#WCSK Episode 0.5: Why do I need a Savior?

What Christians Should Know (#WCSK): Volume Zero takes a step back and investigates basic ideas about God, the Bible, and the Christian faith. This series provides crucial answers to critical questions about belief.

#WCSK Episode 0.5: Jesus Christ Savior Good Sin Messiah

Introduction

I live right outside of what is one of the most diverse cities in all of the United States: New York City. And, contrary to what the rest of the country might think, New Yorkers are very friendly people. Yes, they are highly opinionated and pushy, but they are amicable nonetheless. Diversity in the city has installed within many New Yorkers a reasonable sense of tolerance, so that although my neighbors may not look like me, speak my native language, eat what I eat, or think how I think, we can all reasonably get along in spite of our differences. For life in the big city, tolerance is reasonable, and who has the “better” preference is ultimately of no eternal significance. When it comes to religious beliefs, tolerance is still reasonable, but it bears tremendous eternal significance as it pertains to which religion has exclusive truth claims. Please note that being tolerant of something and believing that something to be true are two completely different things. In the United States, for example, the federal government is tolerant of all religions, and therefore by law, all religions are guaranteed freedom of expression and equal treatment. The United States government makes no claim as to what religion is valid based on truth claims. Subsequently, in America, people therefore have the legal “right” to believe in and practice a religion that is false.

#WCSK What Christians Should Know Jesus Christ, the Savior Sin Good

It is thus perfectly compatible to live in peace next to someone who subscribes to an ideology that you abhor because tolerance does not equal value. Accordingly, when it comes to evaluating this episode’s central question—“Why do I need a savior?”—a central theme that stimulates a search for an answer is that the answer will be exclusive of other claims made by different faiths. In fact, for the answer to be true, it must be exclusive. Hence, the more appropriate way to phrase this episode’s question is, “Why do I need the Savior?” Some may regard the claim of the Savior as arrogant and elitist, to which I would respond, “That would only be true if I was claiming authority based on my own truth.” Thankfully, the Savior is a truth that is separate from the self. This way, ideologies can be challenged and not the people who hold to them.

The simple reality is that most religious truth claims are complete nonsense. Still, your religious beliefs truly matter, and a certainty of life is that all people must die. In order to escape death and have life, you need Someone to rescue you from this perilous predicament. This is why you need the Savior: Jesus Christ and Christ alone.

In this episode, I will first talk about the exclusivity of religious truth claims in general. Next, I will explore why a person needs to rely on a savior in the first place and discuss what being “good” means according to the Christian and secular worldviews. Then, I will describe what role free will plays in our relationship with God. I will conclude and tie everything together by detailing why you need Jesus Christ, who is the legitimate, exclusive Savior for all of humanity in spite of the fact that many reject Him.

Seeking truth, not accommodation

When it comes to religious beliefs in the United States, the current landscape is much like New York City, where pluralism reigns supreme. Using the common saying, “We all worship the same God,” and the common analogy, “God sits on top of a mountain and all religions are different roads to the top,” many are persuaded to believe that they can believe in whatever they would like and we will all end up in the same place. This worldview is attractive because it is inclusive and the savior is whoever you would like him or her to be. He makes no judgments and is very “open-minded,” and there is no need for anyone to squabble because we’re all heading to the same place. Yet, the problem is that even a cursory analysis of religion informs us that different systems of belief are not headed toward the same God and that we are on totally different mountains! Consider, for example, the deity of Jesus. Orthodox Christianity has long worshiped Him as God. This is a core truth claim that cannot be reduced to something insignificant and non-essential. But guess what? There are even some denominations who label themselves Christians who do not believe that Jesus is God (e.g., Jehovah’s Witnesses)! Muslims do not think Jesus is God; they regard Him as a prophet. Jews certainly do not believe Jesus is God, nor do they think that God is personable. Buddhists also deny that a personable God exists. The clear distinctions in crucial beliefs cannot be denied, and it becomes clear that by the law of non-contradiction, all religious beliefs cannot all be true because they say different things. So, as it applies to any other area in life, the truth, by definition, will be exclusive of non-truth. Of course, this is a reality that tends to be unpopular, because exclusive truth is offensive. Still, a genuine interest in what is really true means being honest and upfront about the dissimilarities between religious truth claims, especially when those claims engage with ultimate topics such as eternity, heaven, and hell. In the end, “absolutely no absolutes” cannot be true because it is itself an absolute statement.

