4. Fear Not

Studies in Isaiah 54: 4. Fear Not!

Isa 54:4 “Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.”

It’s about Redemption:  History can be a curse. Guilt so often hangs over us. Shame follows us. We wonder if the past will mar the present and blight the future. In the following verse there is an amazing statement: “the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer.”  A year ago I found myself writing a series on ‘redemption’. Mostly we think of redemption as something the Lord does just when we come to Him but the truth is that every day of our lives, He is redeeming us. There are three things about redemption we should note.

1. An Ongoing Process: Very well, the first is that it is a process, an ongoing process. It started when we first turn to Christ and it will only be completed when we stand before him in heaven. It involved us being forgiven, our guilt being removed (i.e. us being justified), us being adopted into God’s family, and being empowered by His Holy Spirit to live new lives.

2. Change: But then next, second, it is a process whereby Christ is working to change us; it is a process with a purpose. This process seeks to deal with our past in such a way that as much as possible the past will not inhibit who Christ is seeking to make us become today. Yes, often the memory of past failure remains but Christ uses it in the transforming process as both a reminder of what not to do again, and as a deterrent to keep from that particular failure. However, once we see the whole picture that we are laying out here, although it should humble us, that failure will no longer act as a weight that limits us today.

The Goal of Perfection: Very often we see this process of change as about moral or ethical behaviour but it is very much greater than that. Jesus once declared, Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt 5:48) When something is perfect is cannot be improved upon, it lacks nothing. That is God and that is what He wants to work into our lives. There is nothing He thinks, says or does that can be improved upon. Is that true of you and me? Right!  That is why we need Him to work this process out in us.

My Lacks: Let’s consider how we fall short of perfection and so need to make it a goal to which we let Him draw us.  First, my lack of knowledge; there is so much I don’t know (about you, for example, and if I did know more it would mean I would have a better attitude towards you!) I need Him to teach me, inform me, bring me knowledge and understanding. Second, there is strength, mental, physical and spiritual.  I need constant replenishing and refreshing and rest.  Even when I am fully charged and refreshed, third, I need more grace, more wisdom, more insight, more everything else to cope with you, others, circumstances, difficulties, etc. etc. than I have got.

Therefore there are times, when running on my own resources, which may be good at times, that I still get it wrong and may react defensively, or with hostility. I may be unsure of myself and may therefore feel bad (guilty) about how I handle life, or maybe I allow myself to be hurt by your dealings with me. I need constant help to remind me of the truths of God’s love and provision. We could expand these things considerably but they provide some starting thoughts for the idea of our lives being a process of change.

3. The Cross: Now we are considering three things, we said, about redemption and the third thing is that redemption is all about the Cross. Through his work on the Cross, Christ paid the price for our sin. His death, for all the wrongdoings of my entire life, satisfies justice and so I am freed from the Judge’s sentence of death that such a life of sin deserves. He has bought my freedom by taking my punishment; the guilt has been dealt with. That is what redemption means – buying us back from the guilt and the sentence of death.

Now that act of redemption is applied to my life the moment I turn to Christ in surrender and repentance. From that second on, I am freed and as far as God is concerned from that second on I am His justified son. But the reality is that I still have free will – He never takes that from us – and so as I work my way through life, I make decisions and, even as we noted above, sometimes, because I am not yet perfect and am inadequate for the task of living blameless in this fallen world, I get it wrong.

The apostle John understood this: “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 Jn 2:1,2) The goal is that I don’t sin, but if there are occasions when I trip over my feet and blow it, the moment I acknowledge my failure and confess it, seeking His forgiveness, it is there for me – because of what Christ has done on the Cross.

Back to the start: Very well, let’s apply all this to our starting verse: “Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.”  We said that the past can be a curse if we let it, and so for Israel, just as with us, there is the memory of the past lurking there, of their failures and standing before them, so to speak, is Almighty Holy God. They need serious reassurance.

