Jesus Christ: Redeemed to be Set Free
“7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, 9 having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, 10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him” (Ephesians 1:7-10).
A father helped his young son build a sailboat. They went to the lake in the city to sail it. It sailed away quickly to the other side. He lost it. Then one day he found it in the window of a resale shop. He used his money to buy it. The boy said to his boat, “you are twice mine now – because I made you, and because I bought you back.”
God created us. We sailed away from Him into sin. He bought us back or redeemed us. Paul switches from the metaphor of God choosing us in the past to be adopted and now shows the Ephesians how they have been redeemed by Jesus Christ. God made us, lost us, and bought us back.
Redemption in Christ
Paul writes that “in Him we have redemption.” What is redemption? Of the ten times “redemption” occurs in the New Testament, seven are in Paul’s letters, three of these in Ephesians. The Greek term translated “redemption” is from the verb lutroo meaning to release from captivity. Hendriksen defines it, “deliverance as a result of the payment of a ransom.” Ransom is the cost of the price paid to redeem. It is most often used of ransoming slaves or prisoners of war. Man is a slave to sin (John 8:34). Christ redeems in order to set us free, free from sin. Redemption frees men from sin and its consequences: death.
▸ Price of Redemption: through His blood
Ransom is the price paid for release. Redemption is a costly business. Only a rich man could redeem. Sinners were bought with a price and that price is Christ. Only Christ could be the ransom. “The Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2:6). Jesus has to leave the glory of Heaven to endure the agony of the cross. He did this willingly – “giving his life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28) and “shedding his blood for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28). Shedding of blood is a metonym for death. As slaves to sin, sinners deserve death, Jesus died “once for all” (Heb. 10:10). No amount of gold could redeem a single sinner from one sin, “but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:19).
▸ Results of Redemption: the forgiveness of sins
With redemption comes “the forgiveness of sin.” Redemption means to “buy back” and forgiveness means “letting go.” A man could purchase a slave and let him go free. The rich man does not pay the ransom and then require the redeemed to pay it back. He had “remission of the penalty.” A creditor can forgive a debt not paid. God forgives what never could be repaid.
Sin, all sin and any sin, carries the death penalty. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). God killed Nadab and Abihu, Uzzah, Korah, Ananias and Sapphira, and others for their rebellion. God tried to show this to the world by animals needing to be killed when sins were committed.
Until a person realizes his need for redemption, however, he sees no need for a Redeemer. Until he recognizes that he is hopelessly enslaved to sin, he will not seek release from it. We must accept the ransom in order to receive redemption.
▸ Means of Redemption: according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us
“How could the life of one man or one life be considered the substitute for the lives of so many?” Not just any man could? To redeem all slaves would require unimaginable wealth. Only God and Christ had the wealth. “Wealth” is a term found repeatedly in this letter with reference to the divine attributes: “the wealth of his grace” (Eph. 2:7) and “the wealth of his glory” in Ephesians 1:18. God had His Son to give to the world. The Son had His sinless life to give. God has adopted us into His family making former slaves to sin become heirs of endless wealth. There is really no need for us to live in poverty, when all of God’s wealth is at our disposal!
What is the motive behind this great Divine generosity? It is the superabundance of God’s grace. When God gives He does not hold back, the unmerited favor shown is overflowing. It is like a bubbling fountain that overflows its basin. No sinner has trespassed beyond the limits of God’s grace.
▸ Comprehending Redemption: in all wisdom and prudence
God is able to give us the understanding and prudence. Wisdom: more nearly approximates our word “insight”. “Prudence” is the product of wisdom. Prudence is an effective use of wisdom. God has given man the ability to put the information into practice.
Revelation in Christ
▸ Mystery Revealed: the mystery of His will
A mystery is something that is hidden and thus unknown. The term occurs almost thirty times in the New Testament. Paul used it twenty times including six times in Ephesians. Christ has “made known to us the mystery of His will.” Can wisely use this information about salvation because He has made full disclosure of what had been a secret with God from the beginning. The mystery is nothing less than the Gospel Plan of Salvation.
▸ Manner of Revealing: according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself
The mystery is not a secret that mankind just happen to figure out on his own by accident. God wanted us to know. It pleased Him to let us in on the secret.
▸ Managing the Revelation: that in the dispensation
The Greek term from “dispensation” is oikonomia which is a compound word meaning house/law. It involves the idea of stewardship or management. God has been “managing the time.” He has planned for the mystery to be revealed just at the right time in history. God scheduled all of the events of time and history, so that Christ would come to be the Redeemer.
▸ Moment of Revelation: of the fullness of the times
The right time for the revelation of the mystery of the Gospel is called “the fullness of times.” When the time was perfect, right or ripe it was revealed to all. All the events leading up to this was under God’s direction for fulfilling His ultimate purpose: saving sinners through Christ.
The time was just right for the time of Christ. Among the Jews there was the Diaspora. Jews dispersed throughout the Roman Empire allowing the synagogues to be used to spread the Good News. The Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament) was widespread among the Empire. There was a strong belief in the coming Messiah. Prophecy was being fulfilled before the very eyes of the devout Jews. Among the Greeks was a universal culture and language which help spread the Gospel. This is especially true of the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament. The Romans ushered in the Pax Romana or Roman Peace which permitted the evangelist to travel throughout the ancient world. “When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law” (Gal. 4:4).
▸ Motive of the Revelation: He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him.
All of history is the summation of all things in Christ. To sum it all up into one sentence: “History is His story.” Christ is at the center of God’s great plans both in heaven and on earth. What does “all things in heaven and on earth” encompass? All the redeemed may now be in Christ.
All spiritual blessings come about because of Christ’s death on the cross. What God had done throughout all ages to prepare for our redemption and brought it down to one focal point, Christ. Today, no one can be a saved without being “in Christ.”
– Daniel R. Vess