By Aude McKee
The theme for this series of lessons is “Our Lord Jesus Christ.” Our responsibility in this lesson is to look at Jesus, who is the Saviour of the world. This was his mission and he was named by his father so that every time we say his name we are reminded of his purpose in coming to the world. In Matthew 1 we are told that an angel appeared to Joseph to explain to him that the young lady he had planned to make his wife, had committed no sin even though she was expecting a child. “That which is conceived in her,” he was told, “is of the Holy Spirit.” The angel then went on to say, “thou shalt call his name Jesus for he shall save his people from their sins.” Jesus is the Grecianized form of Joshua and it was a common name. But its meaning had an altogether different emphasis when given to God’s Son. Those who wore the name before him were “saviours” from enemies and local or national upheavals (Neh. 9:27), but Jesus was in no way involved in matters of that kind. His purpose was not to deliver the Jews from Roman dominion. He did not come to put “two chickens in every pot and two cars in every garage.” He did not make the journey from heaven to earth to eliminate disease and give lectures on how to protect the environment. He stated his mission plainly in Luke 19:10: “The Son of man is come to seek and save the lost.” The Holy Spirit had Paul to say, “It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”
For 1500 years prior to Jesus’ coming, the Law of Moses had been in force. That law demanded perfection on the part of those who lived under it, and the penalty for failure was separation from God (Isa. 59:1-2). The only remedy available to those people was animal sacrifices and they were incapable of meeting the demands of divine justice (Heb. 10:1-4). But the writer goes on to say that Jesus came to “take away the first, that he might establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified by the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” So Jesus accomplished two things: He took away the Old Testament law while establishing the New, and he offered himself as a sacrifice for sins. We sing an old song frequently: “What can wash away my sins?” Then the answer comes, “Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” It was John who wrote: “The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sins” (1 Jn. 1:7).
But as we look at the “world” Jesus came to save, we wonder what went wrong? This world is in a terrible condition! Violence and destruction, drugs and drunkenness, homosexuality and immorality, child abuse and neglect of the aged, and on and on. Even John (1 Jn. 5:19)said, “. . . the whole world lieth in wickedness.” Was Jesus’ visit to this world a failure? No one who has read the book of Acts would ever answer in the affirmative! A short time after the Lord’s death, burial, resurrection and ascension back to heaven, the gospel was preached for the first time (Acts 2), and 3,000 people were saved. In Acts 8, the eunuch from Ethiopia was baptized and “went on his way rejoicing.” In Acts 9, perhaps the most avid enemy the Lord’s church had in the first century was baptized in order to wash away his sins (22:16). In Acts 10 is the record of the first Gentiles becoming Christians, and in Acts 16 is the story of Lydia and the Philippian jailer’s being saved. The world being, for the most part, in a lost condition does not reflect on the mission of Jesus but rather on man’s lack of concern for salvation. Peter preached “save yourselves” (Acts 2:40), and this is what the majority of people refuse to do. Occasionally you hear of someone who goes on a hunger strike. There is ample food available, but they refuse to eat. The blood that Jesus shed on the cross can wash away sins, but rare is the individual who is concerned enough about his soul to avail himself of the remedy.
Unconcern must be one of the major reasons for so many in the world not taking advantage of Jesus’ remedy for sin, but there are other reasons. One of them involves the false doctrines being taught about how to be saved by Christ. Some teach the one searching for salvation that all the Lord requires is simply believe. “Faith only,” they say, “is a most wholesome doctrine and very full of comfort.” But Jesus, the one offering the salvation, said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mk. 16:16). In Hebrews 5:9 we are told that Jesus “became the author of eternal salvation to all them that obey him.” Then there are those who teach that you “accept Jesus as your personal saviour and pray and he will save.” That is a strange teaching in view of Saul’s (Paul’s) experience in Damascus. He had seen Jesus on the road and became a believer, but he was still lost. So he asked Jesus what he had to do (Acts 9:6). The Lord told him to go to the city and he would be told what to do. He went to Damascus, refused to eat or drink, and was on his knees praying (v. 11). God then sent a preacher to instruct him, and Paul himself tells what Ananias taught him (Acts 22:12-16). Paul was told, “Arise and be baptized and wash away thy sins. . .”
But another reason the majority of people in the world are lost, is because the “saved” have failed to go into all the world and preach the gsopel! The gospel (the good news about Jesus and his saving blood) is the “power of God unto salvation” (Rom. 1:16). No wonder the Lord gave the command to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” We need men, more men, who are willing to “go and preach.” And we need more Christians who are willing to “send once and again” to their necessities. The church in the early part of the first century had the awesome responsibility of the “great commission” on their shoulders, and they got the job done. In Colossians 1:6, Paul said that the gospel had “come in all the world,” and in verse 23 he said it had been “preached to every creature.” Without doubt they possessed first of all unshakeable faith in their commander. He said “go” and so they went. Second, they had vision. They “looked on the fields” and saw they were “white unto harvest.” Third, they possessed optimism. They were totally unlike the 10 spies who said, “we can’t.” Fourth, they were determined that the job be done! The fact that so many gave their lives in the effort is mute evidence to their total commitment.
Indeed, Jesus Christ is the saviour of the world. His part in the saving process is perfect. The part that falls on us is where the failures come in. May we each one obey from the heart and thus come into contact with his saving blood. May all of us make a determined effort to see that as many people as possible within the scope of our influence, learn the truth and have opportunity to obey. And may God help us to be impressed with our responsibility to see that every creature under heaven has the same opportunities to reach the cleansing blood of Christ that we have had.
Guardian of Truth XXXVIII No.23, p. 8-9
December 1, 1994