(If you would like to receive Pastor Harris’ weekly sermons via e-mail, Click here)
Faith Bible Church, NY
May 26, 1996
The Blessings of God: Redeemed in Christ
In Ephesians 1:3-14 (the longest sentence in the New Testament) Paul says that those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ are blessed by God with every spiritual blessings. God has given to us everything we need, both material and immaterial, in order to live the Christian life.
Paul expands his description of these blessings in three specific areas. Last week we looked at the first which is described in verses 3-6. Paul says, 3 Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
The very nature of God (who He is and what He is like) results in the fact that He is blessed. God is honored and glorified and praise is due to Him. But the blessed one is also the blesser and He has blessed us (spoken well to us and given us His benefits) and the first of these benefits that Paul describes in more detail is that God has chosen us in Jesus Christ before He even made the world.
As I said last week, a lot of people do not like the doctrine of Election, but it is a clear teaching of the Bible and so it is to be believed. We cannot understand all the details of how God chose us because we are finite creature and He has not revealed that to us. God chooses and a man can not be saved unless God chooses, yet man is held completely responsible to obey God’s commands to repent and believe in Jesus Christ. Man’s rejection of Christ is born solely on his own shoulders. If you want to more about this important doctrine pick up the tape from last week. It is only a dollar, and if you return it, it is free.
While we cannot understand the details of God’s selection for salvation we can and do understand clearly that God motivation for choosing us is His loving grace alone and nothing in us. It is according to the “kind intention of His will.”
We also know that the purpose of His choosing was so that we could fulfill the very purpose for which we were created: to bring Him praise and adoration. That is why it is so important that we live holy and blameless lives. We bring God glory when we live righteously.
In verses 7-12 Paul describes the second great blessing God has bestowed upon us. 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, 8 which He lavished upon us. In all wisdom and insight 9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, [that is], the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the earth. In Him 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.
We are going to examine this section under the headings listed your outline. Redemption’s Definition; The Redeemer; The Redeemed; Redemption’s Price; Redemption’s Results; and The Reason for Redemption.
REDEMPTION’S DEFINITION: Redemption is one of several legal concepts used to describe our salvation. For example: äéêáéïù speaks of JUSTIFICATION: we are vindicated, declared righteous before God in Jesus Christ. áöéçìé is the basis of FORGIVENESS. It basically means “to send away” and used to indicate a the cancellation of a legal debt through payment or pardon. éïèåóéá refers to the ADOPTION of a child into a family and Paul uses it to speak of our being made part of God’s family. This was mentioned last week because vs 5 tells us we were “predestined to adoption as His sons…”. êáôáëëáóóù means RECONCILIATION. Two former adversaries have been made right with each other.
REDEMPTION basically means deliverance brought about by payment of a ransom. Its meaning is brought out by two different Greek words. áãïñáæù means “to purchase or buy.” It is not the redemption itself, but refers to the price paid for the redemption. The word used here is áðïëõôñùóéí, which means to “release from captivity.” It was especially used in reference to the purchase of slaves and then granting them their freedom. The Roman world was full of slaves. Estimates run as high as 6 million and it was not uncommon for them to be freed in this manner.
The word for redemption implies a previous condition of slavery from which man could not extricate himself. That is exactly the condition that the Bible describes man to be in: a slave to sin, in bondage to the world system, under the yoke of the law and held captive by death. Hence man is in great need of redemption.
Jesus Himself said in John 8:34, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.” Paul adds that not only was everyone born into sin (Rom 5) and has sinned (Rom. 3:23), but that everyone is “sold into bondage to sin” (Rom. 7:14). The penalty of sin is death (Rom 3:23) as Ezek. 18:4 says, “The soul that sins will die.” Gal. 3:13 says we were under the “curse of the law.” The law brought us the knowledge of our sinfulness, but it could not redeem us from sin (Rom. 3:20). Paul also describes this as being “held in bondage under the elemental things of the world” (Gal. 4:3). The fear of death, the consequence of sin, is described in Heb. 2:15 as another element that subjected us to slavery.
Man is trapped in sin and its consequences and cannot get out of its bondage on His own. Redemption is what brings a person out from under bondage to its various taskmasters.
