Ephesians 1:7-8

Sermon preached on December 11, 2005 by Laurence W. Veinott. Copyright 2005. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at http://www.newlifeop.org/.

At approximately 9:00 p.m. on March 1, 1932, twenty month old Charles Lindbergh Jr. was kidnapped from the second story nursery of the Lindbergh home near Hopewell, New Jersey. Even though a ransom was paid, the baby was later found dead. He had been killed shortly after he was kidnapped. It was a horrible and despicable crime.

I hate kidnapping. The Lindbergh case illustrates part of the reason why many people find it so disgusting and distasteful—for it is sometimes perpetrated against children and often ends in murder. Because of cases like that, I don't even like to think about kidnapping. Whenever it comes to my mind I usually try to think about something else instead.

But as paradoxical as it sounds, sometimes our understanding of something like kidnapping can help us grasp certain gospel truths. This is the case with the text before us. In verses 7 and 8 Paul writes,

"In him we have redemption through his blood,
the forgiveness of sins,
in accordance with the riches of God's grace
that he lavished on us
with all wisdom and understanding."

The great point that we are taught here is that

in Christ we have redemption.

But what does redemption mean? Bauer's Greek Lexicon (BDAG) gives the meaning of this Greek word as,

"'making free' by payment of a ransom…"

Leon Morris tells us that (The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross, p. 41)

"ransoming [is] the essential meaning of the word."

This needs to be emphasized because in some Christian circles it's not politically correct to view ransom that way. They want you to think of redemption merely in terms of deliverance. They don't like references to the payment of a price. As I told you last week, a minister of that school told me that such things as blood and violence weren't in the Bible as regards to our salvation but that the church made them up about 1000 years after Jesus.

But if you look at the Biblical text you can't get away from these ideas. What follows the word redemption shows that we must not think of redemption merely in terms of deliverance. Paul wrote,

"In him we have redemption
through his blood,"

Jesus also spoke this way. In Matthew 20:28 He said,

"the Son of Man
did not come to be served,
but to serve,
and to give his life as a ransom for many."

So the proper way to think of our redemption is to think of it in terms of being made free by payment of a ransom. John Murray writes, (Redemption, Accomplished and Applied, p. 42)

"The language of redemption is the language of purchase and more specifically of ransom. And ransom is the securing of a release by the payment of a price."

Jesus secured our redemption by dying for us.

Now there are two important things we should note about the ransom paid by Jesus.

First, the ransom has been paid and accepted.

Paul wrote,

"In him we have redemption…"

He uses the present tense. This is something that we have right now. As John Eadie writes, (Ephesians p. 40)

"From a recital of past acts toward us, he comes now to our present blessing."

The transaction has been completed. The ransom has been paid and accepted. We have redemption. We have the forgiveness of sins. You were purchased by Jesus and set free. This is a spiritual blessing that you have right now.

Your redemption means your freedom. As the apostle Paul wrote in
Galatians 5:1,

"It is for freedom
that Christ has set us free.
Stand firm, then,
and do not let yourselves
be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."

James Montgomery Boice writes that our redemption means that we are, (Foundations, p. 330)

"free from the guilt and tyranny of the law and from sin's power."

We see this in such passages as Galatians 3:13 and Hebrews 9:15 where we read, (Galatians)

"Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law
by becoming a curse for us,
for it is written:
'Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.'"

Hebrews 9:15,

"For this reason Christ is the mediator
of a new covenant,
that those who are called
may receive the promised eternal inheritance—
now that he has died as a ransom
to set them free from the sins
committed under the first covenant."

John Murray writes, (Redemption Accomplished and Applied, p. 43)

"Redemption applies to every respect in which we are bound, and it releases us unto a liberty that is nothing less than the liberty of the glory of the children of God."

That's what we have in Christ.

Now to help us understand more of the glory of our redemption we should ask:

To whom was the ransom paid?

