Why “Jesus Saves” Is So Much Better Than “Jesus Approves”
by Tom Gilson
Yesterday I wrote, with examples,
There was a time when people knew what it meant that “Jesus saves.” The punsters’ follow-up, “at First National Bank” degraded the concept when the concept was still known widely enough for the pun to work. In most of Western culture now, though, neither the biblical phrase nor the pun is heard anymore. Now it’s Jesus approves.
“Jesus saves” means almost nothing to most people outside the Church today. Saves what? is the obvious question. I’m going to explain what that means here. As I do, I’m going to ask you to set aside for the moment any silly or clichéd associations you have with it. This two-word sentence is at the heart of the world’s most widely held belief system. That might be a hint to you that there’s some real substance there after all.
For the source of this information, read Romans chapters 1 through 8.
Saves” equals “Rescues”
The First National Bank pun has trivialized “saves” in this context, so let’s say instead, “Jesus rescues.” In this context they’re synonyms, as being saved from a sinking ship is the same as being rescued from one.
So who needs rescue, and from what? You and I do, from eternal consequences for our sin. But we do live in a post-Christian culture, and I’ve already run into yet another word that didn’t use to need explanation, but does now. Sin is understood as any failure to live up to the right standards of the eternal, living, personal God who created us. It’s universal. Consider the Ten Commandments: we all lie sometimes, we all covet, we all fail to give God the worship he is due.
You see, even though God loves us all completely, there are things in each of us that he does not approve. He does not approve of murder. He does not approve of theft, or hatred, or idolatry, or greed, or sexual immorality…
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