We have heard the bad news, that we are helpless, guilty sinners. And we have heard the beginning of the Good News, that God has decided to save some. But now the question is how can God save? What will God do to clean up the mess that our sin has caused? Today’s Good news is that Jesus saves.
When Joseph found out that his fiancée, Mary was pregnant, and he knew that he was not the father, he decided to break the engagement quietly. Then an angel appeared to Joseph to encourage him to marry Mary. The angel instructed Joseph to name the special child Jesus. Matthew 1:21: “You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” This whole series of meditations is summarized in that verse. We are entangled in sins and we cannot free ourselves. God has chosen to save His people from their sins, and now he has sent Jesus to save them from their sins.
Jesus saves. He does all the work, he cleans up all the mess caused by sin. He suffered on the cross to pay the price for sin. Like the old gospel hymn says, “Jesus paid it all, all to him I owe; sin had left a crimson stain, he washed it white as snow.”
Many are confused on this very point. They think that faith saves. They think that when they make a commitment to Christ, or when they publicly profess their faith, when they accept Jesus, that that faith saves them. Your faith does not save you. Jesus saves you through faith, or by the instrument of faith.
Remember the bowl of cereal in “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids”? The shrunken children were wallowing around in a bowl of soggy Cheerios®. When the father finally noticed them, he scooped them out with a spoon. Now, would the children thank the spoon, or the father? So, too, with faith: it is the spoon that the father uses to save us. Faith does not save; Jesus saves through faith.
We call Jesus the Savior with good reason. He saves his people from their sins. Jesus has not died to make salvation possible, but to make it certain. “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.” (John 17:1-2)
Jesus came to save his people from their sins, all of his people from all of their sins. And Jesus has achieved that objective; he has truly saved his people. When he uttered from the cross, “It is finished,” (John 19: 30) he meant what he said: the price for our salvation had been fully paid.
We cannot add anything to the perfect salvation of Christ, nor do we have to. Jesus has paid it all. Salvation is a complete gift; nothing needs to be added.
We don’t add our goods works to Christ’s death for our salvation. Christ’s death is our entire salvation. When I ask my young children to clean the dishes, I check their work and I often have to add a little work of my own in order to finish the job. If you check into Jesus’ work, you will find nothing that you have to add. His work was done well, and it is complete. Jesus saves.
We don’t even add our faith to the work of Jesus on the cross. Rather, faith rests in what Jesus has done; it doesn’t add a thing. Faith, as Francis Schaeffer has said, is the open and empty hand by which we lay hold of salvation that is freely offered in the gospel.
You need a savior, a complete savior. All those whom God has chosen to save from sin Jesus has come to die for. When Jesus died on the cross he had the names of all his people engraved on his hands. “You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)
Christian, rejoice that all your sins were paid for on the cross, that Jesus saves his people from their sins.