Reassurance: Is God going to smack us for our past? No! Is He going to hold up our failure for display to the whole world? No!  Is He going to humiliate them for their failures? No! Instead He is going to so move that the blessing they will experience will completely over-shadow and obliterate all the past. That is what is so incredible about redemption: God never changes in His determination to do whatever needs to be done to draw us back onto the right course, to draw us back to Him, to heal up the past, bless us in the present, and present hope for the future.

That is as much true for us today as it was for them then. We could add various caveats about the time He sometimes takes to work these things through, but let’s just stick for the moment with the basics: God IS in the process of redeeming you and me and so we don’t need to worry about all the negative aspects of this verse – no fear, no shame, no disgrace, no humiliation – all we need do is rejoice in the wonder of what He is doing in us – working us towards the perfection that will be ours in heaven, a life of ongoing change that is getting better all the time. Yes? May it be so! Hallelujah!

1. Isaiah’s Desolate Woman

Studies in Isaiah 54: 1. Isaiah’s Desolate Woman

Isa 54:1 “Sing, barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labour; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband,” says the Lord.”

Why?  I have been reading passages of scripture out loud as part of my morning devotions, and as much as I have been blessed by reading it out loud, it has left me with a “More!” feeling. I don’t think I’ve ever done verse by verse through these chapters before, so here goes. I believe in this chapter 54 we will see amazing things that, yes, were originally spoken to Israel, but also have a wider amazing application for us individually today.  I’m starting with Isa 54 which I suspect may take nearly two weeks. (We may go on at a later date to subsequent chapters but for now we will identify this mini-series as in Chapter 54 only).

A Difficulty: Over the years war has raged over the canon of Scripture, or over specific books, and the prophets have had their fair share of attacks. Now we have to be honest and acknowledge that a book like Isaiah naturally becomes a target for the questioners. Different commentators may make their own assumptions of the validity of the book and a primary assumption is that this book is in the order it is because that was how Isaiah (and some say more than one ‘Isaiah’) wrote it. But then it gets difficult: how much was spoken or written at one time? Do we have a series of notes that Isaiah (assuming one person) wrote down when he felt inspired in one direction?  Did the Lord inspire him and pepper him with a whole series of different vantage points or do they follow in neat chronological order so that one passage is linked to the previous one?

A Starting Point:  The backdrop we need to consider to start with, I think, is Isa 53 which is the big chapter of the suffering servant. That starts with, “Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” (53:1) and finishes with, “For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors,” (53:12c) and in between are many facets of the Redeemer. It is difficult to see any direct link between 53:12 and 54:1 and we have to wait until 54:5 until we read, “For your Maker is your husband—the Lord Almighty is his name— the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer.” The barren woman of v.1 (Israel) is linked to God the Creator as her husband; He is thus the means of removing her barrenness, He who is ‘the LORD Almighty’, He who is also called ‘the Holy One of Israel’, He who is referred to as their Redeemer.

A Redeemer? Everything in that previous chapter points to the work of Christ on the Cross and of course it is that which legitimizes or makes possible the work of God, whether it be in respect of redeeming Israel or redeeming us. It is only because their sins – and ours – are covered by the work of Christ on the Cross that when we repent, He is able to forgive us because justice has been satisfied. Thus we read, “the punishment that brought us peace was on him,” (53:5) and, “the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all,” (53:6b) and, “for the transgression of my people he was punished.” (53:8c) and, “my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.” (53:11c) All this is redemption language, Christ buying back Israel and Christ buying us back from the devil and sin. All the good that can follow, follows because of the Cross.

