Knowing Whom We Believe: Jesus
November 28, 2004 / No. 3230
Dear radio friends,
In this time of the year we remember the birth of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. I would like to worship Him with you as He is revealed in His names.
The principal names of the Savior revealed in the Bible are: Jesus, Christ, and Lord. But, in all, there are about a hundred fifty names given to Jesus in the Scriptures. For instance: Morning Star, Sun of Righteousness, Lion of Judah’s Tribe, Lily of the Valley, Redeemer, Master, Son of Man, Head of the Church, Firstborn of Every Creature, and we could go on. Why so many names given to the Savior, you ask? First of all, the names of our Lord are not merely sounds or tags of identification, but they are revelation, that is, His names speak to us of who He is and what He has done and is doing for us.
But there is another reason why there are many names. It is because no single name can express His beauty. No single name can capture the excellence of His person and the magnitude of His works. He has a name above all names. He has many names to reveal the dignity of His person and the glory of His work.
By faith, we want to know Him. We want to know Him as He speaks to us in His name. Love always wants to know. So true faith wants to know about Him. The apostle Paul says in a very moving passage (II Tim. 1:12), “nevertheless I am not ashamed (that is, he is not ashamed of the gospel, why?): for I know whom I have believed.” Paul knew the person Jesus Christ. He did not simply know a system or an external knowledge, but he knew the person, Jesus Christ, as his Savior. Therefore he stood in assurance and confidence.
Do you know Him? Do you know the Savior? I am not asking if you know about Jesus. But, do you know Him by grace, in personal dealings? Do you walk with Him daily? Do you love Him? Then you will want to know Him more and more and more. And the way to know Him is to know Him in His names.
We are going to begin today with the name “Jesus,” which means Savior. This was the name, you will recall, that God told both Mary and Joseph that they were to call Mary’s son. It was the name that God picked out. It was, therefore, His personal name. This is who He is — He is Savior or, literally, Jehovah Salvation. He is the only Savior among men and there is absolutely no other. Joseph and Mary were instructed to call Him Jesus. Listen, in Matthew 1:21, to these words of the angel to Joseph, “And she (Mary) shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.”
Now we need to understand that He does not bear the name Jesus in vain. Jesus saves. He saves completely. And He saves surely. In distinction from those who would confess that they believe in Jesus but also look to saints or to themselves to save; and in distinction from those who confess faith in Jesus but say that Jesus can be the Savior only if man first asks Him, according to his will; and in distinction from those who say that they believe in Jesus but live in sin, to whom Jesus is but a name — in distinction from all of that, we want to confess the name of Jesus. I believe in Jesus, my Savior, who saves me and delivers me from my sin. He is Savior.
The angel’s wonderful message to the shepherds on the evening of Jesus’ birth was, “Fear not, for unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior.” Jesus is the Savior. He was the One for whom the Old Testament saints were waiting and hoping. They were looking for God’s Son to come and to save them, to come and to do for them what they could not do and what no one else could do — to save them from their sin.
You know, we can say many things about sin from the Bible, and we can say many things about sin in our life. We say, “Oh, how awful, how vile, how destructive, how terrible” — especially when we think of other people, perhaps. But God gives His people to know especially one thing about sin. Do you know what that is? It is this: I cannot save myself from it. I cannot escape it of myself. I cannot stop it of myself. I cannot run far enough from it. I need someone to save me from it, from its guilt, from its power. Is there anyone who can deliver me from my sins?
Now listen to Matthew 1:21 again: “Thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” Jesus is God’s Son, sent in God’s love to do something for us, in our place, instead of us. His name, then, brings to remembrance the truth of substitution. You ask me, “What does that mean?” It means simply this: that there was something that needed to be done: Save. That is, do for God’s people what they could not do for themselves. They could not endure the punishment that their sin deserved, not could they love God perfectly from their hearts. We cannot do that. Jesus came to do it in our place.
So, in the New Testament Bible especially, but throughout the Bible, pay attention to the words “for us.” As, for instance, Galatians 2:20, “The Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Or, “He died for us,” He laid down His life for the sheep ( John 10). That is substitutionary. That is the sweetest and the most glorious word in the religious vocabulary. Substitutionary. It means that Jesus came, of God, to take the place of all those who were chosen of God, what Gabriel said to Joseph, “he shall save his people from their sins,” to do for them what they could not do, what no one else could do it for them, namely, to take our place and save us.
