A sermon on Ephesians 1:7 by Rev Richard Keith on Sunday 19 July 2020
There are a lot of things that I do not have. I do not have a Nobel Prize. I do not have an Academy Award. I do not have the time to do all the things I want to do. There are many things that I do not and will not ever have. But our message this morning is about the one thing that I do have. That you have. That no one can take away. We have redemption. In Ephesians chapter 1 verse 7, the apostle Paul wrote,
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.
“In him,” Paul begins, meaning in Christ, in Jesus our Lord and Saviour, our Master and Friend. Last week we started looking at the countless blessings we have that result in our complete salvation. Last week we looked at verses 4 to 6 and at the work of God the Father. Today we are looking at verses 7 to 10 and at the work of God the Son and focussing on verse 7.
In him. In God the Son. In Jesus we have redemption. Not in anything else. Not in gold or silver. Not in stocks or bonds. Not in fame or fortune. Not in extravagant sacrifices or in generous donations. Not in our fervent prayers or our pious deeds or in any crippling fasts or self-depravations. We could look for redemption in any or in all these things to justify ourselves and to give our lives meaning. But we would be disappointed. Because Jesus Christ, and only he, is our redeemer.
In him we have it. It is ours. It is our present possession. Redemption isn’t a promise that has not yet been fulfilled. It doesn’t lie on the other side of the ocean or at the end of the rainbow. No need to keep hoping. No need to keep striving. Redemption is here. Redemption is now. Redemption is ours.
Behind the word redemption lies two simple ideas. Freedom at a price. We saw that in our message on Ruth chapters 3 and 4 a couple of weeks ago. To redeem someone or something is to pay the price that sets it free. You can redeem a hostage by paying a ransom. You can redeem a discount by handing over a voucher. Thieves can redeem their reputation by going to gaol, paying their dues, and working honestly for the rest of their lives.
I mean, who doesn’t love a great redemption story. Football players can be such naughty boys. Getting up to so much mischief. But we love it when they grow up and settle down, have a family and work for a charity. In the minds of their fans, they can make good whatever they did wrong.
But who can redeem themselves before the holy God? He has given us our lives which are so precious in his sight and the time and the opportunity to do what is right and good. But we have squandered his gifts. And we have spurned his love. Not just what we have done in public, but in our secret lives and in our shameful thoughts in the silence of our own minds. We have turned our back on our maker and creator, and our lives are forfeit. Given life, we have chosen death. Made for heaven, we have taken the path to hell. We are slaves in bondage to our desires to our habits, to our character and to our fate.
The Lord Jesus said,
What can it profit a man to gain the whole world but to lose his soul? What can a man give in exchange for his soul?
Those are two excellent questions. We need to be set free in order to fulfil the destiny for which we have been made. But what can we give to redeem our life? What price can we pay for the life we have squandered and lost? What more precious thing do we have in our possession to give in exchange for the soul that we have sold to sin? We have nothing. Nothing in our power or possession can we give to restore the one life we were given.
Only in him, only in Jesus Christ do we have redemption through his blood. We have been set free. Released from bondage. Dragged out of the pit. Rescued from the waves. The price has been paid. The one thing more valuable has been found that is given in exchange for our soul. We have redemption through his blood. Not ours, but his. His blood. His life. His pain. His shame. His one, perfect life of infinite value given not just for my life but for all our lives.
Surely he took our infirmities and carried our sorrows. We considered him stricken by God smitten by him and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brought us peace was upon him and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way. But the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
This prophecy of Isaiah speaks of redemption, of freedom at a price, the price paid by the Messiah to come, Jesus. It speaks of the cross of Jesus where his precious life was thrown to the wolves that threatened our lives, that threatened to devour us and consume us, and yet those wolves of sin and death and hell and judgement took him in their jaws. He lay in the belly of the earth for three days. Our death, our grave became his. So that when he broke free, when he rose from the dead, that grave of eternal death no longer waits for us. Although my life will still waste away, my strength gone, my last breath given, my heart still, the grave will not be my eternal home, but my life has been purchased, bought out of hell and judgment, bought at the price of the blood of Christ, so that I no longer belong to myself, because I lost it, nor to the devil, although he claims me and hungers for me, but I belong to my redeemer. My life became his so that his life might become mine.
What I mean is, we have redemption. We are set free at a price. We have been rescued from bondage and we are free for God. By the blood of Christ. In other words, what we have is the forgiveness of sins. The record of our sins, all our wilful sins in column A, all our unintentional ones in column B, all our unfulfilled good intentions in column C, all the good we never even thought of in column D, this long indictment that once stood against me is torn in two. Then torn in two again. Then scrunched up and thrown into the fire. The sum total of their penalties which added up to an eternity without God and without hope has been erased. No conviction is recorded against us. And we are set free.
I mean, you know what forgiveness is. It’s like that time when your friend promised to take you to the airport, but he forgot, and when you had to remind him and he came too late to get you to the plane in time so that you missed your connecting flight as well and your whole holiday was ruined. And he said he was sorry and you accepted his apology, really only so that he would go away and leave you in peace, and you never spoke to him ever again. No, forgiveness isn’t like that, is it? It isn’t about holding on to the hurt so that it breaks your relationship forever. Forgiveness is when we accept the hurt of what has been done against us and we embrace the grief of all that we have lost, only to let them go and to release our friend from their consequences, not because our hurt means nothing but because it means less to us than our friendship and because we look forward to a time when what has been done cannot be undone but the wounds of those hurts have healed and they no longer hurt us. We bear the cost of the pain so that we might not bear any grudge and so that what has been done will no longer stand between us.
This is what happens when God forgives us our sin. He accepts the pain of our rebellion. He bears the consequences of our insult against him because the pain is less than what we mean to him and he chooses not be God without us, but to be God with us. And us with him. Our past misdeeds and thoughtlessness threatened to define us and to confine us to a life of misery and loss. But we have been forgiven. We have been set free. And the future of God’s blessing is open for us to enjoy.
In him. In Jesus Christ and him alone. We have. We really already have in our possession. Redemption. Freedom at a price, by the precious blood of Christ. The forgiveness of our sins. In accordance with the riches of God’s grace, his infinite kindness and unmerited mercy.
There are a lot of things you may not have. But this is yours if you receive it in faith. Redemption. Freedom. The forgiveness of sins. The door to the past closed. The door to the future open. And no one can close it. Redemption is yours, and no one is stopping you from having it except you. Receive it in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, our Master and Friend, our one and only Redeemer.