“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)
As Christmas day dawns, it is a good time to remind ourselves of the primary reason for the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ: the salvation of sinners. Did you know that the very name—Jesus—embodies salvation. Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew name, Joshua, meaning “Yahweh saves” or “Yahweh is salvation.” Indeed, the whole of Scripture is God’s unfolding plan of salvation from the fall in Paradise recorded in Genesis to the promise of Paradise restored in Revelation.
My prayer for you this Christmas—and indeed throughout the new year—is that you may be ever mindful of the reality that God has condescended to use you as the means through which the free gift of the water of life is dispensed to a parched and thirsty world.
Are you thirsty? If so, the concluding words of the last book of the Bible have direct application to your life—“Whoever is thirsty, let him come and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life” (Revelation 22:17, emphasis added). In essence, there are three steps to this fountain. They are encapsulated in the words realize, repent, and receive.
First, you need to realize that you are a sinner. If you do not realize you are a sinner, you will not recognize your need for a savior. The Bible says we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
Furthermore, you must repent of your sins. Repentance is an old English word that describes a willingness to turn from our sin toward Jesus Christ. It literally means a complete U-turn on the road of life—a change of heart and a change of mind. It means that you are willing to follow Jesus and to receive Him as your Savior and Lord. Jesus said, “Repent and believe the Good News” (Mark 1:15).
Finally, to demonstrate true belief means to be willing to receive. To truly receive is to trust in and depend on Jesus Christ alone to be the Lord of our lives here and now and our Savior for all eternity. It takes more than knowledge (the devil knows about Jesus and trembles). It takes more than agreement that the knowledge we have is accurate (the devil agrees that Jesus is Lord). What it takes is knowledge, agreement, and trust in Jesus Christ alone. The requirements for eternal life are not based on what you can do, but on what Jesus Christ has done. He stands ready to exchange His perfection for your imperfection.
According to Jesus Christ, those who realize they are sinners, repent of their sins, and receive Him as Savior and Lord are “born again” (John 3:3)—not physically, but spiritually. The reality of our salvation is not dependant on our feelings, but rather on the promise of the Savior who says, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24).
If you have just confessed your faith in Jesus Christ, you can rejoice in the angelic proclamation of salvation given to the shepherds on that very first Christmas: “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10–11). If on the other hand, you have already experienced salvation, you have the inestimable privilege of taking the message of salvation to the world.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God. (John 3:16–21)