Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

   by Rayola Kelley

      The consistent theme that runs through the Bible is redemption. But, how many of us understand the significance of this work. We sing songs about it and know that Jesus completed it on the cross, but it appears that some, or possibly many of us do not understand the real implications behind this incredible work. The reason I say this is because it appears that there are those in the Christian realm who do not live as if they are redeemed.

    Perhaps it is because these individuals do not understand what it means to be redeemed. They may have some appreciation behind being delivered from a bad or hopeless state, but they do not realize that Jesus did not come to “simply” save us from a bad situation; rather, He came to save us from ourselves. Granted, our master was sin, but sin finds its inroads into our lives through our selfish, unregenerate disposition. In such a state, we are not only enemies of God, but we often become our own worst enemy.

       This brings us to the one aspect people struggle with in regard to salvation, and that is the concept that they cannot be as bad as the Bible states. Surely, there has to be something good or beneficial in them that is redeemable or salvageable. The world’s philosophy that we must look for the “good” in all men confirms these people’s particular take on the matter. Although some of these individuals may maintain that they believe the Bible, they quickly separate themselves from Scriptures that would declare there is no “good” in them. They console themselves in their worldly, psychological view about possessing personal “goodness” by applying such negative or hard Scriptures about the depravity of man to others who would clearly fit such criteria.

       The Bible is clear. These Scriptures are not just applicable to those who are bad or rough around the edges, but to each and every one of us. Unlike merchandise at a store, we were not purchased because we had value, worth or were needed, but we needed to be ransomed because there was no worth outside of what God was willing to put on us. For example, you would not ransom someone you did not know or liked (Romans 5:7). It was God who chose to ransom us because He was the one who was willing to do so.

       Scripture has made this clear even in regard to the children of Israel. Through the Old Testament you can see where the people of Israel started out insignificant. Their identity to Jehovah God was based on a covenant that He had made with men who were long dead. The people had become slaves, foreigners in a land that had no regard for them. Plans were devised to even destroy their identity as a nation by killing all the male children upon their birth. However, Jehovah God would not forget His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It did not matter that there were none to hold Him accountable to it. He could not forget because of who He was and is and always will be.

       Jehovah God knew the stiff-necked ways of the descendants of Israel. He recognized that they were not only slaves to Egypt, but they were enslaved to the idolatrous and pagan practices of the society they had become subservient in. They had no rights as a people, they had no privileges as servants, and they had no value or future as slaves. They were poor and had nothing to offer except to be slaves.

       It was Jehovah God who put a price on the people of Israel. He made them valuable by making them the apple of His eye. He was the one who redeemed them and lifted them out of the status of slaves to deliver them as a people, a nation that would serve as a light in the midst of great darkness. He talked about this deliverance by using this analogy in Exodus 19:4: “Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagle’s wings and brought you unto myself.”

       The people of Israel had nothing to offer God. Yet, He chose to become their Lord God. “Lord” points to owner. He took ownership of them in order to deliver them. You cannot redeem something unless you are willing to take full ownership of it. You cannot pay a partial payment and maintain ownership of something. You must make full payment or restitution if redemption is to take place.

       Did God’s redemption of the people of Israel imply they would remain as slaves? Ownership means exactly what it is. You own what you have purchased or redeemed. That which was purchased has no right to determine its use or status. A purchase becomes the property of that person who redeemed it. However, something that is used or valued after the purchase will rest with the character of the owner.

       God is not a tyrant. He does not oversee a tyrannical government or kingdom. He did not redeem the people of Israel because He wanted slaves. He redeemed the people of Israel because He made a promise to Abraham that out of His descendants the Promised One would emerge to prove to be a blessing to all people of all nations. He redeemed the people because He chose to love them, take them as His espoused wife in a relationship that pointed to the excellent desire and plan He had for them as a people (Hosea 2).

       It must be continually stressed that we all serve something. We are born into some type of slavery (Romans 6:16-20). We are either born into the oppressive slavery of sin, or we are born again into the kingdom of God to become servants and instruments of the Most High God. The truth is we do not belong to ourselves. In America, we can purport our freedom as a people, but we are indeed enslaved to systems of the world, whether it be financial, governmental or religious, we are clearly enslaved to something.

       God came to deliver us from this present world’s systems to give us a choice as to whom or what we will serve. Like the children of Israel, He had to take responsibility for each of us in our desperate lost state. Because of our slavery to sin, we had nothing to offer Him. Due to the curse of our corruptible flesh, we were held captive, and because of our ongoing debt to God’s Law and the world’s systems, we had no means to change our status. The fact that we were born under a death sentence revealed that we had no hope of ever changing our state. Clearly, sin was our master, the flesh our prison, the world our prison chains, and death our executioner.

      God chose to pay the price for our redemption. The price was not only high, but it was precious. He paid for our release with the very life of His only begotten Son. Since He paid for our redemption, He owns us. The Apostle Paul makes clear reference to this in 1 Corinthians 6:20: “For ye are bought with a price; therefore, glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

       Our bodies are considered the temples of God. We must not come into agreement with the unholy by fornicating or prostituting ourselves with that which is contrary to the holy nature and ways of God (1 Corinthians 6:13-19). We should be bringing glory to God by our lives, not a reproach to Him.

       In 1 Corinthians 7:22-23, the Apostle Paul said this: “For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman; likewise, also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant. Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.” We are not here to live unto ourselves, heap the things of the world upon our flesh to feed its lust, or do as we please in matters. We have not been redeemed for ourselves, but redeemed for God’s purpose. He has set us apart as a special people, designated to be presented to Him as His bride in the future.

