Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The King who Saves

Luke 2:11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Romans 5:9 "Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him."

Revelation 15:3-4 "And they sang the song of Moses, the bond-servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty;
Righteous and true are Your ways, King of the nations! 4 “Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy;
For all the nations will come and worship before You, For Your righteous acts have been revealed.”

In this Christmas season the central message which defines the purpose for why Christ came the first time is this: Jesus saves! Whenever you see that phrase or hear it sung, does it ever dawn on you what Jesus Christ saves you and I from and for what purpose He saves all those who by His grace believe on Him? Christmas' revealed King in Revelation is none other than Jesus Christ. The message of salvation and its central person is Jesus Christ.  His identity as the One who saves resounds through the pages of Revelation, even in those chapters that detail the future outpouring of God's wrath on the earth. In today's post we want to consider what exactly the King of salvation, Jesus Christ, came to save sinners from and for what purpose He saves. In our exploration we will focus on the following two thoughts:

1. Jesus Christ saves from wrath. Luke 2:10-12, Revelation 15-18

2. Jesus Christ saves for His glory. Luke 2:13-14 

So with those thoughts in mind, let us first of all consider the fact that Christmas' revealed king...

Jesus Christ saves from wrath.  Luke 2:10-12, Revelation 15:18
We read these words in Luke 2:10-11 "But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." Whenever you see that word "Savior", the question that comes to mind is: what is it that Jesus is saving us from? Other passages in the Christmas accounts and New Testament both specify the identity of Jesus Christ as the One who alone saves. For example we read of Simeon saying later on in Luke 2:30 "For my eyes have seen Your salvation." John 1:29 and 4:42 both recognize Jesus Christ as "the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world" and "the Savior of the world". So initially we can say that Jesus Christ is the Savior who saves us from our sins.  Matthew 1:21 notes - "She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins."

However there is something even more profound and threatening than even our sins. What reaction do our sins bring about in God? Romans 1:18 states - "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness." The wrath of God is the ultimate answer to the question: what does Jesus save you and I from. Romans 5:9 most clearly states: "Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him."

So what is wrath and why is that a big deal when speaking about the King who saves? God's wrath is His settled, steady hatred of sin and all that is opposed to His Holy character. A.W Tozer notes: "God's wrath is His utter intolerance of whatever degrades and destroys".  The people to whom God directs His wrath are not innocent, but knowingly, willingly and with a high-hand ignoring God's repeated warnings to forsake their sin. 

Wrath is a necessary component in of the Gospel.  The Gospel warns sinners of His wrath that will be executed in judgment prior to Christ's second coming as well as the Final judgment at the end of the Millennium. (Revelation 20:11-15)

An illustration: Not knowing the nature of approaching danger
I can recall when living in central Florida the time we had received word of an approaching Hurricane called "Hurricane Charley". For those who had been hit by a major Hurricane (Category 3 or more), the standard protocol was to pack up and move to a safer location. Being from Pennsylvania, Deb and I didn't know what the big fuss was all about. We also noticed that for others in the area who had never experienced such a hurricane that far inland, the lack of concern seemed to confirm our conclusion that there was nothing to fear. However for those older ones who had experienced such a brute force hurricane some 40 years prior, boards on windows and "sorry we're closed" signs were seen. Once the storm had come, we knew why some people had been urging us to flee from the storm's path. If we had known, we would had taken the warnings of those who were urging us to get ready more seriously.
Gaining a better understanding of the necessity of God's wrath
When it comes to God's wrath, everyone on planet earth knows about it whether they admit it or not. Now - rather than later - is the best time to find asylum in Jesus Christ. Wrath does not refer to God throwing some type of cosmic temper-tantrum, or that God is on some type of out of control rampage against an innocent, unsuspecting people. As we noted earlier: God's wrath is His settled, steady hatred of sin and all that is opposed to His Holy character. The evidence of God's wrath is not only written in sacred scripture, but also clearly displayed in the general revelation of creation and the conscience. Deep down people know they are in trouble with God, they just choose to suppress it. (compare Romans 1:18-31)

Often I'll hear people say: "I believe in a God of love, however I cannot believe that God is a God of wrath". For one thing, we don't have the right to pick and choose which Biblical attributes of God we like and don't like. Secondly, considering the hundreds of verses that speak on the subject of His wrath, as well as His love, tells us that such a quality is vital to our understanding of the God of scripture.

