“Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God” (Rom. 5:9).- Romans 5:9
In the very first chapter of the New Testament, we find the record of Joseph’s encounter with an angel of the Lord. Seeing that Joseph is about to divorce Mary “quietly,” God sends His messenger to assure Joseph of his wife’s purity and to give him the name of the child to be born. This name, of course, is Jesus, because He saves His “people from their sins” (Matt. 1:18–21).
Matthew’s account of this meeting and many other passages in the New Testament tell us Jesus is our “Savior.” But this term is not just a title, it is embodied in the personal name of our Lord. Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua, which means “Yahweh saves.” We are rarely conscious of it, but every time the name Jesus is found on our lips, we are professing that He is Savior.
The church was established and grew quickly in a culture heavily influenced by Greek philosophy. In many ways this was beneficial because philosophical terms were put to use by orthodox theologians to convey the teaching of Scripture on Jesus’ divinity and on many other topics. However, certain unbiblical ideas from the pagan culture were hard to escape. For example, the church has long had to deal with unconscious assumptions that salvation is only experienced in a spiritual sense. But biblical salvation encompasses more than just the redemption of our souls. God created a physical world (Gen. 1:1), and this reality will be renewed and transformed in glory along with our souls. We will dwell forever in a new heaven and a new earth in which righteousness dwells (Isa. 65:17–25; 2 Peter 3:13).
Jesus’ salvific work has rescued and will glorify His people and the physical universe. Still, we must be clear on what we are saved from. Most evangelicals know that Christ is the Savior, but few know that we are saved not primarily from sin but from the wrath of God.
Sin is only a problem for humanity because it incurs the wrath of a holy and righteous Lord. His justice and holiness compels Him to pour out His judgment on transgressors. But in His love, the Father sent His Son to take our sins and consequently, God’s wrath, upon Himself in order to save us from His holy justice (Rom. 5:9).
Salvation is indeed salvation from sin, but we only need to be saved from sin because God is holy. Without a righteous Creator, there is no law to violate, and we would not need to be rescued from His wrath. But the Lord’s holiness mandates eternal death as our just desserts. In Christ, the Father satisfied the demands of His justice, enabling us to be free from condemnation. We have been saved from God’s wrath! Praise Him today for His mercy.
Passages for Further Study
1 Thess. 1:9–10