Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Blessings of Redemption

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:
Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;
Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
Epheisans 1: 1-14

Our text today reveals to us the tremendous blessings that God has provided and made available to Christians. In verse 7 Paul declares that we have been redeemed through the blood of Christ. He begins his letter to the Ephesians rejoicing in the blessing of redemption.

Beacon Bible Exposition says: "'Blessed' is a priceless word in the scripture and it defies full definition. It has been suggested that this word may carry in itself the central theme of all the Bible. 'Blessed' bears the idea of 'speaking well or eulogizing.'" In effect, the apostle is saying literally, "Let’s eulogize God, or let’s speak well of our God."

There are three thoughts I want to leave with you today about this scripture:

1. Redemption.

Ephesians 1:7-- "In Him we have redemption."

The word 'redemption' is a commercial term borrowed from the marketplace where human beings were offered for sale to the highest bidder. Condemned to a miserable existence, these slaves were powerless to escape. Sometimes they were sold from one owner to another. But they were in bondage. Their only hope was redemption, an uncommon process whereby they were purchased in order to be set free. A master who bought them could set them free.

Scripture uses the tragedy of slavery to illustrate our human predicament. Without God’s intervention, we are all hopelessly enslaved to self and sin. We are forced to live in bondage to sin and Satan. Enslaved by sin and guilt, we are unable to liberate ourselves.

For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.
If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.
Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
Romans 7:14 -25

The idea of "redemption" is a bit of a stretch for us to really understand today.

It is the idea of being set free, of being bought back out of slavery or prison, and restored. We have absolutely no idea what it means to be enslaved – to be stripped of any personal rights, dignity, or freedom. To become property of another – no longer human but merely a thing to be used, abused, or neglected entirely at the whim of someone else who "owns" you.

We can’t imagine what it means to literally have shackles on our ankles, which limit our ability to move farther than the short chain might allow. We have heard about slavery, but in general it is probably so far removed from our own experience that it is difficult for us to grasp the complete helplessness and despair. To know that there is not a single thing we can do for ourselves to change our situation.

A few weeks ago I watched the movie Roots and the one goal of the slaves was FREEDOM. But the more they wanted freedom the harder it became for them to find.

If you can imagine what it means to be enslaved – if you can sense a bit of the horror and helplessness – then we can start to understand what redemption is. It is the idea of someone, in this case a perfect stranger, appearing out of nowhere and paying the debt, assuming the responsibility, in fact exchanging places with you and I in the shackles. Being redeemed means that someone from the outside has come to us in our helplessness and set us free.

Jesus said, "...everyone who sins is a slave to sin." (John 8:34) Sin traps us and holds us, rendering us powerless to escape its clutches. Consequently, try as hard as we might, we are unable to overcome our sin. It might be lust, uncontrollable anger, drugs, pornography, envy, covetousness, lying, materialism, destructive behavior, harmful attitudes, or whatever. In our natural, unsaved state we are at the mercy of sin; powerless against it. In spite of the fact that sin ruins relationships, wrecks lives and brings untold pain, misery and regret we can’t seem to overcome it. Our only hope is Christ who can redeem us, setting us free from sin’s penalty and its power in our daily lives.

Describing what God has done for us, Paul says in verse 7, "…in Christ we have redemption through His blood."

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

Christ offers to set us free from bondage to sin through the ransom price of his blood.

Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins. Hebrews 9:22
Through faith in Christ we are delivered form the guilt of our past sin. But that is only part of what it means to be ransomed. Our present and future are affected, as we are no longer held captive by the power of sin. Delivered by Christ we are saved from our old lifestyle and introduced to a new and better way of life.

Redemption literally means deliverance as a result of the payment of ransom. This implies emancipation from the guilt, punishment, and power of sin.

Look at the pattern in the scriptures:

I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins. John 8:34

For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. Romans 7:14

Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law. Galatians 3:13

If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. John 8:36
We now see how God could carry out His choice to have a people who are holy and without blame, adopted as sons unto Him, when all He had to work with were "sinners." Through the death of Jesus and the shedding of His blood, God was just to "redeem" or "deliver" sinners from the bondage of sin! There is another way to express what God has done to make it possible for us to be "holy and blameless in His sight," and that is, through His Son.

It was almost 1:00 in the morning when the phone rang. Dr. Leo Winters, the highly acclaimed Chicago surgeon, was abruptly awakened. There had been an accident and his skilled hands were needed for immediate surgery. The quickest route happened to be through a rather tough area, but with time being a critical factor, it was worth the risk. At one of the stop lights his door was yanked open by a man with a gray hat and a dirty flannel shirt.

"I got to have your car!" the man screamed, pulling him from his seat. Winters tried to explain the gravity of the situation but the man would not listen.

When the doctor was finally able to get a taxi to the hospital, over an hour had elapsed. It was too late. The patient had passed away 30 minutes earlier. The nurse told him that the father of the victim had gone to the chapel wondering why the doctor never came.

Dr. Winters walked hurriedly to the chapel and when he entered he saw the man in a gray hat and dirty flannel shirt. It was the father of his patient. Tragically, he had pushed from his life the one who could save his son.

