Jesus Christ was, in the fullest sense of the word, the spotless Lamb of God. He never did any sin, neither was guile found in His mouth. It was love which brought Him down from heaven for the very purpose of becoming our substitute.
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20. The Price Of Our Redemption (Part 2)
Ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. — 1 [Pet.] 1:18, 19.
Last Sunday we began considering our Savior’s redemptive work. We heard how He, for a time, gave up the glories of heaven, condescended to become a man, a brother of ours, sharing our state. While engaged in this work here on earth, He lived humbly, ordinarily hiding His inherent, Divine glory. He spent His time in serving the children of men. He experienced all of man’s difficulties and sorrows. By word and deed He was engaged in teaching men the mysteries of the way of salvation.
We should never forget that Christ’s whole perfect, loving, self-sacrificing life, as it was spent here on earth, was spent in seeking our good. All of it was part of the redemptive process, the redemptive price. Without this life of service our redemption could not have been accomplished. But by this life of active service alone we were not redeemed. There was an awful price which had to be paid as a penalty for human transgression; a price which an eternity of woe on the part of every human being would not suffice to wipe out. For man to go free this price also had to be paid. And only that which was the equivalent of the death and eternal punishment of all the children of men could pay the debt. Only Jesus, the God-man, could pay the price, and pay it He did. Hence, for a second time, we take as our subject
The Price of Our Redemption
I. The Curse
Though our aim is to give emphasis to the price of our redemption, we will be better able to appreciate this if we first consider, the curse from which we were redeemed.
The Creed itself, being the briefest possible summary of the Christian faith, does not state, in detail, from what we have been redeemed. It simply states that Jesus Christ our Lord suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried. It does not explain why. The explanation of these words goes somewhat more into detail. It says that “Jesus Christ … has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won me from all sin, from death and the power of the devil.”
“Purchased and won me from all sin!” In former days, when slavery was an institution of our land, occasionally some friend of the cause of human liberty, or of some particular slave, would pay to the slave’s master the price of his liberty. This meant that the slave ceased to be a slave. He became a free man. The rights of citizenship were his. He no longer needed to fear the slave-driver’s lash, or heed his commands. Can the words, “Purchased and won me from all sin” have a meaning anything like this? Is there not sin all around us? Does it not rule largely in the world? Do not even the best of Christians often feel the shackles, and the lash, of sin? All this is true, sadly true. Indeed, it takes a lifetime of training in the school of the Holy Spirit, of fellowship with Christ Jesus, to get the best of us to have a faint understanding of the true nature, the cancerous, corroding, death-dealing nature, of sin, and the hold it still has on all of us; and to be truly humble on account of it.
And yet, thank God, it is true that Jesus Christ has redeemed us from all sin. All that God could possibly demand of us because of our sin Christ has paid. Whether they be sins of deepest scarlet hue, or what we are prone to call the little sins, Jesus has atoned for them all; He has paid for each one of them severally, paid for all of them collectively. And if we have truly taken Jesus Himself to be our Savior, then we are forgiven, daily and richly forgiven, all our sins. Nothing is held against us. Not only have we been relieved of the guilt of sin, but we have been clothed in the spotless robe of Christ’s own perfect righteousness. God looks at us through the merit of Christ.
Jesus, however, has not only made it possible for us to be forgiven. This we will need as long as we live in this world. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 Jn. 1:8). These words apply to any and every human being in this world. But every true, earnest Christian may, by the appropriation of Christ, continue, as long as he lives in this world, to make progress in overcoming the power of sin in his life, and of living more and more like Christ, who is our pattern. Finally, death is the purifying fire which purges away the remnants of sin from our being, and prepares the way for our awaking in the perfect likeness of Christ.
It is only by instituting comparisons, not to our own glorification; but to the glorification of God’s gracious, loving help, that we come to realize the degree of deliverance from the power of sin which God has wrought in those who are truly his children. And this comparison should be made not only by singling out the conspicuous saints, and the conspicuous sinners; but also by comparing the lives of men generally where the Gospel of Jesus Christ is preached, loved, and lived, with the lives of men in heathen lands where the Gospel is unknown, where sin reigns unchecked by the light and power of saving grace.
If there is little progress in saintliness on the part of the professing children of God, the fault lies not in the remedy provided, but in themselves. It is because they lack earnestness in applying the remedy, it is because they are giving their strength to other things.
Jesus, we are further told, purchased and won us from death. Won us from death? Does not death reign all around us? Do not all men have to die? Do not men everywhere fear death? Shudder at the thought of it? Try to escape it just as long as possible? Is this not largely true of even Christian people? All this is very true. All men still have to die, so far as the body is concerned. Death is the last enemy to be destroyed. And he is destroyed only in the act of destroying. The child of God is enabled to exclaim, “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
Let us not forget that the death of the body is the least we have to fear. This is only a consequence. The worst death of all was when man died spiritually, to the life which is in God; when life became a parched, seared and shriveled thing, fearful and hopeless. Out of this condition come all our ills, and the final dissolution of our earthly frame. And the end, unless deliverance comes, is eternal darkness and woe. This the Scriptures call eternal death. This especially is what is meant when it is said that Christ purchased and won us from death. He came to lay His omnipotent hand on our palsied spirits, and say, “Arise, and walk.” He came to breathe into us anew the breath of life, the power of an endless, blessed life. When this has been done the real death has been banished from human life. Jesus Christ is, to all who receive Him, the death of death. And those who really know and appreciate this are freed from the sting of physical death.
