This Week's Message

Who Saves?

Eliphaz, the friend of Job, had remarked, “Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7).  In this life, difficulties just go with the territory, part of the job of living in a fallen world.  Jesus had said  that He had come to “cast fire on the earth” and that He “had a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is My distress until it is accomplished!” (Luke 12:49).  He said, “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth?  No, I tell you, but rather division” (Luke 12:51).  The Lord’s presence among His people on earth would have serious consequences.  God had resolved to restore His fallen creation and this by means of reconciliation between God and man.  We know that what Christ had come to establish would cost Him His life.  Now was the time for serious self-evaluation, for repentance and for faith.  Otherwise, the only alternative was death and eternal condemnation.  The Lord did not desire this.

When others inquired of Jesus about some Galileans who had been killed by Pilate while sacrificing (Luke 13:1), Jesus said that they imagined these were “worse sinners” for what happened to them, but that everyone needed to repent or “you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3).  Jesus adds the incident concerning those who died when the Tower of Siloam fell (Luke 13:14), killing 18 people.  “Do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others that lived in Jerusalem?” (Luke 13:4). Jesus replies, “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:5).

The question was whether people deserved what happened to them or not.  Job’s three friends held to the notion of retribution, that the righteous prosper while the unrighteous suffer.  But, ever since the Garden, after disobeying God, man blamed someone else for his or her misfortune.  That sinful attitude of rebellion against God, of shaking our fist in God’s face, and crying “Why me?” is as true today as ever.

Today we have “rights” that entitle us – supposedly – to all manner of acceptance for our peculiar wants and felt needs.  You name it, “I have a Constitutional right to life, liberty, pursuit of happiness” selfishly demands acceptance, regardless of whether it is God-pleasing or beneficial to the neighbor.  Thus, Marriage is anything man’s imagination cooks up.  Bodies are used to do whatever we darn-well please.  Drugs are legalized so that we can cloud our brains without fear of arrest.  Unborn babies are discarded as tissue that infects our sordid selves.  The list goes on. 

Does man deserve everything he has coming to him?  The Scripture is clear: “The soul that sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:20).  “None is righteous, no, not one” (Psalm 14:1-3; 53:1-3; Romans 3:10f).  Why does sickness strike the rich and the poor?  ‘Good’ people succumb to death just like criminals on death row.  Galileans sacrificing are massacred and workers are killed on the job.  It just doesn’t seem fair.  And now Job sits in ashes, his children are dead and his possessions are gone (Job 1:13-19).  The story explains that Job is “a blameless and upright man” (Job 1:8; 2:3) who is stricken and ruined.  What gives?

Job demands an explanation (Job 31:35). God comes and does not answer “Why” for He alone is God the Creator (Job 38:4-7) and the Sustainer of all things (Job 38:8-11).  God does not need to justify His actions.  He answers our questions with “Who saves.”  He has given His Word on that subject.  Man is ignorant of God’s knowledge (Job 38:1-11; Isaiah 55:8-9) and justice (Job 40:10-14; Romans 3:25-26).  These deficiencies He reveals on the cross (Isaiah 52:13-53:12) and empty tomb (Matthew 28:5-7).  The promise of a Savior announced defeat of Satan and evil (Genesis 3:15) and Job could repent and trust in God’s forgiving love and mercy, which he does (Job 42:1-7).  The same is true for us, who on account of God’s amazing grace and forgiveness in Christ, cling in faith to Him who stills the ‘storms’ of sin and death that imperils us (Mark 4:39).  It is Jesus who saves us by grace through faith.