Why Do We Need A Savior?

Savior

If you have been in church for any amount of time, or been around Christians, you’ve probably heard Jesus referred to as the Savior. But why do we even need a Savior? Aren’t we good enough already? 

Why Do We Need A Savior?

The reason we need a Savior is because we are sinners. Sinners are those who rebel against God. They don’t desire God. They don’t want to please or obey Him. They want nothing more than to get rid of God.

Since we are sinners, we don’t have a relationship with God. We are actually enemies of God. The Bible tells us God will punish His enemies. 

Jesus is our Savior. He saves us from the punishment we deserve. The way He saves us is by taking our punishment for us.

A Helpful Example

A professor of mine in seminary sets Friday nights aside for Friday Family Fun Night. One Friday Family Fun Night, they had gone out to dinner and were going to rent a movie. On the way to video store his son started misbehaving in car. He was picking on his sister.

His parents told him if he didn’t quit, he wasn’t going to be able to watch the movie with the family. Instead he would have to sit in his room by himself. Like any little boy, he listened to his parents for awhile, but when they got to the movie store, he started acting out again.

When they got in the car, his dad told him he wasn’t going to be able to watch the movie with them and would have to spend the rest of the night in his room. He couldn’t believe it. He wasn’t going to be able to watch the movie. The movie he picked. The one he had waited weeks to see.

On the way home, he apologized, not just to his parents, but to his sister as well. It was obvious he was remorseful for what he did. He wasn’t just saying he was sorry so he could watch the movie.

His dad saw an opportunity to teach his son about what Jesus did. He told his son, “You misbehaved earlier. Someone has to be punished for that. But instead of you sitting in your room, I am going to take your punishment for you. I will sit in your room, so you can watch the movie with the family.” So the father willingly took his sons punishment that night so he could enjoy the movie.

That’s what Jesus does. He willingly took our punishment, so that we might enjoy eternal life. 

Conclusion

The answer to our question – Why do we need a Savior? – should be clear. We need a Savior because we deserve punishment. As God’s enemies, we want nothing more than to get rid of Him. Destroy Him. Reign in His place.

God, however, is the rightful ruler of this universe, not us. God punishes His enemies. Jesus, however, takes our punishment for us. He saves us from God’s wrath by dying the death we deserve on the cross. 

Question for Reflection

  1. Is Jesus your Savior?

Colored Eggs, Scavenger Hunts, or the Resurrection

Resurrection Empty Tomb Jesus

What comes to mind when Easter is mentioned? For many it might be the thoughts of family gatherings, colored eggs, and scavenger hunts. Easter, however, is about more than our family, our fun, and ourselves. Easter is about the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

Why is the Resurrection Important?

(1) It proves all Jesus’ claims during His earthly ministry were true.

As the climax of the biblical story, it proves that Jesus is the Messiah, the Chosen One, the Son of God, the Savior of the World.

(2) It provides salvation for the believer.

Jesus’ resurrection brings all those, who believe by faith that He is their Savior, into a right relationship with God (Rom. 4:25). In Jesus’ resurrection we are vindicated and made sons of the Living God (Gal. 3:26). As well as, we are freed from the bondage of sin, which means we should not let sin reign in our bodies any longer. We must put all unrighteousness to death by the power of Jesus’ resurrection (Rom. 6:11-13).

(3) It provides eternal life for the believer.

Death no longer has dominion over the Christian. All those who believe in Jesus as their Savior, will be resurrected to a new and eternal life, and given a perfect body that is not subject to aging, weakness, or death (1 Cor. 15:50-57). Whereas, all who reject Jesus as their Savior will experience eternal punishment (Matt. 25:46; 2 Thess. 1:5-10).

The Proper Response to the Resurrection

In Matthew 28, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary go to the tomb of Jesus where they meet an angel. The angel shows them the empty tomb and tells them to go and tell the disciples that Jesus has risen from the dead. On their way to tell the disciples, they meet Jesus on the road and fall down and worship Him.

The two Mary’s provide us with the proper response to the resurrection.

  1. We are to go and tell others of Jesus’ resurrection and what that means for those who believe.
  2. We are to worship Jesus as Savior and Lord.

Conclusion

Jesus’ resurrection proves all that He said is true. It vindicates us from our sin. It mends our relationship with God. It frees us from the bondage of sin. It allows us to live in accordance with God’s commandments. As well as Jesus’ resurrection provides us with a new body that will never die, age, or experience decay for all of eternity.