Think about this: if God were not the God of wrath, He could not be the God of love. Why? Because if God loved everything, He could not be the God of love, since God love righteousness and unrighteousness, what is holy and profane or love what is opposite of His character.

Bible Scholar Wayne Grudem affirms this point: Yet it is helpful for us to ask what God would be like if He were a God that did not hate sin. He would be a God who either delighted in sin or at least was not troubled by it. Such a God would not be worthy of our worship, for sin is hateful and is worthy of being hated. Later Grudem adds: "...and we rightly imitate this attribute of God when we feel hatred against great evil, injustice and sin."

In studying through the judgment sequence found in Revelation 15:1-18:24, we discover reference to God's wrath or judgment some eight times. Whenever we study through those chapters, as well as the near parallel passages of Revelation 6-11 & 12-14, the following observations emerge:

1. The primary revelation of God's wrath will change location - from heaven to earth
God's wrath is His settled, steady hatred of sin and all that is opposed to His Holy character.
What is going to mark a change in the way God's wrath is revealed is in how he reveals it in the tribulation period. The point of Revelation 6-11 and 12-14 is to show that the wrath of God revealed "from heaven" or indirectly in the consciences of men in general revelation will become manifest "on earth". Revelation 15-18 continues this emphasis of location. Revelation 15:1 sets the tone - "Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels who had seven plagues, which are the last, because in them the wrath of God is finished."

2. The intensity of God's wrath will dramatically increase in the tribulation. 
From Revelation 15-18 we see the wrath of God being poured out in ever increasing measure. Such passages as Revelation 15:7; 16:1; 17:1; 18:3 reveal that the wrath of God being revealed from heaven (Romans 1:18) will be expressed exclusively on this earth in the time period proceeding Christ's second coming.
3. God's wrath will reach a boiling point that will result in a final outpouring before Christ's return at the end of the tribulation period. 
In the final seven year tribulation period, and more specifically the later half, God's wrath will be consistently, directly and more intensely poured out due to all other measures of mercy and grace being exhausted by sinful man.
4. There is only one way to avoid the coming wrath of God - faith in Christmas's Revealed King, Jesus Christ. 

In seven particular spots we find words of encouragement either to church-age saints now who will be exempted from the tribulation period or reference to the future tribulation martyrs who will be shielded from the escalating wrath of God that will occur in the second half of that future period. Two examples from Revelation 15-18 include 16:15 & 18:20. The only way in which you can escape the wrath of God is through faith in Jesus Christ, His finished work and soon return.

So Jesus Christ the King saves all who believe on Him by grace from God's wrath. But now lets consider briefly for what purpose the King, Jesus Christ, saves sinners who believe on Him.

2. Jesus Christ saves for His glory. Lk 2:13-14 
Revelation 19:1-6
Whenever we proclaim the message: "Jesus saves", the negative that we're saved from is the wrath of God. However there is a positive purpose for which Jesus Christ extends His saving purpose: His glory. In Jesus' 1st & 2nd comings we see this emphasis. Luke 2:13-15 depicts the scene of the angels and shepherds: "And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,14 'Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased. 15 When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, 'Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.”' 

Truly as one person as put it: God's grace is but His glory begun, and God's glory is but His grace completed.

Revelation 19:1-6 continues on this positive purpose of Jesus' act and identity as the King who saves - namely for the purpose of His glory. Four times we see the phrase "hallelujah!" repeated over what will be Christ's resounding victory over the evils of men, the forces of Anti-Christ and plots of the Devil. Revelation 19:1 begins - "After these things I heard something like a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying,“Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God." Then we see Revelation 19:6 end this four-fold hallelujah section - "Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns." Truly the King who saves has the Spirit apply salvation to every believer in for the purpose of beholding His glory. It is this purpose which in our hearts the Spirit impresses and fills us with a joy unspeakable and full of glory. (1 Peter 1:8)

Today we took the time to study through Revelation 15-19 to explore the fact that Jesus Christ is the King who saves. We discovered that Jesus Christ is the King who saves from wrath and secondly, He is the King who saves for the purpose of revealing His glory.
1. Wayne Grudem. Systematic Theology. Zondervan. 1994. page 206 


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