Category Archives: DOCTRINES (iii) Redemption

REDEMPTION

THE DOCTRINES OF SCRIPTURE

Redemption is illustrated for us in Exodus 12, where the blood of an innocent lamb was shed and sprinkled, and as a result Israel were delivered from bondage to Pharoah. The apostle Peter takes this up, and speaks of the precious blood of Christ, “as of a lamb without blemish and without spot”, 1 Peter 1:19.

Since the blood represents the life of a person, His blood is precious because He Himself is precious to God. Things may be precious in three ways. They may be precious because they are special. An object may have little monetary value, yet be extremely precious because of what it represents. The blood of Christ is precious because He is without blemish and without spot. He is pure without as to character, and within as to nature, and as such is special to God, and to those who believe in Him.

Things can be also be precious because they are, in fact valuable. Christ is God’s only begotten Son, John 3:16, and His dear Son, Colossians 1:13. God the Father values Him highly, yet freely delivered Him up for us all. We see how valuable His blood was by how much it has and will achieve.

They can also be precious because they are memorable, commemorating some great event. There was no greater event than the death of the Lord Jesus at Calvary. What could surpass the death of the Son of God? Throughout all eternity the redeemed shall sing a new song, and that song is prompted by the fact that the Lamb was slain, and has redeemed to God by His blood, Revelation 5:9.

THE RANSOM

A ransom was the price paid so that a slave could be bought out of the market-place. On payment of this ransom-price, the slave became the property of the one purchasing his freedom. The ransom price that was necessary to buy sinners out of the slave-market of sin, is nothing less than the blood of Christ. His own words were, “For even the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many”, Mark 10:45. Wonderful as His earthly ministry was, it was surpassed by what He did at Calvary, where He gave Himself, in all the glory of His person, to God. 1 Timothy 2:6 is to the same effect, where the apostle writes that He “gave Himself as ransom for all, to be testified in due time”. This is offered by the apostle as support for what he wrote previously in verse 4, where he stated that God’s desire is that all men should be saved. The genuineness of that desire is seen in that He has appointed His Son as the ransom for all.

THE RESULT

When a person believes on the Lord Jesus, having acknowledged slavery to sin, and the complete inability to deliver himself from bondage, certain things happen. We may think of them in connection with the eight scriptures quoted at the outset.

1. “He that committeth sin is the servant (slave) of sin”, John 8:34.

The Lord Jesus went on to say that “if the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed”, verse 36. The word “indeed” means “to the very core of your being”. In other words, absolutely free. Not free provisionally, or temporarily, but free absolutely and permanently. Such is the thoroughness with which the Lord Jesus frees those who believe in Him.

How does this work out in practice? He also said in John 8, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free”, verse 32. The truth of the scriptures when believed, make free in principle. The truth of the scriptures, when applied to the heart and life, make free in practice.

For instance, the truth of the believer’s association with Christ in His burial and resurrection is the truth which frees us as we act upon it. Romans 6:11 says, “Likewise reckon yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord”. This is the way of practical deliverance, reckoning to be true in practice what is true in principle; making sure that the truth of the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Christ affects our thinking and our acting. The apostle goes on in that same chapter to write, “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine that was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness”, Romans 6:17,18. To be free from sin does not mean that believers never sin, or even that they have no ability to sin, but it does mean that the sin-principle within has no right to hold them in bondage any more.

2. “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things such as silver and gold from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers…” 1 Peter 1:18.

 

 

 The vain conversation Peter refers to here is that empty way of life that dominates unsaved people. They have no power to break free from the course this world takes them, for the prince of this world ensures that there is plenty to occupy their minds and hearts. Redeemed persons are free of that, however, and their lives can now be taken up with that which is of God.

3. “that through death… He might deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage”, Hebrews 2:15.

The true believer does not fear death itself, even though he might fear the process of dying. The apostle Paul reminded the Corinthians that all things were theirs, even death, 1 Corinthians 3:22. It is but a servant who ushers them into the presence of their Lord. Because the redemption which is in Christ Jesus includes the forgiveness of all trespasses, Colossians 2:13, there is no need to have anxious fears such as an Israelite of old had, for the one who tormented men with the fear of death has been defeated, and his power broken.

4. “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us”, Galatians 3:13.

