For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour ...
Who is the Saviour?
The Only Saviour
In this passage God declares Himself to be the Saviour. He emphasizes the fact that He alone is the Saviour. The word I in the text is emphatic. God says, I, the Lord... your Saviour. This emphasis is even stronger in verse 11 of Isa. 43. There God says, I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour. He does not simply say, I, but He says, I even I... God wants to make it very clear that He is the only Saviour. Beside Him there is no Saviour.
We might wonder why God puts such great emphasis upon His identity as the Saviour. Don't we all know that God is the only Saviour? Doesn't just about everybody know that?
The answer to that question is, No! There are many who are either ignorant of the fact that He is the only Saviour or they deny that He is the only Saviour. That is true today just as it was in the days when this Word of the Lord was given to the people of Israel.
Throughout her history, by word or deed, Israel denied that God was the Saviour. She was continually going awhoring after other gods. This was true at the very beginning of her history as a nation. Immediately after God had led Israel out of the house of bondage in Egypt, while He was giving the law to Moses on Mt. Sinai, Israel built a golden calf and worshipped that calf as her Saviour. During the time of the Judges, over and over again Israel turned to the gods of the Canaanites so that God had to send her enemies against her in judgment. The same thing was true in the time of the kings after the death of Solomon. Israel fell into great apostasy, denying the only Saviour, so that finally God had to lead her away into captivity.
What was true of Israel is also true of the Church of today. The Church as it is manifested in the world (all that goes by the name of Church) is, for the most part, ignorant of or denies the true Saviour. Oh, there is much talk about God and Christ. We hear the name Jesus all the time-so much so that one tires of it. These names, however, have been drained of their meaning. Even though people take these names upon their lips, they do not know of whom they speak. People have so many misconceptions about God and Christ that the God and Christ of most people are not the God and Christ of the Bible. Today God is considered by most to be a weak and helpless God who does not rule this world. He is brought down to the level of man. There is very little respect for Him. He is common-just a buddy. In fact, He is made even lower than man. For man is able to frustrate the will of God by his will. God is supposed to love everyone and want everyone to be saved. God, however, does not get what He wants because many refuse to receive Him as their Saviour.
Is this the god who is the only Saviour? No! Certainly not! We must, therefore, not only take careful note of the fact that the true God is the only Saviour, but we must also take note of His description of Himself as the only Saviour. In this passage God refers to Himself as the Saviour by means of three of His names-Jehovah, Holy One, and God. By these three names we learn precisely who the Saviour is.
The Saviour Is JEHOVAH
First let us notice that the Saviour is not dependent upon man and his will, for His name is Jehovah. He says, For I am the LORD... Here the name LORD is literally Jehovah. Whenever the King James Version has the name LORD in all capital letters it is the name Jehovah. This is the personal name of God. It teaches us much about the Saviour. The meaning of this name is given to us in Ex. 3:14-15, And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. ...this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations. The name Jehovah means I AM. The Saviour is not I HAVE BEEN, I WAS, or I WILL BE. His name is I AM. He does not merely exist. He does not simply possess life. The Saviour is life. As the I AM, He IS.
This name teaches us that the Saviour is the absolutely independent One, Who is Himself the only ground and cause of His own being. He is the very opposite of His creation. We are all utterly dependent. The inspired apostle Paul says, ...he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things... For in him we live, and move, and have our being... (Acts 17:25-28). We are dependent upon God for life and breath and all things. It is by the power of God that we live and move and have our being. We could not exist without God.
But that is not true of God. The Saviour needs no one and no thing. All that He is, He is in Himself. He receives nothing from outside of Himself. He is totally self-sufficient. Jesus says, For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself. (John 5:26). As the I AM, the Saviour has life in Himself. No one can add to or take away from the Saviour. If we could take away the sun, moon, and stars; the mountains, rivers, and trees; animals, men, and angels; yea, the whole world; we would not take anything away from the Saviour. He is just as great and glorious with or without us. He does not need any of us.