Now let us examine the exclusiveness and uniqueness of the Christian truth claims about Christ. There is only one Person in all of history who ever claimed to be God—Jesus.[1],[2] Jesus specifically said, “I am the way,” and “No one comes to the Father except through Me.[3] Jesus also said that the way into heaven wasn’t broad and inclusive, but that it was in fact very narrow, and many would enter through the broad gate, which leads to destruction.[4] 

The New Testament writers also testify to the fact that Jesus alone is the “door” that people can walk through in order to inherit eternal life.[5] So, the One who is God claims to be God and makes the exclusive claim that He is the way to redemption. Many people will throw their hands up in the air at this point and say that such a claim is arrogant, offensive, and blatantly hostile to their sensibilities of how God should act—that is, God shouldn’t be such an elitist and should open up more roads that lead to Him. This logic is inherently flawed, because if God’s character must conform to man’s image, then the very being of God is shattered into pieces. The brutal fact is that human beings are now faced with a dilemma that has intergalactic proportions. Either God is telling us the truth that there is only one way to Him, or Jesus is telling us a dreadful lie. Even more, the question at hand is which path is the correct one to take. Truly, we could be in a scenario where there was no path at all.

Consequently, when eternity is at stake, the much more reasonable question to ask is if God has thoroughly revealed Himself to us and made an explicit case for why He is the Savior. Thankfully, what we do have is the Bible, a legitimate, historical book that spans time and space and proclaims a unified and coherent message that testifies to the Person and character of the Messiah, Jesus. The Bible is a historical collection of objective evidence, so in spite of all the zealous feelings in the world and all the skepticism in the world, neither alters its truth claims. And what makes Jesus so special? Well, the Bible makes the explicit case that Jesus is God in the flesh, or God incarnate.[6] This means that He is deserving of glory and stands far above everyone else. Buddha, for example, never claimed to be anything more than a man, and neither did the prophet Mohammed. Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, never claimed to be anything more than a prophet. The Bible also makes the explicit case that Jesus is sinless,[7] which means that He is more than just “good”; he is also holy.[8] This means that Jesus not only never did anything wrong but also never had any sinful thoughts. In fact, the basic trait that characterizes God is His holiness, and being sound asleep in the bright of day is analogous to lacking an understanding of the holiness of God. Holiness demands justice, and holiness can never say “never mind” to sin. The greatest enemy to evil is the holiness of God, and the holiness of God is what sends most people running as far as they can from The Lord.

The Bible makes the explicit case that Jesus died on the Cross as an atonement for sin.[9] Sin, or violations of God’s Law, equates to cosmic treason in the sight of a perfectly just God. This is why sin is such a big deal and had to be dealt with before we could have a relationship with The Lord. Because Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life, He acted as a sacrificial substitute to pay the legal price for sin in place of us. No other religious figure makes a case for atonement.

The Bible also makes the explicit case that Jesus rose from the dead (the resurrection). In contrast to Mohammed, Buddha, Joseph Smith, L. Ron Hubbard, or any other leader of a religion, Jesus is the only One to have died and then come back to tell others about it. In fact, because Christ conquered death, the Bible makes the explicit case that those who profess faith in Jesus will not die but will have eternal life.

Hence, Jesus Christ is the one who makes the Christian faith unique and drastically different from the rest of the religious pack. Furthermore, the exclusivity of Jesus as the Savior is a truth claim predicated on His deity, His sinlessness, His atonement, and His resurrection.

Even more, there is a huge book (the Bible) that spans hundreds of pages and moves through thousands of years of history to show all of humanity exactly what God has done to reveal Himself to us. The Bible and the exclusivity of Christ certainly can be ignored, but a person must embrace the fact that rejecting Christ means rejecting everything God has done to reveal Himself. The world is incessantly focused on having their preferred option, yet they fail to realize that the fact that there is a path to redemption is an unmerited gift from God.[10]

