Philip P. Eapen
“Are you saved?” I asked Aby, a friend at school. I was in my early teens, determined to share the gospel with my schoolmates. Moreover, I had picked up this “fail-safe” conversation starter for evangelists from a gospel tract.
I will never forget the response I received.
“Saved? From what? I never fell into a well or anything.”
I learned the hard way there is no one-size-fits-all strategy for personal evangelism. Eventually, I managed to share the Good News with Aby. But that incident left me thinking about Christian jargon and the nature of the gospel. From what did God rescue us? Our understanding of what God saves us from will shape the “good news” we share with our friends.
Have you paid careful attention to what evangelists promise their audience? What do they claim God will do for those who trust in Jesus? Hidden behind these offers, you will discover their belief about salvation.
Many Christians believe God saves people from poverty as if it were the greatest of all evils. They proclaim deliverance from debts, unemployment, from failures in business and education. They promise success and promotion.
You might ask, “God provides for our daily needs in answer to prayer, does He not? Does He not deliver debtors from their debts? Will God not give success in education and business? If God is not the one who blesses farmers with rich harvests, who does?” Of course, God answers prayers. But God does not answer every prayer the way we want Him to.
Did God ever say about our Savior, “You shall name Him Jesus because He will deliver His people from poverty and suffering?” The angel of the Lord told Joseph, “[Mary] will give birth to a Son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus.” Yeshu‘a – meaning, Yahweh has become our salvation. But why “Jesus?” “… because He will save His people from their sins.” Sins! That is the “well” from which God saves us.
And that’s not all. Jesus proclaimed the Kingdom of God to Jews who dreamt of a little sovereign kingdom. Devout Jews back then were Zionists for whom “salvation” meant the founding of a Jewish state under a Davidic king (Messiah). Simeon, an elderly Jew, holding baby Jesus, prayed, “Now, … permit your servant to depart in peace. For my eyes have seen Your salvation.” “Salvation,” to those like Simeon, was deliverance from Rome.
God’s ways are higher than our ways. He fulfilled His covenant with David in a way that Zionists could never even imagine. God did not give the Jews a Messiah who sat on a throne in earthly Jerusalem, ruling over a small kingdom. Instead, God gave them a heavenly Messiah, enthroned at His “right hand,” reigning over heaven and earth. This Messiah offered them true liberty—freedom from slavery to sin, the root cause of their political woes.
Jesus demonstrated his kingship by imparting the Holy Spirit to His disciples on Pentecost. That miraculous outpouring convinced three thousand Jews that God had inaugurated the Messianic reign of Jesus in heaven. That’s why they called him Christ.
Jesus is our salvation. He saves us from our sins and grants us citizenship in His eternal heavenly kingdom. This salvation is not just for one race or nation. It is for all humanity, as Isaiah rightly said about Jesus, “All flesh will see the salvation of God.” (Luke 3:6)
God did not guarantee us material success and prosperity. As Christians, we may face poverty, rejection, denial of human rights, persecution, unfair trials and imprisonment, confiscation of property, and even death. But through Christ, our salvation, we are more than conquerors.
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Philip Eapen, an environmental scientist by training, devoted his life to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ ever since he realized that the world needs Jesus Christ more than anyone or anything else. Apart from sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, Philip teaches Christians in order to equip them for service. He is supported by donations from readers; he also runs a small ‘tent-making’ business. Philip is married to Dr. Jessimol and they are blessed with three sons and a daughter.
Date: July 19, 2022