Redemption Series (Part 9)

   Identity
   by Rayola Kelley

       We have been considering redemption. It is amazing to realize how redemption is at the core of what we, as believers have in Christ. Without redemption, we would have no right or claim to a spiritual inheritance. Without redemption, we could not approach the throne of God or hope for any real future. Without redemption, we would have no purpose, no sense of belonging, and no future home awaiting us. We would remain lost to everything of importance and significance.

       As I watch and observe people, especially many in the younger generation, I see that the prevailing mood seems to be that they have no real sense of purpose or meaning. They remind me of angry waves on the ocean being tossed to and fro by events and circumstances that seem insane. They have no sense of belonging or order. In some ways, they are victims of a society that has run amuck because of lawlessness, homes that have no moral fiber in which to anchor them, churches that promote social causes rather than the reality of a holy God, and a nation where leaders have gone mad with power as they strive to bring about a godless, wicked and destructive ideology and agenda that has no regard for anyone.

       In some instances, our youth have been sacrificed on altars of vanity as parents have chased after the “American Dream” or the “almighty dollar” in the name of “stuff.” They have been dulled down by a godless educational system that advocates lawlessness and revolution based on socialistic and Marxist ideas. They have been indoctrinated into the lie of “collective salvation,” which is preparing them to be swept away like sheep being led to the slaughter, and they have been marked to be chewed up and spit out by those who have absolutely no regard for them.

       As Jeannette pointed out in her article last month, no doubt we live in the last of the end days. The age of grace is winding down into a climatic event that will usher in the millennial age. The implications of the fruits that are coming forth in the present day are unnerving and despairing to say the least. However, even in the midst of the darkness there is great hope. The tribulation that is coming upon the face of the earth will not last forever. It will usher in a new season, and a new age or dispensation. There will be a time where the memory of the wicked of the world will be forever removed from those who are righteous. They will never again be vexed over sin, despair over compromise, be repulsed at immorality, and lament over the condition of the professing Church. All things will be put into order for the glory of God.

       Meanwhile, what do we, as believers, need to ever keep before us to maintain our perspective and balance in these trying times? It is simple: we have been redeemed. Like Noah, an ark has been provided and like the children of Israel, a place has been promised and is being prepared for us to enter into. We have been clearly identified as belonging to our Lord by the seal of His Spirit. He has redeemed us, and we have an inheritance awaiting us, and a place of safety where we will be able to hide. However, we must be prepared to recognize when the door is open and ready to enter into such a place when the time comes. We must not be like the five foolish virgins in Matthew 25 who waited until the last minute to be ready, only to discover they lacked the necessary oil to see them through the dark night, while waiting for the bridegroom to come and bid them join Him in the place prepared for them.

       From all appearances, the dark night is upon us. Do we have the necessary measure of oil (Holy Spirit) to see us through the dark night? Yes, a price has been paid for us, but have we become true servants in our Lord’s household or are we still coming in and out as we so please as far as our commitment and devotion? Will we know or recognize Jesus’ voice as our Shepherd to ensure that we will respond when we hear His invitation to come into the place that has been prepared for us?

       One of the realities of redemption that we must keep in mind is that it is a point of identity. It will identify people in various ways. This is why redemption is more than just a concept we sing about occasionally, it must be a reality in our lives. Let us now understand how redemption identifies us as a ransomed people.

       Marked: Those who are redeemed have been marked as such. This mark is obvious as shown us by the example of a servant in Deuteronomy 15. Every seventh year Hebrews had to release any servant that was Jewish from any debt that had occurred, allowing the Hebrew to return home or back to his or her inheritance. They were not to send their brethren away empty handed. This was to help them remember that God once redeemed them from slavery in Egypt.

       Occasionally, the Hebrew servant would decide that he or she would indenture her or himself to serve the owner of the house the rest of his or her life. Apparently, the servant knew that being indentured to the owner would ensure a greater quality of life. Perhaps, the owner was loving and fair, gaining the confidence and love of the servant. Such love would inspire the servant to count it a pleasure to serve in such a household. When a servant decided to indenture him or herself in such a way, the owner would take an aul, and thrust it through his or her ear unto the door as a mark that this individual had made a lifetime commitment to the household as a bond-servant.

       We also can see where Abraham also marked himself and his male descendants as belonging to the promises of God with circumcision. The children of Israel marked their doorposts with the blood of an innocent lamb. Christians are marked by the presence of the Holy Spirit in and upon their lives. We know that the Holy Spirit also spiritually circumcises our hearts. Clearly, there must be some mark of identification when it comes to those who have been redeemed by the Lord Jesus Christ.

