by Peter Ditzel
Jesus Christ, Our Savior
Remember: We are all hopeless sinners who can do no good works that will save us. But God “hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (2 Timothy 1:9).
The Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians living in the city of Corinth, “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that
he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3–4).
The above is a brief account of the Gospel, or good news, of what God did through Jesus Christ to save His people. Before Jesus was born, an angel announced to Joseph, “And [Mary] shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Jesus means, “Jehovah [the Lord] is salvation.”
But how could Jesus pay the penalty for our sins? He could do this because He is “the Christ [the anointed of God], the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). In fact, writing of Jesus, the apostle John says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . . And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1, 14). Jesus Christ is God the Son, the second Person of the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).
Jesus is God in both Person and nature. To save us, He added a human nature to His God nature (Philippians 2:6–8). Being born into this world, He lived a sinless life (1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5), took on Himself our sins and God’s just wrath for those sins (2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13), and was crucified on a cross (Matthew 27:35; 1 Corinthians 2:2), dying in our place (1 Peter 3:18). By doing this, He satisfied the law and paid the penalty for our sins (Matthew 20:28; Hebrews 9:28; 1 Peter 2:24). Also, He satisfied God’s wrath against us (Ephesians 5:2; Romans 5:9). Not only that, He also cleansed us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:7). Still more, He has caused us to be dead to the law and married to Him (Romans 7:1–4)!
Because Jesus was God (yet with a human nature) and had no sins of His own, He was able to bear our sins on the cross and pay the death penalty for them. On the third day after his death, He rose from the grave, proving that our sins are gone and that we are justified before God (Romans 4:25).
By living a sinless life, Jesus also did something else. His sinless life is applied to, or imputed to, all His people. Just as Adam’s sin is imputed to the entire human race, so Jesus Christ’s sinlessness is imputed to His people, the elect of God, those God has called out of this world and “into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:13). The Greek word, ekklēsia, literally means “called out,” and it is the word translated “church” in most English Bibles. The ekklēsia is composed of the people who believe that Jesus alone is their Savior. Romans 5:19 says, “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” So then, because of Jesus Christ’s death, we receive a “not guilty” verdict before God’s throne, and because of His sinless life, we are declared “righteous.” But how does Jesus’ death and sinlessness come to be applied to you? You must believe that Jesus Christ alone is your Savior. But since believing this is a good work, and you are a sinner, how can you do this good work of believing?
Saved by Grace
You can do this work of believing because of God’s grace. God’s saving us even though we don’t deserve it is grace. And part of what He does for us by grace is to give us the gift of faith, or believing: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9).
This Scripture passage tells us that we are saved by grace, not our works, and that grace comes through faith. This does not make faith a work we must perform in order to be saved, because the Scripture also says that the faith we need to be saved is a gift from God. If you believe that Jesus Christ’s sacrifice has completely paid for your sins it is because God has worked a miracle in your mind—He has given you the gift of faith.
Along with and inseparable to faith is the gift of repentance—the change of mind from sinful unbelief and rebellion toward God to a recognition of your sinfulness, belief of the Gospel, and submission toward God (Job 42:6; Acts 20:21; 11:18).
The miracle in your mind by which you have faith and repentance is called regeneration or being born again. It is a renewal of your mind and is caused by God acting through the Holy Spirit. Whereas before being born again you were spiritually dead, after regeneration you are spiritually alive.
When you were spiritually dead, you could do no good works, including the good work of believing in Jesus Christ alone as your Savior. When you are born again, you (really God working in you) can do good works. You begin your good works by believing the Gospel about what Jesus Christ has done for His people. Of the Jews of His day who did not accept His message because they were not born again, Jesus declared, “For this people’s heart [mind] is waxed gross [become dull], and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them” (Matthew 13:15). Jesus was speaking of the spiritual blindness of the people because they were spiritually dead. If you will read John 12:37–40, you will see that Jesus clearly taught that this spiritual blindness comes from God, “He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart.” Jesus also said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). When God regenerates our minds, we can perceive the things of the kingdom of God and believe. Therefore, if you believe the Gospel message you have just been reading—if you believe that you are a helpless and miserable sinner in need of saving and that Jesus Christ alone is your Savior—then you have been born again and you are demonstrating the inward gifts of repentance and faith. So, you are born again—you have new spiritual life, you have repentance and faith, and God has outwardly declared you legally justified, or “not guilty” and “righteous.” But God is not finished with you yet. He will continue to save you in an inner work called sanctification.
Scriptures links on this page:
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was make in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.—Philippians 2:6–8—back
Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth.—1 Peter 2:22—back
And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins: and in him is no sin.—1 John 3:5—back
For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.—2 Corinthians 5:21—back
Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.—Galatians 3:13—back
And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.—Matthew 27:35—back
For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.—1 Corinthians 2:2—back
For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.—1 Peter 3:18—back
Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.—Matthew 20:28—back
And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.—Ephesians 5:2—back
So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.—Hebrews 9:28—back
Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.—1 Peter 2:24—back
Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.—Romans 5:9—back
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.—1 John 1:7—back
Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.—Romans 7:1-4—back
Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.—Romans 4:25—back
Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.—Job 42:6—back
Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.—Acts 20:21—back
When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.—Acts 11:18—back
But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: that the saying of Esaias [Isaiah] the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? And to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.—John 12:37–40—back
Trinity: The Bible teaches that God is a Trinity of three Persons—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.—back; or Read “Why Christians Believe in the Trinity“
Justification: Justification is a legal process whereby God declares a sinner righteous and without guilt because Jesus Christ has paid for the sinner’s sins and Christ’s righteousness is imputed to the sinner (counted as if it is the sinner’s righteousness).—back
Copyright © 2007-2017 Peter Ditzel