Indeed, it would be truly arrogant if a religious zealot ever said that their way was the right way based on what they believe. In this paradigm, they derive authority from themselves, which is demeaning of others. It isn’t demeaning at all if someone says, “This way is the right way,” and that proclamation is based on truth. I remember a time, not too long ago, when my father sustained a heart attack. When the doctors took a close look at his heart, they found blockages of all four major blood vessels. The cardiothoracic surgeon then came in and said, “Mr. Sadaphal, the only way I can save you from certain death is if you have cardiac bypass surgery.” The surgeon didn’t make this recommendation based on his personal opinion or inward feelings. He based it on objective evidence after looking at my father’s heart, relying on his extensive medical training, and having an awareness of patient outcomes after bypass surgery. My father could have thought to himself, “This bypass surgery option sounds too restrictive. I need more options. I want to go a way that I want.” He could have thought that, coming from the mind of a non-heart surgeon. He could have thought that, realizing that his freedom of choice now would lead to death later. Thankfully, he never thought those things because he realized that it is far more advantageous to relinquish personal preference for a trustworthy, reliable option—especially when that option is a matter of life or death.

The bad news for many in modernity is that all religions are drastically different, so making the wrong choice can get you into worlds of trouble. The good news has two parts. The first is that there is a way to Paradise. The second is that this way—the Savior, Jesus—is a trustworthy and reliable option who backed up His promises for new life with the resurrection.

Why can’t I just be good?

Searching for a savior assumes that you need one. After all, why can’t a person just live a good life and be done with it? A person could say, “So what about religion, a savior, and the Bible? My life is going pretty well. I mean, I’m not perfect, but I think I’m generally ok. Why can’t I just be good and leave it at that?” Answering this question will expose a basic rift between the Christian and secular worldviews.

A person needs a Savior and can’t “just be good” because the God of the Bible isn’t just good—He’s holy.[11] Holiness is something separate and distinct from good. Good is the beggar that sits weak and emaciated at the bottom of the mountain, and God, in His holiness, sits on top of the mountain, which is thousands of miles high.

“Good” is a social label that is applied based on external observations, but it can never assess the internal heart condition. A man could be labeled “good” because he takes care of his children, is always supportive of his wife, and, generally speaking, is kind to others, but this label would ignore his private sex addiction characterized by a relentless compulsion to masturbate to pornography. A woman could be labeled “good” because she is a diligent student, is smart with her money, and donates her time to charity, but this label would ignore her private malice in her heart for people who don’t look like her and speak a different language. A famous celebrity could be labeled “good” because she is an industrious humanitarian who seemingly gives endlessly of herself to help those without, but this label would ignore her private love of recognition that feeds off covetousness for a pristine public image. A God who is just “good” may give us nice weather from time to time but would never allow Himself to endure suffering on the Cross for the sake of humanity. That is what happens when a holy God—who loves His creation but can’t deny His justice—allows Himself to be sacrificed for the sake of humanity.

Granted, striving to “be good” isn’t the issue per se that keeps the beggar in a state of poverty at the bottom of the mountain of holiness. It’s the sin that invariably accompanies a person who is “basically good,” as our prior examples testified to. Bringing one drop of sin in the presence of a holy God is cosmic treason, and He will not tolerate such an offense. Would you want a serial murderer to live next to you? How about a child molester? Of course you wouldn’t. Why? Because their sin is offensive, and those criminals didn’t even commit a crime against you. A holy God will not tolerate sin, which is a galactic offense directly against Him.

A secular humanist and a Christian can both comfortably agree that people are not perfect. Beyond that fact, however, there is a huge discrepancy in worldviews. The Christian says that people are inherently corrupt and are thus incapable of having a moral disposition inclined toward good. The secular humanist would say that yes, people do bad things, but on the inside, they are essentially good people. The existential problem with the secular position becomes evident very quickly. That is, who defines what is good? What is the barometer that people can use to objectively define the threshold above which is “good” and below which is “bad”? Because, as it has already been established, people are not perfect. So how can a person, or a group of non-perfect people, objectively define what is good or come to a social consensus on what is respectable? Even more, to live in a world where the average Joe is “good” by necessity means that the standard of “good” has to be low enough to include most people. This may make people feel better but devalues good. So, for the secular humanist, either good applies to most people (and it means very little), or good has a high bar (and it therefore means something) and the secularist is an arrogant elitist.

