Monday, October 12, 2009

Redemption and FORGIVENESS

Sunday at Grace Church we saw that in Ephesians 1:7 Paul says that “in Christ we have redemption.” It is not natural for us to really comprehend this concept of redemption because it comes from the realm of slavery and we do not live in a culture where slavery openly exists. In our culture redemption can have the meaning of “cashing in,” like in redeeming a coupon. Or redemption can carry the idea of a second chance. Someone who messes up and is given another try has the opportunity to “redeem” himself.

But that is not what the word meant in Paul’s day. We have to be careful that we don’t read the Bible as if it were written in our western style culture. Back in the days of Paul in the Roman Empire, slavery was huge. In fact, some historians will tell us that there were more slaves then free men in the Roman Empire. It is estimated that at one point there were 60 million slaves in the Roman Empire. The idea of redemption as used in Ephesians was liberating someone who was in captivity and it always involved paying a price. When I gave someone their redemption I would buy their freedom at a cost. I would buy a slave and then give that slave their freedom. That was redemption.

Now Paul is not talking about the physical here but the spiritual. “In Christ” we have redemption. So what then is spiritual redemption? Spiritual redemption is Jesus buying us back from our slavery to sin. From the moment of our birth, actually from the moment of our conception, we were slaves to sin. It began with Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden and as a result sin passed unto all of us. That is why sin comes so naturally to each of us. And by being slaves to sin, it is also accurate to say that we were slaves to Satan as well. But in Christ we have been bought back from this slavery. Christ has paid for our spiritual freedom. Sin is no longer our master. Satan is no longer our boss.

If redemption always costs something, what was the price of our redemption? Verse seven goes on to say that “in Christ we have redemption through His blood.” The price of our redemption was the blood of Jesus. In other words, to buy us back from slavery to sin and Satan, Jesus sacrificed His very life. He died so that we could be redeemed. Now we also know that He not only died, but three days later He conquered death and rose again. That is why we preach week in and week out here at Grace Church that the only way to have a right relationship with God, the only way to know for sure that you are going to heaven, is to put your faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus.

There are several products that we receive because of our redemption. Verse seven continues saying that “in Christ we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us.” Our redemption, which we received through faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus, provided us with forgiveness. Now don’t skip over this concept too quickly. Sometimes I fear that the longer we have known the Lord, the less we are blown away by the concept that we have been forgiven. Somehow forgiveness has become “matter of fact” rather than something that stops us in our tracks. More about this in tomorrow’s blog

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