Salvation is the Armor of Light

We are the redeemed of the Lord, and if we are going to fully lay hold and understand what this means, we need to familiarize ourselves with the language of salvation. This way, when we preach the gospel to ourselves and to one another, we know just what we need to say to best encourage the downtrodden or disheartened.

Jesus, Joshua or Jeshua, as it’s rendered in post-exilic Hebrew and Aramaic. In the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament used in the first century), Joshua is regularly translated as Jesus (Iesous in Greek). “Joshua” is the combination of two Hebrew words meaning “ Yahweh saves.” You may remember that Joshua in the Old Testament was originally “Hoshea,” meaning “salvation,” but Moses renamed him Joshua (Num. 13:16). “Jesus,” like its antecedent “Joshua,” also means “Yahweh saves,” or simply, “savior.”

Although Jesus was a common name, with Jesus of Nazareth the name took on added significance. It didn’t just mean that His God saves; it meant that He was the God who saves. Jesus of Nazareth is the only one who can save us from our sins.

Gabriel says to Joseph, concerning Mary, “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, For he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21).

Salvation is not found in Muhammad or Krishna, a strong education, marriage, parents, children, presidents, prime ministers or material goods or any thing that can be named under heaven. “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved,” (Acts 4:12).

The point of the gospel is not that Jesus saves us from low self-esteem, or from singleness, or from our crummy job. We need to learn the vocabulary of salvation and teach it to our children.

The doctrine of Soteriology is the study of the religious doctrines of salvation. The Atonement is the work of Christ in dealing with the problem of sin, by bringing sinners into right relation with God. The term Propitiation, means the removal of wrath by the offering of a gift. The doctrine of Penal Substitution Atonement, means that Christ died on the cross as a substitute for sinners. God imputed the guilt of our sins to Christ, and he, in our place, bore the punishment that we deserve (Hebrews 2:14).

Most Christians don’t realize that we are actually saved from God’s wrath. Because of sin, God’s wrath is going to rest on mankind, unless that sin is dealt with.

“Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek,” (Romans 2:4-9).

The Lord Jesus does not save us from sin, but because of our sin, he saves us from the coming wrath of God on all sinners. Jesus takes away the sin, imputing his righteousness to us and therefore, saves us from God. Its as if we tied ourselves to tracks with the cords of sin, in the path of God’s wrath train and Jesus came, cut the cords and laid down on the tracks in our stead.

The Bible provides other metaphors that are instructive. We find the first reference to the atonement in Genesis 3:21, “And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.”

Adam and Eve were afraid, in hiding, ashamed, and covered in the guilt of their sin. So, the Lord kills an animal to cover their shame to take it away. Because God provides garments to clothe Adam and Eve, requiring the death of an animal to cover their nakedness, we see how the system of animal sacrifices foreshadow the eventual sacrificial death of Christ as an atonement for sin.[1]

“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin,” (Romans 4:7-8). We must be covered, we need to be clothed. “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ,” (Galatians 3:27). We are clothed with Christ. We are not naked and ashamed. We ought not to be fearful. Christ is our armor of light (Romans 13:11-14).

Atonement is the Lord’s gracious gift, one he grants to sinful people. Indeed, while we usually think of sacrifice as that which the Israelites gave to God, here he turns this idea on its head: sacrificial atonement is something he mercifully and lovingly grants to them, allowing the lifeblood of the sacrifice to ransom the lifeblood of the guilty person. “I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls” (Leviticus 17:11). God’s mercy and love is demonstrated supremely in the sacrificial death of Jesus, the ultimate ransom for the guilty.[2]

Isaiah 53 promisesthe perfect sacrifice and that prophecy was fulfilled by Christ. Christ fulfills the sacrifices because Jesus is the Lamb of God.

“The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” (John 1:35-36).

“For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life,” (Leviticus 17:11).

“Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins,”(Hebrews 9:22).

“And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified,” (Hebrews 10:11-14).

Jesus Goes into heaven with the gift of His own blood as THE High Priest and offers it as a gift to His Father, thereby turning away the Father’s wrath and satisfying the justice of God – blood for blood. And this is our hope, our healing and our the heart of who we are in Christ.

Deep down, and sometimes we don’t even have to dig that deep, many of us feel confident before God because we haven’t royally messed up our lives, at least not lately. We don’t get drunk or do drugs. We show up on time for work. We keep our yard clean and get involved in church. I’d feel pretty good with a record like that. I do feel pretty good sometimes! And that’s my problem. We put our trust in “self.

The fact that when I sin I feel like I should earn my repentance before I come back to God tells me that I live too much of my life feeling good with God because I feel like I am good enough for God. I was born full of myself, and every day needs to be emptied and filled with Christ. There is nowhere else we ought to look for our salvation than in Christ. You cannot trust Christ truly unless you trust Christ alone. No matter how much you boast of Christ or talk of your love for Christ or passion for Christ, if you add anything to Christ, your boasting and love and passion are all in vain. There is no “both-and” with Jesus, only “either-or.”

Either Jesus is the only Savior, the perfect Savior, and your only comfort in life and in death, or Jesus is for you no Savior at all.[3]

We need protect our faith from “self,” as much as the lies of the enemy, that we are not saved. But if we are in Christ, then we are redeemed. We are clothed. We are covered. We are well armored for whatever the enemy and his minions throw at us.

If Christ is for us, and he is, who can stand against us? Sin? Satan? Unbelief? Communism? We may live in the shadow of death, we are not alone and we will not be overcome. This is our prophetic message to the dark and fallen world and to those struggling in their sanctification. As Zechariah said of John the Baptist,

“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace,” (Luke 1:76-79).

Let us bear the light of world; the Lord Jesus, the savior of mankind, faithfully and boldly today, forever.

 

Amen


[1] Gospel Transformation Study Bible

[2] ESV Study Bible

[3] DeYoung, Kevin L. (2010-03-26). The Good News We Almost Forgot: Rediscovering the Gospel in a 16th Century Catechism (pp. 64-65).

Author: Michael Kloss

There is a Sunday conscience, as well as a Sunday coat; and those who make religion a secondary concern put the coat and conscience carefully by to put on only once a week. - Charles Dickens

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