Redemption

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               In this message I have the privilege of talking about that which I am passionate about, the Gospel. Specifically I will be covering redemption. Before I explain Redemption I want to first do a recap of Creation and the Fall so we have an understanding of that which God redeems us to.  
Creation             The beginning of the Gospel story starts in Genesis.  God is the creator and sovereign Lord of all His creation.  Our identity as humans starts in Genesis 1:26-27.  God made us in His image, meaning we would reflect God’s glory and know, love, and live with him.  Being made in God’s image speaks to our dignity as an image bearer of God, our being relational, and moral-rational beings.  From the beginning he made us both male and female in his image.  Genesis 2:18 also gives insight, in speaking of all of his creation thus far God had said it is good, however after creating man for the first time in his creative process God said it is not good; because man was alone. As God himself is relational in the trinity being Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all three in one, in his image we are made for community with other image bearers. So he created woman from man and they were one in intimate perfect relationship, and then His creation was complete and perfect. Then sin happened.

Fall

            In the beginning man lived in perfect harmony with God and his creation and the only thing forbidden was eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  Satan’s first attack was to cause doubt about God’s goodness and truthfulness and to cast disobedience toward God in a good light (Gen 3:1-5). Adam was our representative in the garden, so all of mankind received the inheritance of a depraved sin nature as a result of his fall to sin (Romans 5:12). The result of breaking this law was separation from God(death both physical and spiritual, death between relationships, and death in God’s creation), also shame, and the curses that came with that separation(Gen 3:16-22). However from the moment sin entered the picture God had a plan to rescue his people from their own brokenness.  In Gen 3:15 He revealed his plan; He would send a savior, the offspring of the woman, who would crush the head of the serpent.  God’s plan was Jesus and continuing from this point is the story of God’s redemptive plan to send the God-man, the second Adam to represent man and pay the price for our sin so we may be redeemed (1 Corinthians 15:21).

Our state in Sin

“We tend to think of sin as an infraction of rules. But the story of the Prodigal Son makes it clear that our sin is not just an infraction of a set of laws but a terrible offense against God, our loving Father. By taking the good gifts we’ve been given -our time, money, and talents – and running away to live life our own way, we are acting like the prodigal who turns his back on his father, sells the ancestral lands, and then squanders his inheritance. It is tantamount to wishing God were dead.” -Spangler & Tverberg

Now that we know the context lets take a broad glance at Redemption.

Doctrine of Redemption

            Jesus was the offspring spoken of in Gen 3:15; born of the virgin Mary, from birth was wholly man and wholly God. He lived a perfect life, was crucified died and was buried, then rose again conquering sin and death. He then ascended into heaven and sent his spirit to testify and empower believers for ministry.  Redemption is a one time event where God softens the heart of a sinner and they agree with God about their sin, who Jesus is, and their need for him, then they are called Sons of God, and cannot loose this free gift of salvation (Romans 3:23-24, 5:8, 6:23, 10:9-10). Christ’s death on the cross absorbed all the consequences of our sin, bridging the gap between us and God, which we could never do by our own actions, and started his reign over his new creation defeating sin once and for all, fulfilling God’s redemptive plan.

            So that’s the 30,000 foot view if you will. Now that you know where we have come in the Gospel story thus far, and I have given you the broad view of Redemption, lets dig in and unpack it further. Graeme Goldsworthy said: “Redemption is in the event by which God reconstructs an acceptable human history while judging the unacceptable. The doctrine of justification by faith involves the substitution of God’s righteous history in Christ for our fallen and condemned histories of rebellion.” -Graeme Goldsworthy. So in explaining redemption it’s important to understand justification, as this is the means for which Christ redeems sinners to a Holy God. For an explanation of justification I thought it would be fitting to dig into the text of Galatians since that is where we have been studying this fall. Today I will be teaching from Galatians 2:16-20.

                   “16 know that no one is justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ. And we have believed in Christ Jesus so that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no human being will be justified. 17 But if we ourselves are also found to be “sinners” while seeking to be justified by Christ, is Christ then a promoter t of sin? Absolutely not! 18 If I rebuild the system I tore down, I show myself to be a lawbreaker. 19 For through the law I have died to the law, so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ 20 and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing.” Galatians 2:16-20 HCSB

            The passage of Galatians 2:15-21 is the most important and foundational passage in all of Galatians, and in Christian doctrine as a whole. In the context of Galatians Paul was addressing both how Jewish Christians should live out their faith going forward and how new gentile converts should live out their faith. McKnight explained the dilemma well in his commentary on Galatians “Were they, in turning to Christ, abandoning their Jewish heritage, fulfilling it, or simply adding to it? Peter’s struggle was similar to that of other Jews: Are we Jews? Jewish Christians? or Christians? Are we reformers of Judaism or are we starting the church?” (McKnight) Before approaching how gentiles could live out their faith first through studying justification they had to answer the question of what is our doctrine and what is our right practice.

            The thesis of this passage lays in verse sixteen in that justification is through faith alone in Christ alone, or to put it simpler Jesus plus nothing is everything. In studying the text I broke this passage into two parts; in the first(gal. 2:15-16) asking and answering the question how is one justified, and in the second part(gal. 17-21) focusing on how one who is justified lives that declaration out.

