Biblical Redemption

by Mike Ratliff

15 Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. (Hebrews 9:15 ESV)

The Gospel is explained very well in the New Testament. The role of the Church in the World from the time of Christ’s Ascension until His return is very well defined for us there as well (to go and make disciples from all the earth, teaching them to observe all that He taught…) This Great Commission is not to ‘be the Gospel’ nor is it to ‘redeem the earth’ nor is it to ‘make the world a better place.’ No, it is to go and tell the Good News that we have a mediator of a new covenant and those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance that is made possible through the death of their Saviour who has redeemed through the shedding of His blood (see the passage above). You see, this is the Good News. This is the Gospel. To preach Jesus is to preach what Christ has done not what people have done, not what churches have done, not what religion has done or what being religious can do for anyone. It is simply to proclaim this message relying on the power and work of the Holy Spirit to draw those called by God to saving faith. Let’s take a closer look at this “redemption.” 

The word “redeems” in Hebrews 9:15 (above) translates απολυτρωσιν the Accusative, Singular form of ἀπολύτρωσις or apolutrōsis, which means “redemption, ransom.” Jesus died as a ransom to set free from sin those called. This redemption is provided by Christ through His death on the cross (Romans 3:24; 1 Corinthians 1:30). In Ephesians 1:9; Colossians 1:14, it describes something that believers have right now. But in the remaining uses of this word (Luke 21:28; Romans 8:23; Ephesians 1:14; 4:30), there is a future aspect to redemption, which the called will not experience fully until Jesus returns again. It is made clear in these passages that this delay does not in any way put their redemption into jeopardy. The reason is that they have the Holy Spirit as a deposit guaranteeing their final redemption.

This redemption reflects the act of freeing, releasing, or buying back by paying a ransom price. The ransom price for the called’s sin is death. However, Christ paid this ransom price through His own sacrifice (1 Peter 1:18-19) and thus freed us from the bondage of sin, to be brought back into the family of God (Galatians 3:13, 4:5).

In our day we don’t readily understand the full force of the word redemption, as did Paul’s readers. Why? We don’t have slave markets in our major cities any more, though with the enslavement of Christian girls in Nigeria  forcing them to become Muslims then selling them as slaves may bring this back to reality what was common in the New Testament era.  The Greeks and Romans knew exactly what Paul was talking about. At the time of the writing of the New Testament there was approximately six million slaves. Slave-trading was a major business and was an accepted part of society. It was very common for a person to have a relative or friend who had been sold into slavery. A slave could be free only if someone paid the purchase price and then declared him or her free. There was no way for the slave to redeem himself or herself.

I have had direct and hateful opposition as I have stood before classes to teach from the Bible when I taught about the doctrine of election. However, those who have this issue and are  resisting this wonderful doctrine really don’t understand that their real problem is with the doctrine of depravity that makes election necessary. Our fallen nature simply does not want to accept the totality of our depravity, but the analogy is clear. We are slaves to our fallen nature and are dead in trespasses and sins and can do nothing to be justified before our Holy and Righteous God. That is why we have to have a Redeemer who died for those whom are called.

In our day, sin has been redefined to mean virtually anything we want it to mean, such as “not perfect but still basically good” or simply a “low self-esteem.” However, the picture from Sacred Scripture is one of a spiritual corpse that God must redeem and regenerate, and that is the work of God’s grace alone. And it is from that that we have been redeemed.

Soli Deo Gloria!

13 thoughts on “Biblical Redemption

  1. Is it possible that the ones who oppose the doctrine of election as you teach it are hearing in it doubt that Christ has redeemed them?

