Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Zechariah’s Hymn, Day 5

Leslie Basham: Here’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth on what Christmas is really all about.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: You can't have salvation without a Savior. You can't have redemption without a Redeemer. And the nature of our distress spiritually is such that there is no way that we can save ourselves.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth for Friday, December 18, 2015. Nancy is continuing in the series "Zechariah's Hymn."

>Nancy: At 5:00 in the morning on December 14, 2005, a dam ruptured in a state park in Missouri. As a result, a billion gallons of water were released into this narrow valley. The water just came gushing through; it destroyed everything in its path, including a hardwood forest.

The park superintendent was a man named Jerry Toops, who with his wife Lisa and their three little children ages five and under, lived in a house in the park less than two miles from the mountain where that dam broke loose. When the water was released, there came cascading over their part of the valley a thirty-foot-high wall of water, just a wave of water. Like a tsunami, it came crashing down and then back.

In the process, their house was demolished. Their entire family was swept away. Lisa, the mom, had been up nursing her infant child, so she clung to that child. As they were all scattered different directions—this is in the dark—she managed somewhere in the process to run across one of her children and grabbed onto that child, but still couldn't find her three-year-old daughter.

An hour or more later, finally the volunteer firemen who had come to the rescue found Jerry, the dad, up in the top of a tree; found Lisa, the mom, and her infant and her five-year-old son clinging to each other where they'd been swept in a field a half mile away from her house; and then found, finally, the three-year-old lying by herself just whimpering out in a field.

The five-year-old boy was unconscious. Most of the rest of them were in shock; they were incoherent. It took two hours of CPR to revive the five-year-old, who they didn't think would live, though he did survive and was fine.1

But as I read that story recently about that harrowing night, I thought, that family, that man, that mom will never forget and will long talk about the night that their lives were saved, that they were rescued by those volunteer firemen who went in the dark, trudged through the mud and the muck just listening for the slightest whimper. They were so in shock and traumatized that they could hardly call out for help.

But those firemen heard just the slightest cry for help from Jerry up in the tree, and from Lisa's two little ones in the field, and then from the little girl the night their lives were saved. You know, if you've been through an experience like that, it puts a whole new perspective on the word saved .

As we read Zechariah's hymn of praise, Zechariah's benedictus, his benediction, in Luke chapter 1 as he anticipates the birth of Christ, as he stands over the cradle of his newborn son, John, who would prepare the way for the coming of Christ the Messiah; Zechariah says, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up the horn of salvation for us . . . that we should be saved from our enemies" (vv. 68–71).

Then he speaks to that little son, and he says, "You [John] . . . will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins" (vv. 76–77).

You know, those words saved, salvation, redeemed—those are rich, precious, biblical terms. They're not just theological terms. They are that, but they are life. They are hope. They are what we need. They're foundational to everything we need in this life and the next.

There are those who've grown up with these terms and use them, perhaps regularly, but they still have no clue what they mean. They're saying things they've just heard all their life. They've been in church all their life. But if you ask them what it means to be saved . . . "What does redemption mean?" . . . they can't tell you. They have really no life understanding of salvation or redemption.

Then there are others, even many of us here today, who are familiar with those words, and we do know what they mean theologically, but the concepts for us have become so common, so familiar, that they've lost the wonder. I believe this passage we're looking at this week and next, Luke 1:67–79—Zechariah's hymn, Zechariah's praise—helps to remind us of the wonder.

I know you have lots of preparations you're making and hospitality that you're taking care of, and it seems like it's just such a hugely busy time of year. I want to encourage you to be taking this passage and reading it and meditating on it and perhaps even memorizing it, as I know others are doing; and ask God to give you back a sense of the wonder of what it means that Christ came into the world to save sinners, that He came to visit and redeem His people.

Hebrews 2:2 talks about "such a great salvation." So Zechariah says in this hymn of praise, verse 71, "that we should be saved from our enemies," which raises the question, "What does it mean to be saved?" That same word is used three times in this passage. It's translated saved there. Other places it's translated salvation. It's a word that just means "to rescue; to deliver."

He talks about deliverance in verse 74: "That we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies . . ." That word deliver also has a similar meaning—"to rescue; to save." It's someone providing help for someone else who is in danger. And as with redemption—we talked about this earlier in the week—the concept of salvation implies that you are saved from something, that there is distress. There are dire circumstances; there is life-threatening danger.

The concept of salvation implies that you are saved from something.

Often we speak in terms of material or temporal deliverance. You're saved from a flood. You're saved from a fire, as my family was when our home burned in a fire when I was in high school. Those firemen came and rescued our family. They caught my sister, who had to jump out of a second story window. They saved her; they delivered her. This was temporal, material damage. They didn't save her soul. They didn't save her eternally, but they saved her physical life.

It may be that you're facing bankruptcy, or you've had that similar experience and someone comes; a rich uncle dies and leaves you an inheritance and you're saved from bankruptcy. That's a temporal, material deliverance. Or you have a heart attack and you're raced to the hospital and the paramedics are able to save your life. That's a physical salvation, a physical or temporal or material deliverance.

