“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people” (Titus 2:11).
WHEN WE’RE HONEST, WE SEE THAT OUR SINS AGAINST GOD HAVE PUT US IN A DESPERATE SITUATION. In our most private moments, we all have known the agony of Paul’s cry, “Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24 NRSV). Surely, we need not only to be saved, but we need a Savior.
But if you and I made a list of all the things we’d like to be saved from, it would be a long list, would it not? There is much about our lives in this world that we find disappointing, disagreeable, and difficult. What is it, then, that we desire to be saved (i.e., delivered or rescued) from? When we come to Jesus Christ, what is the help we’re seeking more than any other kind of help?
Eternal condemnation. Even if there could be no relief in this world from all the things that have gone wrong, we would surely long to be with our God in eternity rather than banished from Him. So heaven is the highest and most important promise of the gospel. This, above all, is what we should be seeking from Christ.
Our disobedient actions. The gospel involves not only forgiveness but reformation, and it should be this deliverance from our sinful habits and weaknesses that we long for. It is not enough to be protected from the punishment for sin; we need to be saved from the practice of sin. This desire for obedience should move us deeply.
Our wayward hearts. Since our actions flow from our hearts, it is our hearts that are the main problem. Whatever outward sources of difficulty may disturb us, we should be more concerned about the darkness that is still in our thoughts and motives. We ought to long fervently for the hearts that can be ours in heaven.
The thread running through every mention of the gospel in the New Testament is the idea of a unity being restored that was broken by sin. Sin has broken apart everything that was meant to be together, but through Christ all is being brought back into harmony. Our disintegration — our broken-to-pieces-hood — is being healed. In Christ, our hope is for eternal health and wholeness.
“The terms for salvation in many languages are derived from roots like salvus, saos, whole, heil, which all designate health, the opposite of disintegration and disruption. Salvation is healing in the ultimate sense; it is final, cosmic, and individual healing” (Paul Tillich).