"Rescue won't come from anybody else! There is no other name given under heaven and among humans by which we must be rescued" Acts 4:12 NT Wright translation.
"For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves" Colossians 1:13 NIV.
Salvation in the Bible means rescue; rescue from death and the dominion of darkness. Unfortunately for many people today the word salvation in reference to Jesus Christ's death and resurrection has come to mean a religious conversion to Christianity, not a rescue from death.The word conversion implies the change of ones mind or belief. "I used to hate vegetables, now I am a vegetarian; I've been converted". Yes, a religious conversion can be a bit more dramatic but so can the conversion to becoming a football fan. " I used to hate sports but then I moved to Green Bay Wisconsin; now I'm a cheesehead". The problem is when we replace rescue with conversion we lose the full meaning of what it means to be saved from death and given a new life in Christ.
Jessica Buchanan was an American aid worker in Africa when she was abducted by Somali land pirates in 2011. She was held captive for over three months and then dramatically rescued by Navy Seals. In an interview with 60 Minutes's Scott Pelley she describes her ordeal. Watch the clip below.
Jessica was betrayed by the person she entrusted with her safety. She was taken into the dominion of darkness and held in a helpless state. Her vivid description is powerful and leaves little to the imagination. Death surrounded her and held her in a tight grip.
This is the condition into which every human being is born. There was a betrayal which brought humanity into into the dominion of darkness and made it subject to death.
After three months of horrific treatment and inhumane conditions, a bodily infection worsened and Jessica's body began to rapidly deteriorate. She made a last call to tell the outside world she could not hold on much longer. She believed because she was , in her words," just an aid worker" she was not worthy of being rescued. However, to the President of the United States who was well aware of her circumstances, Jessica was not just an aid worker she was an American.
By analogy most people feel deep down they are "nobodies". Strip away all the glitter and false selves and most people feel they are of very little significance or worth. However to God the Father who created human beings in His own image they are of inestimable value and precious in His sight.They are His children.
The President gave the orders to send in an elite team of Navy Seals to rescue Jessica. Her recounting of the operation is gripping and powerful. They knew who she was; she did not have a clue who they were. They had everything she needed; food, water, medicine. All of this was beyond her comprehension. They laid their bodies down over hers literally, to protect and save her.
If we could actually see into the spiritual realm when a soul is being saved from the dominion of darkness we might just see something like Jessica's rescue for :
" Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?" Hebrews 1:14
Certainly we would see the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for the sheep covering them with His body and blood.
After Jessica was on board the helicopter and it took off she broke down and began to cry. The Seals handed her an American flag. As she says in the interview, she had never been so proud to be an American as she was at that moment. It would be impossible for Jessica to live a life after her abduction, captivity, and rescue as if it had never happened. There would be no going back to the old Jessica, she had been forever changed by her ordeal and will forever be singing the praises of those who risked their lives to save hers.
Jessica was rescued not converted; so are Christians. "Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story---those he redeemed from the hand of the foe." Psalm 107:2