That the Saviour is I AM implies all of His other glorious attributes. He is the UNCHANGEABLE Saviour. I AM does not change. I AM does not increase or decrease. I AM is always the same or He would not be I AM. He is the ETERNAL Saviour. I AM is not subject to time. He does not have a beginning or end. He is not limited by the progression of events. He is above time. Time does not apply to I AM. He is the EVERYWHERE-PRESENT Saviour. He is not here today and there tomorrow. Then there would be change in Him. Since He is I AM, He must be I AM everywhere at the same time. I AM can not be limited by space. He is the ALL-KNOWING Saviour. One can not add to the knowledge of I AM nor take away from it. The knowledge of I AM is always complete and constant. He always knows all things. He is the ALL-POWERFUL Saviour. I AM has all power so that there is no power beside His power. If another being had power, I AM could be changed. But I AM is always I AM. He alone has all the power.
That the Saviour is Jehovah (I AM ) means that He is not weak and helpless as so many seem to think. He is not dependent upon man, man's will, or anyone else. These are terrible misconceptions of the Saviour. The true Saviour is an unsearchably great and glorious Saviour, Who needs no one-certainly not us finite creatures. We ought to recognize His greatness and praise and honour Him for it. We must say with the inspired psalmist, Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable. (Ps. 145:3).
The Saviour Is The HOLY ONE
The second name by which the Saviour identifies Himself in this passage is the name-Holy One. The Saviour is not ordinary or common as so many think. He is not one of us-not just a buddy of ours. The Saviour is the Holy One of Israel (v. 3).
The word, Holy, means set apart, separate. It refers to something that is sacred rather than common. That the Saviour is holy means that He is set apart from all other beings. He is completely different. There is no being in all the world who is like the Saviour. There is not even another being that is close enough to the Saviour to be likened unto Him. In Ex. 15:11 the questions is asked, Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? who is like thee glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders? Oh, what a question? Who is like the Saviour? Can you find any earthly man-some great king or mighty emperor-who is like Jehovah? Can you find an angel of heaven who can be compared to Him? Perhaps, Michael or Gabriel? The obvious answer is, No. There is no one who is like the Saviour. He stands alone.
That is because the Saviour, in both His being and work, is high and lifted up. For Thou, Lord, art high above all gods. (Ps. 97:9). He is infinitely exalted above all other beings. Even the greatest of His creatures are nothing in comparison to Him. In Isa. 40:15,17 we read, Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing ... All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity. All the nations of the world are so insignificant in comparison to the Saviour that they are like the dust that collects on the balances-so light that it does not even affect the weight. If you could add up all the nations of the world, you would come up with less than nothing. That is the holiness of the Saviour in comparison with the world.
That the Saviour is holy not only means that He is holy in His being, but also that He is ethically holy. The Saviour is without moral imperfections. He is absolutely free from all sin and evil. There is no wickedness in His being and there is none in all of His activities. All that the Saviour is and does is ethically perfect. We may never question His ethical perfection.
That is why the Saviour is not a God of love only. He loves righteousness and the righteous in Christ. But because He is holy, He hates unrighteousness and the unrighteous. His holiness demands that He hate the unrighteous. He would not be holy if He did not hate the wicked. Thus the psalmist declares, The Lord is in his holy temple, the Lord's throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men. The Lord trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. (Ps. 11:4). In His love the Saviour tries the righteous, but He hates the wicked.
Nor is it true that the Saviour is good to everyone. As the Holy One, He must judge and condemn the wicked. He can not tolerate wickedness nor the wicked in His presence. The psalmist says, Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup. For the righteous Lord loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright. (Ps. 11:6) The Saviour so hates the wicked that, in this life as well as in hell, He rains destruction upon their heads. He is the Holy One of Israel.
The Saviour Is GOD
The third name by which the Saviour identifies Himself is the name-God. The Saviour is not weak and helpless. His world is not out of control. For the Saviour is none other than God himself. He is the Master of the universe-the Ruler and King of the world. He is the sovereign Lord who rules, directs, and controls all things.
The psalmist declares, Our God is in the heavens, he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased. (Ps. 115:3). The Saviour who reins on high accomplishes all of His good pleasure by the power of His providence. He has eternally willed and planned all things. Nothing is outside of His eternal decree. That decree can not be frustrated. Not even man can keep the Saviour from getting exactly what He wants. For, as God, the Saviour has the power to bring about all that He has eternally willed. No one can stop Him as He Himself declares in Isa. 43 verse 13, Yea, before the day was I am he; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand: I will work, and who shall let it? The Saviour works and no one will let it-reverse it.