            In answering the question of justification Paul first appealed to all Jewish Christians common conversion experience. “These Jewish Christians had been born with all the rights and privileges of Judaism. But even at that, they recognized that such a status did not automatically equate to righteousness before God. Paul articulates that which he considers to be a given in the discussion when he states that these Jews “know” (eidotes, GK 3857, “we know”) that a person cannot be justified by observing the law.” (Rapa) He then places a “but” in the text to also show that not only did they know how they were not justified; they know how they are, “by faith in Jesus Christ.”

          In the discussion of justification I would like to explain what is meant. Justification here is not to be confused with sanctification. Paul use of the “word dikaioun does not suggest the infusion of moral qualities, a justum efficere in the sense of the creation of right conduct,”(Fung) rather Paul was referring to the legal position of one after being redeemed by Christ. “In the courtroom people may be declared “guilty” or “acquitted.” Theologically considered, we can never be “acquitted” because the Judge’s decision is not that we are “not guilty.” Rather, the Judge pronounces us “guilty but nonetheless forgiven” because Christ has assumed our penalty. The verdict then is “guilty” but the penalty is eliminated because Christ bore it on our behalf.”(McKnight) Justification is the position to God not the qualitative nature of ones character, that will be dealt with later in verse 20.  

          The position of legal justification is one that is received through faith in the redemptive work of Jesus by the work of the Holy Spirit. “To have faith in Jesus Christ is to express, as an element of one’s faith, a confidence in his faithfulness to God and in God’s redemptive purposes.” (Rapa) Thus it is by this faith in Jesus and not in works that one receives right position to God.

            Since all men are declared justified through faith and not by works the next question is how does one live out their faith. As Paul confirmed Peter himself had left the old customs of the law behind and began living as a gentile, among gentiles, and teaching gentiles. In doing so they had “in certain matters of diet and association decided not to live like Jews, they had become, from the Judaizers’ perspective, “sinners” and “unclean.””(Rapa) However Paul declared that those standards were no longer in place, and no longer declared them unrighteous, for if they did Christ would be leading His followers in to sin. As Paul stated later the law was meant to be a guardian for a time, and after Christ had fulfilled the law it was no longer necessary to live by the ceremonial codes. In fact “to do the law after Christ was to deny his sufficient work; it was to step back in salvation-history to a period before Christ. For Paul, this was abominable and denied the very purpose of Christ’s coming.” (McKnight) Also if they indeed did continue to try to live by the law, they would only be declaring themselves guilty, because the purpose of the law was never to justify but to show the need for salvation.

            Our new life as believers is not based on our works but on the work of Christ and His power being displayed in us through the Holy Spirit. Through Christ’s work on the cross and in our hearts convicting us of our sin and gifting of faith in Him our old self dies and we are reborn with the spirit of God indwelling us and empowering us to live a life of faith in God. Paul’s last assertion in the text was that if one could become righteous through the law, there was never a need for Christ in the first place, and His death was in vain.

            So Christ through his atoning work on the cross and resurrection made it possible for God’s originally intended relationship with mankind to be redeemed. Also through His work He gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit to empower our new life in Him. Where God had given His people the law on stone tablets in the Old Covenant with Israel He sent the Spirit to write the moral law on our hearts and enable us to follow it by loving God and loving others. So as a redeemed person we are a new person. Scot McKnight said it this way: Those who have been justified, live justly; those who have been made holy in Christ, live holy lives; those who have experienced God’s love, love others; those who have experienced God’s forgiveness, forgive others; those who have been called from the world, no longer live in the world and call others to be “out with them”; those who have died to the flesh, live in the Spirit.”

            Now the act of living out our new redeemed status is the work of restoration or sanctification. That will be the topic of our next meeting. But I want to give you a glimpse of what it is to be made new in Christ and see fruit of your faith. Again lets look in Galatians 5:16-26:

16 I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: a sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, 21 envy, o drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I tell you about these things in advance—as I told you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit” Galatians 5:16-25 HCSB

            The work of restoration or sanctification is done by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. So redemption is a one time event where a person believes that Jesus Christ has died for their sins and God rose Him from the dead. Restoration or sanctification is a process of the believer being remade to resemble Christ, and man’s original intended design without sin. This process is complete in death and our new life with God in paradise.

           For application for you today I ask you to evaluate your relationship to God. Do you have faith, not just in knowledge of what the Bible says but faith that has changed who you are. Have you been redeemed? In evaluating this consider the fruit of the spirit, has the Holy Spirit started a work in you that has caused your human interaction to show love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-conrol? Not perfection but a lifestyle change. You will always struggle with sin, but if you have been redeemed you will not be content to live a lifestyle of sin, you will be convicted of sin as it occurs, and your demeanor will be that of love for others, and love for God.

            If this is the case, tell someone about the gospel. Look for opportunities to share your story of redemption with others.

            On the other hand if you evaluate your life and decide you don’t believe you have been redeemed but desire that or have more questions about anything I talked about tonight, come talk to me or Eric, Lara, or Johnny. We would love to talk to you about it and pray with and for you.


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