There was a curse pronounced on those who were hung upon a tree or gallows in Old Testament times. Such an one was marked out as being cursed of God because of his crimes. Christ went further, however, for He was not only hung upon a tree or cross and numbered with the transgressors, but He was made a curse. He accepted responsibility for the law-breaking of men, and the judgement it involved. Because He is risen from the dead, we may be assured that no curse will come upon the true believer, since He dealt with the curse instead. It is blessing that comes to the believer, not the opposite, Galatians 3:14.

5. “when ye knew not God, ye did (bond)service unto them which by nature are no gods”, Galatians 4:8.

Many of the Galatian believers had been idol-worshippers before they were saved. Their idols held them in superstitious fear. This was slavery indeed, with no prospect of release until the message of deliverance through Christ came to them through the apostle. Paul could preach that Christ has spoiled the evil angels that held men in their grip, making a show over them openly at the cross, Colossians 2:15.

When God delivered Israel from Egypt, He also executed judgement on their gods, Exodus 12:12, for they worshipped demons under the form of natural things like the river Nile, and frogs and lice. These were the things that God used to plagued Egypt before the Exodus, thus showing their folly in worshipping them, and also showing His power over them.

6. “And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of the body”. Romans 8:23.

This is the part of redemption that is still in the future, yet is certain to take place. At the Lord’s coming the believer will enter into sonship, (here referred to as adoption), in the fullest possible way, being conformed to the image of God’s Son, Romans 8:22. This involves the change of the body, so that it is set free from the bondage that corruption and decay has brought it into because of Adam’s sin. Then, with bodies freed from every limitation, we shall serve God as we ought.

7. “None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him…that he should still live for ever, and not see corruption”, Psalm 49:7-9.

Whilst it is true that believers still die, nevertheless the Lord Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep My saying, he shall never see death”, John 8:51. Such is the power of the everlasting life that believers possess, that even death is a non-entity as far as they are concerned. Every person who has believed has already passed out of death into life, John 5:24, so that death is simply the necessary process on the way to the gaining of the resurrection body. The “resurrection chapter”, 1 Corinthians 15, states, using the illustration of the sowing of a seed, “that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die”, verse 36.

8. “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death”, Hosea 13:14.

When he was setting out what shall happen at the resurrection of the saints, the apostle quoted from the second half of Hosea 13:14, which reads, “O death, I will be thy plagues, O grave, I will be thy destruction:” The plague of death shall itself be plagued when Christ comes. The grave itself shall be destroyed, and robbed of its power. In Revelation 1:18 the Lord Jesus announces to John, “I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell (Hades) and of death”. He holds the keys of Hades so that no believer of this age shall go there, as Old Testament saints did, but shall go to Paradise. He holds the keys of death so that every saint shall rise from the grave.

THE RESPONSE

How should the believer react to this redemption? To answer this we could ask how a slave who had a cruel master should respond when he is freed. Will he not be greatly relieved to be delivered from his former slave-master? Will he not do his best to please the one who has ransomed him? So the believer, delivered from the forms of cruel bondage we have listed, should indeed be grateful to his new Master. Especially as that Master has paid an extremely high price to set him free. Then there should be devotedness to the one who has set us free at such a cost to Himself. There is no danger of falling into the hands of a cruel slave-master again, since redemption, once known, can never be withdrawn.

But there is a feature about deliverance from slavery by Christ that is very unusual. The one-time slaves are elevated to being sons! This is the language of scripture, “but when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, ‘Abba, Father’. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ”, Galatians 4:4-7.

 

It is God’s desire to fill heaven with those who are like His Son, and he does it by redeeming those who are slaves to sin, and positioning them as His sons. “For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren”, Romans 8:29.

PART 2 REDEMPTION

Redemption may be defined as “the setting free of a slave by the payment of a price”. That price being called a ransom. The carrying out of redemption is presented to us in the Old Testament in two ways. There were those redeemed from slavery, such as the nation of Israel, who were in Egypt in bondage to Pharoah the ruler. And there were those who were redeemed from bankruptcy, such as Ruth, in the book of Ruth. In either case the principle was the same- a state of enslavement; one who was willing and able to pay the price for their release; the ransom price; the consequent setting free, and gratitude to the redeemer; the service to the new owner. We shall think of this subject under the following headings: The reality; the redeemer; the ransom; the result; the response.

The writers of the New Testament, and indeed the Lord Jesus Himself used these Old Testament situations to illustrate the reality of the slavery that man finds himself in because of sin.

THE REALITY

The following are scriptures that set out the reality of the fact that man is a slave, and as such is in need of a redeemer:

1. “He that committeth sin is the servant (slave) of sin“, John 8:34.