Surely this means that the Saviour can and does save all whom He desires to save. He saves by His sovereign will and power and no one can stop Him. In fact, the Saviour's saving acts are so powerful and so great that He calls them His wonders. As the sovereign God, the Saviour performs mighty deeds for the salvation of His people. We read of them in Ps. 145:4-6, One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts. I will speak of the glorious honour of thy majesty, and of they wondrous works. And men shall speak of the might of thy terrible acts: and I will declare thy greatness. The acts of the Saviour are mighty and awe-inspiring acts. His works are wondrous. All who know the power of His grace are witnesses of His great deeds. In Isa. 43:10 we read, Ye are my witnesses saith the Lord... Therefore, we are to declare His wondrous works to our generations and praise the glory of the great Saviour.
The Glorious Triune God In Christ
These three individual names-Jehovah, Holy One, and God-teach us much about the Saviour. However, if we take these three names together they teach us even more.
First of all notice that these three names teach us that the Saviour is a very great and glorious Saviour. He is so wonderful that He shines with all the splendour of the sun-yea, infinitely brighter than the sun. He is glorious in all of His being and all of His actions. He is so glorious that all things serve the manifestation of His great glory. All creatures in heaven and earth have their existence in order to show forth the glory of God. Even man serves the glory of God-both the righteous and the wicked. The manifestation of the glory of the Saviour is man's highest purpose-even higher than salvation itself. In Isa. 43 verse 7 we read ... for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea I have made him. This verse does not refer to physical creation, but spiritual creation-salvation. The Saviour saves His people, not for salvation's sake, but for the sake of His glory. The glory of the Saviour is so great that even salvation serves Him.
In the second place these three names teach us that the Saviour is the triune God. The Saviour is not simply Jesus. This is what so many say today. They are always taking about Jesus as the Saviour. But they do not connect Jesus with God. Most people who speak of Jesus don't understand the most fundamental points about God. That is why their Jesus is not the Jesus of the Bible. The Saviour is not simply Jesus, but the triune God-Jehovah God, the Holy One of Israel. That is what God declares in this passage, I am the Lord thy God, the Holy one of Israel, thy Saviour...
Nevertheless, we must learn in the third place that Jesus is indeed the Saviour—as the revelation of the triune God. The triune God is the Saviour in and through Jesus Christ. In Christ is all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. In Christ we see God, the Saviour. This is indicated by the fact that all three of these names apply to Jesus.
Jesus is Jehovah. The name Jesus means, Jehovah Salvation. Every time Jesus said, I AM, He identified Himself as Jehovah. He said, I am the bread of life. I am the water of life. I am the resurrection and the life. I am the way, the truth, and the life. By these statements He said, I am Jehovah.
He is also the Holy One. The apostle Peter preached to the Jews on the day of Pentecost, But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you. In Christ is all the holiness of the triune God. He has the same attitude of love toward the righteous and hatred toward the wicked as God does.
He is Himself very God. The apostle John says, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1). Thus in Christ is all the power and might of Almighty God.
This is the description which the Saviour gives of Himself. This is how He identifies Himself. He is the glorious Jehovah God, the Holy One, who reveals Himself in Christ as the Saviour. This is why the apostle Peter declares of the name Jesus Christ, Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:12). Christ, as the revelation of the triune God, is the only Saviour.
What is Salvation?
Salvation From Sin
Now that we have learned the identity of the only Saviour we must go on to notice what it means that He is Saviour. We must answer the question, What is salvation?
This is very important, for there are many who have a very shallow conception of what salvation is. Just as they do not understand the identity of the Saviour, they do not understand what it means to be saved by the Saviour. Most have a very man-centered view of salvation-a very humanistic view. They believe that salvation is basically an act of man rather than an act of God. Man must ask Jesus into his heart for salvation. He must say a little prayer so that Christ can come into his heart. He must accept Christ as personal Saviour. At the very least, man's action must come before God's action in salvation.
If this is your conception of salvation, you do not understand what true salvation is. The salvation of the only Saviour is a very wonderful thing. It is not only an act of God. It is a miracle of grace which only God can perform.
