“Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation.” — Isaiah 12:2 (NASB95)
As one looks at all the religions in the world, Christianity stands unique in its teaching that God is the cause of people’s salvation. Nearly all other religions put that responsibility on people. They teach that as long as people do this or that they can possibly save themselves. Some religions talk about religious obedience, some talk about the adherence to ritual practices, others emphasize the proper type of prayer and meditation. The one thing they all have in common is that people have to correct their broken relationship with God. Only Christianity states that people can’t do it. Christianity admits that the relationship between God and each person is broken but states that the only way that relationship can be reconciled is by a divine action.
This is where John 3:16 comes in. This famous verse describes God’s motivation to save mankind and the action He took to accomplish that redemption. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” God’s unconditional love for us (even though we are corrupt and sinful) is His motivation. The action He took was to send Jesus into the world so that He might perform the work of redemption. Jesus lived a perfectly righteous life and then offered Himself as a sacrifice for our sin. Jesus bore all of our sins on the cross. Theologians call this the vicarious atonement. More simplified, it is the great exchange. God punishes our sin in Jesus and gives us Jesus’ righteousness. This is the good news. This is the Gospel that we believe. This is why God is our salvation and our hope.
Read the verse above one more time, and then join me with an Alleluia and an Amen!