Tag Archives: redemption

Lent Day #37 | Redemption

We have interacted with the idea of redemption at various times during this series of reflections (here, here, here, and here). Today, as we draw closer to Easter morning we will take some time to explore what it means that God has redeemed us.

Redemption is a financial term. Many of us have used coupons before. We go to a store with the coupon and when we redeem it we get what it offers at the time of check-out. The reality of this transaction is included in our salvation. When Jesus came to earth, his mission was to redeem that which was lost. In what way was it lost? It was lost to sin and sinfulness. No man or woman who has ever lived can rise up to God. Our blood has been tainted by the sin of Adam and Eve. When they disobeyed God and decided to do their own thing, they damned their ancestors to a life of struggle, strife and strain.

Redeemed by the Blood of Jesus

I want to correct a common misconception here. There are some who believe (and teach) that Jesus redeemed us from the devil. The idea being the enemy of God was holding us captive. This does not make any sense because he too is captive. The devil must still submit to the will of God, even though God is waiting to pronounce his final judgment! So, if we were not redeemed from the devil, who are we in debt too? We are in debt to ourselves. The reason we are stuck in our predicament is because we keep making withdrawals from the account and have been overdrawn for millennia. The debt of sin is the belief we can live independent of God. This however is not the case. If it were not for God we would have nothing. Paul, said it this way,

24 “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for, ‘In him we live and move and have our being’.” (Acts 17:24-28a, ESV)

If it is true that “in Him we live,” then we need someone to redeem our debt and make a deposit into our account of unrighteousness. The only one who could do that was Jesus. When we came into this world, he lived the life we could not live; he died the death we deserved; was raised to life from the grave so we could stand before God forgiven–not perfect. We will never be perfect, but we are being perfected.

Redemption is what Jesus has done to remove the burden of our sin debt. He was submitted the coupon of his blood for the balance of sin in the world. The hymn writer was correct when they said

        What can wash away my sin?
        Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
        What can make me whole again?
        Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

                Refrain

                Oh! precious is the flow
                That makes me white as snow;
                No other fount I know,
                Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

        For my pardon, this I see,
        Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
        For my cleansing this my plea,
        Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

        Refrain

        Nothing can for sin atone,
        Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
        Naught of good that I have done,
        Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

        Refrain

        This is all my hope and peace,
        Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
        This is all my righteousness,
        Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
        (Source)

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Lent Day #21 | Security

One of the many theological debates that bears its head from time to time has to do with our security in Christ. Many millions of words have been penned in the last two thousand years on the subject, so a couple hundred more will not hurt anything. If anything, I hope to bring some Gospel clarity to this important issue.

When we talk about security we have to determine two elements of the issue. First, we have to ask ourselves who is doing the securing? And second, we have to ask ourselves, how capable is this individual in accomplishing the job? If we can answer this question then we have gain significant ground in the conversation. This idea and topic is important because how we answer it will determine how we view and approach God. Our perception of God should be of utmost importance because we draw our identity from what we believe about God.

So, let’s look at the first question: Who is doing the securing? There are essentially two positions here. Either I am doing the securing or God is. If I am doing the securing, then there will always be the risk that I may falter in my task. Maybe I get distracted or am attached and weakened. Personally, this idea does not sit well with me because I know my failures are not a possibility, but an eventuality. Therefore, this option is wrought with peril. The testimony of the scripture provides us with a reason for hope. Peter, in his first letter, writes the following words.

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. [1 Peter 1:3-5, emphasis added]

The beauty of our faith is that God has taken full responsibility and ownership of our redemption. He has not left anything up to chance. This is a wonderful promise. The fact that we will fail and falter does not negate God’s ability in keep what he has purchased through the costly sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. We are secure not because of any virtue in us, but because of the power and virtue of the Creator of all things.

listening-to-gods-voice

But, what about the second question? How capable is God in keeping us secure? Jesus answers this question for us when he tells the Jews who had gathered around him.

27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” [John 10:27-30, emphasis added]

Now, I don’t know about you, but there is a confidence in Jesus’ words that speak volumes to his capability to keep that which he see as his. The question that we must ask ourselves is this: Whose voice are we listening to? The answer to this question will determine the confidence we can have in Jesus’ power to save us and keep us secure.

The Lion of Judah Forgives Sinners

The Wrong Person in the Right Place

In Luke 7 Jesus is sitting and having dinner when an uninvited guest shows up and causes a stir. A woman of ill-repute shows up and begins to wash Jesus’ feet with her tears and anoint them with an expensive perfume. It is one of those moments in Jesus’ life where I wish I was a fly on the wall. There is no way of knowing the murmurings that took place as she made her way to Jesus. The looks of shock, disgust and disdain from the host were plain to see. But, Jesus had a different look.