First of all, let us notice what salvation is from a negative point of view. From what does the Saviour save His people. We learn this from the word, Saviour, in verse 3. It means, to save, to deliver, to help. Its root idea is that of making wide or sufficient that which is narrow or insufficient. Thus, it refers to the freeing or delivering of someone from a tight situation-from distress or trouble of some kind.
This meaning is very graphically illustrated by the history of Israel. Over and over again God delivered Israel from physical trouble-tight situations. He saved her from the armies of her enemies, from plagues of all kinds, and from various kinds of sicknesses. But perhaps the best illustration is that of the saving of Israel from the bondage of Egypt. In Ex. 14:30 we read, Thus the Lord saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore. God saved Israel from Egypt. Israel was in a very tight situation in Egypt. She was in the house of bondage. Israel was enslaved to hard, cruel taskmasters who were seeking her destruction. So troublesome was her situation that she could not free herself. She was doomed. Her situation was hopeless. But in the midst of her great trouble God came and delivered her from that terrible bondage. He lead Israel out of the house of bondage through the sea on dry land while He drowned the Egyptians in the Red Sea. Thus God widened Israel's tight situation. He freed her from her distress. That was her salvation.
What is true of Israel from a physical point of view is true of all of God's chosen people from a spiritual point of view. By nature, God's people are in a very tight spot. They are enslaved to sin and Satan. That bondage is just as terrible as the bondage of Egypt. They are not only sinners who commit acts of sin every day, but they have corrupt natures (Jer. 17:9). They are not only wicked on the outside, but on the inside. The Bible says that they are, ...dead in trespasses and sins. (Eph. 2:1). By nature, they are the children of the devil and they will to do the will of the devil (John 8:44). They hate God and rebel against Him. All of this makes them worthy of damnation. They deserve to be condemned to hell forever. What is even worse, they can do nothing to get out of that terrible, tight spot. As far as they are concerned, their situation is hopeless.
But God in His love and grace saves them. He opens up their situation so that they are no longer in trouble. He frees them from their sin and their sinful natures. He saves them from Satan and the wicked. He forgives their sins so that they are not counted guilty. The Psalmist says, As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. (Ps. 103:12). In freeing them from the guilt of their sins, the Saviour delivers them from the torments of hell and all of His holy wrath which He manifests upon sinners. He gets them out of that most terrible of all tight spots.
Having God As Your God
That is salvation from a negative point a view. But salvation is also positive. We find the positive meaning of salvation in the Hebrew parallelism of the text. We read literally, For I Jehovah, God of you...The Holy One of Israel, Saviour of you. Notice that we have two parallel statements here-Jehovah is your God and the Holy One is your Saviour. These two statements explain one another. That Jehovah is your God means that He is your Saviour. That the Holy One is your Saviour means that He is your God. That is the positive meaning of salvation. It means that the Saviour is the God of those whom He saves.
The Saviour is not the God of all. Oh yes, He is the God of all from the point of view of creation and His providential rule. All men ought to worship and serve Him as their God. But from a spiritual point of view, He is the God only of those whom He saves. If that were not true this text would be meaningless. Why then would the Saviour emphasize that He is the God of Israel? These words teach us that salvation is having God as your God. It means that those whom God saves belong to Him and He belongs to them. They are His people and He is their God. Thus the Saviour says in Isa. 43:1, ...Thou art mine. His people could say the same thing, He is ours.
Thus salvation, from a positive point of view, is a covenantal idea. This is exactly the idea of the covenant which God established with Abraham. God said to Abraham, And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. (Gen. 17:7). The covenant which God established with Abraham was that He would be the God of Abraham and his seed and they would be His people. This is true with respect to all those whom the Saviour saves. He establishes a covenant with them whereby He is their God and they are His people. The apostle Paul demonstrates this in II Cor. 6:16 by saying of those who are saved, And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Thus salvation is a bond or union of fellowship and friendship with the living God. God walks with His people and talks with them. He shares His life with them. They walk and talk with God and share their lives with Him. They know and love God even as He knows and loves them.
Chosen, Loved, Secure
This positive idea of salvation implies several things about salvation. It implies in the first place that the source of salvation is divine election. Since those who are saved are, by nature, the children of the devil and not the children of God, God must have chosen them for adoption as His dear children. No one can be a child of God—have God as their spiritual Father—without God first choosing them to be so. Thus God says in Isa. 43:10, Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen. All those who are saved are saved because God has selected them to be saved from before the foundation of the world. The apostle Paul says, According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will. (Eph. 1:4-5).
