Rev. Key is pastor of the Protestant Reformed Church of Randolph, Wisconsin.
Thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
That is the gospel, the precious gospel, spoken by the angel of the Lord to Joseph and recorded in Matthew.
In our consideration of the name Jesus, we have seen that His divinely appointed name reveals Him to us as Jehovah-salvation, our Savior. He is a complete Savior. Not only did He accomplish salvation for a people, but He also works that salvation in those whom He saves, not leaving it up to them to complete that salvation.
When we confess Jesus as the complete Savior, we confess that He saves us in such a way that all our life is affected. Indeed, by His wonder work of grace we are given life! The Almighty God of our salvation comes to us with His powerful, efficacious Word of grace and breaks our stubborn wills. He softens our hard hearts, making us sincerely willing and ready to live unto Him.
Jesus does that. He gives us spiritual life, a life which finds its focus in fellowship with our heavenly Father, a life which knows that there is one only comfort, and that is to belong with body and soul, in life and death, to our faithful Savior Jesus Christ.
What a great salvation is ours in Christ Jesus!
We have something far more than the world could even hope for!
Jesus our Savior does not merely bring about some form of reformation in state government and in federal government and on the local level, so that eventually this world becomes a nice place in which to live. He does not merely bring about social reformation, so that earthly poverty is eliminated and injustice is a thing of the past. He does not merely bring about victory over diseases, such as cancer, so that we can live a long life on the earth.
Those things, nice as they may be, could not begin to touch the surface of the glory which He reveals as the wonder work of His grace! He is not a Savior who merely patches things up, makes some outward improvements, and helps His people to feel good about their state.
Oh, no. Far better! He is Jesus, Savior, the mighty God of our salvation, who comes with His almighty Word to you and to me and makes us new creatures in an old world!
In fact, He makes us pilgrims and strangers, citizens of the heavenly kingdom, who enjoy a relationship of love and fellowship with God our Father that the world cannot even begin to comprehend. He saves us in such a way that we live in the midst of this world of darkness, and yet are children of the light.
He does not merely seek admittance into our hearts; He makes room. He dethrones sin, and enthrones Himself. He lives in us by His Holy Spirit, sanctifying us, purifying us, causing us to turn from sin unto the living God. He awakens within us a longing for God and His fellowship, and nurtures that longing in us, so that it grows. He preserves us as His people, so that all the powers of darkness are only servants in the building, for the strengthening of His church.
And then—as if all those things were not glorious enough—He prepares for us a place in heaven. And when He has finished His work with us in this world, He will come and take us unto Himself, that where He is, there we may be also.
That is the wonderful gospel proclaimed in the name JESUS. Jehovah saves!
A Particular Savior
But make no mistake—He does not save all men. He does not. That was not His intention. That was not His desire. That was not His work.
Jesus is a particular Savior. He will not save all.
On the one hand, there are those who openly oppose Him and manifest their hatred against Him, who are simply given over to their sins, to darkness and death. This also is according to the sovereign counsel and decree of God.
On the other hand, there are those who are outwardly religious, who even profess to believe in Him; but who do not believe in Him as the Jesus revealed in Holy Scripture. Jesus Himself spoke of them in His sermon on the mount, when He said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matt. 7:21-23).
All men are not saved.
So Scripture teaches throughout, giving its warning even to those within the church institute.
But His name is Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins. So says Scripture in Matthew 1:21. So teaches Scripture throughout.
His people are the elect who have been given Him by His Father from before the foundation of the world. Jesus died for them. He died for them only.
Jesus died for a definite number of people. And that definite number is not determined by the people, but by the living God.
Jesus taught that clearly when He said in John 10, “I lay down my life for the sheep,” and then identified those sheep as those which the Father gave Him. That is the truth set forth throughout the whole of the Bible. And this truth is fundamental.
I realize that this particular aspect of the gospel is generally denied today. Sadly, it is denied now even in many so-called Reformed circles. Today a Jesus is preached who, although He does not save all men, nevertheless desires to save all. Today they say that He did not die in order to save a chosen few, but He died to save everybody, if only men will give themselves to Him.
In many Reformed circles the lie of Arminianism is wholeheartedly embraced. And the same poisoned gospel that embraced the Romish church prior to the Reformation now embraces many of the churches whose roots are in that Reformation.
Oh, yes, we may say this: Jesus saves believers.
Do you believe?
The call of the gospel is this: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved.
But let us ask: Who are believers?
Scripture identifies them. They are those who belong to the elect organism of the world, those who have been born again by the Spirit of Christ, and who have been given to see therefore the things of the kingdom of God.
They are those who know that they are lost. They know the devastating nature of their sin. But they hear the Word of God that says (Luke 19:10), “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
They are those who are weary and heavy laden under the burden of their own sin and guilt and shame. But they hear the call of Jesus, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” They are those, according to the words of the same Jesus (John 10), who hear His voice and know Him, and follow Him.
That is a believer, according to the Word of God.
Jesus is the Savior whose very name demands faith.
What terrible desolation and unrest is found in the hearts and lives of those who reject Jesus the Savior, who will have nothing to do with Him.
Some of you know only too well that unrest of living apart from Christ. All of us have experienced that there is no peace in the way of sin and unrighteousness. There is no peace in living apart from Jesus.
True faith finds the only comfort there is and the peace that passes all understanding in Him alone who is our righteousness and our salvation. His name is Jesus. He saves His people from their sins.
His name demands faith. But that faith He also works in our hearts by His Spirit. He works that faith which cries out, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” He works that faith which lays hold of Jesus.
Do you believe?
Then you know what the apostle meant when he said (Acts 3:26), “God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.”