In Romans 6:17,18 Paul says to the believer, “though you were slaves to sin… having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” In Gal. 3:13 we find that “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law…,” and in 5:1 Paul adds that “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” In Heb. 2:14,15 we find that through His death that Jesus rendered “powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.”
In Redemption a price was paid in a substitutionary sense to free and object from its previous owner or the bondage it was under and that redeemed object now belonged to its redeemer. Redemption means there is a redeemer.
In our text it says that “In Him we have redemption…”. The “Him” is our redeemer and that is Jesus Christ, so wonderfully called “the beloved” meaning, the “one loved by God,” in vs 6. It was Jesus Christ Himself who paid the price of redemption.
Jesus fulfills the Old Testament concept of kinsman-redeemer for us. The redeemer had to meet certain qualifications. The redeemer had to be related to the one ne
eding redemption. Jesus became related to us by becoming a man. The redeemer had be able to pay the price for redemption. Jesus was the only one every able to pay the price because He was sinless. And the redeemer had to be willing to pay the price. You might recall in the story of Ruth that her near kinsman Boaz went to redeem her but there was another man who was a closer relative and so had the first right of redemption. The man met the first two qualifications, but failed on the third because he feared jeopardizing his own inheritance so he was unwilling to redeem Ruth. Jesus Christ redeemed us willingly. In John 10:15 Jesus said that He would lay down His life for His sheep. In verse 18 Jesus added, “No on has taken it away from Me; but I lay it down on My own initiative…”.
The Redeemer is the Lord Jesus Christ. In Him we have redemption.
Who is the “we” that has redemption? Who are the redeemed? Not everyone but only those that are in the same category as Paul and are in Christ, those to whom Paul was writing to, whom he calls “saints” in vs 1.
All the redeemed are saints. They are not redeemed because they are saints, but they are saints because they are redeemed. If men could be holy/saints on their own they would not need a redeemer. It is because they are redeemed that they can be saints.
The redeemed are normal people: normal, sinful, selfish people that God chooses calls to Himself from out of this sin filled world. He sets them apart for Himself that they might glorify Him and their lives are changed so that they start living their lives in holiness, not perfection, but in ever increasing righteousness. Chosen in Him before the foundation of the world that they might be holy and blameless before Him and adopted as His sons that they might glorify Him (vs. 4-6)
The redeemer is Jesus Christ. Those that have placed their trust in Him alone for salvation from sin are the redeemed. We received redemption freely, as vs 6 describes God has “freely bestowed” on us His grace. A literal translation is that God has “graced us with His grace.” We receive redemption free of charge, but redemption came at an extreme price.
Our text says, “In Him we have redemption through His blood.” The reference to “blood” here and elsewhere in the N.T. is not so much to the physical element of blood itself, but to what it represented – Jesus life given up as a bloody sacrifice for sin.
Lev. 17:11 makes this clear in its discussion of the sin sacrifice, the sacrifice made to cover / cleanse a person from sin. ‘For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.’
The price of our redemption is not that Jesus got a cut and shed a little blood, NO! It is that He suffered all the torment of a sin sacrifice and His life was poured out to cleanse us from our sins. Peter put it this way in 1 Peter 1:18,19, knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, [the blood] of Christ.
Jesus’ blood was the substitute for our own deaths. Remember I have already pointed out that the ultimate consequence of sin is death, as stated in Rom. 3:23. Jesus died in our place. He who “knew no sin” was made “to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” If Jesus had not made this payment we would still be condemned to death and everlasting punishment in hell.
Remember I said that one of the requirements of a redeemer is that it has to be related. Animal sacrifices could not redeem because they are not human. They are only related in that they too were made by the Creator. Heb. 10:4 makes it clear, “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” But in the death of Christ, “we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:10). It was “not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption” (Heb. 9:12,13).
We can be redeemed because the redeemer has paid the price of redemption. We are “justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith” (Rom. 3:24,25).
Never take lightly the price Jesus paid to redeem you.
What are the results of redemption? Several items. Forgiveness of our trespasses, Wisdom and Insight for living, and an inheritance.
The first result is “the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, 8 which He lavished upon us.” “Trespasses” is a synonym for sin. It means to “make a false step” and refers to stepping off the path of life that is found in doing God’s will and making our own path by our own will. You could say that we sin, i.e. “miss the mark” of doing, thinking, being what God says we should because we step off the path of His will and do our own will.