I might note that a person who's been saved from any of those things, a flood or a fire or bankruptcy or death caused by a heart attack, probably does not have any desire to go back into those circumstances and would never willfully or intentionally do so. "You know, I've been saved from this fire, but I think I'll just run back into that burning building." A person who's been saved from disaster doesn't want to go back into disaster.

I think the application is obvious as we think about our spiritual and eternal deliverance—saved from our spiritual enemies: sin, death, Satan, the wrath of God, God's judgment. Why would someone who's been saved from any of these things ever want to go back into those things? That's ludicrous.

Yet how many professing Christians do we see today, and ourselves included at times . . . you say, "I know I've been saved from that. I just want to taste it. I just want to experience it. I just want, I just want, I just want . . ." Why would we want that which is destroying our souls, from which God delivered and saved us?

Now, whether it's material and temporal deliverance or spiritual and eternal deliverance, if you don't realize you have a need, you're going to have no reason to call out to be saved. And if you don't realize that you have a need, then the fact that you've been saved will be meaningless to you.

If you don't realize that you're on the edge of bankruptcy, then when somebody dies and leaves you a million dollars, you may think that's nice, but it won't mean to you what it would have meant if you realized that, apart from that deliverance, you'd be destitute.

If you didn't know you were having a heart attack, and an ambulance came and helped you out, you'd say, "Well, thanks for the ride," but it wouldn't be meaningful to you if you didn't know this could have been life threatening.

Our salvation from sin is not meaningful and precious to our understanding if we have never stopped to realize the extent of our distress and our need. Otherwise, it's just theological terms. "Yeah, I've been saved." We sing it, we talk about it.

"Are you saved?"

"Yes, I'm saved."

Big deal. It is a big deal when you realize what you've been saved from. So salvation, as with redemption, implies being saved from distress. It also, as with redemption, implies human helplessness. We cannot save ourselves. It implies that deliverance must come through the intervention of another.

We made these same points about the concept of redemption. It's also true about salvation. There is distress, there is helplessness, and there is the need for somebody to step in and intervene. You can't have salvation without a Savior. You can't have redemption without a Redeemer.

The nature of our distress spiritually is such that there is no way we can save ourselves. We cannot redeem ourselves. There is no one and nothing on this earth, other than Christ Himself, who can save and deliver us from our spiritual plight.

As you read through the Old Testament, the concept of redemption and salvation—God is always shown to be the only Savior, the only Deliverer of His people. Then in the New Testament, God steps down from heaven onto planet earth; He takes on flesh. Emanuel, "God with us"—God has visited and redeemed His people.

He didn't just do this long distance. He put on flesh and He came down and was born, delivered in a manger, and grew up as a man to save us, to deliver us. We see that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. He is the Deliverer. He is God in human flesh, sent to rescue us from our plight from which we could not rescue ourselves.

So the angel says in Matthew 1:21 to Mary, "You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." Now, we're so familiar with that verse, I think we just lose the sense of the wonder of that. We were dead in our sins. We had no hope of having eternal life. And left to ourselves, apart from divine intervention, we never would have cried out to Him. He even had to initiate our calling out to Him to be saved.

It's all of grace, none of works. All of faith, all of Christ, none of ourselves. "You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." That name Jesus is a precious name. I don't know if you realize just how precious it is, as we celebrate here in a week or so the birth of Christ Jesus.

But the word Jesus is the transliteration of the Greek form of the Hebrew name Yeshuah, Joshua. Remember Joshua in the Old Testament? He delivered God's people into the Promised Land. The meaning of the Hebrew name Joshua is "Jehovah is salvation." Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. He's the Rescuer.

First Timothy 1:15 says, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." If you are saved, it's not because you're good. It's not because you're religious. It's because you recognized you were a sinner and you cried out in faith to Jesus to save you, and He had mercy on you and He rescued you from your sin. That's why He came into the world.

First Thessalonians 1:10 says that Jesus "delivers us from the wrath to come," the wrath that would have engulfed us and swept us into a Christless eternity in hell, the righteous wrath of God against sin. Jesus came to deliver us from the flood of God's wrath.

First Thessalonians 5:9, "God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ."

How often do you stop to think about what God has saved you from and who it is who is your Savior, why Jesus came into this world born as an infant there at what we call Christmas? Why?

He came into the world on a mission: to rescue. It was a rescue mission to save sinners. So we see in Zechariah's hymn the theme of redemption and salvation and the work of Christ, though Christ has not even yet been born.

As we look at the great theme of salvation and redemption in the Scripture, and Christ's work for us, we see that there is a past sense, there is a present sense, and there is a yet future sense in which God saves, redeems, and delivers us. I want to just touch on those because it makes our salvation to be even more wondrous than we may have realized.

There is a past sense in which God has redeemed us through the blood of Jesus Christ shed there at the cross of Calvary. But there's a sense in which He continues to redeem us. He is our present-tense Redeemer. And there's a sense in which redemption is yet to be finished.

Romans 8 talks about this, about how the whole creation and our bodies are trapped in this world of corruption and sin; we are longing, waiting for the final, ultimate redemption of our bodies, the ultimate deliverance from this world of sin.

