Regarding our strong faith in our great Creator, I have a second thought on the text, “beside him there is no saviour” (Isa. 43:11). This text provokes much controversy, in view of the fact that God’s Son is also called “our Saviour.” Realizing that there is more to this subject than appears on the surface, I would like to ask the Church for a safe approach to Scriptural understanding. May I hear from you in this matter?
You are correct in observing that the Scriptures state two facts which on the surface appear contradictory. The first of these is that God is the one and only Saviour. The second is that Jesus Christ His Son is also our Saviour.
The term saviour as used in either application is, “one who saves, preserves, delivers, restores, rescues, heals.” All of these abilities clearly belong to God. He is truly the unchallenged and supreme Saviour, Deliverer, Preserver, Rescuer, Healer.
Now what about the role of Jesus Christ?
Jesus was the Son of God, and was commissioned to implement the Father’s plan, to accomplish His work. “I must work the works of him that sent me,” He said (John 9:4). Again, “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work” (John 4:34). Again, “I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me…I do always those things that please him” (John 5:30; 8:29). In all He did He was doing God’s work, and in such a capacity isn’t it appropriate that He share the titles given to His Father?
At the end of His ministry Jesus said to His disciples, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth,” and He proceeded to commission His Apostles to teach in His name (Matt. 28:18-20).
When Jesus sent out the seventy, He spoke again of His Divine commission: “All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him” (Luke 10:22).
Again Jesus spoke of His commission when he said, “ Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do… For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man” (John 5:19-23, 26-27). This passage shows clearly the Father’s commission to the Son, and that Jesus’ work was Divinely ordained. Under this commission He received power to raise the dead, to judge men, to receive honor from men, and to give life. Is it, then, beyond conception that He is also acting in the role of Saviour?
The word Saviour occurs 37 times in our King James Version. Seventeen of these refer distinctly to God, and seventeen refer distinctly to Christ as the Saviour. Twice the “saviour” is unnamed (2 Kings 13:5; Isa. 19:20), being one who brought needed deliverance. On one occasion the deliverer is clearly an angel (Isa. 63:8-9).
In the work with Planet Earth, a number of assignments seem to be shared between God and Christ; God being the initiator, and Christ the One who implements the plan. For example, we read that God is called the King of the earth: “But the Lord is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king” (Jer. 10:10). When the new government is set up, Jesus Christ will be the world-wide King. “And the Lord shall be king over all the earth”; “A King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth” (Zech. 14:9; Jer. 23:5). Jesus was clearly prophesied to be the future King, according to the word of the angels before His birth (Luke 1:32-33).
Even the role of God in relation to the earth is shared between the Father and the Son. Jesus, before He was born, was prophesied to come as “Immanuel which is translated, God with us” (Matt. 1:23). The same is said about Jesus in His picture of the New World, given to John in Revelation 21:3-4, when “the tabernacle of God” shall be with men, and “he shall dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God” (Rev. 21:3-4). Here is Jesus again as “Emmanuel, God with us.” It is Jesus acting in God’s behalf, fulfilling the plan of God.
When Christ is declared to be Saviour, He is Saviour in the same sense that God is Saviour, supreme Rescuer and Deliverer. And when Christ fulfills the plan of God and brings deliverance to God’s people, God will still be the Saviour “through Jesus Christ.” The work will be His, the salvation His, though the Agent be Christ. And Christ, being Divinely deputized, has authority to act in His own right. Hence, He can do the work of God as God’s personal appointee. In this way He becomes God’s means of being the one and only Saviour. We have no other source of salvation, no other rescuer, no other protector or deliverer. Our only help and hope is in God.
One passage which often raises question is found in Titus 2:13, where Paul speaks of the return of Christ. He says, “Looking for the blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” Some have taken this passage as evidence that the “great God” and “our Saviour Jesus Christ” are one and the same. However, if we look more closely at the passage, we can see that such is not Paul’s thought at all. The wording in the Revised Standard Version is clearer: “Awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ.” The New English Bible reads: “Looking forward to the happy fulfillment of our hopes when the splendor of our great God and Saviour Christ Jesus appears.” Paul is not saying that the great God and Jesus the Saviour will appear as one Being. He is saying that the splendor of the great God will accompany the appearance of Jesus Christ our Saviour. Jesus will come “in the glory of his Father with his angels” (Matt. 16:27). There is no evidence that the great God is the same being as “our Saviour Jesus Christ.”