A Barren Woman? So we ought to go back to the beginning of the chapter: “Sing, barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labour.”  Note the threefold emphasis there. We need to go back in Scripture to see what the Lord’s original intent had been for Israel. Consider: “all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Gen 12:3), and, “You will be the father of many nations.” (Gen 17:3) See also Gen 18:17,18, 22:15-18, 26:2-4, 28:13,14 as this is reiterated to the Patriarchs. But then as the Exodus progresses, it is to be something that impacts the rest of the world (see Ex 15:14-16, Num 14:13-17, Deut 2:24,25) and so it continues on – God’s dealings with Israel having an impact on the rest of the world until eventually the psalmist is able to write: “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations. May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you. May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples justly and guide the nations of the earth.”  (Psa 67:1-4) It is clearly the intent of the Lord that the world will see Him through Israel and thus turn to Him.  This comes to a head with Solomon (see 1 Kings 4:29-34, 8:41-43, 8:59-61) which concludes with the amazing testimony of the Queen of Sheba (1 Kings 10:1-10) But beyond this, had it happened? Largely no. Israel had not brought to birth other nations who followed the Lord.

A Wider Application? But now apply this to human beings in general. The glory of the Lord can be seen through His creation: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.  For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.” (Rom 1:20,21) But it wasn’t only Israel; we collectively failed to produce the fruits of righteousness, we failed to return to God and bear forth fruit of godliness, we too were barren.

And So: Whether or not chapter 54 is a direct link on from chapter 53, the point is well taken that the redemption that is bought in chapter 53 is what enables the realities that are spoken about in chapter 54 to come about. The Cross is at the heart of all the blessing that God is able to bring to us, to bring life and life transformation to each of us who will receive it. Praise, thank and worship Him for the wonder of the Cross and its impact on us. Amen.

7. Seeking Prophets

Meditations in 1 Peter : 7 :  Seeking prophets

1 Pet  1:10,11   Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.

The previous section had come to an end with Peter declaring, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (v.9). It is natural for him now to say something more about this salvation: “Concerning this salvation…” Now I’m going to consider these verses above in reverse order.

“When he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow” Who is the ‘he’ here? It was the “Spirit of Christ in them” and the ‘them’ were the Old Testament prophets. So he reminding us of a strange feature of the Old Testament that perhaps we take for granted. It is said that there are over 300 prophecies in the Old Testament that Christ fulfilled, i.e. 300 that pointed to Christ, and some of them speak about his sufferings. Now the Old Testament period teachers really struggled with all of this for some prophecies also spoke about a coming One who would be a ruler. We’ll stick to prophecies from Isaiah for this comparison purpose. As to a ruler: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.” (Isa 9:6,7) Note the ‘ruling language’ there.

Yet when we go into a later part of Isaiah we get pictures of a suffering servant: “See, my servant will prosper; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.” (Isa 52:13) Oh that’s confusing, it starts out speaking of his success! But watch how it continues: “there were many who were appalled at him– his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness.” (Isa 52:14) That doesn’t sound very good! “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” (Isa 53:2,3) This successful servant is not going to be a handsome hero and in fact he’s going to be despised and rejected!!!! “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.” (Isa 53:5) It continues: “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer (Isa 63:7-10) All of this speaks of the work of the Redeemer, the Messiah, the Christ.

All of this, God knew because it had been planned within the Godhead from before the foundation of the world. This is what the Spirit of God was communicating through many prophecies throughout the Old Testament period. Thus there were a number of prophets who found themselves speaking out these things and who were left wondering, “What does this mean? When will this happen?” Surely some times there was a double fulfilment in respect of what was spoken, a fulfilment within years and then centuries later through Jesus Christ,  but even so the prophets were left wondering, and the teachers were left wondering, what form of person does this refer to? How can opposite pictures we true? These things seem contradictory! On one hand a victorious and glorious king, but on the other hand an oppressed and crushed servant! How can these things be? Is it any wonder they had lots of questions.

No wonder the apostle Paul spoke of “the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings.” (Rom 16:25,26) and “he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment–to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.” (Eph 1:9,10) and “the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. (Col 1:26).