This is probably the most important thing that you can ever know about Jesus. Let us be sure that you understand it and that I understand it. He came to do for us what we could not do, and what no one else can do for us: to save and deliver us from our sin. To do it for us so that it will be done. He shall save His people from their sins. The angel Gabriel did not say to Joseph, “He is going to come to try to make it possible for you to be saved if now you add this or that.” He did not put salvation within your reach. Jesus did not leave after suffering on the cross and rising from the dead and then say, “Now salvation is attainable, if only you add just this — a work here and a work there, a will here and a will there.” He did not say, “I made a good start, I made the down payment on the house of salvation. Now you just need to make the mortgage payments. And I’ll help you make those mortgage payments.” No! Jesus shall save His people from their sin. He is a complete Savior. It is finished. That is what He said on the cross: “It is finished.” He saved us.
I remember learning already in kindergarten, maybe you do too, that salvation is deliverance from the greatest evil and participation in the highest good. What is the greatest evil? Maybe you think I am going to say, sin. No, the greatest evil is separation from God. That is what sin brings — to live apart from God is death. The greatest evil is not to suffer burns from a fire. It is not even the agony of intestinal cancer or mental insanity. Oh, how grievous these are. These are all the results of sin. But the greatest evil is to be separated from God. The most tragic words in the Bible are those recorded in Genesis 3: Adam hid himself from the Lord God. Adam, and we, were made originally for God, and sin drives us away from God into darkness and torment and horror.
The highest good? It is God. So the deepest evil is to be separated from God. The highest good, then, has to be to know God, to have fellowship with God, to hear God say, “You are My son and My daughter.” Now Jesus came to do something for us — to save us, to take away our sins, to remove the separation between us and God, and to bring us into the bosom of God. He did this by taking our place, by assuming the guilt and the punishment which were due to the sins of God’s people. He suffered on the cross what our sin deserves and must receive. Romans 8:3, God, sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, condemns sin in the flesh, that the righteousness of God might be fulfilled in us. Jesus took the penalty our sins deserved, and paid the price. We could not. We cannot. He came to do it for us.
He is the Savior who has done a perfect work. He saved us, He did for us what we needed.
But that is not all. There is something that is just as necessary and beautiful as Jesus the Savior for us. It is that Jesus is also a Savior in us. You say, “What do you mean?” Jesus for us we understand — He has accomplished salvation complete and perfect and full, yes. But He must also be a Savior in you. That means that I must have that salvation. It must be made mine. Not only the guilt of my sin but also the power of sin in my life must be broken so that I receive and embrace by faith that salvation. Jesus has to work it in me. He works His salvation in me also so that I know it and believe it and become a saved person. Listen to the words again: “He shall save his people from their sins.” Not just by paying the price, but by inwardly and personally bringing that salvation into their souls.
Think of His birth. Here is the Savior, God’s Son, come to save. And there are only lowly shepherds who come to worship Him. Even though His birth was reported in Jerusalem by the shepherds, and even though many received the news that night — interesting, curious news — people went back to their lives pursuing earthly things in the emptiness of the present time. Why? Why did not the Scribes and Pharisees come to the manger? They knew the Scriptures. But, you see, it was not in them. God must work salvation in you or you cannot possess it. You can have your head packed full of the Bible and never really know it in your heart unless God works it in you.
This is important. Do you understand this? Shall we say, “Yes, Jesus has done everything for us, but we have to decide whether or not we are going to receive it. Therefore Christ waits for us to receive it. He is dependent now upon the will of the sinner (all of itself — unchanged by grace), so that Jesus comes and says, ‘When you believe, then, on that condition, I will save you.’” Is that the gospel? We must ask Him first to come in of our own will, and He cannot come in unless we allow Him to come in? He does not want to force, shall we say, His way in and so He waits for us to ask? That is not the gospel! That is not the truth. That is not God’s Word. That is not how salvation works. That is the heresy called free will.