In this moment we get a glimpse of what it was like for a sinner to have the king of kings extend forgiveness.

One of my favorite descriptions of Jesus is the Lion of the tribe of Judah. There is something ominous in that superlative. The vision of this ferocious beast, capable of destroying anything or anyone that gets in its way is awe inspiring. Movies like The Lion King and Aslan, from the Chronicles of Narnia serve as examples of the power of this animal. At the same time both of these examples demonstrate the tenderness of the king of beasts. There is a majestic quality to lions.

This is the irony of this moment. The Lion of Judah does not lash out at the sinner. Rather, Jesus allows her to do what she had set her mind and heart to do. He does not interfere, but rather illustrates to his host the reality of what is taking place. Worship and forgiveness; salvation and redemption; grace and justice; reconciliation and healing are all happening at the same time.

Only the chief of sinners can experience the king of kings. I think that is why Paul the apostle saw such powerful demonstrations of the Spirit in his ministry. He recognized that he was like this woman. He was like the great hymn describes, a wretch.

Jesus own words reveal what he saw.

44 Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” (Luke 7:47, ESV)

How much do you need to be forgiven for?

That is an interesting question. Have you ever considered that the connection between your love of and for Jesus is directly tied to how much you feel you need to be forgiven? The more we can feel the depth of our sin, the greater our love for the one who forgives. We are not supposed to wallow in our sin or beat ourselves up for our sin. What Jesus is reminding us of here is that the reality and weight of our sin should bring to our minds the reality and wonder of our salvation in Jesus.

The Sin of False Piety

The danger that was demonstrated by Simon, Jesus’ host, is that he actually thought that he was in the right by condemning this woman AND Jesus. Simon even questions Jesus genuineness by asking himself if Jesus is a prophet at all (Luke 7:39).

This is one of the more obvious examples of someone assuming that they understand God’s plan. This is a dangerous place to be. We are in no position to question God’s abilities or intentions. Simon should have known better. But, that would assume that he saw himself as this woman did. To know God is to humble yourself before him. To grow in grace and experience life altering forgiveness is to accept what we really are–sinners deserving of hell. Only then, when we have come face to face with ourselves, will we be able to accept who God wants to make us.

Jesus did not die to adopt spoiled children into the family of God. Jesus died to save children without a home, a family, or a name. We are sons and daughters of God because God brought us in, not because we deserved it. We do not deserve to be a part of the family of God. We never have. But, thanks be to God who is rich in mercy and abounding in grace toward us. I am so thankful that the Lion of Judah forgives because there is another lion, not as powerful, but just as dangerous who is seeking as well (1 Peter 5:8). And his intentions are not as noble.

Faith is… Receiving the Righteousness of God | “Faith is…” Series, Pt. 13

For our sake [God] made [Jesus] to be sin [even though Jesus] knew no sin, so that in [Jesus] we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21, ESV)

I will say this from the word go. If you can wrap your mind around this you will be well on your way to living a life that is pleasing to the Lord. If, however, you are like me, then you may struggle to make sense of how it could be possible for us to receive the righteousness of God in Christ.

This is possibly one of the most loving and compassionate verses of scripture in the Bible. It reveals the motivation in God’s heart toward us. Paul is telling us that as we go out into the world as ambassadors for Jesus what we are telling the world is that God has done something so awesome, so mind blowing that if we really thought about it we would break out into spontaneous praise! There are several key points of interest in this ONE verse that I want to highlight. I will break it down so that we can appreciate what Paul is saying.

1. Why?: “For our sake…”

Paul is saying that the reason that God has acted in the way that he did; the reason that we are the beneficiaries of God’s unmerited favor is because God was thinking about us from the beginning. This does not make us the center of God’s affections. What this describes is that the reason for Jesus dying was because God knew, understood and accepted the fact that without Jesus death there would be no life for anyone.

It was for OUR sakes that Jesus came.

It was for OUR sakes that Jesus lived.

It was for OUR sakes that Jesus died.

It was for OUR sakes that Jesus was raised again on the third day.

This is the why of Jesus entire life and ministry on earth. It was for our sakes! This cannot be understated, overstated, minimized or made too important. What Jesus did is beyond comparison. What Jesus accomplished can never be duplicated. What Jesus did can never be undone.

2. Who?: “God made…”

There is nothing in salvation that can be attributed to my efforts as a sinner. There is nothing that I can contribute to the process or the event. Salvation is such a gift from God that God did not and does not see fit to entrust me with any aspect of it. He knows that if I were to lay my hands on salvation I would so damage it that it would become useless. Not sure about this? Look at what Peter has to say on the subject. (What a wonderful passage of promise!)