For even the Christian the death of the body remains. It remains as a reminder of the ravages of sin. It is the last evidence of the justice of God. It is the last touch of the purifying fire. And most Christians are unable to shake off altogether a certain dread of its experience. But when the Prince of life, who Himself experienced the double death for us, stands by the side of his dying saints, and holds their enfeebled hands; when they know that the angels of God are in waiting to bear their released spirits to the abode of the blessed, then death is no longer the king of terrors. Indeed, then death itself is made to wear the livery of an angel of light, for it must do God’s bidding. Then death itself is made to unlock the portal which opens inward to the Paradise of God, where flows the river of eternal life. This is the blessed purchase of Christ’s redemption.
I believe that Jesus Christ has purchased and won me from the power of the devil. The line of thought in the explanation of the Second Article runs from effect to cause, — sin, death, devil. The devil was the original great deceiver. He brought about the spiritual death of man. Sin is the result of a spiritually dead soul. And sin, unhindered, uncured, results in eternal spiritual deadness, to which state the death of the body is the way of entrance. Before we can be delivered from sin and death the power of Him who brought all this on us must be broken. This Christ Jesus has done.
To speak of the devil is to provoke a smile on the part of not a few. Disbelief in God is not the only kind of unbelief extant. Many do not believe in a personal devil. He rejoices in all unbelief, especially in this. It lures men to sleep. It makes them careless.
No devil! How, then, do we account for the deviltry which abounds? If there is no devil then the evil ascribed to him always existed, or originated without a cause, or God Himself turned the good of which He is the author into evil. These conclusions are all unthinkable. As in all other things, so here we believe the teachings of God’s Word; the statements of which, on this point, are in harmony with the conclusions of philosophic minds of all ages; namely, that there is a personal evil being who is the originating cause, and the sustaining source of strength, of all the forces of evil.
Jesus Christ came to break the devil’s power, to undo his work. And He has completed His task perfectly. The devil’s lordship over man has been broken, his claims nullified. The devil can say to no man, you are mine, I have a right to you. We are all the Lord’s purchased possession. And all the combined force of the princes of darkness cannot hold one soul in thralldom against that soul’s will, after Jesus Christ has laid on him His life-giving touch. The devil can keep only those who are satisfied to be under his dominion. He may, and does, for such liberty is yet allowed him, vex and grieve the children of God. This is part of our discipline; but when his worst has been done, his snares and stumbling blocks become the stepping stones whereby God’s saints, by the helping hand of God, come into richer blessings, and closer fellowship with Christ. They may be, oft are, sore pressed, wounded, and blood-drenched; but saved and blest, forever victorious.
Redeemed from the devil’s power! Does this not seem a strange declaration in view of existing circumstances? Is there a saved soul which is not sorely grieved at the evidences of satanic power operating all around us? Is there a child of God who does not blush, and weep at heart, from the inner consciousness of the power which the devil still finds means of exerting in his own life? Not one! And yet, who can measure the degree of deliverance which we are already enjoying? Not only have we been delivered from the final consequences of the devil’s deadly work, but from many of the present consequences as well. Let us place ourselves, in thought, in the environment of a people wholly in spiritual darkness; where the devil reigns undisturbed in his fiendish task of blinding and destroying souls. Pessimistic as we sometimes feel with respect to the conditions under which we live, that is another world. Death in all its varied forms, in all its ghastliness, reigns there supreme. When the Holy Spirit, through God’s Word, has revealed the devil’s tyranny, and led men to cry for deliverance; where the Gospel of the crucified Christ has loosened satan’s hold, and brought deliverance from his throttling grip, it is another world in which they live, — a world in which they are blessed with light and hope, with growing liberty, and increasing life. Thank God, we know that satan’s power is broken.
II. The Payment
Having considered the curse from which we have been redeemed, we will be better able to appreciate the final step in the payment of the price of our redemption.