It implies in the second place that the Saviour eternally loves those whom He saves. Why is it that the Saviour chose some to be His children and not others? It certainly is not because one is better than another. All are unworthy of God and His salvation. No one deserves His grace. The answer is that God eternally loved some and in that love selected them to be saved. This idea is found in verse four, Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee ... All who are saved are chosen to be saved, and all who are chosen to be saved are eternally loved of God. The Saviour says ... I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. (Jer. 31:3).
Finally the fact that salvation is having God as your God implies that the Saviour is for those whom He saves and against their enemies. Since God loves those whom He saves and in that love chose them to salvation, certainly He is on their side. He is not against them. He does not seek their hurt. He is for them and seeks their good. He is against their enemies. He will hurt those who seek the hurt of His people. But He is always with His people for their good. He says in verse 5, Fear not: for I am with thee... Salvation means that God's people need not fear. They need not be afraid-not of anything. For God is with them. The Saviour says, When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned: neither shall the flames kindle upon thee. (Isa. 43:2). When the waters of spiritual troubles come or when the spiritual fires burn about those whom God saves, they may have the assurance that because God is their Saviour they are safe and secure in His hands. The waters will not overflow them and the fire will not burn them. That is salvation.
God's Wonder FOR His People
Having considered the meaning of salvation, we now consider the way or means of salvation. How does God deliver His chosen people from their sin and how does He give to them eternal life-covenant fellowship with Him?
The answer in general is this: by means of His sovereign grace. This is implied in the names God and Holy One. Since He is the all-powerful God, salvation must be the work of His almighty power. Since He is the Holy One, the salvation of the sinner must be a work of His grace. Thus salvation is the wonder-work of the sovereign grace of God.
This wonder-work of the Holy God is twofold. It is a wonder which He works for His people and also a wonder which He works in His people.
Reference is made to the wonder which God works for His people in the last part of Isa. 43:1. There we read ... Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name: thou art mine.
When God saved His people from the bondage of Egypt, He redeemed them. He purchased them out of their slavery with ransom money. That ransom money was the blood of the lambs which were slain the night before they left Egypt. Without the shedding of blood and the sprinkling of that blood upon the door-posts of the houses of Israel, there could be no salvation from Egypt. They were redeemed on the basis of the blood.
What is true of Israel's physical salvation is also true of the spiritual salvation of all of God's people. God saves His people by redeeming them with the blood of the lamb. The lambs which were slain that night by the Israelites were types of The Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, who shed His blood on the cross for the redemption of His people. The Spirit of inspiration says, Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. (I Peter 1:18-19).
God does not redeem His people with corruptible things like silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ. For unlike the things of this world, the blood of Christ is of infinite value. It is more than able to redeem all of God's people from all of their sins. God sent Christ into this world and imputed to Him the guilt of all the sins of His people and then poured out all of His terrible wrath against those sins upon Christ. On the cross Christ suffered the agonies of hell in the place of His people. The blood of Christ represents that sacrificial death of Christ.
What a wonder-work of God's grace. Although God's people are such great sinners and undeserving of the least of His favour, He has given them His only begotten Son-given Him even to the death of the cross. Indeed, that is grace. That is the undeserved favour, the beautiful attitude, which God has toward His people. It is the grace by which He saves them. The apostle says in Rom. 3:24, Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
This shedding of the blood of Christ was absolutely necessary. Because God is the Holy One and because His people are sinners by nature, they can not live in covenant fellowship with Him unless the guilt of their sin is gone. God can not have fellowship with sin. Without the death of Christ and the payment He made on behalf of His people, there could be no salvation.
Thus we see that the only basis for salvation is the blood of Christ. A person does not go to heaven because he accepted Christ. He is not saved on the basis of a decision for Christ. The basis of salvation is not found in man at all. A person is saved and goes to heaven for but one reason-Christ died for him and thus redeemed him from his sin. It is the blood of Christ alone that makes the difference between heaven or hell. This is the wonder which God works for His people. He redeems them with the precious blood of Christ.