As a result, our proper response is to tell others about Jesus’ resurrection, and to worship Him as Lord and Savior.

I pray that we will contemplate more fully the resurrection of Jesus this Easter Sunday.

Resource

Image

X-Ray Questions: Whose opinion of you counts?

This week we continue our X-Ray Questions series, as we look at the question: Whose opinion of you counts? You can read the other posts in this series by clicking here.

X-Ray Question:

(13) Whose opinion of you counts?

From whom do you desire approval and fear rejection? Whose value system do you measure yourself against? In whose eyes are you living? Whose love and approval do you need?

Understand

When you lose God, you enter a jungle of distortion. You tend to live before your own eyes or before the eyes of others – or both. When you lose or take God out of the equation, what is left is to seek the approval of man, which will ultimately leave you wanting.

Even for us who have not removed God completely from the picture, the approval of man has a strong pull on our lives, often causing us to seek it, rather than God’s approval. Since man’s approval has such a strong pull on our lives, we must fight the desire within to seek man’s approval, finding our approval in the Lord alone.

If we do not fight, we will compromise our convictions, not speaking up when we know Scripture speaks against a certain issue. When we remain silent on issues because we fear we will lose the respect of men, we are like the authorities who did not stand up to the Pharisees. John says,

Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God. (John 12:42-43 ESV)

May we make it a point to seek the glory that comes from God more than the glory that comes from man.

Social Idols

The “social idols” which encompass approval and fear can take numerous forms:

  • Acceptance or Rejection
  • Being Included or Excluded
  • Praise or Criticism
  • Affection or Hostility
  • Adoration or Belittlement
  • Intimacy or Alienation
  • Being Understood or Caricatured

Awareness of these “social idols” is the first step, but we must also ask God to reveal to us where we may be seeking to please others rather than Him. In other words, we must plead with God in our prayers to reveal to us if the opinion of man is an idol that is present in our lives.

Repent

If after we pray, God reveals to us that approval is an idol in our lives, we must repent and turn from that idol. We do so by realizing true approval comes from God alone. The approval man gives us is temporary and situational. We may have man’s approval one day, but the next day they may reject us because we have not lived up to their expectations.

In contrast to the world, those who have repented of their sins and professed Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior will never be rejected by God. As a result, they should never fear the loss of God’s approval.

Why want believers be rejected by God?

Because God accepts us based on Christ’s cross work, not our own work. When we believe in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, His righteousness is imputed to us, so that we too become righteous (2 Cor. 5:21). As those who are righteous, we are just as Jesus is even now in the world (1 John 4:17), meaning we are sons of God, just as Jesus is the Son of God. Those who are God’s children have nothing to fear. Instead they are to be confident on the Day of Judgment, knowing that God abides in them and they in God (1 John 4:15-18).

Scripture

Here are a few passages from God’s word to meditate on this week, as you consider the question: Whose opinion of you counts?: Prov. 1:7; 9:10; 29:25; John 12:43; 1 Cor. 4:3-5; 2 Cor. 10:18.

Resource

All X-Ray questions taken from David Powlison’s book Seeing with New Eyes.

The Necessity of God’s Word

In my last two posts, I argued for the relevance of Scripture. You can check those out here: The Relevance of Scripture (Part 1) and The Relevance of Scripture (Part 2). In this post, I would like to argue for the necessity of God’s Word. God’s Word is necessary because it alone tells us about our Creator, Savior, and Lord. Creation alone can only take us so far. Without God’s written Word, we would not know who God is and what He has done for mankind.

John Calvin on Scripture

John Calvin, one of the greatest theologians of all times, writes in his institutes concerning Scripture. Here is what he says,

Scripture, gathering up the otherwise confused knowledge of God in our minds, having dispersed our dullness, clearly shows us the true God. This, therefore, is a special gift, where God, to instruct the church, not merely uses mute teachers but also opens his own most hallowed lips. Not only does he teach the elect to look upon a god, but also shows himself as the God upon whom they are to look. He has from the beginning maintained this plan for his church…put[ting] forth his Word, which is a more direct and more certain mark whereby he is to be recognized [1].

