Last week we focused on the fact that God knew who would ultimately accept Jesus and who would not, but that the real-time decision was a matter of free will choice by each of us, and of every person who ever accepted Jesus and of those who did not or do not.
The take-home for me was that God did not and does not condemn anyone to destruction. He does not prevent anyone from accepting Jesus, in fact he wants everyone to accept him. But many, most, do not choose that option. They decide not to open the door to the banquet table set for them. They walk right on by, too busy, or too proud; and they miss out on the unbelievable blessings.
And we learned that the concept of adoption by God is not that of an orphan being adopted into a family, but the formal ceremonial acknowledgement of an adult status in God's family, with the full rights of an heir.
Not bad for two verses.
So this morning we pick up with verse 7. Remember that everything about verses 3 through 14 is focused on Jesus. Continue to keep that in mind. Let's reread verses 3-6 of Chapter 1:
Now on to new territory:
What's Most Important?
When you consider all of the works of God which would you say is the most important thing that God did as recorded in the Bible? One of your natural reactions would be that the creation of the universe was his greatest work. He created something from nothing; he created everything we know and don't know; he created time. That would be a reasonable first opinion. But how should we measure whether something was important or unimportant in God's scheme of things?
One of the ways to do that would be to measure how much of the Bible is devoted to that particular work. How much of the Bible is devoted to the creation? You have a couple of chapters in Genesis, some references in some of the Psalms, a couple of chapters in Job, a couple of chapters in Isaiah, and that's pretty much it.
Another candidate for God's greatest work is his redemption of man. How much of the Bible is focused on the redemption? Certainly the book of Genesis is almost entirely about the redemption of man starting with the fall in the Garden of Eden followed by the flood and new start through Noah. The book of Exodus is entirely a book of redemption starting with the redemption of the Israelites out of Egypt by Moses and then the redemption of the promised land as the Israelites were led into Canaan. Numbers and Leviticus with all of their procedures are entirely about ways for man to be redeemed from his sin. The prophets were involved in trying to save the remnants of the Jews and redeeming them from having abandoned God. Obviously all four of the Gospels are written entirely about the redemption of man, and the rest of the New Testament concerns the development on the church, and is focused on Jesus as the only way to provide redemption.
So with the exception of chapter 1 and 2 of Genesis, which were before the Fall in the Garden, virtually the entire Bible is about the work of God to redeem man from his sin. So by the sheer volume of the amount of the Bible dedicated to the redemption of man, it would seem that the redemption of man is God's greatest work.
There is another way to judge what God's greatest work was. That is by asking: What was the price paid? How much did God pay for his work of creation? Could he do another one? It takes six days, right? Does he have another six days? How much effort did it take for him to do the creation? He breathed through his nostrils said a few words and it was done. You have a feeling that he could do that again by a snap of his fingers or just with the thought in his mind.
What did our redemption cost him? His only son. And that was a lot more than a few hours on the cross or a few days in the tomb. We've talked about that before. When God sent his son to be a mortal man and to take on the sins of man, that was as great a price as God could have paid.
How did God deliver our redemption? What does Paul mean when he says that we have redemption through the blood of Jesus?
It is interesting today how many churches don't like to talk about the necessity for the blood of Jesus to be shed for man to be to be forgiven from our sin. But in fact, that is the key to the whole thing. We could go through an extensive study of the concept of redemption in the Old Testament. There was the redemption of the land in Leviticus 25 and Numbers 18. There was the redemption on the nation of Israel from slavery in Exodus 15, Deuteronomy 7, Isaiah 43. However there is one aspect of Old Testament redemption that is unique but you may not have realized how unique it is. The Passover sacrifice is distinct from the other sin offerings in the Old Testament. First, it is not a Levitical offering. It was not defined as one of the ritual offerings in Leviticus. In the Passover offering our sacrifice was not performed by the priesthood like all of the other offerings. It was performed by the head of the household.