If the Son sets you free, you shall be free, indeed. John 8:36

Redeemed by the blood of Christ we are set free from the power of sin. Sin need no longer have the hold on us that it once did. Through the power of God’s indwelling Holy Spirit we are able to say "no" to sin. We are thus ransomed or delivered to live our lives on a higher plane. You don’t have to live your life held captive by the sins that mess up your life. Jesus Christ came to earth "to give his life a ransom for many." We all need the deliverance He offers simply because we all know the pain and regret that results from our enslavement to sin.

Sin looks attractive, compelling and pleasing but it turns out to be such a horrible quagmire that it costs the life of Christ to lift us out. In our text Paul rejoices in the incredible blessings that come with redemption. He was so grateful that the Lord Jesus had released him from his past life of enslavement to sin, setting him free to live his life on a higher plane.

Paul emphasizes the blessings of redemption but also the blessing of:

2. Forgiveness.

In verse seven Paul calls our attention to the blessing of forgiveness. "In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins."

"If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator. If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist. If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist. But since our greatest need was forgiveness, God sent us a Savior."

Forgiveness is one of the blessings of redemption.

At last the last supper Jesus said, "This is my blood... which was shed for the forgiveness of sins..." Forgiveness absolves us from the punishment of sin which we deserve. Every one of our sins can be covered by the death of Christ.

1 John 1:9 declares that "If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us..." God has promised that He will "forgive our iniquity and remember our sin no more." In Christ we can be delivered from the guilt of our past. It means that he does not exact payment for sins committed. Our responsibility for it ceases. The guilt of it is no longer ours.

But thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back. Isaiah 38:17

Matthew Henry’s commentary said: "When God pardons sin he casts it behind his back, as not designing to look upon it with an eye of justice and jealousy. He remembers it no more. The pardon does not make the sin not to have been, but not to be punished as it deserves. When we cast our sins behind our back, and take no care to repent of them, God sets them before his face, and is ready to reckon for them; but when we set them before our face in true repentance, as David did when His sin was ever before Him. God casts them behind his back."

He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:9-12

The last thought this morning is the blessing of...

3. Grace

Redemption and forgiveness, Paul says, are "in accordance with the riches of God's grace that He lavished upon us..." (Ephesians 1:7-8, NIV)

These "riches of His grace" are all the wonderful things that He gives to us and does for us. Things that we, as sinners, don’t deserve. God’s grace is His unmerited favor. He gives us what we, as sinners, could never earn. The Greek word that Paul uses for grace is a word that was used when someone was ushered into the presence of royalty. Through God’s grace in Christ the door has been opened for us to enter into the presence of God, finding forgiveness and fellowship in spite of our sinful pasts. When that door was opened we found grace, not ridicule or rejection but sheer, unmerited grace. When we come to Christ with a sense of need and a spirit of repentance, God redeems us and pours out His grace upon us. He blesses us in countless life-changing ways. Grace is the result of redemption and it is demonstrated to sinner through God’s blessings.

He blesses us by saving us from the just penalty of our sins. He blesses us by giving us victory over the power of sin in our daily living. He blesses us by providing for us in countless and often miraculous ways.

From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. John 1:16

The blessings of God’s grace were especially evident in the life of one young man. He was raised in a Christian home for several years until his parents died. Orphaned and living with relatives he was mistreated, abused, and ridiculed. Unable to bear the abuse he, though still a boy, fled and joined the Royal Navy.

From there his life went downhill as he became a drunkard and a brawler. Deserting the Royal Navy he joined up with a slave trader. His life continued to disintegrate and spiral out of control.

One day he stole the ships whiskey and got so drunk that he fell overboard. He was so close to drowning that one of his shipmates literally harpooned him and brought him back on board. Consequently he had a huge scar in his side for the rest of his life.

Finally, one day during a storm he began to reflect upon some Bible verses his parents had taught him before they died. He reached out to Jesus and his life was redeemed; he was forgiven.

But God’s grace didn’t end with his salvation. This, wandering, brawling man drastically changed as he experienced victory over the power of sin. He became, as scripture says, "a new creation in Christ." This young man was none other than John Newton who wrote that wonderful old song that we often sing and love "Amazing Grace."

I want us to do something that I have never asked before . I want us to sing two verses from two songs in closing: Amazing Grace and Redeemed. I want us to really think about what we are singing. If you are in the bondage of sin, I want you to know that you can be delivered! We still have a redeemer! Amen.

Amazing grace! how sweet the sound!
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!

Redeemed--how I love to proclaim it!
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb!
Redeemed thro' His infinite mercy,
His child, and forever, I am.
Redeemed, redeemed,
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed, redeemed,
His child, and forever, I am.

Redeemed and so happy in Jesus,
No language my rapture can tell!
I know that the light of his presence
With me doth continually dwell.
Redeemed, redeemed,
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed, redeemed,
His child, and forever, I am.


Dori said...

Good message today Daddy. I just don't know how you do it sunday after sunday! I love you and like the music.

Hope said...

That was a wonderful message. I come here most every day from Karla's blog and I always enjoy it. I thought I'd come out of hiding and tell you how much I appreciate what you do here. The Lord has given you great insight.

Thank you,