That Others May Live
by Kevin Struyk
One of the most elite special operations forces in the United States Air Force is the pararescuemen, often referred to as PJs. These men are responsible for going into hostile territory anywhere in the world and rescuing wounded soldiers at a moment’s notice. Their motto is, “That others may live.” This motto is part of a creed that all pararescuemen recite and live by, a reminder of their duty, privilege, and responsibility to save lives even at the expense of their own comfort and safety.
I believe the motto of the PJs provides a helpful illustration for the Christian. First and foremost, both understand their calling or mission as seeking to save those who are perishing. This directive comes from the top. Jesus Himself understood and followed His predetermined role in redeeming a people out of the world. The pactum salutis (covenant of redemption) was an agreement among the members of the Godhead made in eternity past, wherein they agreed that the heavenly Father would send Jesus on a mission to save His people.
In order for Jesus to save His people, He had to enter enemy territory. In doing so, He took the form of a bondservant and came in the likeness of men (Phil.2:6–7). Both earthly and spiritual powers targeted Him from the moment He was born (Matt. 2:13, 4:3). Despite the opposition, Jesus never failed in accomplishing His objective. As the second person of the Trinity, both fully God and fully man, Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, was obedient where Adam failed (Matt. 4:3–4; Heb. 4:15). In our place, Jesus resisted the temptations of Satan and perfectly fulfilled and kept the law and commandments of God so that His sacrificial death as the spotless Lamb of God would truly atone for the sins of His people (John 1:29).
Sin is a lethal force. The Bible says man in his natural state is dead in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1). Apart from the mercy and grace of God, a man left in his natural sinful state will never know abundant life now or eternal life to come. But God is rich in mercy and demonstrated His amazing love by sending Jesus to rescue the helpless and heal the sick. Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17).
Those whom God calls and loves with an everlasting love will be rescued from eternal death and condemnation through faith in Jesus Christ. Such faith is possible only when a new heart is given to a dead man. This new heart is a result of the regenerating work of God’s Holy Spirit (Ezek. 36:26; John 3). It’s the Spirit who leads people to repent of their sins and it’s God who justifies, or declares righteous, all who believe and call upon the name of Jesus (Rom 5:1; 10:13). A Christian is thus a new creation who has been freed from the guilt and power of sin to worship, serve, and love God and neighbor.
A true disciple of Jesus will, by God’s grace and because of his new nature, imitate Jesus by loving the helpless, the wounded, and the lost. Our love will demonstrate itself through word-and-deed ministry—proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ and discipling His people both to know and live in the light of God’s Word. Our deeds will show our willingness to leave behind earthly comforts, material goods, safety, even our very lives in order to save a soul from hell.
It has been said that the pastor’s life is a throwaway life, in that it is to be given over, body and soul, to the service of God. And in one sense, that’s the case for all true disciples of Jesus. Our lives, our energies, our resources, our time, our gifts ought to be used up or spent with the aim of fulfilling the Great Commission. Thus, when we breathe our last breath, I believe Jesus will welcome His children and individually say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matt. 25:23).
We live in an increasingly hostile environment toward biblical Christianity where it may be tempting to retreat, circle the wagons, put up walls, and avoid the battle to win souls for Christ. Yet, we need to remember what Jesus prays in John 17, “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world” (v. 18).
Take heart, Christian. We are sent into enemy territory by the One who has all power and authority. He will not let your foot slip. The victory is certain, Satan’s demise is sure, and Jesus is on His throne. We have been entrusted with the gospel; let us therefore faithfully proclaim it—so that others may live.