"Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for He has looked favorably on His people and redeemed them.
He has raised up a mighty savior for us
in the house of His servant David." (Luke 1: 68-69).
... In the first century, [savior] did not yet mean what it means for many Christians today. Because Christians have for centuries spoken of Jesus as saving us from our sins through his death on the cross, many Christians automatically connect Jesus as savior with atonement for sins. But in the Bible, the primary meaning of the term is "rescuer," "deliverer."
For example, Psalms speaks of God as Israel's "Savior who has done great things in Egypt ... and awesome deeds by the Red Sea" (106: 21-22). So also Hosea connects God as savior to the exodus: "Yet I have been the Lord your God ever since the land of Egypt; you know no God by me, and besides me there is no savior" (13:4). A song attributed to King David speaks of God as "my stronghold and my refuge, my savior; you save me from violence" (2 Sam. 22.3). Jeremiah addresses God as the "hope of Israel, its savior in time of trouble" (14:8). In none of these instances is there any connection between "savior" and being saved from sin. To think that speaking of Jesus as savior refers primarily to his death as a sacrifice from sin narrows and reduces the meaning of this rich term.
... what the "mighty savior" of whom Zechariah sings will do is the theme of the middle part [in Luke]. He is the fulfillment of God's promise, "the oath that God swore to our ancestor Abraham," namely, "that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us," so "that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies, might serve God without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him in all our days" (1:71, 73-75). "Being rescued from the hands of our enemies" is the role of the "mighty savior"; this is what it means to be saved."
The First Christmas: What the Gospels Really Teach About Jesus's Birth, by Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan.
I'm wondering if the idea of Jesus as a Savior from sins, and thus saving "to" heaven, is taking the easy way out. The salvation itself is something that comes to past in the next life, is something one must have faith in. Therefore, it's not something that can be necessarily demonstrated in this life. Yes, we can see amazing turnarounds in the lives of those that repent -- but we can see that turnaround in any sort of religion. We can even see that in someone who goes from a fundamentalist Christian to agnostic/atheist.
Not only that, but the sin is very self-centered. Jesus saves you from the sin that's inside you, the "old man," the nonspiritual man that has earned the wrath of God. The focus becomes on being rescued from something you deserve ... and if you think you deserve an eternal torment, it might be hard to ask for salvation from an unjust situation, because is there such a thing?
But if you start saying that God is a Savior from times of trouble, or from war, or from enemies ... that' something that speaks a lot more towards this life. Being rescued from the land of Egypt was something that occurred in a non-heaven life. Even the song that Zechariah sings about Jesus gives the impression of this life. Of something that can, or even will, occur in the here-and-now. God saves an innocent person from the hands of his/her enemies. Half the time in Psalms, the psalmist seems to be crying out over the injustice, asking God to deliver him from something that he doesn't deserve.