The words of Christ are based on the story of Abraham, Hagar, and Sarah. Hagar was a slave-girl, and Abraham, sadly, had a child by her, Ishmael. He then had a child by Sarah, named Isaac. When the time of Isaac’s weaning came, Abraham made a great feast, and introduced his son Isaac to the community as his heir. Ishmael, a boy of 13 at the time, mocked, and for this reason was cast out of Abraham’s house. So when, in John 8:35, the Lord Jesus speaks of the son remaining in the house, and the slave not doing so, He is referring to this story. The Jews claimed to be Abraham’s seed, but the Lord is confronting them with the truth that Ishmael was this too. Only those who are free because He has made them free are like Isaac, and remain in the house in fellowship with the father. Those who are slaves, like Ishmael, have no right to be in the house, but are cast out. The Jews, descended from Abraham physically through Isaac, were nonetheless morally like Ishmael, and as such were not in fellowship with God.

2. “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things such as silver and gold from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers…” 1 Peter 1:18.

Peter is referring to the Exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt, as recorded in Exodus chapters 12-15. The only silver and gold the Israelites had at that time was the money the Egyptians gave them to ensure they really went away. The Israelites were slaves- they had no silver and gold to purchase their own freedom. What did purchase that freedom was the blood of the lamb on Passover night.

3. “that through death… He might deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage”, Hebrews 2:15.

Every night, as an Israelite went to sleep, he feared dying with sin on his record. He may have offered a sin-offering during the day, but he also may have sinned on the way home. Christ came to deliver from that fear, and He does so by dealing completely and finally with the question of sins, as far as those who believe are concerned.

4. “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us”, Galatians 3:13.

The nation of Israel had been given the law at Sinai as a conditional covenant. The blessing of that covenant depended on their obedience. Because they had no ability to fully obey, they were under a curse, not a blessing. The only way to be set free from that curse was for someone who had not transgressed God’s law to take that curse upon Himself, and thus set free those who would believe in Him. This the Lord Jesus did when on the cross He accepted the consequences that the law-breaking of men had brought in, and bore those consequences instead.

5. “when ye knew not God, ye did (bond)service unto them which by nature are no gods”, Galatians 4:8.

The Galatians had been idol-worshippers before they were saved, and as such were in superstitious fear of the demon-influence behind their idols. The work of Christ at Calvary had set them free from that fear, since by His death He destroyed the power of the prince of this world, Satan himself, who holds men in slavery to superstition.

6. “And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of the body“. Romans 8:23.

When Adam sinned and fell, he brought the creation of which he was head down with him. As a result, men’s bodies are in a state of corruption. This is true even of the body of a believer in Christ, for that body is the last link with the world of Adam. When Christ comes for His people, He shall change their bodies, so that they are like His glorious body, Philippians 3:21. In this way the bondage to a corrupt body will be forever gone.

7. “None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him…that he should still live for ever, and not see corruption“, Psalm 49:7-9.

Psalm 49 is used by Jews as a funeral psalm, for it laments the fact that no-one can redeem another from going into death and the grave. This indicates that the prospect of dying and corrupting is a form of bondage to men, from which no ordinary man can redeem his fellow-man. Only the Lord Jesus can do this. God is recorded as saying in Job 33:24, “Deliver him from going down to the pit: ‘I have found a ransom'”. That ransom is found in Christ.

8. “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death“, Hosea 13:14.

Here God promises to deliver from the hold that the grave has on the bodies of believers. As we shall see, the apostle Paul quotes from this passage when he is dealing with the resurrection of the saints. Their bodies shall be rescued from the grave by Christ when He comes for His own.

THE REDEEMER

As we have said, one who undertakes to redeem must first be willing, and then be wealthy. The only one who is both willing to pay the price, and wealthy enough to do so, is the Lord Jesus. The price He was prepared to pay was nothing less that Himself, yielded up to God in death. The root cause of man’s slavery in all its forms is the sin that has brought death into the world. Because He was sinless, and not in any sort of slavery, the Lord Jesus was free to deal with our bondage.

When He preached in the synagogue at Nazareth, the Lord Jesus announced that He was the one of whom Isaiah prophesied in chapter 61 of his book. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, for He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor…to preach deliverance to the captives”, Luke 4:18. Yet He did not deliver John the Baptist from prison! His deliverance therefore must be of the spiritual kind, the kind of which the eight scriptures quoted above speak.