Presented at Trinity Fellowhip on 10/26/97
" . . .In whom [Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace."
The great theme of the book of Ephesians is God's eternal purpose to bring glory to himself and fulfillment to his creation by manifesting the riches of his grace in the Church through its Head and Redeemer, his Son Jesus Christ. Paul begins to develop that theme by surveying the work of the three Persons of the Trinity in the constitution of the Church, in what is often called "the great blessing," the single sentence in Greek that runs from v. 3-14. In brief, the Father conceives this work (as we have seen already, v. 3-6), the Son accomplishes it (v. 7-12), and the Holy Spirit applies it to the Believer (v. 13-14). Today we begin to study the work of the Son, and it brings us immediately to an affirmation which is the heart and soul of the Christian proclamation: " . . .In whom [Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace."
What is redemption? It is a deliverance effected by the payment of a price. Going to a pawn shop to buy back, or "redeem," what you have left there is a good example. When applied to salvation it involves the one redeemed (the sinner); the condition from which he needs to be redeemed (sin); the Redeemer (Christ); and the price paid (his blood).
Why do we need to be redeemed? For at least three reasons, which are really three ways of saying the same thing. First, because we are guilty of sin. This is implied by the use of the word "forgiveness." I need not rehearse here the biblical case from Romans for the universality of sin. It is enough if you simply look honestly in your own heart. You know that you have broken God's law, and that you do not give him the glory or the place in your life that he deserves. Second, because we are subject to the penalty of sin (Rom. 6:23). For the wages of sin is death, and God, being just, must see that they are paid. Third, we are subject to the consequences of sin: loss of fellowship with God, loss of the uprightness and integrity of our own nature, consequently the bondage of corruption--death, sorrow, frustration, futility. In summary, because we are in bondage to sin and are thus the slaves of Satan. From all this we need deliverance.
Why is the ransom price necessary for us to be delivered? Because before we can acheive the high and noble destiny the Father has planned for us our sin must be dealt with, both in terms of its penalty and its consequences. The Bible describes this transaction as redemption here, and as a ransom in Mark 10:45. Man owes God a debt considered as his Judge. He is utterly unable to discharge it. God in his Justice cannot simply remit it. So God in his mercy and grace pays it for us. Since the wages of sin is death, the payment must be a life--a sinless life and one of infinite value so it could pay for all the sins of the race. That ransom was paid to the Father by the Son on our behalf. And the result is deliverance for all who believe! Immediate deliverance from the penalty of sin in justification, increasing deliverance from the power of sin in sanctification, eventually deliverance even from the presence of sin in glorification: all this was purchased for us by Christ. Therefore, when we believe, the dupes of the devil become the disciples of Christ; the chattel of Satan become the children of God; the denizens of darkness become lovers of light; and slaves of sin become sons of God. For in Christ we have "redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace."
What was the ransom price paid for us? The blood of Christ. For the wages of sin is death, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness (Lev. 17:11, Heb. 9:22). Oh, what a price! Consider then what an evil thing sin is. It is not some petty tyrant, vengeful and spiteful, that we have offended, but God in his infinite righteousness, justice, and goodness who will not be satisfied by any expiation less than the death of the sinner. And consider what a wonderful thing the love of God is. While we were yet sinners, deserving nothing from him but judgment, he gave for our redemption the infinitely precious blood of his only Son. And consider what an inestimably marvelous thing our redemption is. It sets us free from the tyranny of guilt. For the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin, and God declares us innocent with respect to the demands of the law so that there is now no condemnation to them who are in Christ. It sets us free from the fear of death. For the death of Christ and his resurrection have removed its sting, and it now becomes the door, not to judgment, but to the unmediated presence of God. It sets us free from the bondage of sin itself. For though we may still fall, we now for the first time have the potential to stand against the wiles of the Devil through faith in Christ. And it sets us free from the fear of rejection. For the God who paid such a price for your redemption will certainly protect his investment: he will never, ever leave you or forsake you. He will never let you go.
Brothers and sisters, we must learn to weigh our redemption in thelight of the price that was paid for it. Once you really see that in God's beloved Son Jesus Christ we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, certain inevtiable consequences follow. If God ever truly opens your eyes to see this, you will never again be content to be an unbeliever, but will embrace Christ as your Lord and Savior. Shall such a redemption as this be offered to us and we pass it by? Unthinkable. Once you really grasp the price that was paid for our redemption and its implications, you will never again be content to continue in sin, or even to wallow in the lingering guilt feelings which are the emotional residue of past sin. Shall the full pardon, deliverance, the liberation purchased so dearly be given up again so cheaply? God forbid! You will never again be content to be a haphazard and inconsistent student of Scripture. When you have really tasted such love, you will not rest content until you have seen all of it; you will want to know everything about this redemption that can be learned. You will never again be content to be a closet Christian. Shall the redemption purchased at such a great price be kept to ourselves? May it never be! And you will never again be content to be a lukewarm believer. Shall we return half-hearted praise, apathetic service, and listless devotion to one who redeemed us at such a price to himself? It is inconceivable.
Isaac Watts understood well the implications of our redemption and its unimaginable price:
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast
Save in the death of Christ my God.
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood.
Were the whole realm of Nature mine,
That were a present far too small.
Love so amazing, so divine
Demands my soul, my life, my all!
For in Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses according to the riches of his grace.
Here endeth the lesson.
Dr. Donald T. Williams