From this, one should gather that God’s Word is a special gift. Scripture is a special gift because it instructs man as to who God is and how they are to live as a result. Without Scripture, man would not know God, nor would man know who he is, namely, a sinner in need of a Savior.

Creation Declares There is a God, But It is Not Enough

The Psalmist tells us creation declares there is a God, but creation itself is not enough, man needs Scripture to tell them who God, the Creator of the universe is. Read what David writes in Psalm 19:1-3:

The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words
whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.

Paul agrees with the Psalmist, but also tells us that man, even though he knows there is a God, does not worship Him as God. Here is what Paul has to say,

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened (Rom. 1:18-21)

From this, we should see that man understands there is a God because creation evidences His handiwork, but because of man’s fallen nature he creates idols to worship. Instead of seeking the Creator of the world and worshipping Him, man fashions a god of his own making.

Even Though Man Knows God Exists, He Needs God’s Word

Paul’s visit to the Areopagus, where he found “an altar to the unknown god” is evidence man knows God exists (Acts 17:23). However, even though man knows God exists, he does not “know” Him because nature can only tell us there is a God, it cannot tell us anything personal about God, which is why the Psalmist continues in Psalm 19:7-11 saying,

The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean,
enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey,
and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.

Without God’s Word, we would not understand His law, testimony, precepts, or commandments. In short, we would not know who God is, nor would we know we are sinners who are in need of a Savior (Rom. 3:21-23; see also Luke 24:27).

By Faith and By God’s Word We Know God

Before I conclude, I want to return once again to Calvin. Commenting on Hebrews 11:3, Calvin makes it evident man can only see God if he is illumined by God through faith. He says,

For this reason, the apostle, in that very passage where he calls the world the images of things invisible, adds that through faith we understand that they have been fashioned by God’s word [Heb. 11:3]. He means by this that the invisible divinity is made manifest in such spectacles, but that we have not the eyes to see this unless they are illumined by the inner revelation of God through faith [2].

So then, unless God illumines our eyes to see Him, we will not. And unless God provides us with His Word, then we are not able to truly “know” Him as our Creator, Lord, and Savior because it is His Word that tells us who God is and who we are. Calvin continues,

Nevertheless, all things will tend to this end, that God, the Artificer of the universe, is made manifest to us in Scripture, and that what we ought to think of him is set forth there, lest we seek some uncertain deity by devious paths [3].

Conclusion

So then, we see that unless we have God’s Word, we cannot know God as Creator, Savior, or Lord. We can only know there is a God, but the details about Him and about us are unknown. The only way we can come to know God is through His written, innerant, and inspired Word, known as the Bible. Therefore, the Word of God is not only relevant, it is necessary, for without it we are without knowledge of God and ourselves.

Resources

[1] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, ed. Mcneil, Book 1, Ch VI,I, pg 70
[2] Ibid., Book 1, Ch V, 14, pg 68.
[3] Ibid., Book 1, Ch V, 15, pg 69.

Jesus is the True and Better

Jesus is the True and Better…

“Jesus is the true and better Adam who passed the test in the garden and whose obedience is imputed to us.

Jesus is the true and better Abel who, though innocently slain, has blood now that cries out, not for our condemnation, but for acquittal.

Jesus is the true and better Abraham who answered the call of God to leave all the comfortable and familiar and go out into the void not knowing wither he went to create a new people of God.

Jesus is the true and better Isaac who was not just offered up by his father on the mount but was truly sacrificed for us. And when God said to Abraham, “Now I know you love me because you did not withhold your son, your only son whom you love from me,” now we can look at God taking his son up the mountain and sacrificing him and say, “Now we know that you love us because you did not withhold your son, your only son, whom you love from us.”

Jesus is the true and better Jacob who wrestled and took the blow of justice we deserved, so we, like Jacob, only receive the wounds of grace to wake us up and discipline us.

Jesus is the true and better Joseph who, at the right hand of the king, forgives those who betrayed and sold him and uses his new power to save them.

Jesus is the true and better Moses who stands in the gap between the people and the Lord and who mediates a new covenant.

Jesus is the true and better Rock of Moses who, struck with the rod of God’s justice, now gives us water in the desert.

Jesus is the true and better Job, the truly innocent sufferer, who then intercedes for and saves his stupid friends.

Jesus is the true and better David whose victory becomes his people’s victory, though they never lifted a stone to accomplish it themselves.