While a secular worldview permits for a malleable standard of what is good, the Christian worldview does not, as detailed in the Bible. The Christian wholly rejects the idea that a standard for what is good can be voted on, agreed on by popular consensus, or codified into law. The Christian worldview upholds the idea that what is good is permanent, unchanging, and defined by God Himself. So, for example, when God says, “Thou shalt not steal” (Exodus 20:15, KJV), that objectively means, “Thou shalt not steal,” because theft is objectively wrong. It doesn’t matter if you are stealing from the rich to give to the poor or if a group of people come to a consensus to forcibly take something that is not theirs away from someone else—theft is theft, and theft is wrong. This ultimate standard calls on all Christians to be something far greater than good: to be holy.[12] Of course, real life shatters the illusion of Christians being holy, and I would be lying if I did not say that on countless occasions, my behavior has been quite unholy. Still, this does not change the divine mandate of awesome moral responsibility before God.

Jesus Himself shatters the modern sensibility about what “good” really is. In Luke 18:18-34, Christ has a discussion with a rich young ruler. The man seeks to know how a person can obtain eternal life, and Jesus is explicit when He responds by saying, “No one is good except God alone” (v. 19). I will paraphrase, but Jesus then continues by saying, “You already know what God requires of you: don’t commit adultery, don’t murder, don’t steal, don’t lie, and honor your parents” (v. 20). The man responds by saying, “Since I was a child, I have done all those things.”

Now, let’s take a step back. Here you have a man talking to God Himself, and the man is justifying himself before God. He’s saying, “God, I know your laws and your rules, and I have kept all of them since I was young. Indeed, I guess I am good by my own merit and am worthy” (v. 21). This man makes the mistake that many in modernity do. That is, they underestimate how incomprehensibly difficult it is to obey God’s Law.[13] In fact, you don’t need to have a degree in theology or be a Bible expert to know just how tough God’s demands are. According to Jesus, the greatest commandment of all is to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.”[14] This radical command is inclusive of every fiber of a person’s being and is so demanding that the great Bible teacher R. C. Sproul once wrote, “I know I haven’t loved God with my whole heart for 60 seconds in my life.”[15]  The second greatest command is to love your neighbor as thyself.[16] I must woefully admit that I haven’t loved my neighbor as myself for 10 seconds of my life. These commands (which are two of hundreds) encompass the whole self and command us to override what most people do naturally: love themselves. If people would rather not bother with God, then how can they possibly love Him with all of their heart?

Furthermore, people may embrace the fact that Christ was an all-around “nice guy” God who is much more palatable than the presupposed all-around “mean guy” God of the Old Testament, with all His wrath and fire and brimstone. However, in many regards, they fail to embrace how Christ made the demands of the Old Testament Law of Moses harder. What do I mean by that? What I mean is that in the Old Testament, for example, there was an explicit command not to commit adultery,[17] the penalty for which was death. Then, in the New Testament, Jesus explains that if a man even thinks of adultery with lust, then he has already committed adultery in his heart.[18] In other words, the stakes for being “good” were raised astronomically from doing what is right to thinking what is right. It’s no wonder that the two greatest commandments focused on the condition of the heart: to love God and to love one’s neighbor. Can you even imagine a society in which thought crimes existed? In such a world, everyone would be a felon and no one would be “good.”

Many people may have a representation of Jesus in their mind—a figure who is all-inclusive and loving and who is all about forgiveness and mercy. What the Bible teaches plainly is that God is radically inclusive of people and has always been radically exclusive of sin. What the Bible teaches plainly is that God is merciful and abounding in lovingkindness,[19] but that lovingkindness is demonstrated to those people who fear Him[20] and keep His commandments.[21] Certainly, God is not a cosmic bellhop who beckons whenever a person calls. Truly, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”[22]

Hence, when we turn back to the rich young ruler in Luke 18, it becomes apparent that this man never immersed himself in the full counsel of Jesus’s teachings. If he had, he would have realized that “being good” meant more than staying away from the gross, outward violations of the Law. The ruler was unaware of the true demands of God’s Law and thus lowered the bar to fit his unique situation. This explains what happens in the conversation that follows, after the ruler has told Christ that he has followed all the rules since he was young. Jesus says, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” Verse 23 then tells us the ruler’s response: “But when he had heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich.” Why was the ruler sad? Because he had violated the greatest commandment of all: to love God. People protect what they love, and the ruler was protecting his wealth. He wanted his riches more than he wanted God, which also means that he was guilty of covetousness, a violation of the tenth commandment.[23] The rich young ruler, like many in modernity, wanted eternity and to be in heaven. Yet, he didn’t want the God who holds eternity in His hands. The reality is that if you don’t want God in the present, then you will get exactly what you want and spend eternity without Him in hell.