       As Christians, we are also left with an example of the truest form of service in Deuteronomy 15. Many Christians want to decide how and when they serve the Lord, but there are a few that become bond-servants, marked by endearing love that is committed to the task of serving the Lord the rest of their lives in His household.

     Ownership: Why is it important to be identified in some way to redemption? Once again, redemption stipulates ownership. We know there must be some relationship in order to claim and buy back an inheritance that was somehow taken captive by debt or enslavement. We cannot claim what is not rightfully our own. In spite of the environment we live in, God has never, nor will He ever, promote the idea that those who have failed to possess, maintain and hold on to their inheritance will automatically retain it. After all, in Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus did not recognize everyone who perceived themselves to be His servants.

       For example, Esau sold his birthright. The children of Israel failed to enter into their inheritance the first time and maintain or hold on to their inheritance through obedience to their high calling. The rich young ruler sorrowfully walked away from eternal life, and the prodigal son squandered his inheritance. We are given different examples that reveal even though Jesus Christ secured our inheritance, we have to possess it by faith, maintain it by giving way to the Spirit and keep it by clinging to the Rock of ages. Once again, we are reminded of the Apostle Paul’s exhortation to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12).  

       Belonging: Many people have lost their way because they do not sense that they belong anywhere. They are looking for an anchor that will not only give them a sense of why they are here, but that they belong in the scheme of things. They perceive themselves as being like corks on the ocean of life, aimlessly driven by every wind or wave that comes their way.

       As Christians, we have been told we have been bought with a price and that we do not belong to ourselves (1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:19-24). As His redeemed people, we have great assurance as to our identity. Since Jesus owns us, we are anchored to a Rock that will not be moved by the waves and winds of this world. For this reason, the Apostle Paul made this statement in Ephesians 4:14: “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.”

       We belong to a heavenly family and are citizens of an eternal kingdom. We may be strangers and pilgrims in this present world, but we have a home that is awaiting us and a kingdom that will welcome us. We may be weary with the journey, but we must not take our eyes off of the destination. We must finish our course to benefit as God’s people.

       Position: Identity also stipulates position in the kingdom of heaven. Many people, including Christians, do not really understand their position. Position gives us a sense of where we fit in God’s kingdom. It will stipulate our place at His dinner table of communion and fellowship, our responsibility in regard to our calling in His Body, and our function as to how we will be part of ensuring the function and health of His Body in a world that constantly threatens its well-being.

       Position also determines our vantage point. Because of His redemption, we are seated in high places with Jesus (Ephesians 2:6). Such a position places us above the world. We are hidden in a fortress that is not subject to the present age. We have an eternal perspective that will keep us from being consumed by the lies that are engulfing this world. Even though the battle rages on the different fronts of the world, regardless of what happens in the physical arena of our lives, we can be assured that our place in the future world to come is completely secured.

       Purpose: It is from the vantage point of Jesus that we can begin to understand our real purpose for being here. Have you ever regarded the insanity around you and tried to figure out why you are here? What purpose does your life really serve in a world that hates the truth, rages against righteousness, mocks purity, encourages lawlessness, and strives to destroy any reality of God?

      As believers, we know that we are commissioned to preach the Gospel and make disciples of Christ out of new converts to the faith. However, there is another aspect to the reason why we are here: to bring glory to God in a world that is designed to forever try to change His glory in the minds and hearts of people (Romans 1:23). We are to be the salt that revives a despairing heart, the light that leads a wandering heart and living epistles that can be seen and read by those with a seeking heart. We are here to point people to Jesus.

       Potential: Redemption is about restoration. It is because of redemption that all things can be restored to us. The main reason Jesus came is so we can be restored back into a relationship with God. It is by being restored that we can reach our potential of once again reflecting His glory in this lost world. This is the reason man was created. He was created with the ability to reflect the very image of God to creation. Sin clearly robbed, tarnished and effectively shrouded such an image. However, the Holy Spirit knows how to restore such an image in a person who has a humble, contrite spirit.

       This brings us to the end of this series on redemption. Even though I have taken nine newsletters to explain the wonder of this incredible work of God, be assured I have only touched the surface. There is no way that I could even begin to give this subject the justice it deserves. However, my prayer and hope is that instead of the members of Jesus’ Body simply singing, “Let the redeemed say so,” that they will be able to say in their hearts, “Let the redeemed know so.” We need to know that we have indeed been redeemed, ransomed back from the throws of captivity and certain death by a loving God. This loving God was willing to pay the incredible price of His Son to restore us back to what had become completely lost to each of us. Let us praise His holy Name!