Paul says that because we are redeemed in Christ we are forgiven our trespasses. Forgiveness basically means to “send away.” The idea of forgiveness was beautifully pictured in the Old Testament on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement (see Lev. 16,17). The high priest would choose two spotless goats. One goat was killed as a sacrifice and its blood sprinkled on the altar. The priest would take the other goat and place his hands on its head and confess the sins of the people symbolically transferring their sins to the goat. The goat would then be taken away and set free in the wilderness. This is the “scapegoat” which bore the blame of the people.
When forgiveness is used as a legal term it means to repay a cancel a debt through either repayment or to granting a pardon. Jesus fulfills both of these illustrations. He payed the price and canceled our debt for us. We in effect are granted a pardon because a substitute paid our debt. In addition all our sins are laid on Jesus and He takes them away. 1 Peter 2:24 says, “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness…”.
Paul speaks of this forgiveness in both a past tense comprehensive manner and in an on going manner. In Col. 2:13 he says, 13 And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”
All our sins, past, present and future, are taken care of by Christ. Yet, at the same time Paul uses the present tense here meaning we continue to receive forgiveness of our trespasses through Christ.
Putting both of these together we find that in Jesus Christ we have complete redemption and hence complete forgiveness for all our sins, and from God’s timeless perspective we stand clean before Him in Christ. Concurrently we live in a time continuum and we are granted that forgiveness as we need it daily. This is what Jesus meant when He told Peter that he was completely clean, but still needed his feet washed (John 13:10), and what John speaks too in 1 John 1:9 that believers are to still confess their sins trusting in Him who is faithful and just to forgive them their sins and cleanse them from all unrighteousness.
Redemption breaks sin’s bondage and brings us back into a relationship with God, but daily sin still hinders our daily fellowship with God. Confession restores our intimacy with God.
Is there any limit to this forgiveness? None. It is given “according to the riches of H
is grace, which He lavished upon us.” An infinite God gives to us infinite forgiveness because He has infinite grace which He made overflow to our account. And remember that grace is getting something you do not deserve. You are not forgiven because of you in any way, shape, or form. You are forgiven because Jesus chose to die in your place and He did so out of pure love.
No one is so wretched that they are beyond God’s grace. Paul called himself the “chief of sinners” because of his persecution of the church, and God saved him. John Newton was a slaver and a wretch by his own admission, and God’s grace reached him. Among those who became Christians at Corinth were fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, transvestites, thieves, covetous schemers, drunkards, party animals and swindlers. The testimony of some who are here this morning is similar.
No one here is outside the reach of God’s grace.
A second result of redemption is Christ is found in verse 8-10, In all wisdom and insight 9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, [that is], the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the earth.
“Wisdom,” as used here, refers to the ability to understand the things of God while “insight” refers to the ability to apply that understanding in practical matters. God gives us what we need to understand the Scriptures and to obey it, to understand His will and walk in it.
God’s will had before hand been a mystery to us in that it was concealed from us. Along with redemption comes the ministry of the Holy Spirit that enables us to understand God’s Word as well as impress upon us directly the things of God.
This revealing of God’s will is also according to God’s kind intention, His good pleasure which He had planned to do in Christ. God’s ultimate plan will be to bring about the millennial kingdom and then eternity which is what verse 10 refers to. Redemption along with wisdom and insight into God’s will are given for the ultimate purpose of furthering God’s plan to bring all things into subjection to Christ at the culmination of history.
The third result of redemption is an inheritance. We will talk about this inheritance in detail next week since it is mentioned again in verse 13. But in brief, redemption in Christ also makes us fellow heirs with Christ and we will receive an inheritance with Him. The culmination of history is not the end of us for God has an eternal purpose for us. That purpose began in eternity past and will continue to eternity future.
What is that purpose? Again we find it is the same as the purpose that God chose us before the foundation of the world. We who hope in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.
God’s will is never blocked, it is never obstructed, it is never thwarted. He works all things all things after the counsel of His will.” God is so powerful that He even uses the evil that people do in defiance of Him for His own purposes. But God’s great pleasure is to receive the praise freely given to Him by those who are in Christ. That is the purpose of your redemption.
For comments, please e-mail Church office