…of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope… (1 Timothy 1:1)
God desires to reveal himself as Savior. As Paul explains elsewhere, God has chosen to reveal himself in forming two lines of humanity and in the way that he relates to them. He has prepared some people for destruction, and in them he reveals his justice, wrath, and power in the way that he punishes them and in the way that he will torture them forever in hell. He also demonstrates his patience in tolerating them for so long instead exterminating them before the appointed time. On the other hand, he has prepared some for salvation, and in them he displays his love and mercy, and his kindness and generosity. These are those whom he has chosen, and who would receive from him faith in Jesus Christ.
God’s will is for the chosen ones to know him as Savior and relate to him as Savior. This is remarkable because other kinds of creatures do not know him this way and cannot relate to him this way. For example, the angels that have sinned were condemned and cast away from his presence. God made no effort to redeem them. And those angels that remain faithful have no need of salvation. Nevertheless, in revealing himself as Savior to those whom he has chosen for salvation, God displays this aspect of his nature and character to the holy angels as well.
The revelation of God as Savior demands the admission that humanity has plunged into a condition that requires such divine rescue. The “arm of flesh” – the strength, intelligence, and cooperation of humanity – cannot save. It cannot solve even the natural problems of this world, still less can it absolve men from the demands of divine justice and snatch them from the fire of hell. Therefore, the door to the revelation of God as Savior is the perception of man as sinner.
Further, God has revealed himself as Savior in a specific and personal manner, that is, in Jesus Christ the Son of God. In his wisdom and sovereign decree, God has made Christ the only way through which we can know him as Savior. He does not save apart from Jesus Christ. Thus Jesus is the only hope for mankind. Non-Christians have no basis to think that they will be declared righteous before the throne of God, or to think that anything good will happen to them after death. They deceive themselves when they cling to their false gods and superstitions, including their science and philosophy, and those who trust their own good works will fare no better.
On the other hand, I am certain that I shall be declared righteous before the throne of God, because I am certain that Jesus has already been declared righteous by God. My certainty does not rest on something in me or something that I have done, but on the perfect righteousness of Christ. And Christ is the basis for my hope, my expectation, that goodness, mercy, and joy that is full of glory await me on the other side of death. This is not because I have earned these rewards by my good works. No, even my best efforts are as dirt and filth before the holiness of God – they will not stand the test. But I know that Christ has been tested and approved, and he has secured all these things for me. He has given me faith in him, so that by my affiliation with him, I share in his inheritance from the Father. The level of my esteem for Christ is my level of confidence regarding my salvation, for he is my Savior and my Hope.