Jesus, The Horn of Salvation: But For Whom?

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“His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied: ‘Praise be the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), salvation comes from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us ~ to show mercy to our ancestors and to remember his holy covenant, the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days'” (Luke 1. 67-75 TNIV, and henceforth).

The “horn” of salvation symbolizes a strong king. A. B. Simpson wrote, “The glory of Zechariah’s song was that God was about to visit His people . . . This was the burden of all Isaiah’s promises. The Lord Himself will come to visit His people. This is the preeminent glory of redemption. God Himself has undertaken it. The Eternal One has come to our world in person and identified Himself forever with humanity.”1

Paul wrote that though Christ was “in very nature God, [He] did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness” (Phil. 2.6-7). God the Son, the unchangeable One, was incarnated, and humanity has never been the same. But, who did He come to save? Was Israel God’s only focus for eternal salvation and deliverance?

Again, Simpson wrote, “Salvation is the fruition of redemption. Redemption purchases it, salvation realizes it and brings it into our actual experience. Zechariah speaks not so much of salvation as of the ‘horn of salvation.’

“This bold figure, perhaps, originated in primitive times when mighty hunters, like Nimrod, returning from the chase, loved to grace their tents with the splendid horns of the animals that they had slain: the antlers of the deer, the tusks of the elephant, and the horn, perhaps, or the mighty rhinoceros. And so the word ‘horn’ came to be the figure of beauty, power and dominion.”2

He goes on to explain that this king, this horn of salvation and deliverance, delivers people from their enemies. Humanity’s greatest enemy is sin. Humanity’s second greatest enemy is death (physical and spiritual). Humanity’s third greatest enemy is Satan and his followers. Christ Jesus the conquering king, God’s horn of salvation, delivers people from their enemies. But is there any other end to which this salvation finds its fulfillment?

Simpson wrote, “We are delivered from our enemies that we ‘might serve him without fear’ (Luke 1.74). Our fears are sometimes worse than our enemies . . . Christ comes to deliver us from all our fears. He tells us that the king of fear is the devil, and that fear from him must always be recognized. As long as we abide in Christ, it [fear] is a voice from Satan. If it is a voice from Satan, it is a lie; therefore it is not to be allowed to come into the soul . . .

“We are delivered that we might serve ‘in holiness and righteousness before him’ (Luke 1.75). You will observe that it is not righteousness and holiness, but holiness first. We often begin the wrong way and try to get our lives right before our hearts are pure.

“Like Elisha, let us go up to the spring and put salt there and not in the channels of the river below. Cleanse the fountain and the waters will always be pure. Get the holiness of Christ in your heart, and your life will be regulated with the full tides of life and love. Divine life regulates itself and the more it overflows, the more it purifies.”3

But tell us, Who will this horn of salvation save? Paul insisted, by the Spirit’s inspiration, that the God of the universe is the horn of salvation, the “Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe” (1 Tim. 4.10, emphases mine). This horn of salvation is for all people potentially and without exception, but effectually and especially for those who believe (1 Cor. 1.21). There is no room here for the charge or notion of Universalism, for the attached condition of faith in Christ opposes such a theology.

There is likewise no room here explicitly or implicitly for any notion of Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, or Irresistible Grace. As a matter of fact, this one verse levels such theories, for it explicitly teaches that there is One Savior for all people; yet, only those with faith will actually be saved.

And then Paul closed his statement with, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Tim. 4.16, emphases mine). The condition for ultimate salvation and deliverance is watching one’s life and doctrine closely (akin to abiding in Christ). One might say that there is no explicit or implicit notion of Perseverance of the Saints in this verse, for the condition of faithfulness is attached to the promise of salvation.

Moreover, notice that Paul instructed Timothy to persevere, and not that Christ was causing him to persevere. This matter of perseverance, however, is not a hill on which I am personally ready to die. But I am ready to die on the battlefield that Christ Jesus is the Savior of all people (and not a pre-selected few based on a mere decree). Yet, only those with faith in Him shall inherit eternal life.

1 A. B. Simpson, The Names of Jesus (Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, 1991), 116.

2 Ibid., 124.

3 Ibid., 126-127.