by Mike Ratliff

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. The Gospel 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 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. However, 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 realize 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 the 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!

7 thoughts on “Redemption

  1. Amen!
    You are so correct in your assessment of the real problem, it is depravity. Man does not want to admit that we are “that bad”, that we have no way to get to God in and of ourselves. Unless the Holy Spirit first draws, we can never be saved. Never!
    My pastor was so dogmatic on this issue of people being “basically good”, it has nothing to do with being nice, moral or decent, all of these things can be reproduced in the flesh. But, regeneration and holiness cannot.
    He always held people at arm’s length that professed salvation until their fruit proved one way or the other. His philosophy was “guilty until proven innocent”. And he was always 100% correct in his discernment.
    Most saints are not critical thinkers anymore because they have no black-and-white absolute truth taught them!


  2. Berean Gal, thanks! your pastor was right. Sadly, he is the exception rather than the rule. The visible church is getting what it wants the most, which is autonomy with God not as our Sovereign Lord, but as some sort of Deistic entity with no ability or desire to intervene in the salvation of people. With that, God gives these people what they want and they are blinded to their their depravity by the lying words from their false prophets. Fortunatly, He has preserved His remnant and I am amazed at the clarity that those of us within it can see the deception while those who are deceived cannot.


  3. Dear Mike,

    I was greatly saddened to hear of a former pastor of mine Rev. David Nicholas who passed away yesterday.
    His motto was “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” Romans 1:16
    Every time Pastor Nicholas preached he would faithfully and completely tell the “bad” news and many times he would use the illustration of a person lying dead on a park bench. Is there anything a dead person can do to change their situation? The obvious answer is no. Well, he would go on to say that we have been born dead (spiritually) and that we are naturally seperated from God. Since God is just and holy and He can not look upon our sinfulness and we continually sin in thought, word and deed. But the Good News is that God made a way where there was no way by sending His Son Jesus to die on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins and redeem us. So, by His grace if we trust and have faith in Christ as our personal Savior and confess our sins and turn away from them and believe that Jesus took the penalty that we deserve we are then born again (spiritually) and are sealed with the Holy Spirit that indwells us and keeps us in Christ.
    We can never know how Good the Good News is until we understand how bad the bad news is.
    This pastor never ever wavered from sharing the 100% gospel. It reminds me of Acts
    “how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable,and teaching you publicly and from house to house, solemly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ” Acts 20:20-21
    Thank you Mike for also continuing in faithfulness.
    Grace and peace in Christ Jesus, charisse


  4. Charisse, let us rejoice that Pastor David is with our Lord right now! Yes, he and men of the Word will be missed here and we need them, but he went home to be with our Lord in HIS timing.


  5. Mike, you make my head hurt… a good way. Thank you for the post.

    A couple of side notes; John Newton of Amazing Grace hymn fame, also vehemently denied election, but once God’s grace allowed him to see the freedom it brings was forever changed.

    Also, John MacArthur’s new book “slave” deals with the word Doulos, predomininantly translated servant in NT translations, and briefly sketches slavery in Jewish, Roman worlds, and in the context of slavery to Christ, freed from slavery to sin. Needless to say (but I will anyway) I highly reccommend it.
    Thanks again.


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