As we have seen, the curse from which we have been redeemed was the triple panoplied evils of sin, death and devil. As Atlas of old was supposed to stagger under the burden of the whole earth, so each one of the natural born children of men staggers under the burden, the multiplied burdens, begotten and nurtured by this curse. The streams of tears and blood which have watered the earth, the heartaches, the agonized groans, which fill the earth with their discord, these and all else that mar the life of mortal man, are the legitimate fruits of the reign of sin, death, and the devil. This is the explanation of the altars which have filled every nook and corner of the inhabited earth, from the time of far off Cain and Abel to the present day. It is the secret of Israel’s many sacrifices. It accounts for the weird, strenuous, and ofttimes bloody efforts which many of the benighted children of men, in many parts of the world, are putting forth today. But none of these sacrifices were of a nature, in themselves, to remove the curse, and set the shackled spirit free. “It is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sin” (Heb. 10:4). None of the fastings, pilgrimages, or tortures of the flesh could take away the gnawing consciousness of guilt. The sacrifices and services of the unenlightened were prompted by the craving for pardon and peace; it was all a feeling after God, if happily they might find Him. When these services were divinely instituted, as among the Hebrews, their purpose was to serve as reminders of sin, and to keep alive the memory of God’s promised mercies, to be fulfilled in the Messianic redemption.
All the altars in all the world were but types and prophecies of that one upright altar erected on Calvary’s brow, the cross of Jesus. All the sacrifices ever offered were either prophecies, or perversions of that one costly, all-sufficient, heaven-provided sacrifice for the sins of humanity, — the maimed and bleeding Lamb of God.
Jesus Christ was, in the fullest sense of the word, the spotless Lamb of God. He never did any sin, neither was guile found in His mouth. It was love which brought Him down from heaven for the very purpose of becoming our substitute. As such all the obligations resting on all men were laid on Him. He met them, fulfilled them to the letter, thus providing a righteousness for us which satisfies God when we make it ours by faith. But more is required than this. Man has transgressed in many respects. He has accumulated guilt resting on him. And he can never pay the damning debt. So all man’s guilt was laid on Jesus. Because of this He did not stand before God as the ordinary poor sinner, who, because of his misery, touches the sympathetic heart of God, and receives offers of grace and mercy. Jesus, having taken on Himself the sinner’s sins, was not regarded as a poor, weak sinner; but as sin itself. “He was made to be sin for us, who knew no sin” (2 Cor. 5:21). And for sin, as sin, there can be neither grace nor mercy — nothing but punishment. So it came that there was poured out on Jesus the full content of the vials of God’s wrath.
On the cross, by His sufferings and death, Jesus paid the price which effectually redeemed the world from sin, death and devil. Jesus was the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world. And on Calvary’s cross the Lamb of God was slain to atone for these sins. There are various theories explanatory of Christ’s sufferings and death, this is the only one in accord with the teachings of God’s Word, the only one which brings any comfort.
The sacrifices of the Old Testament did not in themselves take away sins. They did not make those who offered them perfect. They did not bring the actual blessing. They were only types, prophecies, reminders. This accounts for their repetition year after year. Nor has there ever been in all the world anything of sufficient worth to take away the sin of a single individual, not to say of all men. Jesus Christ Himself, who owns the universe, could not pass that over in payment for man’s sins. He redeemed us, not with silver and gold, this currency does not pass at the court where moral guilt is adjudicated; but with His own precious blood, His innocent sufferings and death. We do not want to set limits to Divine wisdom and power. Nor do we care to discuss at any length the bootless question whether God could not have found some other way of redeeming the world; but when we consider the relation of the Father to the Son, and remember that God always follows the one logical way of accomplishing His purposes, the way, not of ease, but of righteousness and efficacy of means to desired ends, we are forced, I think, to the conclusion that the way of the cross was the one way open to God for saving his lost children.
We need not trouble ourselves, however, about problems too deep for human fathoming. Let us be satisfied to know, to know on the assurance of God’s own unimpeachable word, that we are redeemed. Our debt, the debt of each human being, having lived, or to live, has been paid; paid to the last infinitesimal requirement. “Surely He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed” (Isa. 53:4—5). And this Old Testament prophecy is fully corroborated by New Testament teaching. God “hath made Him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). Jesus “was delivered for our offenses and was raised again for our justification” (Rom. 4:25).
Reason, unenlightened by the touch of the Holy Spirit, balks at this teaching. It advances not a few arguments against it. And we grant that, according to earth-bound, and sin-blinded ways of thinking, some of them have some force. But viewed thus much of the Bible is not logical. Especially is Christ not logical, His work is not logical. The cross of Christ has ever been, and ever will be, to the unspiritually minded an offense; but to the believer in an inspired revelation the cross is the climax of the wisdom of God and the power of God.
Prostrate before Thy throne, O Father of mercies, we adore the mystery of wisdom and love which conceived and executed the wondrous plan of redemption. And with gratitude too great for formulation in human language we thank Thee for it, and for the liberation, peace and blessedness of which it has made us the possessors.
By God's grace, each week LutheranLibrary.org will present a new message on the basics of the Evangelical Christian Faith. Our guide is the Small Catechism, as expounded by Traditional Pastor Robert Golladay. May this series bless and inspire you.
- Author: “Golladay, Robert Emory”
- Title: “The Apostles’ Creed”
- Originally Published: 1917 by Lutheran Book Concern, Columbus, Ohio.
- Lutheran Library Edition: 2020
- Copyright: CC BY 4.0