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Theology > Salvation > Work of Salvation > Redemption


To redeem in ancient time meant to pay a price in order to set free, such as paying the debts of someone in prison so the debtor could go free; or a person could be delivered from slavery by someone paying the price to facilitate the slave’s freedom. The essence of redemption was deliverance through cost.

This historical practice was taken up in the Scriptures and given a spiritual meaning in terms of God and His relationship to man in his sin. Every individual is bound, a slave to sin, owing a debt to God for sin that the individual can never pay; therefore, no individual has the capacity to set himself free. Judicially the individual is guilty and condemned; and because of this state the individual is without hope of deliverance (see: Guilt). All have sinned and come short of the glory of God, resulting in an inability on the part of every man to free oneself from sin (For Old Testament background, see: Ex. 13:13; Lev. 25:25; Ruth 4:4-6; Ps. 49:15; see: Man’s Disobedience and Adam's Rebellion). In order to be free, the individual requires Supernatural deliverance; left alone man is doomed. Redemption must come from without man.

Redemption is the act of God whereby He effects deliverance for the sinner. Redemption is Theistic (see: Deut. 15:15; Ps. 25:22; Isa. 43:1, 14; 44:22-23; 47:4; 48:20; 50:2; 52:9; Micah 4:10); that is, God takes the initiative, and what He initiates, He completes. He is the Author and Finisher of our faith.

The price—the ransom—is paid by God to Himself in order that the spiritually captive may be liberated. Through the death of His Son God does for man what man cannot do for himself. The word to Israel is the word to us:

O Israel, hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is mercy, and with Him is abundant redemption. And He shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities (Ps. 130:8).

With the Lord is redemption and the redemption is abundant, therefore, the basis for our hope is the Lord. For He redeems us from all of our iniquities.

Bless the Lord, O my soul;
and all that is within me,
bless His holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all His benefits: . . .
Who redeems your life from destruction.
Ps. 103:1-2, 4

Christ is the Redeemer. In the Old Testament God is called “Redeemer”: “Then they remembered that God was their rock, and the Most High God their Redeemer” (Ps. 78:35). But in the New Testament, redemption is associated with Jesus: “through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24; see: Gal. 3:13). If God is the Redeemer and if Jesus Christ effects redemption then Jesus Christ indeed must be God in the flesh.

Note: John Murray wrote a book entitled, Redemption Accomplished and Applied, a title that  affirms two connecting and distinct aspects of redemption: it was accomplished by Christ on the cross, but now must be applied to each individual believer. The reading of this book brought me personal assurance of my salvation and confirmed for me my redemption by the Lord.

To redeem is to pay the price so the captive may go free; in Scripture this is spoken of as ransom. Redemption means that salvation is secured by the payment of a ransom: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mk. 10:45). The Christ came to earth in order “to give His life a ransom for many”; note the following concepts: “give,” “His life,” “ransom,” and “for many.” Each of these is instructive, and each is vital for an understanding of the statement (see: Matt. 20:28).

“give” – Christ’s life was not taken; it was given; in fact, He affirmed that no one took it from Him, but that He freely gave it because He had the power to lay it down (Jo. 10:18); salvation then is a gift, it is the gift of grace; the idea of gift and grace suggests that man can do nothing to effect his salvation; all man can do is to receive, and to receive is to believe; (“Jesus Christ who gave Himself for us” – Tit. 2:13; the point is that He “gave”).

“His life” – the Lord gave His life; He gave “Himself” (“Jesus Christ who gave Himself for us” – Tit. 2:13); giving Himself He gave His blood (“He purchased with His own blood” – Acts 20:28), for the life is in the blood; to shed blood is to give up life; “You were not redeemed with corruptible things . . . but with the precious blood of Christ . . . manifest in these last times for you” (I Pet. 1:18-19).

“ransom” – a ransom is the price paid to free the one who is in debt; when the ransom is paid then the one who is in debt is declared free of debt, no longer guilty, and therefore free; the purpose of the ransom is to redeem (“Jesus Christ who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us” – Tit. 2:14; note the “redeem us”); the sacrifice of Christ is the ransom, the lutron, the price paid in order to free (Acts 20:28; Rom. 3:24; I Pet. 1:18).

“for many” – the life the Son of Man gave as a ransom was for individuals; it was for those who were and are guilty before God; “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” (II Cor. 5:19); “for” is anti, a preposition indicating substitution in the strongest possible manner, meaning “in the place of” or “instead of”; sometimes the Scriptures affirm that Christ died for all (“. . . the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all” – I Tim. 2:6), and at other times for specific ones (“many”); thus, there is a universal dimension as well as a particular dimension to the work of Christ; through His work Christ was and is creating a people (“purify for Himself His own special people” – Tit. 2:14); a “people” for “Himself.”

Redemption is through the blood; consistently redemption of the believer is associated with the blood of Christ. The Scriptures are precise:

He purchased with His own blood (Acts 20:28; Paul is speaking of the Church);

In Him we have redemption through His blood (Eph. 1:7);

In Him we have redemption through His blood (Col. 1:14);

You were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver and gold . . . but with the precious blood of Christ (I Pet. 1:18-19);

You were slain and have redeemed us to God by your blood (Rev. 5:9).

The significance of the blood resides in the fact that the life is in the blood; the blood is the life. To shed blood is to give up life (Gen. 9:4, “You shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood”). Blood and life are synonymous; to lose one is to lose the other.

Through Moses the truth is repeated and given even greater clarity. “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls” (Lev. 17:11). Blood, therefore, is associated with sacrifice because the blood is the life: to lose the blood is to sacrifice the life. When the blood of the animal is spilt, it means that the life of the animal has been given up in death. The shed blood of the animal on the altar is the life of the animal sacrificed on the altar.

That which was true of the multiple lambs slain in the Old Testament is true of the Lamb of God slain once and only once in the New Testament. He shed His blood, and when the blood was spilt, His life was given. For this reason at times redemption is associated with the life of Christ; in the following texts the words “life,” “Himself,” are synonymous with the word “blood” in the above verses: “give His life a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28); “I lay down my life for the sheep” (Jo. 10:15, 17-18); and “Who gave Himself a ransom” (I Tim. 2:6).

The goal of redemption is deliverance. Once the price has been paid the one who was bound is set free, whether from prison, slavery, or sin. The Scripture affirms that Jesus Christ “gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us” (Tit. 2:14; note the “redeem us”). Even in the Old Testament, it is stated that the Lord “redeemed Abraham” (Isa. 29:22).

Looking for . . . our great God and Savior Jesus Christ
who gave Himself for us,
that He might redeem us from every lawless deed
and purify for Himself His own special people.
Tit. 2:13-14  

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