For generations one of the most familiar themes in our worship through song has been redemption. Are these words familiar to you?

Redeemed how I love to proclaim it! Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.
I know that my Redeemer lives, And ever prays for me.
Oh, victory in Jesus, my Savior forever, He sought me and bought me with His redeeming blood.

At least 80% of you recognize those songs. May I ask some questions? What is a redeemer? What does redemption mean? Why is redemption wonderful?

  1. The concept of redemption is found throughout the Bible.
    1. The Old Testament stresses the concept of redemption. Consider some brief examples.
      1. Consider Exodus 21:28-30.
        1. If your ox gored someone to death, the ox is killed and you are punished.
        2. If you were warned that the ox was dangerous and the ox killed someone, the ox was killed and you were executed.
        3. However, if the victim's family accepted a money settlement, you can be redeemed--when you paid the settlement the execution was canceled.
      2. Consider Leviticus 25:47-52.
        1. If poverty was destroying you, you could sell yourself into slavery.
        2. If you sold yourself into slavery, you could be redeemed at any time.
        3. When a blood relative paid your owner the price of your freedom, and you were released from your slavery.
      3. However, Numbers 35:30-34 states that a murderer could not be redeemed; a murderer must be executed.
    2. In the Old Testament concept of redemption, two facts are obvious.
      1. Fact one: Redemption released a person from punishment or slavery.
      2. Fact two: one single, powerful, effective means of redemption did not exist; nothing could redeem all people from every form of punishment and slavery.

  2. What about the concept of redemption in the first century world? What did people know and understand about redemption in the first century world?
    1. The every day need for redemption was well understood.
      1. The actual meaning of the Greek words translated "redeemed" literally meant "the price of release;" the basic New Testament meaning was "to buy with a price."
      2. Redemption was used in two common ways in their every day world.
        1. It was the price you paid to release something used as a pledge or put in pawn.
        2. It was the price paid to liberate a slave, to purchase freedom.
    2. Let me make the every day reality of redemption very vivid.
      1. Situation one had to do with prisoners of war.
        1. Wars were often financed through selling the prisoners into slavery. These prisoners of war were slaves the rest of their lives.
          1. Some times slave merchants followed the army to buy the prisoners.
          2. Commonly soldiers came from free families and often were educated.
          3. A prisoner of war sold into slavery had only one hope of ever being free again: only by being redeemed could he be free.
          4. Only if a family member could afford to buy him out of slavery would he be freed.
        2. There are actual records of prisoners of war committing suicide because they knew no one could afford to buy them out of slavery, and they had rather die than be a slave.
      2. Situation two had to do with a common slave.
        1. A common slave's only hope for freedom was buying his freedom.
        2. A slave would never have enough money at any one time to buy his freedom.
        3. But there was a way that he might buy his freedom.
          1. He could go to a temple and arrange to make deposits at that temple.
          2. Then he would make any small amount anytime he could make it.
          3. It would take years and years of tiny deposits, but if he made deposits long enough, one day he would have enough to buy his freedom.
          4. He would take his owner to the temple, a priest would pay the owner the price of his freedom, and he was no longer a slave.
          5. That was his day of redemption; he was "free of all men."
      3. But there was only one way that could happen: by redemption.
        1. Redemption was the price of deliverance.
        2. It was the only way that a person could be freed from barbarian slavery.

