Words of Life
4. Redemption: Free At Last!
Of all the names that the Bible gives and of all the names that believers give to Jesus Christ, none is more precious than the name Redeemer. There are other names we use more often, such as Lord and Saviour, and rightly so because those too are Bible terms, but no word touches the heart like the word redeemer. When we say Lord, we are recalling that Jesus Christ is the master over sin and death. When we say Saviour, we are recalling that he saved us from our sin. But when we say Redeemer, we remember what it cost him to save us. Redeemer is the name of Christ on the cross. When we say that word, the cross is before our eyes. We remember not only that he gave us salvation, but that he paid a mighty price for it.
This message will deal with redemption. I begin with the definition. To redeem means to set free by the payment of a price. It is a word that comes first from the marketplace. Second, it comes from the slave market. Third, it comes from the prison house. Justification sets the scene in the courtroom. Propitiation takes us back to the mercy seat in the tabernacle. Reconciliation brings us to the living room, where enemies become friends. Redemption takes us to the slave market where men and women who were slaves to sin are set free by the power of Jesus Christ.
In the ancient world men, women and children were routinely bought and sold. They were owned, traded, purchased, put to work. They could be handed down from one generation to another. You might be born into slavery or you might go into debt and legally fall into slavery. You might be captured by an army and taken as a slave as part of the booty, the victorious spoils of war. But if you became a slave in the days of the Bible, there were only 2 ways you could ever be freed from your slavery. In just a few rare cases, a condemned man might have enough money to pay a price and purchase his own freedom. That purchase price was called redemption. Far more often, it would be this—you were in slavery and somebody took pity upon you. They purchased you out of slavery. Then they, having purchased you, having paid the price, if they chose to, they could make you work for them as a slave or, in rare occasions, they could set you free. The purchase price for a slave was called the redemption money. To redeem means to see a slave, to pay the price, to take them off the market and then set them free. In redemption there is a divine exchange. One man pays the price so another man can go free.
There are 3 primary Greek words that are used in the NT for redemption. The first means to go into the marketplace and buy something. You see something you like and purchase it. Applied to redemption, it means to go in and purchase a slave who is on the auction block. The second word means to go into the slave market, to pay the price and to take somebody off the slave market and out of that area altogether. The third word means to set free or deliver somebody from captivity.
Put the 3 words together - means to purchase - to remove from the slave market - having been purchased and removed, you are now set free. All 3 words are used in the NT to describe what Jesus did on the cross.
Ephesians 1: 7 “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.”
Titus 2: 14 “Who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness.”
Galatians 3: 13 “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law.”
1 Peter 1: 18, 19 “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”
In the OT there is an illustration that may help us understand - book of Ruth. It is the illustration of the kinsman redeemer. In this time people fell into slavery either because they went into debt or somehow they lost all of their possessions, or as in the case of Naomi because her husband Elimelech and then her 2 sons died. Because all the male members of the family died, she lost all the houses and lands and all the possessions that she had. Her daughter-in-law, Ruth, was forced to go around into the fields. Naomi told Ruth to go find Boaz because he was their kinfolk. He was part of their family. He had the legal right to redeem them. He could purchase the right to take them out of poverty. He could bring them back into prosperity.
In the OT - 4 conditions that had to be met before a kinsman redeemer could pay the price -
1. He had to be a kinsman - part of the family. There had to be a blood relationship.
2. He had to be acceptable to all the parties involved.
3. He had to be able to pay the price, i.e. he couldn’t himself be in debt, because if he were in debt he couldn’t pay the price of redemption.
4. He had to be willing.
Boaz took a liking to Ruth. Then he realized that he was kinsman to Ruth and to her family and he had the right of redemption. So Boaz says he would pay the price. Boaz and Ruth were married and Ruth came into the line that eventually came down to David and down to the Lord Jesus Christ. But it is a perfect example of Boaz who was kin, who was acceptable, who was able and who was willing to serve as a redeemer.
Even so our Lord Jesus Christ is our kinsman. “Though he was rich, for our sakes he became poor.” “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” He became one with us. The Lord of glory became our kinsman. Was he acceptable? Yes, because he is the God-man, acceptable to God and also to man. Was he able? Yes, because he was totally without sin. Was he willing? Just look at the cross and you have your answer. So the Lord Jesus Christ perfectly fulfilled the OT illustration and became our kinsman redeemer. He paid the price.
There are 3 biblical facts you must understand to know what redemption is all about.
1. We are all by nature slaves to sin.
“For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” By nature we are all slaves to sin. That may be an ugly thought, but it is utterly biblical. Somebody may say, “Pastor, I don’t think I’m a slave to sin.” All I will say is that you don’t know yourself very well. If you knew yourself, you would know that is how you came into this world. Let me ask a question to the parents who have children at home. When did you start teaching your child to do wrong? How long did you wait until you started teaching them to sin and disobey and break your rules? You didn’t! They do wrong by nature. Little children are born knowing how to do wrong.
It is exactly the same in the spiritual realm. As we come into this world, by nature we come in sinful and wicked. We are all by nature slaves to sin. Sin, then, is a chain around your neck. It weighs you down; it holds you back. Sin enslaves you and me, leaving all of us helpless and hopeless unless somebody reaches down to help us.
2. Jesus paid the price to free us with his own blood.
Redemption must be by blood. God never meant that the natural man would be pleased by that. There are people who come into evangelical churches and hear us singing about the blood of the lamb and are repulsed by that. I can understand that in one way, because blood itself is not that pretty. It is not wonderful. Blood makes a lot of people squeamish. That thought of the blood of Jesus Christ is quite appalling, but if you take away the blood of Jesus Christ, you destroy the Christian faith.