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5, ESV, emphasis added)

The wonder of God’s love is that he secures the grace and salvation that he provides. He is unwilling that anyone should lose what he has carefully provided through the death of his Son. God does not even trust me to maintain it. God does that himself. This is grace through and through, from beginning to end.

3. How?: “made [Jesus] to be sin [even though Jesus] knew no sin…”

Right here, at this point we run into one of those theological puzzles. How is it that God has provided for us what we need more than anything else, his righteousness? The Scripture says that Jesus was made to be sin. The idea was that Jesus became sin. Not that Jesus committed a sin; not that Jesus sinned, but that somehow he became the very thing that I am, without actually being guilty of doing anything wrong.

I think you are beginning to see the difficulties here. How is this possible? There is a concept that we have to understand. It is described by a big word, but is can be understood rather easily. The concept is imputation. According to Theopedia “Imputation is used to designate any action or word or thing as reckoned to a person.” If you think of it this way it might help. I love to smear butter on a freshly baked dinner roll. The butter is not a part of the roll, but when I take the knife and I apply the butter, I imputed the butter to the bread.

This is the idea. Jesus did not change who he was, but something was added to him that was not his, in this case the sin of the whole world. This is why Paul says that God made Jesus to be sin, because if God had not, Jesus could not die as our substitute and redeem us from the very sin that was condemning us to hell. This is the miracle of Jesus’ life.

There is a great book by Peter Lewis, The Glory of Christ. In it he writes these amazing few sentences describing what was taking place when Jesus showed up on the scene as a human being, just like you and me.

“It comes to this: for our salvation it is as necessary that the Son of God be truly and fully human as that He be truly and fully divine. If this humanity is less than full and true, then he is inadequate as a mediator, incompetent as a sympathizer and disqualified as a redeemer. If (save for sin) He is not all that we are in our uttermost humanity, the He cannot perfectly represent us either in His life or in His death. If He does not descend to us from God, the He cannot lift us up to God.” (pg. 142)

The wonder and mystery of the incarnation is the linchpin that makes our redemption possible and sure. In the incarnation God paved the way to the cross. And at the cross Jesus became guilty of something he never did, your and my sin.

4. Where?: “so that in [Jesus]…”

As we move from the “Why” to the “Who” and pass through the “How” we arrive at the “where.” Where is it that God places us after Jesus has taken our place on the cross? This short clause packs a powerful punch in answering that for us. Listen to where God has put us. God has put us in him. But how can it do that? He can do that because that is what the plan was. Those two words, “so that,” right there are the arrows point to God’s design. But, what do those two words mean? What they mean is that

Based on what has been said before, what comes after IS GUARANTEED!

Do not miss that. Do not read this truth and just pass along as if something ordinary has happened!

This is the power of what is happening here in this verse. The reason that God is able to give to us what rightfully belongs to Jesus is because Jesus took from us what rightly belonged to us and made it his own. We are heading toward heaven because Jesus punched the ticket with a blood soaked nail. This is not a cheap fare. The Gospel moves us from the Glory of God to the Grace of God. The journey from glory to grace goes right through the terrible door of the Judgment of God that falls directly upon Jesus.

The second part of this clause is that all of this takes place “in Jesus.” And here is where true Christianity is separated from all other religions, philosophical systems and ideologies of the world. If a person does not come to Jesus, trust in Jesus, hold to Jesus and rely on Jesus all of the benefits of God’s righteousness will not be enjoyed. And what’s worse they will never be applied to the sinner’s account.

Salvation in Christ is conditional. All of salvation depends on our staying in Jesus and only Jesus.

5. What?: “we might become the righteousness of God.”

This is the great truth of the Gospel. The Gospel, I believe answers this question: What is the ultimate goal of God’s redemption plan? The Gospel preaches Christ crucified, buried and raised so that we may become sons and daughters of God. So that we might become heirs and joint heirs with Jesus. So that we might be transformed, conformed and renewed in every area of life. But, all of this presupposes that we are now something different. What we have become has changed. FOREVER!

God’s plan for salvation was not an afterthought. God knew what it was going to take to redeem a fallen human race. And Jesus willingly stepped down from his thrown at the right hand of God and stepped into the finite, fallen world of sinners. At the heart of this act of undefiled love is the understanding that without sacrifice the price of salvation would never have been paid. Without out Jesus’ death there is no imputed righteousness.

Conclusion

Faith in Christ, the kind of faith that sets a person free from sin, fear and all of the traps that lead to bondage can only come when we freely receive the righteousness of God. It is not something that can be won, earned or coerced. It must be enjoyed, plain and simple. To do otherwise is to jeopardize living into the full reality of God’s grace. Don’t make that mistake.

Receive what has been given. And, then do what you should be doing already, leave it all in God’s hands.