Can Jesus save me? The answer to this question is a resounding yes. He loves you. He died for you on a cruel cross, paying for every sin you have or ever will commit. Believe on His name and you will be saved. Today and right now. He is waiting for you. Learn more about this great news here.
How Jesus Can Save Us
1. Jesus was our substitute. He died in our place.
He wasn’t hung on a cross because He was wicked, but because we are. He lived a righteous life. Paul, who was in prison in Rome, wrote a short letter titled Philemon that illustrated what Jesus did in our place.
There’s a Christian doctrine called substitution. That doctrine helps explain why Jesus can save us when we believe in His Name.
The Runaway Slave
Philemon was a Christian who owned a slave named Onesimus. Slavery was a standard institution in the Roman society of the First Century AD. Onesimus stole from Philemon, ran away, and became friends with the Apostle Paul.
The Slave Believes and Returns
Paul Presents Onesimus as a New Person
Onesimus became a believer in Jesus through Paul’s testimony. Paul even told Philemon he had become Onesimus’ (spiritual) father. A runaway slave faced a death sentence, and Paul didn’t want that sentence carried out on his new friend. Yet, Onesimus had the Christian responsibility to make things right with his owner. Paul was sending Onesimus back to Philemon, but Paul sent a letter which we know as the Bible book Philemon, along with him.
Receive the Slave as Paul
“I (Paul) have sent him back. Therefore receive him as my own heart (Philemon 1:12).”
Paul wanted Philemon to receive Onesimus back, not as a slave, but as a beloved Christian brother. But he didn’t want to do anything without Philemon’s consent.
No Longer Useless
Paul uses a play on words, or at least on the meaning of Onesimus. Onesimus means “useless,” and Paul tells Philemon that Onesimus only used to be useless. However, he is now useful to Paul, and he can also, now that he is a believer, be useful to Philemon.
Jesus by Proxy
At this point in Paul’s letter, he begins teaching us about Jesus’ substitution by proxy.
Believer’s Welcomed by the Father
“If then you consider me a partner, receive him as you would me (Philemon 1:17).”
Paul asked Philemon to receive Onesimus as he would receive Paul. And through Jesus’ substitution, Jesus asks God the Father to welcome us as the Father receives Jesus.
“If he wronged you or owes you anything, charge this to my account (Philemon 1:18).”
Believer’s Debt is Paid
Paul promises to pay Philemon back for any debt Onesimus owes Philemon. And Jesus paid back the debt we owed to the Father.
“I (Paul) will repay it—not to mention that you owe me even your own self (Philemon 1:19).”
Believer’s Receive Eternal Life
Paul promises to pay back any debt Onesimus owes. But he first reminds Philemon that he owes Paul his spiritual life, his eternal life. Paul probably brought the gospel of salvation to Philemon, so in that sense, Philemon owes Paul eternal debt. How could he refuse Paul’s request to receive Onesimus as a brother?
Did Philemon receive Onesimus as Paul hoped? We aren’t told, but it’s a safe bet.
Jesus Saves Us and Gives Us Life
Those who believe in Jesus’ Name owe Jesus their spiritual life, their eternal life. Jesus died in our place and paid our debt to the Father, so we can have eternal life by believing in Jesus’ Name.