Heidelberg Catechism Lesson 11

Q. 29. Why is the Son of God called Jesus, that is a Saviour?

 
Because He saveth us, and delivereth us from our sins;[1] and likewise, because we ought not to seek, neither can find salvation in any other.[2]

[1] Matthew 1:21;  [2] Acts 4:12.


 
Q. 30. Do such then believe in Jesus the only Saviour, who seek their salvation and welfare of saints, of themselves, or anywhere else?
 
They do not; for though they boast of Him in words, yet in deeds they deny Jesus the only deliverer and Saviour;[1] for one of these two things must be true, that either Jesus is not a complete Saviour; or that they, who by a true faith receive this Saviour, must find all things in Him necessary to their salvation.[2]

[1] 1 Corinthians 1:13, 31; Galatians 5:4;  [2] Colossians 2:20; Isaiah 9:6–7; Colossians 1:19–20.

Commentary

The name “Jesus” was not chosen by Mary or Joseph, but by the Lord Himself. Shortly after the Lord was conceived in Mary’s womb, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph, and said to him:

Thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins (Mt 1:20–21).


This name “Jesus” (Iêsous) is really the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew “Joshua,” which means “Jehovah is salvation.” Jehovah or Yahweh was the name by which God had chosen to be known to His covenant people (Ex 3:14–15), so the name “Joshua” or “Jesus” speaks of God’s salvation for His own people. This is why the angel did not simply say: “for he shall be a saviour,” but “for he shall save his people from their sins.” The Lord Jesus would save all His people, i.e., all His elect,—for whom He died,—from their sins.


In that sense, the Lord is the Saviour, and He is not just any saviour, but the one and only Saviour who is able to save us from our sin, i.e., from the wrath of God due to our sin and from our bondage to sin. The Lord Jesus says: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (Jn 14:6); and Peter confirms: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).


These scriptural references make it very clear not only that there is no other saviours or ways of salvation, but that anyone who receives the Lord by faith has all that is necessary for their salvation. Thus the Apostle John says: “He that hath the Son hath life” (1 Jn 5:12a).


The implication of this doctrine is that unless a person professes Christ to be his only Saviour, and trust not in any other thing to save him, he cannot be saved. Thus no one who may live a very “righteous” life can be saved if he does not believe that Christ suffered and died as a propitiatory and substitutionary sacrifice to save sinners. Thus one who, in addition to trusting Christ, also trust in angels or some departed saints, or his own good works to help him or to deliver him from damnation, cannot expect salvation; for his reliance on any other ways of salvation, would indicate his lack of trust in Christ, or that he trusts in a Christ who is not the same as He who is revealed in the Bible as the alone and sufficient Saviour.