The following was adapted from a sermon delivered by Jacob Abshire on April 4, 2013. It was preached at Christian Tabernacle’s The Journey, a Wednesday Night Bible Study. It was part of a series called Big Words which was based on the foundation teachings about God’s plan.
We started off our series by focusing on the power and trustworthiness of God’s word. Of course, God’s word, or the Bible, is a book about God—not you and me. It is about God and it tells His story. So we spent a few weeks focusing our attention on the power and trustworthiness of God’s nature. A holy, powerful word comes from a holy, powerful God and the Bible is all about Him.
This portion of Big Words could not have come at a better time in the year. Last week was Passion week and so we celebrated Easter which is a holiday set aside for us to meditate and remember God’s work here on earth when He came to die on the cross, be buried and be raised again as Victor of sin and death. And so, the Bible is about God and it is primarily about the work that God has done on our behalf and the way that He has done it and revealed it to us throughout history, so we call it His story. In a more grandiose way, God created all things in order to redeem some from it. Redemption, then, is God’s story of why He created all things. It is God’s plan. Some have referred to the Bible as God’s story of redemption. Listen to Ephesians 1:7-10 as I read it.
“In him,” that’s Jesus, “we have redemption,” that’s our subject, “through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will,” Remember, we talked about God’s sovereign will last time, “according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ.” Remember, all things created are in Him and are for Him and God’s plan is revealed and culminated in Jesus Christ, “as a plan for the fullness of time.” This is the meaning of all history, all of His story, “to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” Everything is for His glory and happens as He plans and His plan is one of salvation and is summarized as a plan of redemption. This is where we will dwell over the next 4 weeks in our series. You got that. It would be a great time to bring a friend who is lost. We will be hitting you over and over with the aspects of the gospel message. Alright?
Well, tonight, our focus is on the summary of God’s work. Take the summary of God’s word and the expressive summary of God’s nature and how it relates to mankind. It is the word, Redemption.
The word in itself is not a difficult word to understand, at least at its basic, everyday meaning. It is a word of transaction. Every time you pay for your groceries at the market, you are redeeming your groceries. It means in the simplest terms, “to purchase” or “to gain possession” of something. Those groceries are not legally your possession until you pay the owner of those groceries what he or she demands. So redemption is the act by which you gain possession of something by paying for it. You pay for it, and the ownership of that object is transferred.
The Boy and His Boat
Now, to help us see this through the lenses of Scripture, to sort of get a biblical perspective of the meaning of redemption, you can think of it in light of the old children’s story about the boy who had a sailboat. The story says that he made the sailboat with his own hands, his own tools and materials. And then he set the sailboat in the stream. A gush of wind swooped down into the stream and carried this small boat downward and beyond the boy’s grasp until it eventually was out of sight. His sailboat was then lost.
One afternoon when this young boy was in town, he saw his very own sailboat in the window seal of a store. It was for sale. He rushed in to speak with the manager and respectively informed him that the boat was his. He made it and lost it in the stream. The manager was not budging. He told the boy that if he wanted it back, he had to buy it. The boy wanted his boat so badly that he ran home and broke open his piggy bank and returned to the store with just enough money to pay for that sailboat. And exchanged all that he had for this boat and it was his, again. He said to this boat, “You are twice mine.”
This is precious story and it serves as a great illustration for the precious story of redemption. Redemption, if you wanted to reduce it to a short definition, is a divine transaction. What I want you see tonight about redemption is that it is a spiritual transaction by which someone is purchased with a price by someone else. In any transaction there is a product, a possessor, a price, and a purchaser. And that is the course I want to take you through tonight: the product, the possessor, the price, and the purchaser.
The Product in Divine Redemption
Let’s talk first about the product. A product is a manufactured substance. It is made or refined for sale. And, in the biblical perspective, we are the product. The product is you. It’s me. It’s us. We are the product and we are the valued prize. Okay?
One of the first jobs that I had was working for a local grocery store. It was my privilege to put items on the shelves and carry the sacks out to the cars for the old ladies with the deep pockets. I mean, that is where we made our money. When it wasn’t busy, I would spend my time straightening up the shelves and particularly helping with the vegetable and fruit aisle. Grocery stores would go to great lengths to prove that they had fresh fruit. Often we would have to gently spray the fruit with water and turn and rotate fruit so that it was always looked fresh. But no matter how hard we tried, there were always some fruit or vegetables that turned rotten, and they were often thrown in the trash.
