Our Savior: The Author of Salvation

That is the God whom we serve: the Savior who works in us. He is the author of our salvation, and because He is the Savior, He will save.

The salvation that we have from our Savior is not only for this life and it is not only for the life to come. We are saved already, and yet the full consummation of the ages is still ahead of us, when we will dwell with Him for all eternity. Yet we need not fear that in receiving one, we shall not receive the other, for though we change every day, the author of our salvation never changes. It is because of that fact that we may have assurance. “For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him.” (1 Thessalonians 5:9) When God speaks a word, it will come to pass.

 

When we speak of salvation, we often begin by talking about ourselves, and that is our first mistake. It would be better for us to start by considering the One from whom salvation flows: our forever Savior, God Almighty. When we build our understanding of salvation upon our own identity, we can have no assurance, but when we build it upon the character of God, we have every assurance.

The first thing we must say about God is that He is what He is. The One who revealed Himself to Moses as “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14) does not experience any change in character. All that He is, He was eternally, and all He is now, He will forever be. Our experience of His character may change, but the character itself doesn’t. God cannot become something He previously was not, so as to be created. He cannot improve on what He is now, so as to become better. He is the perfect Creator then, now, and forevermore.

Therefore, when we say that God is Savior, we do not assign to Him a new identity that He did not previously possess. He was a Savior even before there was something to save, and because He has always been a Savior, He always will be. He is a Savior precisely because it is in His nature to save. When Jesus Christ said He came to earth “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10), He was describing the eternal character of God as manifested in that portion of redemptive history.

The saving work of the Trinity stretches back before the creation of our universe, and I purposefully use the term Trinity, because all three Persons are equally involved in this endeavor. We most often point to God the Son as our Savior, but please understand that this title is appropriately applied to all three Persons of the Trinity. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit have all been full participants in the work of salvation. Their actions in space-time have certainly not been the same: we confess the classic formula that the Father sends, the Son is sent, and the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son (or to use another phrase, is “breathed out”).

The Son became incarnate as a man (Philipppians 2:7), the Spirit raised Him from the dead (Romans 8:11), and the Father exalted Him (Philippians 2:9). Nevertheless, the Son is not the “good cop” who saves us from His “bad cop” Father, nor does the Father force the Son to do things against His will. All three Persons act to save. They are so united that we ought not even speak of Them having separate wills: Their will is united.

In the Old Testament, we see God begin to reveal Himself as Savior. However, references to the salvation of the Lord in that part of scripture are often related to Israel’s physical deliverance. This is not a contradiction in our understanding of God as Savior. Rather, the material salvation that God provided to the Old Testament patriarchs and the nation of Israel was meant to point to that which was spiritual and eternal. The Lord said through the Prophet Isaiah, “Before me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me. I, even I, am the LORD, And there is no savior besides me.” (Isaiah 43:10b-11)

We see numerous occasions when Old Testament figures were urged to look to God for their temporal deliverance. When the Israelites stood on the shore of the Red Sea, terrified of the Egyptians chasing at their heels, Moses declared to them, “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the LORD which He will accomplish for you today” (Exodus 14:3a). In that case, they were being saved from physical destruction, whereas Hannah linked the Lord’s salvation with her freedom from societal disgrace. “My heart exults in the LORD; My horn is exalted in the LORD, My mouth speaks boldly against my enemies, Because I rejoice in Your salvation.” (1 Samuel 1:1b)

However, the existence of so many passages pointing to the temporal deliverance of the Lord does not imply that the Old Testament saints had no awareness of His ability to save them from sins eternally. In the psalm where David makes His most poignant plea for forgiveness from sins, He prays, “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation / And sustain me with a willing spirit.” (Psalm 51:12) Elsewhere, he writes, “Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of Your name; And deliver us and forgive our sins for Your name’s sake.” (Psalm 79:9)

The Old Testament provides us with stories of would-be saviors: men and women who helped to provide physical deliverance for Israel. Some names that come to mind here are Joshua, Gideon, David, and Esther. Yet none of these people were the Savior. They all inherited a sinful nature, were fallible, and only achieved greatness through the power of God. Their actions are somewhat symbolic of the salvation of the Lord, but none of them had the power to defeat the deadliest foe of the human race: sin. The Prophet Isaiah declared that man’s predicament was not due to any flaw in God’s character or abilities, but rather the sin that separates us from our Creator.

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