The kidnapping analogy that I mentioned earlier is not total. When someone is kidnapped, the ransom is paid to the bad guys. But, because they're bad guys, the person who paid the ransom is not sure he's going to get his loved one back just because he paid the ransom. For example, in the Lindbergh kidnapping case, the kidnappers secretly killed the child, and then demanded a ransom for safe return of the child. They were totally dishonest and they could not be trusted.

But our redemption is not like that. To whom was the ransom paid? Some of
the early church fathers suggested that it was paid to the devil and they had all sorts of fanciful conjectures about it. The problem with that theory is that it really isn't taught in Scripture. Indeed, what we see from Scripture is that Satan is a sinner. He didn't rightfully and legally gain a kingdom by his sin. Let that sink in. He didn't rightfully and legalling gain a kingdom by his sin. He's a usurper. Although in Ephesians 2:2 he is called,

"the prince of the power of the air,"

he is no rightful ruler. God doesn't owe Him anything (except His wrath). God didn't have to pay a ransom to Satan.

Satan often claims things and fights for things that are not rightfully or legally his. Perhaps that why some people made the mistake that the ransom was paid to Satan. Satan fought for a place in heaven after he sinned—but he was cast out. You'll remember in his temptation of Jesus the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. He said, (Matthew 4:9)

"All this I will give you,
if you will bow down and worship me."

He claimed to have a right to all the kingdoms of the world, as if they were his, as if he were the rightful and legal ruler of them. But he wasn't. In Colossians 1:15-16 we have these statements about Jesus.

"He is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn over all creation.
For by him all things were created:
things in heaven and on earth,
visible and invisible,
whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities;
all things were created by him and for him."

Satan didn't have a right to all the kingdoms of the world. They belong to God, to Jesus. They have always been His. That fact that sin came into the world didn't change that. Satan has been a liar from the beginning—just because he claims certain things doesn't mean that he has a right to them. Wayne Grudem writes, (Systematic Theology, p. 580)

"Though we were in bondage to sin and Satan, there was no 'ransom' paid either to 'sin' or to Satan himself, for they did not have power to demand such payment, nor was Satan the one whose holiness was offended by sin and who required a penalty to be paid for sin."

But if the ransom was not paid to Satan, to whom was it paid? Herman Ridderbos writes, (Paul, An Outline of His Theology, p. 195)

"Time and again scholars of every sort have laid stress on the fact that it is nowhere said to whom the price is paid."

He suggests that they emphasize this because we must not think of our redemption as a mere business transaction between Christ and God, of which believers would be the stake. We also have to guard against the notion that in the cross of Christ, God was merely the Recipient of something. We must never forget that in the cross of Christ God was active. But Ridderbos continues, (p. 196)

"However much we have to guard against a pedestrian notion of 'buy,' 'price,' 'pay,' as though the salvation of Christ has accomplished were a matter of a business transaction, this does not alter the fact that the whole thought of redemption and ransom rests on the awful reality of the curse of the law (Gal. 3:13; 4:5), a curse that one may not understand as an independent, blind force detached from God, but as the fulfillment of the divine threat against sin (Gal. 3:14). There is here in fact, however inadequate human words may be, a case at law between God and men, both Jews and gentiles. In this Christ makes his appearance as the Mediator, who gives the ransom for all (1 Tim. 2:6). His death is the costly price in this case. Here again the great presupposition is that God himself has send and given his own Son to that end. (Gal. 4:4, 5)."

Ridderbos adds, (p. 196)

"Although it is not thus said that Christ redeems his own from God, yet God is the one whose holy curse is executed on Christ in their place. Justice is not thrust aside, but justice is satisfied."

Wayne Grudem writes, (Systematic Theology, p. 580)

"the penalty for sin was paid by Christ and received and accepted by God the Father."

This is the point that we need to grasp. The ransom was paid and accepted.

Remember what I said earlier about kidnapping the ransom is paid to bad guys and that just because it's paid is no guarantee that you'll get your loved one back. But it's not that way with the ransom that Jesus offered. It actually redeemed us. In Him we have redemption. God's wrath was fully satisfied. God's justice is fully satisfied. The price of our redemption has been paid in full.