  3. Keep slavery and redemption clearly in mind and listen:
    1. Spiritually, every person was a slave.
      1. Paul said in Galatians 3:13 that Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law.
      2. He said in Titus 2:14 that Christ redeemed us from all iniquity.
      3. Every person was a slave either because of law or by the evil he committed.
        1. The law condemned anyone who disobeyed the law, and every Jew disobeyed the law.
        2. Every person, Jew and non-Jew, was guilty of evil.
        3. So either by disobeying the law, or by wickedness, or by both, every person was a spiritual slave.
      4. Jesus paid the price of redemption for every person; every person who disobeyed the law, and every person who was guilty of evil.
        1. Only because Jesus paid the price of redemption could any spiritual slave be released from his slavery.
        2. No spiritual slave could free himself.
      5. In 1 Peter 1:18, Peter soberly reminded Christians, the redeemed, that the price God paid for their redemption was not money, was not silver or gold.
        1. God, not a relative, paid that price.
        2. The price God paid was the innocent blood of His own Son.
    2. Think about the connection between slavery, consequences, and redemption; as you think, listen to these verses.
      1. Romans 3:24--Christians are "justified as a gift by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus."
        1. God destroys our sins through the redemption that is in Christ.
        2. That redemption is a gift; it is God's gift to us.
        3. That gift exists because God is good.
      2. 1 Corinthians 1:30--"By his (God's) doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption."
        1. By God's doing you are in Christ.
        2. You accepted Christ, but you did not place yourself in Christ--God did that.
        3. God made Jesus wisdom to us.
        4. God made Jesus the power to make us right before God.
        5. God made Jesus the power to make us pure.
        6. God gave Jesus as the price that freed us from our guiltiness.
      3. Ephesians 1:7--"In him (Christ) we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace..."
        1. There was only one price that could redeem us from spiritual slavery: the innocent blood of Jesus.
        2. Without that blood, we are forever slaves, not only in this world but also in eternity.
        3. In eternity, instead of being God's sons and daughters at home with Him, we would be Satan's slaves in hell.
        4. Only because of Jesus' blood can we be forgiven.
        5. Only because God was good enough to pay the price can we be redeemed.
      4. Colossians 1:13,14--God delivered us from darkness, and God placed us in the kingdom of his beloved son "in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."
        1. God took us out of the slavery of evil and God placed us in the freedom that exists in Jesus' kingdom.
        2. God did that by paying the price of our redemption.
        3. The price of redemption gave us God's forgiveness.
    3. Now, does this verse have greater meaning to you?
      1. In 1 Corinthians 6:19,20, Paul told the Christians in Corinth that Christians will not engage in sexual evil ; they will not justify sexual evil. He explained it in this way: don't you understand that you do not belong to yourselves? "You were bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body."
      2. God bought me out of my slavery with Jesus' blood.
        1. I entered that slavery through my own failure and evil.
        2. When I accept God's redemption and continue to live and act like a slave, I insult God and abuse His goodness.
    4. Listen again to this statement from Jesus in Matthew 20:28.
      1. He was explaining why he came to earth.
      2. He said, "The son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many."
      3. He came to pay the price of redemption; he came to release us from slavery.

  4. This is redemption's incredible blessing: redemption releases you from all the spiritual punishment, all the spiritual slavery, all the spiritual obligation, and all the spiritual liability that exists because of your evil.
    1. Because of God's forgiveness through Jesus' blood, if you are in Christ, all your sin is totally, completely, forever destroyed.
    2. If you live in Christ, the evil you that has been a part of you no longer exists.
    3. You were Satan's slave; now you are God's son or daughter.
      1. All spiritual consequence and guilt has been destroyed in Jesus' blood.
      2. Because God redeemed you, you are under no spiritual obligation to evil; you have no spiritual liability for forgiven evil.
      3. In Christ you are released from your slavery, released from the slavery that you could not escape.
    4. That is one of the incredible, glorious mysteries of our salvation.

Someone says, "David, I don't like all this slave talk. I am not and never have been a slave. I am saved because of what I have done. I was baptized and I come to church. That saves me."

I am sorry that you think that way. I am sorry for two reasons. First, you deceive yourself if you think you have never been Satan's slave. Second, if you have never known your slavery, you have never experienced the joy of one of God's greatest blessings. You cannot know or enjoy freedom until you know and accept your slavery.

Only two kinds of people do not rejoice in God's redemption in Jesus Christ. The first are those who do not know their own sinfulness. The second are those who have never looked into hell.

The person who has seen his sins and looked into hell never stops rejoicing. He understands what God did when God redeemed him. She understands what God did when God redeemed her.

The greatest tragedy is one who is a slave to sin and never recognizes it.
Are you free? Have you accepted the price that has been paid for your freedom? Would you be free? The price has been paid by the innocent blood of Jesus. Enter Christ by being baptized into His death that His blood may destroy your sin.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 1 March 1998

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