I say that because when we think about the product in divine redemption, we are not talking about the shiny apples or the luscious, green lettuce. We are talking about the rotten stuff. You know the fruit that has taken residence on the shelf for so long that you can’t even recognize it to be the fruit that it is. It was suppose to be thrown away long ago, but it is still there, old, moldy and sour. When you think of yourself as the product, the manufactured product, that is what I want you to think about. You see, manufactured products are made well. They are ripe and tasty when they are made, but after some time of sitting on the shelf, they turn into something ugly.
Join me in Genesis 2. This is where the product begins and it will put us on the course of our ugliness. Let’s start with verse 26. This is the story of God’s creation. It is the sixth day:
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
So what we see here is the God made man. To keep up with our illustration, God manufactured man. And He made man. Now, if God makes something it is good. Right? This is particular true when God made man because it says that He “created man in his own image.” So man is exceptionally good. In fact, at the end of the day, God looks at man and says, verse 31, “it was very good.” Man, that is male and female, were created and were good.
Now you know how the story goes, God goes to the male, his name is Adam, and lays down the rules. He says that you can eat from all the trees here, but not the one called the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Here is how it goes—chapter 2, verse 15:
The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
Now that wasn’t a threat, but a warning. If you ate form this particular tree you were setting yourself against the one who made you. And you will not be left standing. Now it is important to see that God made the man first. After that, he told the man what the agreement was going to be. Adam had to agree. You see, he had nothing to bargain with. It was God’s way or the highway and Adam had nowhere to go. So the agreement was made with Adam and then God brought Eve into the picture.
Let’s skip to chapter 3. One day, Adam and Eve were about their daily routines, happily enjoying God’s creation, breathing His air, embracing His sunlight, walking on His land and a serpent approaches Eve and speaks to her. Now this didn’t alarm her for some reason because she carries on a conversation with the serpent. Meanwhile, Adam is standing by as all this transpires. Let’s see what happened:
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked.
Adam and Eve sinned against God and saw themselves as unclean, rotten goods. They were naked, laid bare and they needed to hide themselves because of their guilt and shame. Verse 8 says that they heard the sound of God walking in the garden and they hid from Him. But you and I know that there is no hiding from God who is everywhere.
God confronts Adam since it was with Adam that God made His agreement. Eve was indeed held responsible for her actions, but Adam was held responsible for his actions and hers and more. You see, God held Adam responsible for all people who would come from Adam. It is sort of like a foreign president. He might make a decision that causes America to take him to war and all of the people in his country will suffer. Adam was the representative of mankind. And so when he decided to disobey God’s command, he threw us all into the heap with him.
God says to him, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife,” and not the Lord’s, “and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life,” and so on. The world was then cursed, lost to sin, ever since.
Paul says it this way in Romans 5:12, “sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, so death spread to all men because all sinned.” So through one man, we all are lost just like the little boy’s sailboat—lost down the stream of sin.
You might remember that the sinning gets worse and worse. Adam’s son kills his other son. By the time of Noah the entire world is evil and God wipes them out with the Flood. And history goes on to tell the tale of the product of redemption. We are descendents of Adam, lost in sin, born as children of wrath, as Ephesians 2:3 says. We are like the fruit on the grocery shelf that has sat for years and gone sour and terribly rotten. We are of no use to the consumer and so we sit on the shelf.
That is us. That is you and me. Paul says that “all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.” You see that is what sin is, it is anything that diminishes God’s glory. Anything we say, think, do, that says to God, “I value this more than you.” That sin and we are lost in it. We are the products of divine redemption. We are manufactured goods turned rotten.
The Possessor in Divine Redemption
Next, I want to quickly look at the possessor of divine redemption. The possessor is the one who owns the product. Now you might say that it is God who possesses us and that would be true in the actual sense. But this “redemption” is a metaphorical word when it is applied to the work of God. God is certainly the owner of all things since He made all things but the possessor in divine redemption is not to be understood as God, but sin.
Jesus said in John 8:34, “everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.” Did you hear that? A slave to sin. Paul said in Romans 7:14 that “the law of God is spiritual, but we are sold under sin.” You see, not only is the term redemption a transactional term, it was a term used in the marketplace—particular in the slave market. Slaves were purchased by masters who would then own or possess them like property. And this is why Jesus says that man is a “slave to sin.” Sin is the master. Sin is the possessor of man.
Slaves did only what their masters told them to do. And we were all born slaves to sin. All of us. Paul said that it doesn’t matter if you are Jew or Greek. In Romans 3:9, “For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin.” That is under the mastery of sin.