What does all this say? It says that this glorious Gospel was not some last minute strategy from God to dig the earth out of a hole; it was a plan that had been on God’s heart from the beginning of time and which came at exactly the right time in human history. Hallelujah!

48. My Redeemer

Meditations in Job : 48.  My Redeemer Lives

Job 19:25 I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.

One thing I always think stands up for the integrity of Scripture is the willingness of the translators to acknowledge where there are ambiguous meanings to words used, and these appear in the footnotes of your Bible (there are also relatively few of them). I mention this because in the remaining seven verses of chapter 19 there are no less than 7 footnotes, and so we will take each of them into account. Having moved from speaking about his three friends, the Lord, and his own situation, he now turns to an “if only” section. Oh, that my words were recorded, that they were written on a scroll,” (v.23) which might be read as “If only my words were recorded…” Why does he want his words recorded? He doesn’t actually say but we may infer so that they can be used even after his death to justify him. How are they to be recorded? “that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead, or engraved in rock forever!” (v.24) The footnote suggests “iron and lead” as a possibility. Whichever it is we have list of various ways that writing might have been recorded in those days.

Then comes this declaration that is perhaps the best known part of Job: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.” (v.25). We have two footnotes in this section: ‘’redeemer’ may mean ‘defender’, and ‘upon the earth’ may mean ‘upon my grave’. In a previous study we saw Job refer to, my witness …. my advocate …. My intercessor ….. my friend” (16:19,20). Now again Job senses revelation of truth, truth that even today evades many.  It is that, far from God being an enemy in heaven, there is One there who will defend him, one who will speak up for him and justify him.  The objective of heaven is not to condemn and destroy him, but to justify and save him!

The incredible truth is that heaven works on our behalf, not against us.  This is an incredible change from those human-inspired world religions that work to get God on their side by their efforts.  No, the truth is that God is already on our side; all we have to do is believe it!  Job senses that his redeemer or defender from heaven will come to the earth, maybe even to stand on his grave, or the grave prepared for him, to speak up for him.  The picture of his defender coming and standing on his grave, is one of closest encounter.  Did he, perhaps, sense that this Coming One would come and declare not only his justification but also his resurrection?  Is it not a similar picture to Jesus coming to Lazarus’s tomb (Jn 11) and calling him out to new life

But then he continues, “And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes–I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (v.26,27). The footnote alternatives are very unclear here but seem to suggest “after I awake, though this body has been destroyed” indicating a sure belief in a life after death.  This is a staggering declaration of faith, that even though he dies, he will live on and will see his Redeemer in heaven (implied).  Surely this must be the peak of revelation that Job has, that although he is suffering, yet his suffering will come to an end and he will depart to be with his Redeemer – NOT separated from Him. Hallelujah!

Finally he turns back on his accusers: “If you say, `How we will hound him, since the root of the trouble lies in him,(or ‘me’ according to the footnote) (v.28) i.e. if you continue to keep on at me, looking for a fault in me, you need to watch out: “you should fear the sword yourselves; for wrath will bring punishment by the sword, and then you will know that there is judgment.” (v.29)  If you point a finger at me, you’d better watch out because you will be accountable to heaven as well. if you say I am being punished for my failures, you should worry yourselves lest your own failures are picked up by heaven and God’s anger for them comes down on you too!  It is a short sharp warning about accountability and not feeling too smug about our own position. As Christians we realise that none of us can stand before God unscathed; that is why Jesus died on the cross for every one of us, because we all need his salvation.  Let’s remember that, especially when we are faced by those who have clearly failed!  We have no grounds to point fingers!  Don’t do it!

37. Redeemed

Meditations in Job : 37.  A Redeemed Relationship

Job 14:15b-17 you will long for the creature your hands have made. Surely then you will count my steps but not keep track of my sin. My offenses will be sealed up in a bag; you will cover over my sin.

