Redeemed: The Great Misunderstanding, or <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
What Many Christians Don't Know
It has been reported that only an estimated 15% or less of professing Christians know "most" of the Ten Commandments, and only about 5% of professing Christians know ALL ten in order. Is it any wonder that there has been a significant decline in the number of Christians in churches in this country and worldwide? The Ten Commandments, as given by God to Moses on Mt. Sinai, are recorded in the 20th chapter of Exodus and again in the 5th Chapter of Deuteronomy. The Ten Commandments from Exodus are as follows:
"And God spoke all these words, saying: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it. Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's." (Exodus 20: 1-17)
As Moses came toward the end of his life, he called all Israel together, and he re-published the Ten Commandments as follows:
"And Moses called all Israel, and said to them: 'Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your hearing today, that you may learn them and be careful to observe them. The Lord your God made a covenant with us in Horeb. The Lord did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, those who are here today, all of us who are alive. The Lord talked with you face to face on the mountain from the midst of the fire. I stood between the Lord and you at that time, to declare to you the word of the Lord; for you were afraid because of the fire, and you did not go up the mountain. He said: I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain. Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your ox, nor your donkey, nor any of your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day. Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife; and you shall not desire your neighbor's house, his field, his male servant, his female servant, his ox, his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's.'" (Deuteronomy 5: 1-22)
He expressed the great importance of God's Holy Law, saying: ". . . You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength." Further, Moses [God] commanded Israel to learn the commandments and hide them in their hearts. He told them to take specific care not to forget them. They [and we] were to teach them diligently to their children and talk of them when they sat in their house, "When you walk along the way, when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontlets before your eyes. You shall write them on the door posts of your houses and on your gates," I.e., remember My Law and don't forget.
God directed Moses to warn the people of the consequences of forgetting Him and the commandments, which were and are designed to bring the people to Him and to give them the pattern of how to live. It is the same today. God's Law is our school master, to bring us to Christ, and to show His people how a saved person is to live, and how to fulfill the righteousness of the Law.
I. The Importance Jesus placed on the Law
Jesus, quoting from Deuteronomy, said that the first and greatest commandment is to love God with all of your heart, and all your soul, and all your strength. The second Commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. He also said that He came not to "destroy the Law" but "to fulfill it."
Jesus also says that if one breaks even one of the Commandments, He has broken them all and clarifies that it is not merely that one hasn't murdered someone, it is whether one is angry with his brother without cause. It is not whether one has not actually committed adultery, but has one looked at a woman with lust in his heart. Sin is failing to obey God's Commandments. In fact, Jesus said that the person who has (knows) God's Commandments and keeps them, He it is that loves Him [Jesus]. The consequences of failure to keep the Commandments is sin, and the wages of sin is death. Death is the most serious of consequences. Notice that the first and greatest Commandment is to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Therefore, if one loves God with all one's mind, he would never have a wrong thought. If he loves God with all his strength, he would never do anything wrong. Therefore, failure to keep the first and greatest Commandment makes one a "great sinner."
The Bible does not say the wages of great sin is death, just "the wages of sin is death." More significantly, the Bible makes it clear that everyone has sinned. All have disobeyed God and done sinful things. The Bible also makes it clear that if one says that he/she hasn't sinned, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. In other words, if one says he has not sinned, he is a liar!
Therefore, the great significance of the Ten Commandments is to show us our sin. We have inherited sin as a result of the "Fall of Adam and Eve," and we are sinners by nature, but we are also sinners by choice. We do wrong things naturally! We are, by nature, children of wrath. God has "highly favored" us just as he "highly favored" Mary, by choosing her to bear the Son of God. He has made us "accepted in the Beloved."
Therefore, the Law, the Commandments, are given for us to keep. Perfectly! We cannot. The consequences of our failure is death. The solution to our sin is Christ, the Beloved! We receive Him by repentance (surrendering our will to God's will) and placing our trust, our faith in Jesus alone, in "The Beloved." We are redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus. What does it mean to be redeemed?