The second thing we should understand about the ransom that was paid on our behalf is that

the ransom price was exceedingly costly.

The price of our redemption was nothing less than the blood of Jesus. Paul wrote,

"In him we have redemption
through his blood,"

Jesus died to make us free. In 1 Peter 1:18-19 we read,

"For you know that it was
not with perishable things
such as silver or gold
that you were redeemed
from the empty way of life
handed down to you from your forefathers,
but with the precious blood of Christ,
a lamb without blemish or defect."

The precious blood of Jesus. There is nothing greater than that. We were ransomed by the death of Jesus.

You who are Christian ought to let this sink in.

It is only in Christ that you are free.

It in only because of His great work of suffering and dying for you that you have been redeemed.

The other night at the
prison I was speaking on election and predestination and one of the guys asked me about free will and its place in those who are not Christians.

Are those who are not in Christ free? No, not at all. They are in bondage. John Murray writes, (Redemption Accomplished and Applied, p. 43),

"Ransom presuppose some kind of bondage or captivity,"

Before we were Christians we were dead in trespasses and sins. We were slaves to sin. Before we were redeemed, we were in bondage- to sin, to its power, to its curse. As Paul wrote in Romans 6:20,

"When you were slaves to sin,
you were free from the control of righteousness."

People who are slaves to sin have free will and they freely sin. They are slaves to it. They cannot chose God. We see this in 2 Timothy 2:24f where Paul told Timothy that Lord's servant must not quarrel, but be kind to everyone. He wrote,

"Those who oppose him he must gently instruct,
in the hope that God will grant them repentance
leading them to a knowledge of the truth,
and that they will come to their senses
and escape from the trap of the devil,
who has taken them captive to do his will."

Not what Paul says there. Unbelievers need to come to their senses. How can they do that? Only through God granting them repentance. That's what they need. Without it, they are slaves to Satan. He has taken them captive to do his will.

But in redemption, we have freedom, the glorious freedom of the children of God—freedom to serve God and live for His glory. This redemption was purchased at the great cost of the death of Jesus.

This means that

you must not think of redemption as a little thing.

But that's what some Christians do. They will tell you that they have redemption because they chose Christ. They don't understand redemption at all. It's not something that man accomplishes or contributes to. No. What could they give? A mere decision? No, that's not enough. Could they give their life? No, that would not do it because they are sinners. They would have to suffer eternally and still never be able to pay the ransom.

The ransom that was required was the death of the Son of God. Jesus, the King of Glory, for whom and through whom are all things—He who was perfect and without sin—it was His life that was the ransom. Jesus, the very author of life—He suffered and gave up His life. Oh, the ransom price was exceedingly costly.

Note how Paul speaks of it here. This blessing of redemption, which includes the forgiveness of sins and the liberation from bondage, is,

"in accordance with
the riches of God's grace
that he lavished on us"

F.F. Bruce writes,

"To speak of the 'wealth' of God's grace implies that he has shown it in abundance towards its recipients…"

Redemption is about grace—grace to those who were in bondage. That grace is awe inspiring. There's nothing like it. Eadie writes, (Ephesians, p. 43)

"the opulence of His grace is seen… in the unasked and unmerited provision of such an atonement, so perfect and glorious in its relation to God and man, as the blood of the 'Beloved One.'"

Lastly, for those of you who aren't Christians.

The prevailing idea is that most people are going to be all right when they die. God is a God of love and He's going to let just about everyone into heaven, no matter what they've believed. As long as they've been 'good' people, they're going to be okay.

But that is far from the truth. Know assuredly that your sin requires death—and not just physical death—but eternal death of suffering away from God's blessings. There's only one way to escape—by believing on Jesus. You need someone to pay the price of death for you. Only Jesus can do that. Go to Him. Trust Him. Find freedom and life in Him.