So, the bad news is that a person cannot “just be good.” The good news is that Jesus was more than good: He is holy and lived a life of perfect obedience. The Bible teaches us that we ought never to rely on ourselves being good, but we must have faith[24] in the One who is eternally holy.

Free will doesn’t make you free

Central to the Christian worldview is the idea that people are inherently corrupt. What does this mean? After all, if people are inherently corrupt, how can they be held responsible for doing what their nature commands—that which is corrupt? This is a very keen observation that deserves a meaningful answer.

When Bible teachers refer to humankind as being corrupt or “fallen,” it means that while we maintain the ability to choose between right and wrong, we have an innate disposition to do what is bad. Jonathan Edwards referred to humankind’s “natural ability” and “moral ability.” So, all humans have the potential to choose what is good because we have minds, intellects, and are able to make an unforced selection among alternatives. Yet, this potential is not actualized. Why? Because humankind lacks the moral ability. In fact, we possess a moral inability or a desire toward evil. Embracing this fact requires one to simply think about people honestly. This is why children engage in mischief naturally and have to be taught obedience. Atheists and agnostics prove the moral inability of humankind perfectly. Why? Because they have no desire to please God and may even say that “doing religion” requires too much effort. They may have even read the Bible dozens of times and know exactly what God requires—thus defining the contours of their potential, natural ability—but are totally devoid of any inclination to do what God says.

Ultimately then, every human being is “free” to choose what they want to do (in the absence of coercion), and the reason people choose one alternative over the other is because that’s what they truly want to do. For whatever reason, they have a stronger inclination for A than they do for B. The difference, however, between secular culture and the Christian worldview is how a person is “free” to choose A over B. The former tends to think that “free” will truly is autonomy to choose between right and wrong without any prior inclination. Here, a person is still wholly responsible for their actions. On the other hand, the Christian worldview still maintains that a person is free to choose between alternatives, but they are not autonomous—that is, they have an inclination to do what is evil.[25] As Martin Luther claimed in Bondage of the Will, people are thus “free” to choose but are in bondage to do what sin wants. Consequently, this perceived freedom to sin in the present shackles a person to one invariable fate: condemnation for eternity. It must be emphasized that the Christian worldview never denies that human beings are responsible for the choices that they make (and thus responsible for sin), because ultimately, that is what they truly want to do. The determining factor in all moral decisions is the self, and it is only by the regeneration of the Holy Spirit that a person may be “born again” and thus have their self—their inclinations—operatively changed to now do what God wants, and therefore, not sin.[26] Consequently, in contrast to a secular worldview, for the Christian, freedom does not equal autonomy. Furthermore, if the exercise of your freedom keeps you in bondage to sin, then it’s a freedom not worth having. Part of the reason, then, why you need a Savior is to “put to death” the old self[27] that desires to sin so that you may be raised to new life and long to do the will of God.

So, the bad news is that even though a person is “free,” this does not mean that they are at liberty to do what is right. The good news is that Jesus already paid our ransom[28] in full to redeem us from the bondage of our will and set us free to live new lives as new creatures in Him.[29]

Hell’s best kept secret

A pervasive sense of right and wrong not only exists in the present but has accompanied the entire history of humanity. As discussed, people are inherently incapable of doing what is right and have a disposition to sin even though they have the freedom to choose. What should be made clear is that no one is subjectively defining sin into existence, accusing everyone of sin, and then manufacturing a global need for a Savior. When it comes to moral law, right and wrong are not explanations of the natural world and the way things are, like gravity explains how an object falls from the sky. Rather, moral law prescribes how things should be or an “oughtness.” Norman L. Geisler writes:

“[Moral laws] are not simply a description of the way people behave and are not known by observing what people do. If they were, our idea of morality would surely be different. Instead, they tell us what people ought to do, whether they are doing it or not. Thus, any moral “ought” comes from beyond the natural universe. You can’t explain it by anything that happens in the universe, and it can’t be reduced to the things people do in the universe. It transcends the natural order and requires a transcendent cause.”[30]

Again, sin (or that which is wrong) is the violation of God’s Law either in action or thought. In the 21st century, no one likes to be called a sinner because it produces feelings of guilt and unworthiness. But when we take a closer look at the objective moral law, we quickly discover that God has specified the contours of the moral law in the Bible. So, when God tells us, “Thou shall” and “Thou shalt not,” He is making it explicitly clear what is good and what is bad. Because of our nature, we are inclined to do what is wrong, violate God’s Law, and thus commit sin because we are sinners.

