer victims, powerless to overcome sin. More than forgiveness, innocence, and freedom, he offers to make us pure and give us new uncorrupted, loving hearts. He offers to cleanse us from the corruption of sin. Now we are alive! Now we are fully saved! Rescued from death and unto eternal life.
Titus 3:5. He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.
It is Christ’s death and resurrection alone that saves us. These are the two heroic acts that rescue us from the darkness and carry us into the light. Christ’s death saves us from guilt, fear, slavery, sin, death, strife, eternal sorrow, and brokenness, and Christ’s resurrection saves us to innocence, boldness, freedom, love, life, peace, eternal joy, and relationship.
“To live is Christ” means Jesus has washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.
Have you been saved from your sins?
You in Christ
Which aspect of God’s generous offer, his gift of salvation (forgiveness, innocence, freedom, purity, etc.), most amazes you? Why?
Christ in you
How might you live in the newness of your salvation today?
Playlist: Advent Salvation.
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