II. The Heart of the Gospel of Christ:
A. The Problem of Sin:
The great adversary of our souls, the enemy of God, the devil who accuses the brethren, tries to keep anyone from understanding this magnificent statement: "In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace." (Ephesians 1:7) "In whom" immediately refers us back to "The Lord Jesus Christ" in the 3rd verse of the 1st chapter of this great epistle and who is identified as "The Beloved" in the preceding verse 6.
This is a transition verse in this letter as Paul explains that God's great work of salvation is divided between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The focus at this point is the work of salvation carried out in and through the Son. The great obstacle to our ever being brought into God's ultimate objective for us, of sonship, making us holy, without blame, blemish, or spot in God's presence, is the obstacle of sin. Both by nature and by choice. Isaiah tells us that "God's arm is not shortened, that it cannot save, nor is His ear heavy that it cannot hear, but your sins have separated you from your god." (59:12). The single most fundamental need of man is his need of God. The greatest problem in the world today is mankind's need to know God, but our "sins have separated us from God." At every place in Scripture where the subject is redemption, the first matter to be dealt with is the forgiveness of sins.
B. The Great Problem for God
Today, we tend to think in terms of forgiveness as a very simple or easy matter. If someone wrongs us, we simply overlook it, we sometimes pretend that it just never happened. But the Bible tells us that the forgiveness of sins was so tremendous because God is not an "indulgent Father" who can say, "Come back child, all is well." The parable of the Prodigal Son has gotten a lot of un-Biblical treatment in recent years to portray that it presents the whole of the doctrine of salvation. But according to Dr. D. Martyn-Lloyd Jones, "That parable was meant to teach one thing only, namely, that God was ready to forgive publicans, and sinners, as well as Pharisees." Jesus makes it clear in the very context of the parable that He had to go to Jerusalem to "give His life a ransom for many." The forgiveness of sins constituted such a problem that "nothing but the blood of Jesus: could solve the problem. God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all." (I John 1:5) God is holy, and just, and righteous, and cannot contradict Himself, therefore, the only way to solve the problem of sin was only "by the blood of Christ." The Son of God had to leave the courts of Heaven, become a man, be tempted in ALL respects as we are, yet without sin, suffer the indignation, scoffing and humiliation, voluntarily give His life a ransom for many, be put to death, shed His precious blood, and take all of our sin on Him." "He who knew no sin became sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." God thus remains just (He has punished all our sin), and the Justifier of them who place their trust in Jesus and repent from their sins.
III. Only the Blood of Jesus
No one has ever made himself a Christian. We may hear many say, "I'm trying to be a Christian." We may hear one say, "I'm trying to become one," or "I hope so," or, "I'm working on it." Such statements are merely clear indications that the person does not understand the insurmountability of the problem.
No man can ever be a Christian until the great obstacle of our sin has been removed. Paul addresses the seriousness of the obstacle in the 2nd chapter of this great letter to the Ephesians, when he says:
1. You are dead in your trespasses and sins, and
2. You are, by nature, children of wrath.
Have you ever seen a corpse? One thing about a corpse is that the corpse does not see, hear, or respond. It cannot "come to the front," pray a prayer, or do anything. It is dead. It is also a child of wrath. Paul explains, "But God who is rich in mercy, because of His great love wherewith He loved us. . . has made us alive in Christ." God Himself makes us alive in Jesus! There is no salvation apart from the Lord Jesus Christ! We must be "in the Beloved." Our sin cost Jesus His death. He shed His blood to redeem us. We cannot solve the problem of sin only Jesus can. He is all sufficient for you and me. His blood redeems us. Even if we could keep the Commandments perfectly (we cannot), we could not atone for our own sin, much less or family's sin. We are sinners by nature! We are, by nature, "children of wrath." If God had not sent His only begotten Son into the world to live a perfect life and give His life to ransom many, to shed His blood for us, no flesh would or could be saved. No one would be redeemed!
A. Not in Part But in Whole
The Lord Jesus did not come to tell us what we need to do to be saved, He came to save us! The Son of Man came to "seek and to save that which was lost." The message is not that the Lord Jesus has come to proclaim God's readiness to forgive, but rather that the cross of Christ is God's only way of forgiveness. Paul tells us repeatedly that our sins are forgiven solely because of Jesus. He is our salvation!