How much money would it take for you to pay for even one sin? I am thinking about the sins of your life, the sins you have committed since you got up this morning. Suppose you paid R50, do you think you could pay for one sin with that amount? What about R500? Would that cover it? Would God accept R500 and take away one sin? How about R1000? What if you had all the billions of Bill Gates? What if you had all the oil money of all the sheiks in the Middle East? How many sins could you forgive with all of that money? The Bible says it is not by silver or gold, there is not enough money in all the world even to forgive one sin, let alone all the thousands of sins that we commit. You don’t have enough money. If you want to be accepted in heaven, you need the blood of Jesus Christ.
3. Redemption means that we are set free from sin.
No more guilt. No more dwelling in the past. No more shame or memories to haunt you. No more fear of hell. No more anger and despair. The debt of sin is cancelled, the chains are broken forever. The bonds that bind us and hold us back, and all of those dirty habits that we can’t seem to break, all of them gone forever. No more price on our heads, no more debt to be paid. This is the message our world desperately needs.
There are people around us who are trying so desperately to get right with God, to have their sins forgiven, by coming to church, by giving money or doing good deeds. There are others who are trapped in the chains of terrible sexual sin and since they cannot be set free, they have decided to redefine it as genetic or in-born or constitutional. Since they say they can’t change, they say God made them this way. Let me tell you, there is no sin, no matter how bad that it cannot be forgiven and wiped away, changed by the blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. That is the gospel truth. That is the hope of the Christian faith. For all these dear people who have deluded themselves into thinking God made them that way, no God didn’t make you that way. You were born with a spiritual tendency toward evil. The only way that will ever be broken is by coming to the cross of Jesus Christ and having your sins forgiven and being set free by Jesus Christ. That is what redemption is. It means you are now set free from sin.
So let me give you redemption applied in 4 quick points.
1. Because redemption is true, the price for sin has been fully paid. If you are born again, you are forgiven. You don’t have to pay anymore. When Jesus Christ cried out, “Tetalestai!” which we translate, “It is finished,” what it really means is paid in full.
2. Because redemption is true, you are no longer in bondage to the old way of life.
3. Because redemption is true, all human systems for finding approval, self-worth and forgiveness are empty, useless and ultimately self-defeating. In this world there are a lot of ways to gain approval. You can look good, act good, have money, go to the right schools and hang around with the right people. You can dress in a certain way and talk in a certain way, and you can think by doing that you are going to be accepted. But let me tell you, all of those means of approval and self-worth and forgiveness are useless because they do not deal with the basic problem which is the problem of the heart, which is the problem of sin, which can only be dealt with through the blood of Jesus Christ.
4. Since redemption is a work of God, it results in freedom which is 3 things—absolute, complete and eternal. What it means is you are absolutely free, you are completely free and you are eternally free.
I close by giving you 3 implications of this great truth for all of us.
1. We are exceedingly valuable to God.
This is not because of what we are but because of what it cost Jesus to purchase us. In us, in our hearts and flesh, dwells no good thing. It is not as if God looked down and said, “Well, these people are worth so much, I have to go down and save them.” No, we all deserve punishment and hell.
Think what we must be worth to God. Think what it cost him to purchase our salvation. It cost him the blood of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
2. Our position could not be improved.
We are set free from sin. We have redemption right now. We stand before God as his sons and daughters. We are forgiven, seated with Jesus Christ in heaven. We are sealed with the Holy Spirit of God. We are OK! We are in a good position, it couldn’t possibly be better. That is the result of redemption and the grace of God.
Therefore, let him who boasts, boast in the Lord. Not in yourself, not in your good deeds. My brother, my sister, you were cowering down in the lowest part of the dungeon, chained hand and foot, in the blackness of eternal darkness. You hadn’t seen the sunlight since the day you were born. But one day Jesus came in and light flooded in. He had the key, he unlocked the chains, opened the door and let you out.
3. Redemption is a gift of God with no strings attached.
It is a free gift. You don’t have to be good to be redeemed. You know why? Because good people don’t need to be redeemed. Only bad people need to be redeemed. Only people in prison need to be set free. Only slaves need to be liberated. You don’t even have to try hard. You don’t have to do anything but accept the pardon that he offers, because that is what redemption is. It is not a parole, it is a pardon. He is not putting you out on conditional behavior, it is a complete pardon of all your sin. All you have to do is accept it. But you do have to accept it.
If you do go to hell, don’t blame God. Don’t tell him you never knew, because now you do. If you don’t accept the pardon God offers you, then you will have to live with the results of your own decision. Jesus Christ has paid it all, but he will not force his way into your heart. The Bible says he stands at the door and knocks, but our Lord Jesus is a perfect gentleman. He needs to be invited in. And now, in the name of Jesus Christ, I tell you the price has been paid in full. You don’t have to go to hell unless that is where you really want to go. But if you don’t do anything, that is where you are going to go.
The pardon has been offered. Now you have to reach out your hand and say you want it. How do you do that? I will lead you in a prayer right now. Pray this in your heart. “Dear Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner. I know I cannot save myself. Lord Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross for me. Thank you for paying the price for all my sin. Come into my heart, Lord Jesus, and be my Savior. I open my heart and my life to you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.” It is as simple and as difficult as that. Did you pray that prayer? If you did, you need to tell somebody about it.
Now, brothers and sisters, go forth and walk as free men. Walk as free women. Walk in freedom. Jesus Christ has set you free. And if the Son has set you free, you are free indeed.