Jesus is the true and better Esther who didn’t just risk leaving an earthly palace but lost the ultimate and heavenly one, who didn’t just risk his life, but gave his life to save his people.

Jesus is the true and better Jonah who was cast out into the storm so that we could be brought in.

Jesus is the real Rock of Moses, the real Passover Lamb, innocent, perfect, helpless, slain so the angel of death will pass over us. He’s the true temple, the true prophet, the true priest, the true king, the true sacrifice, the true lamb, the true light, the true bread.

The Bible’s really not about you—it’s about him.”

Resources

True & Better from Peter Artemenko on Vimeo.

You can view the images from this video by clicking here and here. Alternatively, you can download a pdf copy of the images by clicking here.

Tim Keller’s Gospel Centered Ministry talk he gave at The Gospel Coalition’s Conference in 2007 is the inspiration behind this video. You can download it by clicking here.

Thanks to Peter Artemenko for making this video available. You can check out his blog by clicking here.

Is God a Reality or Concept in Your Life?

This weekend I visited my brother and sister-in-law in Allen, where I attended my nieces baby dedication. On the drive back home, I listen to a sermon by Tim Keller. The sermon was entitled: The Gospel and Your Self. You can access it by clicking here.

In his sermon, Tim Keller asks the question:

Is God a REALITY or a CONCEPT in your life?

Your answer to this question will make all the difference, and it will have eternal consequences. Before I tell you how you can know that God is a reality or concept in your life, I want to define for you the two words at hand.

Definitions

Reality: Something that exists independently of all other things or ideas concerning it. It is something that exists outside of your mind, and it has the power to influence you.

Concept: A general notion or idea. Meaning it is something that exists in the mind and is not independent of your mind.

How do you know if God is a reality or a concept?

(1) You know God is a reality in your life when you allow Him to change your beliefs and actions.

When you quit saying things like: I like that God is loving and merciful, but I don’t like that God has a wrathful side. I don’t think it is wrong to have pre-marital sex if someone is in love. I don’t believe racism is wrong, even though the Bible condemns it. I believe the Bible is true, but I don’t think God is right about homosexuality, even though the Bible clearly speaks against it.

Unless you allow God to change your beliefs and affect the way you act, then God is a concept to you. He is not real, and He is not your Savior or the Lord of your life. God is just someone who you believe can help you live a better life. Someone you can get something from, but you are not willing to give things up for.

(2) You know God is a reality when you realize you are a sinner.

God is still a concept to you, if you do not realize your own sinfulness and need of a Savior. When God is a reality, you understand how holy He is and how sinful you are. If God is just a concept to you, then you think you are alright, you’re not that sinful, you are not so bad.

Why do you not see your sinfulness when God is a concept to you? Because you have constructed a God that does not push against, or reveal, your sinfulness. He does not challenge your ideas, or actions because you have constructed Him to fit neatly into your world. When you construct a God in your mind, you are not going to construct a God who is going to tell you that you need to change. Rather, you are going to construct a God who tells you that you are alright. However, when your God does not cause you to realize you are a sinner, you do not have a real God; rather, you have a God who is a figment of your imagination.

(3) You know God is a reality when you are willing to go on Mission for God.

God is not a reality for you unless you are willing to tell others about Him and the life He has given you through Jesus Christ. If you have no desire to present the Gospel to others, or even live in a way that reflects God’s work in your life, then God is a concept to you. He has not affected your life, and He is not your Savior or Lord.

Getting Real

I know, pretty weighty and bold words to say that God is not someone’s Savior and Lord, but if God is just a concept, then He is not your Savior and Lord. You have not accepted the reality that God exists, for if you had, then you would allow Him to change your beliefs and actions; you would see yourself for who you really are, a sinner; and you would be willing to tell others about Him. Until these things happen, God is nothing more than a concept for you, someone you have constructed in your own imagination to make yourself feel better. He is someone who fits into your agenda, rather than someone who sets your agenda.

Hope

There is hope and it is in the Gospel, the saving power of Jesus Christ, which has the power to change your life. It has the ability to make God a reality in your life. And you don’t have to clean yourself up in order for that to happen. All you have to do is trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior and allow Him to control every aspect of your life. When you admit that you need a Savior, God has become a reality to you, rather than a concept, or construct of your imagination.

Image: nattavut / FreeDigitalPhotos.net