What Did Jesus Teach about Salvation?
G. Campbell Morgan
We have no single recorded instance of Christ's employment of the word Savior as applying to Himself. Only on two occasions do the Gospels record His having made use of the word salvation; once when talking to a Samaritan woman, He said to her, "salvation is from the Jews," by which He most evidently meant that in the Divine economy the Hebrew nation was that through which the Messiah Savior should come; and once when He said to Zacchaeus, "Today is salvation come to this house."
But while it is true that He never used the word Savior, and that we only have the record of His use of the word salvation twice, the word to save He constantly employed, both in the material and moral realms. Our translations somewhat obscure this fact. Our versions report Him as having said, "Your faith has made you whole," when the word is exactly the same, and we might with perfect accuracy translate: "Your faith has saved thee." Indeed the word is stamped upon the page in all the stories of the work and teaching of Jesus; He was constantly speaking of saving.
It is however very suggestive that our Lord is never recorded as having used the word to save in any lower application than that of human life. We talk about saving property; He never did. He used the word only when referring to humanity and to the physical, to the mental, or to the essential spiritual life.
We shall focus on the story of Zacchaeus as illustration. The whole story affords an illustration of our Lord's thought about salvation, for in the moment when Zacchaeus stood and made his great confession of purposed restitution, our Lord said, "Today is salvation come to this house." The proof that salvation had come was that the man was revealed as "a son of Abraham." Do not confuse cause and effect in this story. Christ declared salvation had come to the house. How did He prove it? "Forasmuch as he also is a son of Abraham." Was he not a son of Abraham before? Jesus did not recognize his sonship until he did the works which were the outcome of faith. In the hour of supreme conflict with the rulers, later on, Jesus said, "If you were Abraham's children, you would do the works of Abraham." Of this man, giving up ill-gotten gains, swinging back to lines of righteousness; morally remade, and demonstrating his moral reconstruction by his righteous act; Christ said, That is a son of Abraham. Today salvation is come to this house. There is the evidence of it!
Salvation then according to the teaching of Christ is the complete change from one condition to its opposite. The withered hand healthy and powerful, cessation of the issue of blood, the dead child alive, the leprous men cleansed, the blind eyes seeing; all these He described as saved.
Adapted from The Teaching of Christ, Salvation, by G. Campbell Morgan.
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