Have you talked to a survivor recently? Did you hear them share their story? Did you notice the tears welling up in their eyes as they spoke of their rescue – especially as they spoke of the one who spared no effort to gain their freedom and safety? Did they tell you how different their life has been since that fateful day? Were you pulled into their sadness as they spoke with urgency about those who were left behind? Those who still need a rescue team to come to their location?
I could be describing a lot of situations in the previous paragraph, for there are many who are in horrendous circumstances in many places around this globe. Those I am referring to are those who have been rescued by Jesus Christ. I am purposely avoiding the word “saved” as it has lost its impact through overuse and familiarity. I prefer the synonym “rescue”. As a matter of fact, it is disconcerting how many people I come in contact with (in and out of the church) who consider themselves to be saved, yet show no evidence of ever having been rescued. I don’t know their heart, so I am left with the reality that there could be one of three possible explanations: 1) They have never really been rescued at all – they are just mouthing the words they learned in church; 2) They have forgotten what happened; or 3) They have never looked back and realized how desperate their situation was.
Paul describes that situation in Ephesians 2:1-10 as he reminds us what we were rescued from, who rescued us, how they accomplished that, and why we were rescued. I know those verses are familiar to many, but let me share them with you:
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience– 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ– by grace you have been saved– 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:1-10 ESV)
Notice our predicament – We were dead! (spiritually that is – totally unable to relate with God). We, like everyone else on planet earth were just doing what we felt was best for us. We were “children of wrath” which means that our very nature brought us under the wrath of our creator who’s anger would result in our destruction.
Focus on who rescued us – God Himself! The very one who we angered determined to rescue us! God the Father sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to give Himself for us. He came to where we are. He became one of us. And then, He took the punishment of death (physical and spiritual) that was due us so that we could be rescued. He then sent an individual or often a team of individuals into our life to let us know that they rescue mission had been accomplished and there was a way out. His Holy Spirit took what those people shared and helped us trust so that we would follow Him to safety.
Note how He rescued us: He showed mercy – we didn’t receive what we deserved. He extended grace – giving us freely what we couldn’t earn or repay. He moved us to a safe place (actually an amazing place) – His very presence. He did all this as we simply trusted Him to do it. We cannot claim to have assisted in any way in our own rescue.
Why did He rescue us? So He could in the future demonstrate how great His grace and love towards us is, and so that in the present we could do the good things that he planned for us to do. That of course includes sharing our rescue story and working to extend the opportunity to the many others who are still in the deadly situation where we were trapped.
Perhaps you are not moved by your rescue because you are one of the many who are still in need of His saving work. If so, trust Him. If you are a “sin and death survivor” then consider what He has done. You will find yourself wanting to share your story with others.