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  • Writer's pictureRev. Gerald (Jerry) Reiter, Emeritus

In Him We Have Redemption

Seventh Sunday After Pentecost

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will - to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 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, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment - to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.


In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession - to the praise of his glory.

Ephesians 1:3-14


In our Epistle lesson we read that “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” Jesus Christ is our Redeemer and in Him we have redemption.


Beautiful words, “Redeemer” and “redemption”, with wonderful meanings. But they’re not common words, are they? It’ll be worth our while to see what they mean to us, and what our response should be to them.


To do that, I first want to introduce you to the Greek word, “Agora.” In ancient Greece, the Agora was the market place. Today we’d call it “downtown,” the “shopping center”, or most accurately, the “mall.” The “mall.” That word conjures up emotions in some people. When our daughter Valerie lived in Upper Michigan, she and some of her girlfriends would drive down to the big mall in Green Bay, Wisconsin twice a year. And I remember her telling me, “When I think of our upcoming trip to the mall, my palms begin to sweat!” :) Valerie has what I would call, “Agoraphilia” – love of the marketplace. And I wouldn’t be surprised if there are some people reading this who have the same feelings! On the other hand, I think Valerie’s husband has “Agoraphobia” – a fear of the marketplace. That is, he’s afraid when Valerie goes to the mall! :) now that you know what the “Agora” is, we can get on with it.


There are three Greek words which are translated as “redeemed” or “bought” or “purchased” in English. The first one means “bought with a price”, the second means “bought out of”, and the third means “liberated through ransom”.


We need to understand all three words if we’re going to fully appreciate the redeeming work of Christ.


The word for “redeemed” used most often in the New Testament is the Greek word, “Agora’dzo”. I assume you heard the word, “Agora” in there. “Agora’dzo” is a word of commerce, and it usually has to do with the purchase of something in the marketplace. In Jesus’ parable of the Great Banquet, the first man invited said, “I have just bought a field,” and the second man said, “I have just bought five yoke of oxen.” Agora’dzo.


In just that same way, we were purchased while in the slave market of sin – for we were once slaves to sin and to Satan. But Jesus purchased us with His precious blood, and now we are His bond slaves. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.” And again, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”


Denying or rejecting this redemption and its price of Jesus’ blood is disastrous. Peter tells us, “There will be false teachers among you… even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them – bringing swift destruction on themselves.” (2 Peter 2:1)


But those who believe and receive the Redeemer and His redemption can sing as did the elders in Heaven in John’s vision: “You are worthy… because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.” (Rev. 5:8-9)


Of the three Greek words, translated “bought”, “purchased”, or “redeemed”, two are closely related. “Agora’dzo” means “bought while in the marketplace”, while “Exagora’dzo” is a stronger word, meaning “bought out of the marketplace.” This is important! Because although we’ve been purchased by Jesus in the slave market, we were purchased in such a way that our new “slave owner” has seen to it that we’ll never again be offered for sale to someone else. He’s the last owner we’ll ever have. We’ve been “taken off the market.” Our new owner promises to keep us forever!


The slave market we were in was sin – the knowledge of which comes by God’s Law. And the Law brings a curse with it because no one is capable of obeying God’s Law – that is, not until our Redeemer became the curse for us! So Paul writes to the 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.’” (Gal. 3:13) And again he wrote to the Galatians, “When the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under (the) law, to redeem those under (the) law, that we might receive the full rights of sons… So you are no longer a slave, but a son!” Or daughter!


We have been redeemed – purchased – Exagora’dzo – out of the Law, freed from the curse of absolute perfection which we cannot achieve. And freed from being in bondage to sin. In His grace, Christ has done it all! So we read in our Epistle lesson, “In Him we have redemption. Through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” (Eph. 1:7)


In order to purchase a slave on sale in the marketplace (I Cor. 6:19-20), in order to take him or her forever out of that marketplace (Gal. 4:4-5), one has to have the purchase price. In Hebrews we read, “Jesus did not enter (the spiritual tabernacle) by means of the blood of goats and calves, but He entered the most holy place once for all by His own blood, having obtained eternal redemption (for us).” (Heb. 9:12)


The marketplace is the slave market of sin; and the purchase price paid to buy us out of that slave market was our Redeemer’s own precious blood. The word for “redemption” here is the Greek word, “Lutrosis”. It means “liberated through ransom.” The ransom price paid was the infinite value – enough to redeem all mankind. How sad it is that all mankind does not take advantage of it – does not accept God’s offer of freedom from the slavery of sin!


Again, Peter wrote, “You know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed – Lutrosis – from the empty way of life… but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” (1 Peter 1: 18-19)


Jesus Christ removed us from bondage to sin and has set us free. Not free to sin! But free from the penalty of sin, free from the guilt of sin, and free from the power of sin. Ultimately, we will be free from even the presence of sin! So Paul wrote to Titus, “We wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness.” (Titus 2:131-14a)


Being bought out of the slave market of sin – being redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ – is an exceedingly rich privilege! Only those who have accepted God’s offer to become His sons and daughters can say, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” For God’s children have free access to their Heavenly Father, knowing that they have been redeemed and forgiven. Redemption, or forgiveness, is a privilege we have now! We are God’s children now!


But redemption implies responsibility too. Our Heavenly Father doesn’t spoil His children. In fact, He disciplines them!


Once we’ve been liberated from our bondage to sin, we can fulfill the purpose for which we were created – that of glorifying God in all that we do. Our response to the freedom He has purchased with His own blood is to turn to God in gratitude and love, and offer ourselves to Him as slaves forever. In other words, let Him be Lord of our life!


Since Jesus is our Redeemer, it’s only right that He should have the last word – as recorded in the Gospel of John: “Jesus replied, ‘I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed!’”


All praise to our Redeemer and our Lord!


Amen

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