God's Wonder IN His People
But this work for God's people must be applied to the heart and life of His people. If God's people are to experience this salvation, a work must be done in them as well. Reference is made to this wonder-work of God in the first part of Isa. 43:1. We read, But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel ... There is also the statement in verse 7, I have made him ... Notice that here we have the three words which are used of the creation of the world. In Genesis one and two where we read that God created the world it is said that He made it (1:7), created it (1:1), and formed it (2:7). These verses in Isa. 43, however, do not refer to the physical creation of Israel, but the spiritual creation of Israel. It refers to Israel's creation as the people of God who spiritually belong to God. It is a creation that has to do with salvation.
Thus we learn that the work which God performs in His people by His grace is nothing less than a creation. It is a re-creation in Christ Jesus. We read in Eph. 2:10, For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Just as God created, made, and formed the world, so spiritually He creates, makes, and forms His people, so that they are spiritually His workmanship. They are the product or handiwork of His grace.
He takes the spiritually dead sinner and He gives him life. He raises him from spiritual death. He creates in him a new heart with the principle of the life of Christ within it. This is regeneration, the new birth. Then, out of that new heart God calls forth faith. He brings the regenerated sinner to repentance so that he turns from his sin. He puts the love of God in His heart and gives him the desire to walk in the way of obedience to God.
Thus they who were once the children of the devil, children of darkness, become the children of light. They become members of the kingdom of God's dear Son. God's people are indeed new creatures in Christ-creatures who reflect the glorious image of Christ in their hearts and lives. This is how God sprinkles His people with the precious blood of Christ and thereby applies the work of Christ to their hearts and lives.
Oh, what a wonder-work of God's grace. This is why the apostle could say in Eph. 2:8-9, For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. It is not of works. It has nothing to do with the will and works of man. That is why no one may boast. No one has anything in himself of which to boast. The wonder-work of God for His people and in His people is all of grace and only of grace. It is all God's work. Regeneration, faith, and all that belongs to the application of salvation is the gift of God. Moreover, it is the gift of God in order that God might receive all the glory.
Who are Saved?
Having considered the identity of the Saviour and the meaning of salvation, we now turn our attention to the objects of this wonderful salvation. The question which we must answer is this, Of whom is Jehovah God, the Saviour? Is God the Saviour of everyone or is He the Saviour of only some? If only some, then of whom?
The answer which most people give to this question is that God in one way or another is the Saviour of everyone. Salvation is universal. Some believe that God actually saves every person. They do not believe that anyone will go to hell. They do not even believe in hell. They say that a good and loving God would not create such a place as that. Others, believe that even though God does not save all, He would like to save all. They know that the Bible teaches that there is a place called hell and that many people will spend eternity there (Rev. 20:11-15). Nevertheless, that people go to hell is not God's doing. He seeks to save all. He offers salvation to all. If He had His way all would go to heaven. It is only because of man's own refusal to receive the gift of salvation that he goes to hell.
A careful examination of the passage in Isa. 43 will reveal that these conceptions are entirely wrong. God is not a universal Saviour in any sense. God says in verses 3 and 4 ... I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life.
This means that when God delivered Israel from the bondage of Egypt, He did so by means of judging and destroying Egypt. God sacrificed Egypt for Israel's life. The land of Egypt was destroyed by the plagues and the host of pharaoh was drowned in the Red Sea. God also gave the Canaanites for Israel's life. For Israel entered into the promised land only by means of the destruction of the Canaanites. Thus Israel's salvation was through the judgment of the Egyptians and the Canaanites. Because Israel was saved from Egypt and from the Canaanites, God had to judge and destroy them in order to save Israel.
What is true of Israel physically is true of all of God's chosen people spiritually. God saves those whom he saves by means of judging their enemies. Because God saves His people from the devil, from the wicked, and from sin; the devil, the wicked, and sin must be judged in order for salvation to take place. This is one of the reasons there is a hell. God judges and condemns to everlasting hell the devil and the wicked who hate God's people and seek to destroy them. Thus we see that God gives the life of some people (the wicked) for the spiritual life of His people. This means that God can not possibly save everyone. He can not even will the salvation of everyone. He deliberately judges the wicked in order to save His people from them.
