Christ the Savior of the World!
William Nicholson, 1862
"And we have seen, and testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world." 1 John 4:14
The subject of the Apostolic testimony is infinitely important and interesting. It is the salvation of the world by the coming and mediation of Jesus Christ — an achievement regarded by angelic powers as invested with sublime and everlasting interest. At the incarnation, they accounted it their highest honor to announce his approach. With the greatest avidity they ministered to him in subsequent scenes — in the garden — on the cross — at the tomb; and formed his escort to glory. Ephesians 3:10; 1 Peter 1:12. If angels, who never needed salvation, are thus interested in this subject — then surely rebellious man, whom it so much concerns, ought to hail it with rapture.
I. The Object of Salvation."The world."
1. The world is degenerate and fallen. Man was created pure and happy: but sin has rendered him filthy and miserable.
2. The world is guilty. Men are not the subject of a few frailties and imperfections only, as pride and self-flattery pretend, but are considered as conspirators and rebels against God.
There is a principle of rooted hostility against God! Men, by nature, are his enemies; and they show it in every way they can. "The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so!" Romans 8:7.
3. The world is condemned and accursed. Galatians 3:10, 22. And oh, what is implied in that curse! Not the death of the body; not temporal afflictions merely — but endless perdition!
4. The world is helpless. "For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly." Romans 5:6. From that curse, none can be delivered by human expedient, device, or effort. The law can do nothing for the sinner — all is fear and darkness.
II. Christ Is the Divinely-appointed Agent to Save the World."The Father sent his Son."
Christ is related to the Father in the most endearing manner. He is the Son of God, his own Son, his only Son. John 1:14; Hebrews 1:3.
Great stress is laid on his being the Son of God. This term denotes how precious he was in the esteem of his Father, and how inestimable was his obedience. Though a Son — yet he learned obedience. This Sonship gave efficacy to his sacrifice; it was the blood of Jesus Christ his Son. Hence the dignity too of his priesthood. Hebrews 4:14; 1 John 1:7.
The person sent was the highest being in the universe — divine! Superior to Moses, the prophets, and every other messenger of God. Superior to angels. Hebrews 1:1-4; 3:3; Philippians 2:5-9.
The Father sent his Son to become incarnate — to ally himself to our nature — to suffer and die. He could not have shed atoning blood without becoming incarnate, Hebrews 2:14-18.
Therefore, he was the only qualified person to save fallen man. "The Father sent him." His credentials were divine.
III. The Design of His Delegation."To be the Savior of the world."
Sublime and benevolent object! How different from that of the warrior, who goes forth to invade, to destroy, to shed blood, to conquer, etc.
1. He sent his Son as a Prophet. What darkness he dispersed — what light he shed abroad! Never had divine truths appeared so lucid before. What a disclosure of immortality!
2. He sent his Son as an example. In his life and conduct, he embodied the law. Never before had there been an example so perfect and lovely. His perfection of character was essential to his office as the great High-priest of our salvation, Hebrews 7:26, as well as to be the model for the imitation of his followers. 1 Peter 2:21.
3. He sent him as the sin-atoning Priest — to endure the penalty due to transgression. It is specially by this, that he appears as the Savior of the world. See Isaiah 53:4-6; Daniel 9:24; Romans 3:24-26; 5:6-8, etc. etc. His sacrifice was perfect — it was accepted by God — it was free, magnificent, and infinitely benevolent
4. He sent him as a conquering King. He conquered Satan, sin, and the grave. He conquers, by his word and Spirit, the rebellious hearts of sinners, and makes them his friends. He will conquer this world and save it. The desert shall yet blossom as the rose. This earth is destined to be the theater where he shall display his glory!
"And we have seen, and testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world."
IV. The Evidence of His Delegation to Effect the Salvation of the World.
Jesus Christ was not an impostor. Christianity is not a cheat. One so eminently good, benevolent, and unselfish as Christ was — could not have been an impostor. And Christianity cannot be a cheat, as its tendency is not only to bless, but to expose all hypocrisy and selfishness. The Apostles heartily and unscrupulously testified of Christ, because they had "seen" and heard him. See 1 John 1:1-3.
1. They saw that his Messiahship, in its teaching and various acts, corresponded with the prophecies of the Old Testament.
2. They heard the approval of him by Jehovah from the most excellent glory. See 2 Peter 1:16-21.
3. They saw his miracles, heard his teaching, and saw the wondrous effects of both on the populace!
4. They were witnesses of his personal character, and observed his devotional spirit, not only in their society, but in his private retirement. A being so holy, could not have been a deceiver.
5. In giving their testimony, they were so fully persuaded of the divinity of his mission, that they were willing to sacrifice ease, interest, and life itself; and they actually suffered martyrdom for their testimony.
6. Lastly. The continuance of Christianity to the present time proves its divinity. No force has been able to arrest its progress!