All of humanity has fallen short of God’s benchmark.[31] Is this an exercise in self-pity? Of course not. It is meant to reveal to us how God’s Law convicts us of our sins.

Hence, “hell’s best kept secret”[32] is just that: God’s Law. Why? Because God’s Law makes a person realize that they have sinned and therefore they are a sinner. The penalty for sin is death. Therefore, the only way a sinner can be rescued from death is if they have a Savior who has paid the price for sin. There is only one Person who fits such a description: Jesus Christ.

In a world that is soft on sin, that dismisses God’s Law as “outdated” or “irrelevant,” or that upholds subjective morality, sin isn’t such a big deal. When sin isn’t a big deal, neither is salvation. And if salvation is inconsequential, then you have no need for Jesus. This is the great trick the deceiver has played on humanity since the Garden of Eden. He has tried to make humanity forget about God’s Law by reframing sin—which, again, amounts to cosmic treason against a holy God—to treason against a person’s own self-determination. Hence, the person is offered “autonomy” and “freedom” in the present while sacrificing eternity. Ultimately, while hell’s best-kept secret is God’s Law, heaven’s solution for salvation is in plain sight—His name is Jesus Christ.

In other religions, God is simply God and man is man. There is no communication or personable relationship. So, the only way God and man can meet is in a God-Man, the exact Person that Jesus is, God Incarnate. If religion plays out any other way, an infinite gap separates the infinite and the finite.

Now, as we near the end of this episode, what I have failed to clarify thus far is what Jesus saves us from. After all, by definition, a savior is a person who saves someone else from danger. What danger are we being rescued from? Ultimately, this danger is not the devil. It is not hell. It is not even sin nor death. These are all peripheral to the real danger: God Himself.[33] When we are saved by the Savior, we are saved from God’s wrath.

He is the One who is sovereign,[34] and nobody else tells God what to do. In the time of judgment, the devil does not judge you and deliver a sentence as a righteous judge[35]God does that. Hell is only dangerous if God sends you there for eternity. Sin is only dangerous because it is an offense against a holy God, whose justice demands a penalty for sin. Death is only bad news if you have not professed faith in God. Jesus, the Savior, saves us from God in the wrath of judgment to come. And, Jesus being God makes perfect sense because only God can turn away the wrath of God.

There are still some people who, no matter how hard you witness, evangelize, or show the love of Christ to, will reject the Savior. They say, “I don’t want Jesus.” In this scenario, the person is fully aware of Jesus and what the Bible says, but they purposely reject the truth. This is unfortunate, yet in the end, all those who don’t hear will feel. There are some who will say, “I don’t need Jesus.” In this scenario, the person clearly hasn’t grasped the pressing reality that everyone needs Jesus and everyone needs the Savior because we don’t stand a chance being judged by a holy God. God’s holiness demands justice, and there are only two ways that His justice can be satisfied—God satisfies His own justice through Jesus, or you satisfy God’s justice in hell forever. All those who don’t hear will feel.

Conclusion

Why do I need a Savior? You need a Savior because without one, your eternal prospects are abysmal. The good news is that you don’t have to choose from among the options because there is only one exclusive Mediator[36] between God and humankind: Jesus. He demonstrated that the only thing we have to do is have faith in Him, the One who is good, who perfectly obeyed God’s Law for His entire life and paid the eternal penalty for sin on the Cross. He was “good” for our sakes and is the One who set us free from our own carnal inclinations that lust after evil.