This is clearly taught in Scripture. In Romans 9:13 we read, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. God loved and saved Jacob but He hated and did not save Esau. In Jude 4 we read, For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. God not only does not save all, but He does not want to save all, for ungodly men who crept into the church were eternally ordained of God to be condemned.
Such passages as I Timothy 2:4 and II Peter 3:9 do not contradict this truth of Holy Scripture. We must interpret these verses in harmony with their context. When the apostle says in I Tim. 2 that God will have all men to be saved, he is not speaking of all men head for head. The context shows that He is talking about all kinds of men. He has just commanded us to pray for kings as well as common people in order that some of them might be saved so that the Christian may lead a quiet and peaceable life. Thus God wills the salvation of kings as well as common people. He wills the salvation of rich as well as pour, bond as well as free, Greek as well and Jew. He wills the salvation of all different kinds of people.
In II Peter 3:9 where the apostle says that God is not willing that any should perish, he is speaking of God's people alone, not all head for head. For we read, The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. God is longsuffering to us-ward. That is, He is longsuffering to His chosen people to whom this letter was address (I Peter 1:1-2, II Peter 1:1). He is not willing that any of His chosen people should perish and therefore He is patient and does not bring the end of the world until all of them have come to repentance.
God's Chosen People
No, God is not the Saviour of all. According to Isa. 43, He is the Saviour only of a very special people. Verse three makes it very clear that when God says, I am the Lord thy God ... thy Saviour, He is speaking to Israel. He is the Holy One of Israel. He speaks of Jacob whom He has created spiritually, of His servant whom He has chosen, and of those who are called by His name. All of these statements show us that God is the Saviour of Israel.
But that does not mean that God is the Saviour of all physical Israelites-those who are the physical descendants of Jacob. That is not true. God has never been the spiritual Saviour of all of physical Israel, even though in the old dispensation He saved most of His chosen people from among the physical Israelites.
The proof of this is found in Rom. 9. In verse 6 we read, For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel. Notice that the apostle declares that those who are physically out of Israel are not all true spiritual Israel. We have the same thing stated in verse 8, That is, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. Those who are the children of the flesh of Jacob are not the spiritual children of God. Those who are saved by the power of the covenant promise of God are the true children of God-the true Israel.
It is the elect people of God of all ages who are the true Israelites of God. True, spiritual Israel is comprised of all those whom God has chosen to salvation from before the foundation of the world. The true Jew is a physical Jew or Gentile who is circumcised in his heart-regenerated by God's grace. God says, For he is not a Jew which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God. (Rom. 2:28-29).
It is this spiritual Israel who is the true seed of Abraham with whom God established His covenant and to whom God is a God and Saviour. The apostle under the inspiration of God explains who the seed of Abraham is in Gal. 3:16. We read, Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. The apostle makes the point that when God gave the covenant promise to Abraham (Gen. 17:7), He did not use the word seed as a plural, but as a singular. By that singular word, seed, He referred to none other than Christ. Christ is the seed of Abraham with whom God established His covenant and to whom God is a God. Christ, as Mediator, is the one Whom God saves from the devil, the wicked, and sin.
But not only Christ. We read in Gal. 3:29, And if ye be Christ's then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. Those who belong to Christ by election are also the seed of Abraham and therefore are the objects of salvation with Christ. Who are those who belong to Christ? It is the elect people of God whom God gave to Christ from the foundation of the world to save-spiritual Israel. Christ refers to them in His high-priestly prayer when He says, I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. (John 17:9-10).
No, God is not the Saviour of all men. That is the lie of the devil. God is the Saviour of a very special group of people. Not special because they are worthy of salvation in themselves, for they are not. They are no more worthy than the wicked who are condemned to hell. They are special because God out of His great love and mercy has chosen them to be His people whom He saves and in whom He glorifies His great name.
What a tremendous comfort for God's people. If you have a heart that is filled with true faith and repentance and thus manifest the fact that you have been chosen of God to salvation, the words of this text are for you. God says to you, Fear not...For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour...
Rev. Steven R. Houck
Ordained: September 1979
Pastorates: Home Missionary (Hope PRC, Walker) - 1979; Peace, Lansing, IL - 1990
Emeritus: 2009Website: www.sermonaudio.com/search.asp?speakeronly=true&currsection=sermonsspeaker&keyword=Rev._Steven_Houck
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