Ephesians Meditations No.5
Eph 1:7,8 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 with all wisdom and understanding.
The trouble with Scripture is that it sometimes uses words with which we are not familiar today. Add to this the problem that many Christians would prefer to make no effort in studying the Bible and we have a situation where the wonderful truths of God remain a foreign language to many. For example the word ‘redemption’ or its associated word, ‘redeem’ are not words that are commonly used today. It is most known for its use in connection with a pawnbroker, where someone would take a possession to the pawnbroker and he would loan them a sum of money on the basis of it, while he held it. Within some specified time they would return to the pawnbroker and pay the money back together with a fee. That act of paying the money back to recover the article is referred to as ‘redeeming’ the article and the money paid is the ‘redemption money’.
Now when we apply this concept to sin and salvation we see something amazing. When God created the word, there was no division between Him and the man and woman He made. However when they turned away from Him (Gen 3) there became a division between them and Him caused by sin. In fact, as the New Testament writers show us, we left God’s kingdom and entered a dominion of darkness (Col 1:13), and this is ruled over by Satan (1 Jn 5:19). While we give ourselves over to sin and reject God, we are, in reality, in the hands of the ‘pawnbroker’ who doesn’t own us but has possession of us. While we choose the life of sin and reject God, we remain in His hands. In fact the Bible reveals that God uses Satan to discipline and even judge mankind. Justice demands that we be punished for our sins. Justice demands that someone pay for our sins, and while we reject God, we alone have to take the punishment.
But then one day someone entered the ‘pawnbroker’s shop’ and said, “I’ve paid the price for them.” Imagine the scene. So the pawnbroker (Satan) says to Jesus, “But they deserve punishment and the law demands that I have them to bring that on them.” But the redeemer (Jesus) replies, “But I have paid the price. I took the punishment due to them. Every sin has been paid for. Every punishment owing has paid for.” So the pawnbroker says, “So who does this apply to?” to which the redeemer replies, “Whoever believes me and asks for it.”
That is what redemption is all about. Jesus has redeemed us out of the power of Sin, out of the hands of Satan. Jesus has done it all. All we can do is believe it, ask for it, and receive it.
If you are still uncertain, look again at Paul’s words, “In him we have redemption through his blood.” It is “in him”, in Jesus, our salvation (redemption) is found, and it is because he shed his blood and died on the Cross in our place, that we can have it. And the result of it is that we have, “the forgiveness of sins” because Jesus has paid for them by his death.
Paul describes what has happened, saying that it is “in accordance with the riches of God’s grace”. It is all because of God’s wonderful provision for us. That is what grace is; it is God’s wonderful provision for us. In this specific instance it describes all that God has done to bring about our redemption. The fact that it is grace means that it entirely free and not something earned by us or deserved by us. It is completely a free gift of God. In our earlier years, before we heard the Gospel, we had no idea that before the foundation of the world God had planned this, and we had no idea that two thousand years ago the trinity executed this plan and Jesus had died in our place. No, it was all done before we even heard about it. Our actions did nothing to add to it. All we could do is believe it, ask for it and receive it.
See the strength of the language that Paul uses: “that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.” Lavished means poured out without restraint, poured out in abundance. God didn’t hold back. The work of Jesus on the Cross was complete and achieved EVERYTHING that was necessary to redeem us. There is nothing left outstanding of the debt we owed justice because of our sins and our allegiance to Satan. No, everything has been dealt with. It came with God’s wisdom and God knows everything and how everything should work and does work. Wisdom is about knowing ‘how to’ and God knew exactly how to satisfy justice and take the sting out of Satan’s accusations. God understood everything there is to know about our plight and about justice and about how we could be redeemed. You cannot fault this plan; it is perfect. It totally and utterly deals with our sin and our plight so that when we cry, “I believe, please save me,” Satan has no grounds to hold on to us, and God releases His own Holy Spirit to us and we start to receive all the goodness that He has in store for us that He wants us to receive. How wonderful, how marvellous is my Saviour’s love for me!