It declares that God has taken the initiative in Jesus Christ to rescue us from our sins. This is the main theme of the Bible.

You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.

The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.

We have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world.

More particularly, since, as we have seen, sin has three principal consequences, ‘salvation’ is about our liberation from them all. Through Jesus Christ the Saviour we can be brought out of exile and put right with God; we can be born again, receive a new nature and be set free from our moral bondage; and we can have the old discords replaced by a harmony of love. Christ made the first aspect of salvation possible by his suffering and death, the second by the gift of his Spirit and the third by the building of his church. The first will be our theme in this chapter; the second and third in the next.

Paul described his work as a ‘ministry of reconciliation’ and his gospel as a ‘message of reconciliation’. He also made it quite clear where this reconciliation comes from. God is its author, he says, and Christ is the one through whom he brings it about. ‘All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ.’ Again, ‘God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ.’ Everything that was achieved through the death of Jesus on the cross had its origin in the mind and heart of the eternal God. No explanation of Christ’s death or humanity’s salvation which downplays this fact does justice to the teaching of the Bible. ‘God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’ Again, ‘God was pleased to have all his fulness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.’

But what does this ‘reconciliation’ mean? The answer is that it indicates either an action by which two parties in conflict are brought together, or the state in which their oneness is enjoyed and expressed. Paul says that this reconciliation is something that we have received through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. We have not achieved it by our own efforts; we have received it from him as a gift. Sin caused a separation between us and God; the cross, the crucifixion of Christ, has brought us back together. Sin made us enemies; the cross has brought peace. Sin created a gulf between us and God; the cross has bridged it. Sin broke the relationship; the cross has restored it. To put the same truth across in different words, as Paul does in this letter to the Romans, ‘The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.’

John Stott, Basic Christianity, New edition. (Nottingham: Inter-Varsity Press, 2008), 107–109.


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