However, every one of the offerings, whether a Levitical offering or the Passover offering, pointed to whom? Jesus. If you have any doubt about that, please re-read Hebrews Chapter 10.
What Lamb are we talking about? The Passover Lamb, specifically. Very unique.
In the New Testament there are three different Greek words used to for the concept of redemption.
The concept here is one of ownership: he bought you, you belong to him.
Both verses use the word that simply means that you buy something, no deeper meaning. This word simply means to purchase something.
In that verse, the word is used to discuss the fact that we as believers are redeemed out of the law. Not that we are purchased with the intent of reselling, but that God for his personal purpose, redeemed us from the law, out of the law, out from under the law. There were about six million slaves in the Roman Empire that were bought and sold as personal property. If you're going a buy one of those with the intent of reselling in the future, that would be agorazo. If you are going to buy one of those slaves out of the market with the intent of keeping him and never reselling him, that would be exagorazo.
This word is the case where you might buy a slave, own him and then set him free. That's what Jesus did for us. He bought us out of the slavery to sin, not with the intent of reselling us, but with the intent of releasing us from that bondage and setting us free.
And he purchased us, redeemed us, with his blood. 1 Peter 1 develops that concept.
See also Hebrews 9:22:
This tells us that no lesser price would do. We were part of a fallen race with a genetic defect. We had sin in our nature. There was no way out and it was impossible for man to redeem himself. The role of the blood of Christ is impossible to overemphasize.
If you had a five-year term in prison and you escaped, who had to pay the balance of the unpaid debt on the debt certificate? The jailer that let you escape. You remember in Acts when Paul and Silas were in prison there in Philippi, and there was an earthquake, and the jailer was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped? That's why he was going to kill himself. Just about then, Paul said "Hey, we're still here." As you may recall, that blew the jailer's mind and he accepted Jesus. That saved them from those debts as well as debts he didn't even know he had.
This idea of a debt being paid in full is stated in the Greek word tetelesti, used in Colossians 2:14
Also John 19:30.
In John 19 one of the last things that Jesus said on earth was tetelesti. It is recorded as "it is finished". The equivalent today is "it is paid in full". That's what he did, in effect, at his crucifixion. He paid our debts in full.
Not a Limited Atonement: - Remember last week -- we briefly discussed the Calvinist concept of limited atonement; the concept that Jesus died for those who accept him, but not for those who do not. Last week we looked at 1 John 2:1-2:
It is clearly stated that Jesus died for everyone, for you and me, but also for those who are lost. The verse says, for the sins of the whole world.
This week I found another verse that reinforces the fact that the atonement by the blood of Jesus is not limited.
Jesus even died for the false prophets! The bad guys. Some will choose not to accept him; but their destiny is a result of their choice, not a lack of the required steps by Jesus.
Let's wrap up verse 7. Remember, that is where we started today.
The result of his redemption of us is the forgiveness of our sins. Forgiveness is one of the fruits of redemption. There are three kinds of forgiveness:
We need to be washed daily. We need to bow before him and asked to be washed, cleaned up. 1 John 1:9 is a verse to remind us of that, and that he can do that. The source of his forgiveness are the riches of his grace. Paul is going to mention the riches of his grace six times in this letter alone. There is no limit to his forgiveness. This is not a count that you can run out of.
The Riches of His Grace:
How rich we are. Paul is going to try to get across to us in this letter, that you and I have vast riches available to us right now; not just in eternity. We have already been adopted by God; recognized as adults with our share of his inheritance, beyond measure, and in a reality that is more real that what we can experience -- all the blessing in God's reality, the real reality.
As we try to grasp the reality of God, we give up. A man said, "It is as if the entire universe is nothing more than a thought in the mind of God." That did not come from a Christian scholar. It is a quote from an atheistic scientist, as he tried to grapple with an understanding of reality, in our world.
We will pick up in verse 8 and 9 and deal with the wisdom and understanding of God and the mystery of his will.