One day a friend and I walked to my parents home collecting soda bottles discarded alongside the road. It took us an hour to walk the three miles, but we collected two large bags each. We took them to a store where we got a nickle a bottle for them. That was the redemption value at the time.
When I hear the word redemption, I always think of those old, discarded bottles. I think how they are turned in for cash, sent back to the bottling factory, cleaned up, and come out like new. So here’s the first part of a chapter in a book by Dr. Harry Ironside, Great Words of the Gospel.[It’s in the public domain, so can be distributed freely.]
What is Redemption?
Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you. Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. (1 Peter 1:18-21)
The word “redemption” is one that runs all through the Bible; in fact, we can say without any suggestion of hyperbole that it is the great outstanding theme of Holy Scripture. This important truth runs through the Book like the proverbial red strand that, we are told, runs through the cordage of the British navy. Everywhere, from Genesis right on to Revelation, you find God in one way or another presenting to us the truth of redemption—redemption in promise and in type in the Old Testament; redemption in glorious fulfillment in the New Testament.
THE MEANING OF THE WORD
What do we mean when we use the term “redemption”? Ordinarily, and in Scripture too, the word means to buy back, to repurchase something that has been temporarily forfeited; or, it means to set free, to liberate, as we speak of redeeming one from slavery; or, it means to deliver, as to redeem one from some grave danger.
Back there in Israel in olden times, if a man fell into difficult circumstances, found himself burdened with debt, he might mortgage his entire property, and if that was not enough to satisfy the claims of his creditors, he could even mortgage his own strength, and ability, his own physical powers. He could sell himself into a kind of slavery until his debt was paid. Sometimes, he found himself hopelessly thus enslaved. Scripture says, however, “After that he is sold, he may be redeemed again.” One of his brethren may redeem him, or, if he is able, he may redeem himself. It would be almost impossible in most instances for anyone to redeem himself. Probably, the only way would be if he suddenly fell heir to some vast estate. But on the other hand, if he had a rich relative who cared enough for him to undertake to meet the liabilities and discharge them, he might thus be set free.
The one who did this was called a kinsman- redeemer, and he was a wonderful type of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Hebrew word is goel. He comes before us in Scripture long before the time of Israel. Even in the book of Job you read of him. It was the goel that Job spake when he said, “I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.”
Then one may, as I say, have forfeited his property. Well, some wealthy one could come and pay off the mortgage and thus redeem the property. We are used to such transactions today, and we attach that meaning to the word “redemption.”
Now, in thinking of man, we know he is a sinner, sold under judgment. It was his own fault. God says in His Word, “You have sold yourselves for naught; and ye shall be redeemed without money.” It is not possible for any man to redeem himself from the sad condition in which he finds himself because of sin, but that is why we need a kinsman-redeemer who is more than man, one who is divine as well as human.
REDEMPTION IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
When we turn to consider this subject of redemption in the New Testament, we find it presented in three different ways: first, redemption from judgment. That is redemption from the guilt of sin, which is through the atoning work of our Lord Jesus Christ. But that is not all. It is not only the will of God that we should be redeemed from the judgment due to sin, but Scripture also has a great deal to say about redemption from the power of sin, so that we might be redeemed from those evil habits and unholy ways which at one time held sway in our lives. This redemption is through the indwelling Christ, through the risen Christ working in the power of the Holy Spirit, who makes Christ real to His people down here.
And then Scripture speaks of a third aspect of redemption: the redemption of the body. I have been redeemed as far as my soul is concerned, if I am a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. I am daily being redeemed from sin’s power, if I am walking in subjection to the Holy Spirit’s guidance. But though I am thus redeemed in measure, I am made to realize every day that this very body of mine is often a hindrance instead of a help in regard to the my practical deliverance; but I am looking forward to the time when the body itself shall be redeemed and made like unto the glorious body of our Lord Jesus Christ. Then I shall be redeemed from the very presence of sin and from all the evidences of its corruption.
THE JEWISH FEAST OF PASSOVER
Here in the first Epistle of Peter, the apostle carries our minds back to a wonderful event that took place in the land of Egypt centuries before, that event which the Jewish people to this day celebrate annually in the Feast of the Passover. The Israelites were slaves in Egypt, suffering under Pharaoh’s cruelty, and God, you remember, said, “I am come down to deliver them,” and He told Moses of something that was to take place whereby, He says, “And I will put a division (or literally, a redemption) between my people and thy people (the Egyptians).” That redemption was made by the blood of the passover lamb; and it is to this that the apostle Peter is referring typically in his first Epistle when he says, “Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation (empty behavior) received by tradition from your fathers (ancestrally handed down); but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”
The blood of the lamb shed so long ago was God’s picture of the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ which was shed on Calvary’s cross fifteen hundred years later, but to which we now look through the mists of nearly two thousand years. How can that blood avail for our redemption today? The blood had to be sprinkled of old on the actual lintel and door posts and then they were safe inside. It is centuries since Christ has died. In what sense, then, can we be made secure from judgment through the blood that He shed so long ago?
FROM THE LINTEL AND DOOR POSTS TO THE HUMAN HEART
We read in the Epistle to the Hebrews of having our hearts sprinkled by the blood of Christ. How is that blood applied to our hearts? Through simple faith. In the Epistle to the Romans, chapter 3, after dwelling on the lost condition of all men by nature and practice, the apostle says in verse 23 and on, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”; and then adds:
Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. (Romans 3:23-26)
What is he telling us? That the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus is all-availing, that it is sufficient for all men everywhere, that it settled for the sins of all men in past ages, who looked on to the cross in faith, and it settles now for all in the present age and in all the years to come, who look back to that cross in faith—”through faith in his blood.”
In other words, when we trust the One who shed His blood at Calvary, then we are numbered amongst those who have redemption through the sacrifice that He offered, and that means that we are secure forever from the judgment due to sin, just as Israel, sheltered beneath the blood of the passover lamb, was secure from the judgment that was to fall upon Egypt, for God said, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” So today, we who put our trust in the Lord Jesus Christ are redeemed from the judgment that is hanging over this poor world—the judgment that sin deserves. And so we can enter into the meaning of that Scripture which says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.”
WHAT DOES YOUR SALVATION DEPEND UPON?
Some of you have only lately come to Christ; you have not known the Lord very long. Oh, I beg of you, do get this clear. Your salvation, your security from judgment does not depend on anything that you can be or do. It depends upon the work that the Lord Jesus did for you when He suffered in your place upon the tree, and you enter into the good of that redemption through faith in Him. When Satan comes to tempt you, when you discover things in your own heart that you did not realize were there, just meet him with this: the redemption that is in Christ Jesus has settled everything, has made me free, has given me deliverance from the judgment of a holy God.
The believer is said to be redeemed from the curse of the law. He was exposed to that curse because of sin. God has declared, “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” We have failed; we have broken God’s law; we are under that curse. But our Blessed Redeemer was made a curse for us, as it is written, “Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” Redemption guarantees our safety from judgment.
[Look for the remainder of the chapter tomorrow.]
Lord Bless, Keep, Shine. . .