  2. Mike, I have been called a Calvinist for embracing the Doctrine of Election. I don’t see Calvin’s name mentioned anywhere in the Bible. To say that the Doctrine of Election is the same thing as Calvinism is a lie. That would be implying that Calvinism is the Word of God. They are not the same thing, otherwise, there would be no need to label one a Calvinist. As you have mentioned before, man still has some responsibility concerning his salvation, but it is by God’s grace and His grace only through faith that one is saved. Interesting…this doctrine and the pre-trib rapture sure sets off a lot of Christians – hmmm……

  3. Bruce, can you rephrase your question? Are you asking if a person who opposes the doctrine of election are doubting their election? My understanding of the Gospel and the goodness of God from decades of studying the Bible tells me, and I am fallible being a man not God, that all who come to God in belief and repentance are being drawn by Him to do so. He will by no means cast them out. Their belief in the Gospel proves their election. I know that seems backwards…but that is how I read it brother.

  4. Mike, when I think of Calvinists, I am thinking of “hyper” Calvinists. When I am asked about what I believe, I never say, I’m a Calvinist. I simply believe in the Sovereignty of God and the Doctrine of Election concerning this matter. Perhaps I am being a bit “hyper” senstive about it. LoL.

  5. Dear Mike,

    Grace and peace in Christ Jesus!

    “The Lord bless you, and keep you; The Lord make His face to shine on you, and be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26

    Be refreshed in the Lord in your labors…

    Blessings, charisse

  6. Mike, I thought the question was pretty well phrased. Why would people oppose what you are teaching? Why are they even in your classes? Oh, I believe in the article on election also, as best summarized in the Formula of Concord.

    In your reply, you said, “Their belief in the Gospel proves their election.” I’d rephrase that to say that the Gospel is the electing word. It is the proof. Having faith that one has faith is not the sort of proof one can count on.

  7. Bruce, okay, let me rephrase my response. How can election take place at the time of faith in light of Ephesians 1:3-4, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love,”? Election took place before the foundation of the world. Doesn’t matter whose confession of faith says whatever it says, the Word of God says this. Proof of election is the result of being effectually called, that is, belief. Saving faith comes as the result of REGENERATION (Ephesians 2:8,9). Only the elect receive it. Nothing complicated about it Bruce. Also, I assume you are referring to assurance. Of those I know multitudes of believers who “buy into the Reformed teaching of election” they have very firm and solid assurance. Why? How do you explain regeneration? How can I explain to you the part of my salvation that I experienced myself that was not part of the forensic side such as my justification, etc.? All I can tell you is that I am not the same person afterwards than I was before and that the Holy Spirit has always been with me since then. The fruit of the Spirit is present and I am able to read the Word of God, interpret it, and teach it none of which I could do before. How can I explain that to you who doubt it?

  8. hello mike, just wondered why did insert the word “BACK” in this sentence?

    “However, Christ paid this ransom price through His own sacrifice (1 Peter 1:18-19) and thus freed us from the bondage of sin, to be brought BACK into the family of God (Galatians 3:13, 4:5).”

    you probably have seen, emergent churches often use the phrase they are “helping people find their way back to God” but sinners dead in sin were never near God in the first place. similarly, i’m just wondering why you inserted that word “back” here? was there some significance to putting that word in there?

    ~Andy

  9. Andy, here are those two verses from the NA28 Greek text:

    18 εἰδότες ὅτι οὐ φθαρτοῖς, ἀργυρίῳ ἢ χρυσίῳ, ἐλυτρώθητε
    ἐκ τῆς ματαίας ὑμῶν ἀναστροφῆς πατροπαραδότου
    19 ἀλλὰ τιμίῳ αἵματι ὡς ἀμνοῦ ἀμώμου καὶ ἀσπίλου Χριστοῦ. (1 Peter 1:18-19 NA28)

    Here is a direct translation:

    18 Knowing that you were redeemed, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, from your vain manner of life handed down from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of an unblemished and unspotted lamb, the blood of Christ.

    The word “Back” isn’t there. It is inserted by the translators to make the word ‘Redeemed’ more understandable to modern and post-modern readers, but I think it causes confusion.

    Also here are my translations of Galatians 3:13 and Galatians 4:5: 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law having become a curse on our behalf–for it has been written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE”– 5 that he might redeem the ones born under law that we might receive adoption as sons.

    Again, as you can see, the word “Back” is not there. Whatever translation that is coming from, the translators are trying to clarify the word “Redeem.” I don’t think it is necessary.

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