       We may be freemen, but such freedom allots us the opportunity to love and serve our Lord with everything in us. Granted, we are free to serve Him in the ways we choose to serve Him, but we also risk hearing these words: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father, who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).

       The word “Lord” points to owner. I have often made this distinction between Jesus serving as Israel’s King, but as blood bought saints, He is referred to as our Lord. Israel understood the term “Lord.” They knew that the LORD God was their owner. However, as a nation, they wanted a physical king. For us, we are placed in the unseen kingdom of God, which brings us under the reign of our blessed King, Jesus Christ. We understand citizenship, and to some extent as to what it means for Jesus to be sovereign king over His unseen kingdom.

        However, the one term we have a hard time understanding is “Lord.” Kings have subjects, but lords have servants. Subjects are to be ruled over as a collective body, because the King must maintain and protect the integrity of his kingdom. Lords oversee servants for they are responsible for their personal welfare. Kings do not own their subjects, but lords own their servants. Kings are to protect the kingdom to ensure its function for the benefit of their subjects, but lords are to personally take care of the needs of their servants to ensure the function of their household. Subjects must be loyal to the king, while good servants should and must be personally committed and attentive to their Lord’s will.

         As you can see, kings hold the position of authority, but lords have secured the right to have their position. They own the servant. It has cost them in some way to secure this particular place of ownership in the servant’s life.

        This brings us to the term “Lord.” Consider what the Apostle Paul stated “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10). The apostle states that we must confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus to ensure salvation. What relationship is established up front? That Jesus is our owner. He has taken full responsibility for our spiritual welfare with the intent to save us. Since we cannot save ourselves, He had to take personal ownership of us as a means to redeem us. However, this ownership means we belong to the one who has purchased us. From this point, we have become His servant with no rights other than what He allots us. We actually need to confess that without His ownership there would be no personal identification proving that we have been redeemed or purchased by Him.

        It is upon confession of our Redeemer that we are able to believe in our heart that He is alive. The grave could not hold Him after He had paid the complete price of His life for our redemption. He was raised from the dead to live evermore as our Lord, our Redeemer in the courts of heaven. He is not dead, but alive! If He is alive, we as believers have the responsibility of recognizing our vocations as His servants and coming into His household to serve Him according to His instructions and commands. The apostle summarized it by saying that with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

        As I meditated on why God’s people do not act as if they are redeemed, I realized the key was that they have never really come into the Lord’s household as His consecrated servants. They have never really made it a point to belong to Him. If they did, they would have to deny themselves to live as they please, do as they will, and be whatever they desire. Due to such a state, they have not ceased to live like a slave to sin, serve the whims of the idolatrous flesh, and bow down to the foolish ways of the pagan world. Once again, we must remember we are going to serve something. As Joshua clearly stated to the children of Israel when he put forth this challenge to them: “Now, therefore, fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the Euphrates, and in Egypt, and serve ye the LORD. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:14-15).

       Most Christians simply quote the last part of verse 15, while failing to elaborate on the fact that a great river or gulf separates the different masters. God is on one side of the river or gulf, while all other taskmasters reside on the other side. As servants in the household of God, we will learn what it means to be His children who are truly being raised up as heirs to an eternal inheritance. We will know what it means to serve a just, fair, and loving master. We will know what it means to live as redeemed people who were once dangling on the abyss of destruction, but were borne up as if on the wings of an eagle by a loving God.

       When was the last time you meditated on redemption? When was the last time you realized that you had no value to offer God for His intervention and deliverance? Yet, because of who He is, He chose to commend His love towards you by allowing His Son to become the ultimate sacrifice on the brutal instrument of the cross. He did it not because you held any real worth or value, but because out of His holiness, love, mercy, and grace He put a price on you that He willingly paid to bring you unto Himself.

       Why would He do such an act? Surely, it was not because of any good or righteousness in us. Regardless of how we try to convince ourselves, there is nothing redeemable in us for our holy God considers our best as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). Even though we think there might be something worthwhile to salvage in us, there is no good or beneficial thing in our flesh that would ever be desired by Him (Romans 6:18). Although we might try to flatter ourselves that we do possess some winning way, the truth is we are born in a state that deems us lost sinners, utterly separated from Him. We were lost to God, lost in our own form of darkness of delusion, ignorance and corruption. Without embracing His redemption, an individual remains 100 percent lost to all that is holy, right and good.

        We need to get this deep into our spirit. We need to quit buying the world’s humanistic nonsense that leads us back to man, or the world, being the solutions to the matters that ail humanity, causing us to serve harsh, uncaring taskmasters while selling our souls. The very nonsense that we are willing to enslave ourselves to such taskmasters proves that our attempts to believe that there must be some “good” in us is a lie. God’s Word is clear that the only one who is good is God. There is no moral fiber in man that can withstand God’s holiness once such “goodness” is put to the fire. Granted, man may be decent about matters and moral in his conduct, but in and of himself he possesses no inward moral fiber that can stand in light of God’s holiness. God clearly put a price on us and willingly paid it to afford us the luxury of choosing who we are going to ultimately serve.

        Which side of glory did you choose to stand on? Is it on the side where the darkness of idolatry and paganism reigns or is it in the household of God where your Redeemer truly is Lord? If Jesus is Lord, it should and will be obvious that you have indeed been redeemed.