Tuesday, July 2, 2013

What Does It Mean To Be Redeemed?

There's a popular Christian song out today by Big Daddy Weave called "Redeemed". I love this song and it's message. It's one of my favorites. After all, as Christians, we believe that we are redeemed by Christ. And that's a powerful thought. Or at least it should be. But what does it actually mean?

In today's world, what comes to mind to me when I think of the word redeem, is how the word applies to a coupon I'm using to purchase something. For example, if I receive a coupon for, say, a free candy bar, all I need to do is present the coupon to the cashier in exchange for it. In this way, I redeem the coupon. In other words, I purchase the candy bar with the coupon, and instead of using my money. Isn't that a nice feeling?

I suppose in Bible times, they had a much broader appreciation for the concept of redemption, because in the Old Testament, it was used a lot - for properties, for animals, and even for people. The Mosaic law dictated the details of redemption. For example, it told how a relative could buy back, or redeem, land for the original owner - giving ownership back to him. “If one of your fellow Israelites becomes poor and sells some of their property, their nearest relative is to come and redeem what they have sold." (Leviticus 25:25)

So, this idea of redeeming something goes further than just a trade off. It involves ownership. In the example of the candy bar, when I redeem my coupon, I now own the candy bar. It's mine. 

Remember how the Israelites became a slave nation under the Egyptian pharaoh? And how God sent Moses to get them out? Through Moses, God did powerful miracles, culminating in the death of all the first born of the Egyptians. The first born of the Israelites were spared by spreading the blood of lambs around their door posts. God redeemed them - set them free from slavery. He rescued them.

"I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment." (Exodus 6:6)

God redeemed them. He freed them, but He also considered them His. Think of the candy bar, enslaved by the store owner, to be set free from the bondage of the display counter - rescued! When I redeem the coupon, I now own the candy bar. It's mine, not the store owners. I redeemed my coupon for it.

This concept of redemption, including both the act of releasing, rescuing, as well as corresponding ownership, is expanded to a new level in the New Testament. Now, instead of the Jewish nation being the chosen people, all who are in Christ, Jews and Gentiles, are the new chosen nation - Christians. Peter explains this in his letter, addressed to Christians. "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." (1 Peter 2:9) 

Notice the phrase 'God's special possession' in that verse. That's who we are through Jesus. By the sacrifice of Jesus, we are now God's people,  redeemed and freed from the bondage of sin. 

"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us." (Ephesians 1:7-8)

One more thing. Consider the concept of a "ransom price". It's the cost of releasing someone from being captive. Spiritually speaking, we are ransomed by God. He paid the price to release us from being captive by the bondage, the shackles, of sin. In our case, the ransom price is the purchase price - the price God was willing to pay to redeem you - to rescue you. Think about that cost. Do you understand that nothing could pay the price of your redemption but the sacrifice of God's own Son?  Our ransom price was Jesus, who willfully gave His life for you!

"Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)

No amount of riches, no amount of good deeds that you could possibly accumulate, no amount of righteous living could be enough to pay the price. The ransom for your release was set extremely high. Do you realize what this says about the high value God places on you? He offered the life of His Son in exchange for you! That's how much God values you and loves you. A fair trade? Absolutely NOT!  It's called Grace. 

"You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies"  (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

Through Christ, you are released, rescued, and redeemed. You are one of God's own special possessions - you are His - adopted as a child of God. 

As the song goes, "I am redeemed. You set me free. So I'll shake off these heavy chains. And wipe away every stain. Cause I'm not who I used to be. I am redeemed. Thank God, redeemed."

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