It has been noted that more important than a sense of meaning or purpose in life, and even more vital than a search for happiness is man’s yearning or need for redemption. The Bible is an amazing book because it is not written by any one human being. In fact, no human being could have written even most of it, for the writing process that resulted in the Bible spanned more time than any human lifespan (some 1600 years). So the writer at the beginning (Moses) is not, and could not be the writer during the middle and at the end. Yet, there is a definite storyline and theme that runs from Genesis to Revelation. The only way this makes sense is for God to be the overall editor (2 Timothy 3:16-17), who inspired various individuals in different places and ages to write definite portions or sections (Hebrews 1:1-2; 2 Peter 1:21).
Paradise and the Fall
Both the Old and New Testaments agree that man fell from an original state of innocence (Genesis 3; 2 Corinthians 11:3). As a result, sin spread to all men, not via inheriting it (Ezekiel 18:20) but because all men eventually yielded to sin (Romans 5:12-14).
Within the Greek term rendered into the English “redemption” we are reminded of the above reality. Here is what the website “Biblehub” says about the background of the term “redemption”.
629 apolýtr?sis (from 575/apó, "from" and 3084/lytró?, "redeem") – properly, redemption – literally, "buying back from, re-purchasing (winning back) what was previously forfeited (lost)."
629 apolýtr?sis ("redemption, re-purchase") emphasizes the distance ("safety-margin") that results between the rescued person, and what previously enslaved them. For the believer, the prefix (575/apó) looks back to God's effective work of grace, purchasing them from the debt of sin and bringing them to their new status (being in Christ).
Note the emphasis on “buying back” or “re-purchasing”. This is congruent with the passages that make it clear that we are born into this world pure and innocent and then at some point yield to the darkness:
- “God made men upright, but they have sought out many devices” (Ecclesiastes 7:29). Note the emphasis on “men” and not just Adam and Eve.
- “The wicked are estranged from the womb” (Psalm 58:3). Note, they are not born astray, rather they go astray and in some cases at any early age.
- “The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity… the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself” (Ezekiel 18:20).
- “Unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of God” (Matthew 18:3)
- “For I was once alive apart from the Law, but when the commandment came, sin become alive and I died” (Romans 7:7). The only way that Paul could have ever been alive apart from the Law is that Paul was born pure and innocent.
- “Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature”(1 Corinthians 14:20).
Something Isn’t Right
If you asked the question, “Is everything right with the world?” Very few people would say “yes”. Even non-Christians can sense that something isn’t right with the world and even more, something isn’t right with and in themselves. In fact, everything that the Bible says about sin or rebellion is true and we see it demonstrated by a daily basis.
- Sin does enslave. When we rebel against God we are not the master of our fate, rather we become the dutiful servant of that sin: John 8:34
- Sin is a trap, where we end up doing things that are clearly not in our best earthly, relational or eternal interest: 2 Timothy 2:26
- Sin darkens our understanding, where we end up aiming low and following futile plans or ways of living and handling life: Ephesians 4:17
- Sin makes us callous, hard and insensitive: Ephesians 4:19
- Sin will cause us to sacrifice our future for the short-lived pleasure of today.
All the self-help books on Amazon, all the therapists, counselors, psychologists, etc… stand as proof that something is wrong with us that needs to be put right. That we are indeed in a fallen state.
The Coming Redeemer
- “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him” (Isaiah 53:6).
- “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people” (Luke 1:68).
- “And continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38).
There are many images in the Bible that suggest that we can get back to where we need to be, where God wants us to be, and that things can be set right. For example:
- The truth that I can be born again: (John 3:5) This language would not make any sense if we have been born in sin. Why would we want to do that again?
- The reality is that I can humble myself and become like an innocent child: (Matthew 18:3)
- The fact that the prodigal son who was lost can come all the way back home and be found: Luke 15 demonstrates that we are not born lost. Rather, we leave an environment of innocence (the Father’s house) and lead towards the far country.
- I can be redeemed, that is, won back and re-purchased, where I wholly belong to God once more.
Where This Happens/Where This is Found
- “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).
- “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30).
- “In whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:14).
- “Being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24).
Observe that all these passages repeatedly stress that redemption is in Christ Jesus. The steps to entering into that relationship include hearing the gospel (Mark 16:15), believing in Jesus (Galatians 3:26), repentance (Acts 2:38), confessing Christ (Romans 10:9-10) and finally, being baptized into Christ (Galatians 3:27; Mark 16:16).
The Day of Redemption
- “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30).
- “And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:23).
These passages remind us of what we already know. I can get myself right with God in becoming a Christian, yet this does not mean that everything becomes right in the environment that surrounds me. We are saved, but the world that is lost in darkness still surrounds us (1 John 5:19). We still live in a world filled with sorrow, death, temptation, false ideas, betrayal and predators. When Jesus returns that will all be changed. Our bodies that are still subject to death (even after we are baptized) will be resurrected and everything, absolutely everything, will be set right.
- “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
- “Behold, I am making all things new” (Revelation 21:5).
- Thus, the tree of life and Paradise of God that are forfeited in Genesis is pictured as being regained at the end of time (Revelation 3:7).
- The curse that sin brought into the world in Genesis is completely removed (Revelation 22:3 “There will no longer be any curse”).
When I become a Christian, all my sins are forgiven, I am added to the body of Christ, into a fellowship with Jesus and wonderful people. As amazing as this is, this is not my full or complete reward. It gets worlds better for the Christian (Romans 8:18).
Mark Dunagan | firstname.lastname@example.org
Beaverton Church of Christ | 503-644-9017