Here in Ephesians we see "He is our peace, who has made twain one and has reconciled us" both to each other and to God Himself. He has done it! The Lord Jesus Christ Himself! In Paul's first epistle to the Church at Corinth, he puts it thus:
"But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption."
There it is "To be saved is to be in Christ;" not simply to believe His teaching, but to be in Him and to be a sharer in His life, in His death, in His burial, in His resurrection, in His ascension." 'In whom we have redemption through His blood.'" (Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones)[i] "Redemption means 'deliverance by the payment of a ransom.'" See also Matthew 20: 28; Romans 3: 10 and 19; I peter 1: 18; I John 1:7; Revelation 1:5.) All of these verses make it clear, repeatedly, that we are redeemed not merely by the death of Christ, the Messiah, but in particular by "the blood of Christ."
B. The Method of Redemption: The Blood of Jesus
Thus, we are saved in Christ, and by Christ alone; not by His teaching (although we should be diligent to study His Word to show ourselves, approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly diving the Word of Truth), but by what He has done, what He has accomplished, what He has finished, and by what God has done in Him and through Him. He has ransomed us. He has paid the price, which is nothing else except His precious blood! His death, His blood alone saves you. Go to the cross and stand there and look at Jesus and look at His bloodshed on that cross and receive Him through repentance and faith." Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all."[ii]
According to the Reverend Frank M. Barker, Jr., Pastor Emeritus at Birmingham's Briarwood Presbyterian Church (PCA), there is and has been a concerted attack on the concept of redemption by the precious blood of Jesus. As set out herein above, our old adversary, the devil, is working overtime to keep people from knowing the truth. This great doctrine, this great truth, is the heart of the Gospel. Barker, in a sermon in 1981 quoted a poem about an old Scottish Christian talking to his daughter about this attack on the cross. The poem entitled "The Old Covenanter" says:
"There's nae gospel; nae Lassie.
There's nae Covenant blood.
There's nae alter; nae Lassie
There's nae Lamb of God.
Folks dunno want the cross, Lassie.
They've cutten don th' tree
The only ones that believe in it
Are fools like you and me." [iii]
IV. The Result of Payment of the Ransom Price
Redemption means more than merely the forgiveness of sins, as great as that is. That is what we see here, however, redemption as it's used in scripture is much larger than merely the "forgiveness of sins." The forgiveness of sins is a great blessing! It is only the starting point, however. In Romans 8:23, the apostle says, ". . . We groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body." In I Corinthians 1:30, we see "But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption."
Thus, clearly redemption is not "forgiveness of sins" only, but encompasses the whole of our salvation. Thus, Paul is looking toward our ultimate glorification. We receive the forgiveness of sins, sanctification, glorification, and adoption, all in the redemption of our bodies. What a magnificent fullness is this redemption!
You are redeemed fully and completely by the precious blood of Jesus. There is no doubt about the fact that we receive forgiveness of sins, for this is the first need of every sinner. Our sins have separated us from God. God doesn't merely send us some help and some power to overcome sin and temptation. The apostle makes clear that we "are, by nature, children of wrath." We are, by nature, dead in our trespasses and sins. We don't merely need help. We need to be made alive! We need to be redeemed. We are, by the blood of Christ! But Jesus has also purchased everything necessary for the whole of our salvation. Nothing is omitted. Jesus is totally and completely what we need, and furthermore, He is ALL we need! He and He alone brings about our total and complete salvation, sanctification, and glorification. He is our redemption by His blood.
"Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free
For God, the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me."
May the God of (all) peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, that great Shepherd of the Sheep through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom be praise and glory and honor forever and ever. Amen.
Your Friend and Brother in Christ,
[ii] D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, p. 159, "Exposition of Ephesians One."
[iii] Frank M. Barker, Jr., Pastor Emeritus, Briarwood Presbyterian Church (PCA), February 8, 1981.
Worldview Weekend Foundation
PO BOX 1690
Collierville, TN, 38027 USA