To borrow an analogy from Ray Comfort, humanity needs a Savior because our world is like a plane that is rapidly descending and will soon crash. We need not worry about snack service, what movie is playing, or whether we have a window seat. This is what the world worries about because they are distracted and fail to embrace the dire menace of the place crash. Those who are acutely aware of the perilous predicament realize that they cannot save themselves, nor do they have any power to change what will be. So when they hear about a parachute—a Savior—which is the only thing that can rescue them from certain death, they realize that this is the best news they have ever heard. They realize that everything else going on in the plane is irrelevant, and when they grab hold of the parachute, they cling on tight and never let go. They begin to look around and fervently implore others to strap on a parachute, but they don’t seem to care—some believe the plane isn’t crashing, some are consumed with changing their seats to first class, and some simply want to get drunk with little plastic bottles of liquor. You implore and plead with others who call you names and regard you as a “nutcase” or “idiotic” because you’re more concerned about what happens afterwards as opposed to what’s happening now. You plead and plead, and thankfully, some do listen because they understand what is at stake. Those who do hear and are convinced of the grave danger they are in are zealous for their parachute. Those who don’t perceive the grave danger they’re in are either apathetic or lukewarm.

Ultimately, you know that you will never be able to withstand the wrath of God, but you are at peace in spite of the predicament on the plane because but you have an Advocate[37] who will come to your defense: Jesus. You realize that you need a Savior because you are a sinner who is lost and that is exactly why Jesus came into this world—for sinners and to seek and save those who are lost.[38], [39] Without Christ, you may be able to get by in the present, but you are guaranteed to lose eternity. Truly, eternity matters more than the present, and right now counts toward forever.

Dr. C. H. E. Sadaphal

 

[1] For example, see John 3:13-15 (c.f. Daniel 7:13), 5:18-26, 8:58, 10:30-36

[2] And yes, claiming to be God and being God are two distinct things. So, for an expanded apologetic on the reliability and historicity of the Bible’s claims and the validation of Jesus’s deity, see the transcript (“Closing the Gap”) of TruthFinder (4.3): Crucial Answers to Critical Questions About Belief located here. Links to the podcast (iTunes) are also available.

[3] John 14:6

[4] Matthew 7:13

[5] John 10:9; c.f. John 3:16, Acts 4:12; I Timothy 2:5

[6] John 1:1-14

[7] II Corinthians 5:21; I Peter 2:22; Hebrews 4:15; I John 3:5

[8] Luke 1:35; Acts 3:14; I Peter 1:13-16; Hebrews 7:26

[9] I Peter 2:24; I John 2:2; Hebrews 9:12; c.f. Leviticus 17:11

[10] Ephesians 1:7

[11] See Isaiah 6:3; I Peter 1:15; Revelation 4:8

[12] Leviticus 14:4; c.f. I Peter 1:16

[13] And just to be clear, the Bible makes it clear that doing “works” or simply following rules will not earn a person eternal life; c.f. Romans 3:20.

[14] Matthew 22:37, KJV

[15] R. C. Sproul, Reason to Believe (Grand Rapids, MI: Lamplighter Books, 1982), 100

[16] Matthew 22:39

[17] Exodus 20:14

[18] Matthew 5:28

[19] Psalm 103:8

[20] Psalm 103:17

[21] Psalm 103:18

[22] Galatians 6:7, KJV

[23] Exodus 20:17

[24] John 3:16; I Peter 1:13-16

[25] In fact, people need an inclination to make a choice in the first place because the law of causality tells us that all effects must have a cause. If they didn’t have that, then they would perpetually be in a state of indecision, and the subsequent neutral choice would lack any moral significance.

[26] This partly explains the gist of what Paul wrote in Romans 8:2, where the elect, by the Spirit and through Christ, are set free from the law of sin and of death.

[27] See Romans 6:6; Colossians 3:5-11

[28] Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45; I Timothy 2:6

[29] II Corinthians 5:17

[30] Norman L. Geisler and Ronald M. Brooks, When Skeptics Ask (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2013), 17

[31] Romans 3:23

[32] For a wonderful elucidation of this concept, see Ray Comfort, Hell’s Best Kept Secret (New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 1989)

[33] Matthew 25:31-46; Acts 17:31; II Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 19:11

[34] See II Chronicles 29:11-12; Psalm 115:3; Job 42:2; Isaiah 46:9-10

[35] Psalm 7:11

[36] I Timothy 2:5

[37] I John 1:21

[38] Luke 19:10

[39] Luke 5:32

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