Thursday, September 17, 2015

Bought (Ephesians 1:7-8a)

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us.” (Ephesians 1:7–8a, NASB95)

It is interesting studying these verses in pieces. It is particularly interesting when you notice how the translations might vary somewhat in where punctuation is placed. Reading verses 3 through 14 we have a continuous and expansive statement by Paul of God’s grace and our thankfulness for how He was been toward us. So, taking it in pieces has with it some inherent flaws because it only looks at part of the picture without looking at the greater whole. This is a greater whole which actually continues through the end of chapter 3 where Paul changes the focus of the letter to that of our personal response in the light of all that God has done. What I have endeavored to do in looking at these small pieces is to continually back up and look at the bigger picture, and in doing this see how the smaller pieces are framed. I would encourage the same of you as you read along.

In verse 3 we read that we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ. Here we read that one of those blessings is our salvation. God is the creator of everything. Isaiah wrote, “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable.” (Isaiah 40:28, NASB95) A few chapters later he added, “I am the Lord, and there is no other; besides Me there is no God.” (Isaiah 45:5a, NASB95) Everything that exists comes from Him and He owns it all. He sets the standards, and when they are violated He sits as the Judge. He is the ultimate ruler of everything and everyone answers to Him. The psalmist wrote, “God is a righteous judge, and a God who has indignation every day. If a man does not repent, He will sharpen His sword; He has bent His bow and made it ready.” (Psalm 7:11–12, NASB95) There is no escaping that one day every knee will bow and tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11).

As God, He is the only one who can decide what is required for His forgiveness. Being infinitely perfect His standard is no less, and as man there is not one of us who can meet that standard. There is not one of us who can satisfy His wrath or pay any price to repay Him for what we have done. He declared that a price must be paid, and He said that this price was so high that none of us could meet it. It is for that reason that God, because He loved us, gave His own Son to pay that price. He did that a great cost to Himself, and because of that our redemption has been purchased in full. Where we were once slaves to sin, we have been bought by Christ for God’s glory.

One of the shows on cable TV is called “Pawn Stars.” Most of the time it is about people selling stuff and releasing all interest in what they once owned such that it could be later purchased by someone entirely unrelated. But the word behind the name speaks of something else. It points to the process in which someone being short on funds takes an item into the pawn shop in order to borrow money. He puts his property up as collateral or a while as he uses the borrowed money. The idea behind this is that at some time in the future he will come back and redeem the item at a price that exceeded the initial monies borrowed. He buys back what he once owned at a price. He redeems it. On a smaller scale, here is Oregon as with many states, when we buy a soda we pay a deposit on the container. This money is gone forever unless we take another step which is to return the container so that we might redeem the money paid at the time of the initial purchase. Some people don’t ever redeem these containers because the cost they paid initially was not high enough to motivate them, while others see the value in them and gladly gather them up to receive the funds for something they never purchased.

The price God demanded to purchase our forgiveness came at a very high cost. It came at the cost of His own Son. There was no other price that would suffice. But Jesus willingly, out of His love for the Father and His love for us, gave Himself to pay that price. But that was only part of the story. If Jesus had paid the price and no one saw the value then it would have served no benefit for man. But God not only sent His Son to pay the price, He also called and drew people to Himself such that they saw and understood what had been done for them. “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:44, NASB95) They were shown to see the value and they responded in belief by accepting he gift—receiving their own redemption.

This was all done according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. Think about this…. We had a debt that we could not pay and one that we didn’t even know we owed. But God loved us so much that He showed us our great need while also providing us with the answer to that need. It is one thing to point to how desperate someone is and to stand helplessly by. But it is quite another to graciously reach into the heart of their need and to pull them lovingly to yourself and lavish upon them incredible blessing. This is what God has done for us “in Christ.”

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20, NASB95) 

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