Life-Changing Themes from the Bible: God Rescues Us in Christ
Christopher D. Hudson
The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
Another towering idea that looms over the pages of the story of the Bible is the wonder of salvation. God relentlessly seeks to find us when we are lost, forgive us when we sin, and fix us when we are broken. This is seen in the Bible from the first page to the last.
- Almost before Adam and Eve have swallowed the forbidden fruit, we see God coming into the Garden of Eden, calling out to his cowering creatures, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9). Then, even as God confronts Adam and Eve with their sin, he mentions that one of Eve’s descendants will crush the head of the serpent, the one who has deceptively introduced such evil and suffering into the world (Genesis 3:15). - Soon after, Noah is a recipient of God’s favor (i.e., his grace, Genesis 6:8). As a result, he and his family are brought safely through the great flood. - In Exodus, God delivers his people from Egyptian bondage. - In Judges, God repeatedly rescues the Israelites from oppression at the hands of neighboring nations. - In the psalms, David makes a frequent point of mentioning all the ways and times God has come to his aid. - In the book of Jonah, we see God command one of his prophets to travel to Nineveh (the capital city of ancient Assyria) and urge the people there to turn from their sin or face judgment. It’s not as though the Assyrians are seeking God. They’re not. They worship other gods and are bent on destroying the Israelites. Even so, God proactively sends a messenger to warn them. When they repent, they are spared.
In each of these instances, short-term physical deliverance is a picture of the eternal and spiritual salvation God wants to bring to his people. In his compassion and love, God pursues people and desires to save them from the consequences of their own rebellion (Psalm 103:8–18; Jonah 4:2). And this pursuit continues in the New Testament.
- The New Testament Gospels depict Jesus as the “sent” one of God (John 5:24). In Jesus’ own words, “The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10). His invitation? “Come to me” (Matthew 11:28). His legacy? “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). - In Acts 9, we read the astounding story of Saul (a.k.a. the apostle Paul). He is dead set on wiping off the map the new Jesus movement. He is hell-bent on rounding up Christians, and he is violently opposed to this new entity called the church—until the day Jesus essentially hunts him down (and knocks him down, literally!) on the Damascus Road. From that day forward, Paul becomes a partner with Christ in the mission of going to the ends of the earth to bring people to God.
Throughout its pages, the Bible shows God as pursuing and wooing his wayward creatures. In the Gospels, we see Jesus going, preaching, warning, inviting, calling, and training a group to take his message to the world. We see him compassionately serving, healing, and accepting people—including people on the fringes of society who are ignored or disdained by others. In the end we see him suffering, dying, rising, and calling his followers to “Go!” Why this theme of rescue? Why such divine passion for a relationship with indifferent people? Because of who God is:
- God is loving. This means he always seeks the best for his creatures (John 3:16; 1 John 4:7–21). - God is compassionate. This means his heart is moved when he sees the ones he loves in trouble (Psalm 103:2–4; 145:8; Matthew 9:36). - God is merciful. This means God spares us from the punishment we deserve (Nehemiah 9:31; Luke 6:36). - God is gracious. This means God gives us amazingly good things we don’t deserve (Psalm 116:5). Grace is undeserved favor (Ephesians 2:8–9). Perhaps the best New Testament picture of grace is the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11–32). It’s hard to read this story and not be blown away by God’s heart. - God is forgiving. This means God blots out our sins (Psalm 86:5; Ephesians 1:7). In Christ, our offenses against God are paid for and wiped away. When we trust in Christ and what he did for us at the cross, we are made right with God. Jesus takes upon himself the sin of all who believe. In exchange he gives his perfect righteousness to all who humbly trust in him.
WHY IS THIS BIBLICAL THEME SO IMPORTANT? The consistent message of the Bible is that God’s heart is for sinners—which is every one of us! God hates sin because he is holy and because sin kills the ones he loves. The coming of Jesus into the world is the clearest proof of God’s love. The death of Christ shows the lengths God will go to in order to solve our problem of sin and bring us back to himself. God is not only eager to save; he is able to save!
This blog post has been adapted from my new book Self-Guided Tour of the Bible. You can learn more about it here.