We see that past sense of being delivered. God has delivered us from the penalty of sin through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. But God is still delivering us daily, not from the penalty of sin—that's been paid for—but daily God is delivering us from the power of sin.

Daily God is delivering us from the power of sin.

Is it finished in your life? Have you been fully delivered from the power of sin? Not if you're still breathing in this human body. I still struggle with it. You struggle with it. We do it in the power of the Holy Spirit and by the grace of God. But there's that ongoing struggle whereby God is delivering us from the power of sin.

And praise God there is a yet future sense in which we will one day be delivered from the very presence of sin. Any hallelujahs there? Amen! Complete deliverance one day from the presence of sin—no more taint of corruption in these bodies. What a day that will be!

We have been saved, past tense. It is correct theologically to say, "I have been saved." That's our justification. "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us" (Titus 3:5 NKJV). But there's a sense in which, equally true, we also are being saved.

If I said to you, "Are you being saved?" some people would kind of lift up their eyebrows like, "What do you mean? Yes, I've been saved, but being saved?" Yes.

The Scripture says that there's a present sense in which we're being saved. That's where we use the theological word sanctification. We have been justified from sin. We are being sanctified. Romans 5:10 talks about this. Now that we've been reconciled to God, we are being saved through Jesus' life.

Then there's that yet future sense—we call it glorification—in which we will be saved. That's when we will experience the full impact of our salvation, when we are with Him in our glorified bodies in heaven.

"When he appears," 1 John 3:2, "we shall be like him." Now I call that being "all the way saved," conformed to the image of Christ. Not that you can't be completely saved now, but there's a sense in which that ultimate, full impact of our salvation is yet to be experienced, when we are like Christ, conformed into His image.

How long has it been since you've thanked God for what He has saved you from, what He has redeemed you from, what He's delivered you from? When is the last time you thanked Him for the fact that He is today delivering you? He is redeeming you. He is a present-tense God. He is saving and sanctifying, delivering you this day from the power of sin.

And do you sometimes stop and thank Him by faith for what is yet to come, for that day when we will be redeemed? We will be fully delivered. We will be completely saved from sin, from Satan, from everything that is an enemy of God. What an incredible salvation! Amen.

As you've been listening this week about what it means to be redeemed, to be saved, perhaps God has been speaking to your heart and you've been realizing—maybe for the first time—that you do not have that experience, that you have never placed your trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior and your Redeemer. This week you've been realizing your dire situation, the distress that you're in and your helplessness, your inability to save yourself. The Holy Spirit has opened your eyes and caused you to see Christ . . . Jesus . . . Yeshua . . . Joshua . . . the Lord who is salvation. God has placed faith within your heart. He has given you a heart of repentance. You don't want to go on living in your sin. You want to be delivered from your sin.

I want to invite you right now, if God has been speaking to you in that way and drawing your heart to Himself—wherever you are, whatever you're doing—if you can just stop right now and say, "Oh, Lord Jesus, thank You for coming to this earth to save sinners. I'm a sinner. I need to be saved. I need to be redeemed, delivered from my sin. Please save me now by Your grace. I place my faith in You. I'm relying on You, the Savior of the world, to be my Savior."

Oh, Lord, how I pray that this would be the day of salvation for many, many hearts, that You would redeem and visit Your people by Your grace. Thank You, O Lord, for coming and delivering us. How great a salvation! We pray with thanksgiving in Jesus' name, amen.

Leslie: Maybe you realize your need for salvation that the baby in the manger provides. We are so excited for you, and we want you to grow in your newfound faith.

To help you learn more about what it means to walk with Christ day by day, we'd like to send you some free material. Just call 1–800–569–5959.

Maybe you've listened today thinking back to your salvation. Would you consider helping us spread the important message of salvation to listeners who desperately need to hear it? We're able to speak into the lives of women and offer free material to those who need it because of listeners like you who give.

As we’ve been telling you, we really need to hear from you this month. About 40% of the donations Revive Our Hearts needs for the whole year arrive in December. So Nancy, why do you think that is? Is it because of a deadline to get a tax write off?

Nancy: Well I don’t know for sure. I do know for some a tax break is a nice side benefit to giving. But I know that God wants your heart. We want your heart. We’re looking for people who believe in this ministry and have a heart to see it continue: to pray for us, to tell others about the ministry, to share materials and resources from the ministry.

We’re not just looking for “donors” but we’re asking the Lord to put a passion for the message of biblical womanhood and revival on women’s hearts "for such a time as this." If you believe in what God is doing through Revive Our Hearts in our day, would you join with us in this ministry? Would you provide a gift of whatever amount God puts on your heart here at the end of the year? The gifts we receive over these next couple of weeks really will make a big difference in the ministry throughout the year ahead.

Thanks so much for partnering with us "for such a time as this."

Leslie: God always keeps His promises. Hear how that relates to the Christmas story, on Monday. Nancy will pick back up on the series, "Zechariah's Hymn." Please join us next week for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version of the Bible unless otherwise marked.

1"Dam Break!" Reader's Digest, July 2006, p. 122.

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