I have a feeling that in reality the measure of where we are boils down to two things: the revelation we have received and what we did with it. There was once a fascinating dialogue between Jesus and his disciples: The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” He replied, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance.” (Mt 13:10-12). Jesus spoke in parables so that only those with hearts that yearned to know and understand would receive what he was saying. As they received it and lived it out, so he gave them more revelation.

Jesus spoke another simple principle of spiritual life: “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” (Lk 12:48). When we get revelation, the Lord expects us to respond to it. The Lord also measures accountability on the basis of revelation received. The Israelites at Sinai (Ex 19-) received an incredible revelation and so after Sinai the Lord held them to a stricter accounting than before. Job had very real revelation and, as we’ve noted before, if his book is one of the oldest in the Bible, he would not have had any of the revelation of God’s dealings with Israel and he certainly didn’t have the revelation of His Son that we have. That’s what makes some of the words in the next passage before us, so amazing.

“If only you would hide me in the grave and conceal me till your anger has passed! If only you would set me a time and then remember me!” (v.13). These two ‘if only’ desires are quite amazing. Job believes that he is experiencing the anger of the Lord, for surely, as his friends have been saying, suffering is a sign of God’s judgment, or God’s anger against sin. Yet he believes God’s anger will pass and then there will be a renewing of their relationship – then remember me. Until that anger abates, Job is quite happy to rest in death but what this clearly suggests is that Job believed in a life after death where it was possible to experience and know the Lord! Job is wiser than many people today!

Listen how he continues: “If a man dies, will he live again? All the days of my hard service I will wait for my renewal to come.” (v.14). The big question is all about whether there is something more beyond this life. This is Job in the midst of his pain and anguish, in the face of the negatives from his friends, who catches something in his spirit of the wonderful truth that we now know so surely through Scripture. Life may be tough on this earth, he feels, but there is going to come a time when he will be renewed by God; there is going to come a time of resurrection! This is incredible! Later he will refer to one who he considers will be his defender or redeemer before God (19:25). He, in the midst of his anguish, is catching something of reality that many people, even today, struggle with: God’s desire is to redeem or restore and reconcile people. Death is not the end.

He imagines this time of life after death, when God’s anger has passed and their relationship has been restored: “You will call and I will answer you; you will long for the creature your hands have made.” (v.15) There will be a future interaction when the Lord desires to communicate with the one He has made, after the trial of earth has finished. In all this there is a clear and distinct and gradually emerging future hope. Listen: “Surely then you will count my steps but not keep track of my sin. My offenses will be sealed up in a bag; you will cover over my sin.” (v.16,17). That is incredible! He believes there will come a time when the Lord will look over his whole life (count my steps) but will not be concerned with Job’s sin. What revelation is this? Job’s friends have been going on about the God of Judgment but Job is speaking about a God who puts away sin and takes no more notice of it. How can this be? Is it because of the redeemer we referred to just now? Whatever it is, it is an act of God who will seal up his sins so they can’t be seen or referred to again, an act of God whereby He will cover or deal with those sins by some act of divine justice perhaps. God will deal with Job’s sin so that it will not hinder their relationship. THAT is the wonderful revelation Job is teetering towards.

There is a major lesson here. It is that we don’t have to wait until everything is right and the sun seems to be shining on our life until we receive revelation. This incredible truth that Job is receiving and speaking out, is coming in the midst of his anguish, in the midst of a time when he feels that God is against him. That is amazing. He is sensing truth in the most adverse of circumstances!

What do we fill our minds with?  Paul said, “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” (Phil 4:8) If we do this we find our minds harmonizing with God. As Paul exhorted us, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (Col 3:1). When we do this, we find the Father sharing His heart with us. If you never think on these things, don’t be surprised that you have so little understanding of these things – but be sad about that! Job didn’t have the Bible, but he sensed amazing truths. He was receiving revelation. We have a whole book of revelation. What do we do with it? Remember, as we said earlier, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” (Lk 12:48).

5. Redemption

Ephesians Meditations No.5

5. Redemption

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!