Let me make it as simple as I can. Jesus comes in and then we believe. And not otherwise. We believe when Christ comes in, when Jesus comes into us by His grace. Faith, believing in Jesus, is not something that we produce of ourselves, but it is a divine gift of Jesus. Philippians 1:29, “For unto you is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake.” We must remember the scriptural truth of total depravity. What is total depravity? It is the truth that the sinner is dead in sin. Ephesians 2:1: “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” Romans 3:12: “There is none that doeth good, no, not one.” We are depraved, we are born dead in sin.
But Jesus has a name. His name is Savior, and He does not bear that name in vain. He comes by His own power and grace, and He opens our hearts. He is not a Savior who stands at the door of the dead sinner’s heart frustrated, unable to enter, dependent upon a dead sinner. Oh, no! He is a mighty Savior. He shall save His people from their sins. He has done everything for them. He also does it in them.
And, you see, if He did not work it in us, it would be impossible. By nature we will not ask Jesus to come into our hearts. Luke 19:14: “But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.” Jesus must come in by the power of His own love and grace. John 1:12, 13: “As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” Your faith, your desire, your embracing of Jesus was born in you by the power of God. It did not arise from you. It is a gift from heaven. It is the gift of the Savior who surely saves. He comes in and He causes you to seek Him.
He works that in you. You see, Jesus is a perfect Savior, He is a complete Savior, He is a Savior in every sense. He comes in and works the salvation within you. The dynamo, the power of His salvation, cannot be thwarted. It comes by mighty grace into the hearts of dead sinners. He says (Eph. 5:14), “Awake thou that sleepest.” Seek Me with your heart. And we seek Him with all our hearts. Jesus is the Savior for us. Jesus is the Savior in us.
But there is one more thing in that name Jesus. He is a Savior through us. I mean to say that Jesus works in His children so that they live as saved people. He shall save His people from their sins. Not, “He shall save His people in their sins.” Jesus is not a Savior who simply takes away the punishment of sin for His people, who live then in their sin. No! He saves from their sins. He works through us. That is, He works in our will, in our desires, and in our hearts. He creates a new desire, a new will, a new heart, a new ambition, so that we want to walk in holiness of life. This means that Jesus gives the experience of repentance, a change of mind, and a change of heart — a radical change towards sin and towards God and towards myself. I now hate sin. I see it as God sees it. I see God as lovely and good and I see myself as saved only by His mercy. He works in us the desire to be pleasing to Him. Jesus brings forth this fruit in our life. He works through us, so that now we want to serve Him in our homes, in our marriages, in our church.
This does not mean that God becomes beholden to us, that now the good works that Jesus is working through us somehow add to our salvation and merit, perhaps, a higher place in heaven for us. Oh, no! All these works are motivated only by thankfulness to Jesus who has saved us. What did the shepherds do on Christmas Day? They returned and glorified and praised God for all the things that they had seen and heard. It was important to them. It was important to glorify and praise God. Why? Because they thought that, perhaps, God would reward them? No! Their hearts had been full with the salvation of the Lord. Now their hearts had to burst, burst with joy and thanksgiving because Jesus was working through them. They were not ashamed of Him.
So He makes you a saved mother, a saved girl, a saved young man. You see, a saved person is not someone who has death insurance. A saved person is someone who has a new life in Jesus Christ. We live a saved life.
That Jesus is a Savior through us means that we, His children, will want to keep ourselves unspotted from the world, from drunkenness, from swearing, from fornication, from partying, from materialism, from arrogant pride, from disrespect. In our mind and in our lives and in our affections we shall be directed to be pleasing to Jesus. We will want Jesus to be seen in us. We will want to walk as Jesus walked. We will find in Him our comfort, our purpose, and our ambitions. And we will say, “You can have all the world. Give me Jesus, for there is none so dear, so faithful, so loving as my Savior Jesus.”
Is He your Savior, this Jesus? Do you confess Jesus for me, Jesus in me, Jesus through me; for me to live is Jesus Christ? Then hear His words spoken originally to Peter, and now to you: “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto you but my Father which is in heaven.” And then, what peace and comfort rolls over our lives, for He surely is the Savior. All those given to Him will be saved because He will save them. Believe in Jesus and you shall be saved.
Let us pray.
Father, we thank Thee for the gospel. We thank Thee that His name was called Jesus. Now sanctify Thy Word, make it holy unto our hearts, and make it the food for our life. We pray in His name, in the name of Jesus, Amen.