Now, if our possessor is sin, then our father is Satan. Right? Remember that Eve gave into sin because Satan deceived her. Jesus said it this way in John 8:44, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.” Satan led us into slavery and we happily followed him.
The Price in Divine Redemption
So we are the product, and sin is our possessor. Now, what is the price? If redemption is a divine transaction, then there is an exchange of something that has enough value to cover the cost of the product. Remember that Adam and Eve sinned and tried to cover their sin with leaves, but God came through and covered them with skins from animals. There was death involved and this was a sign of what God was going to do when He would come and once for all cover the sins as a payment.
So what was the price? Genesis 2:16, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it,” here it is, “you shall surely die.” The price was death. But not just any death. The death of man.
You see, it was man who sinned and brought the wages of sin, the cost of sin, into his debt. And so it had to be man who would die to pay the price. God said to Adam, “When you eat from the tree, you will die.” And that is the penalty of sin. Paul said that “the wages of sin is death.” But now watch this, in the same voice he adds, “But the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” This is the where we transition to the purchaser of divine redemption.
The Purchaser in Divine Redemption
So just to reiterate, the product is us, the possessor is sin, the price is death, and now the purchaser is Christ. Jesus said that He came “not to be served but to serve.” How? By giving “his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). He was the purchaser. The price was death and He paid it with his own life.
Now this is significant for a many reasons. First, we needed a man to pay the price for our sin since it was a man who waged the debt that hangs over our head. Second, we needed a perfect man to pay the price for our sin because our life is filled with sin and only the righteous will inherit eternal life. Third, we needed an eternally perfect man because we incurred an eternal debt. You see, when a sinner dies in his sin, he pays the price of death eternally in hell where God, who is eternal, pours out His eternal wrath. In matter of seconds, Jesus, who is eternally perfect, absorbs the wrath that would take an eternity to pour out you. Only Jesus could pay the price because Jesus was an eternally perfect man.
Ephesians 1:7 says, “in Christ, we have redemption through his blood.” Through his blood means by his death. We have redemption, literally a divine exchange of life for life, through the death of Christ. Titus 2:14 says that “Christ gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness,” that’s sin, “and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”
You know what this means to you? It means that you don’t have to be a slave to sin. Jesus paid your price, your ransom, your fee and redemption is here. Sin doesn’t have to be your possessor. Christ wants to redeem you from sin so that you will be his own possession.
It also means that it is possible for you and I to glorify God and not diminish his glory by what we do, think, or say. Romans 6:20 reads this way:
For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Listen, the application is this: Christ came to purchase you and if you put your trust in His work of redemption then you can be under Christ, instead of under sin. In Christ, you can have eternal life. In Christ, you can be free to glorify God. In Christ, you can know peace. In Christ, you can rest at night knowing that all of your sins were paid for. In Christ, you can love God. In Christ, you can say “no” to sin. In Christ, you can flee from the devil. In Christ, you can live triumphant. In Christ, you can be secure. In Christ, you can live forever. But, you must be in Christ.
The key application point is this: 1 Corinthians 6:20, “You were bought with a price. So glorify God.” This is redemption. As the old hymn goes, “Jesus paid it all. All to him I owe.”
Allow me to close with the words of modern poet. Very eloquent and concise. Listen as he writes a letter to all of mankind.
Dear descendants of Adam and Eve, we’ve been contaminated with a disease. The infiltration of sin is deep in our nature, peel back the layers. It’s no secret, even the naked eye can see it under careful examination, no exaggeration needed. These are exact statements, we are dead in our offenses. We can’t pay penance with petty possessions. No exceptions or exemptions will be made. Nothing independent of true repentance and redemption. Deserving the death sentence, we earned it by our own merits. Inherited from our parents, pride and arrogance. Endlessly in error is the best way to describe our rebellious lives as blind derelicts. On what basis should we escape judgement and condemnation? If we get graded on a curve who is worthy of God’s favor? If he is righteous and just — and the wages of sin is death, the only way for us to live is if someone perfect dies for us. How else can the spiritually lifeless rise from dust? From the worst to the least of sinners — the truth hurts but let it simmer until your soul surrenders control. The goal of faith is to believe that we need to be saved, and then rejoice knowing that our savior came! Died in our place, and his sinless life was raised from the grave. Our sin is death, Christ is life, either way all of us are slaves. One kills, one saves.