What I Believe: Our Redemption

Let us think of our redemption in terms of things that are flawed or dysfunctional being made right. I believe redemption begins with the good news of Jesus’ work being received by those who are sufficiently poor in spirit to know their need for it. Next, there comes liberty for those people trapped in wrong behavior and not able to free their selves. Moral blindness is a sign of God’s disfavor. Having our sight restored means we can see ourselves, others and the world as it really is and agree with God’s judgment as to how things actually are.

When we are redeemed we are moved from God’s disfavor, where we all begin our moral lives, and brought into the effective righteousness of God. I do not think this means we are perfected but we become instead blessed by the fullness of God’s gifts to his children. In other words, I think we drink spiritually of the living water and eat of the bread of life. We are no longer subject to God’s condemnation. This is not because we have been ransomed from Satan but because we have been returned to our right position with God.

Being redeemed means we are not only spiritually made new but freed from oppression from outside ourselves. This is because we should be free from fear of financial disaster, imprisonment or death, which are the usual tools of oppressors.

In addition to a personal side to redemption there is a social side. It is not generally thought that when Jesus read from Isaiah in the synagogue of Nazareth he was defining also social redemption but let us look at the words. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19 ESV).

I think that Jesus was speaking of both personal and social redemption when he read this passage from Isaiah. Personal redemption produces a new kind of person. Social redemption results in a new kind of culture. Both kinds are fruit of effective Christian believers.

The people Jesus spoke to did not want redemption. They wanted miracles like Jesus had performed in other Galilean cities. When he did not give them what they wanted they tried to kill him. We have technological miracles and progressive hopes so many people of our time are not interested in nor see a need for redemption. I believe they are acting if Christ is dead and thus unable to do anything useful for them or their society.

 

What I Believe: Redemption

Redemption has many facets. It is not enough that people know about good and evil. This understanding is insufficient to do the two things necessary to bring us to God. The first is to free us of the condemnation we have as heirs of Adam’s sin and the second is to free us from our own sinful condition.

 

Freeing us and others from the eternal consequences of Adam’s sin required a life of perfect obedience to the Father that Adam could not accomplish. Jesus lived out for us the perfect life that is beyond our own capabilities. Thus, by faith in Jesus we can be freed from the bondage and consequences of Adam’s sin.

 

What has been provided to Christians through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection was offered, I believe, to some people before Jesus came to earth through the means we read about in the Old Testament.

 

When Abram’s name was changed to Abraham it began the process of widening God’s offer of faith and forgiveness to larger groups of people. When we get to Moses, God’s offer continues to widen. However, the fundamental requirements of faith and forgiveness continue. Paul tells us that the Mosaic Law does not save anyone but directs people to the need for faith and forgiveness.

 

The Mosaic Law stayed in effect until Jesus fulfilled it. Now we have a New Covenant but, I believe, it is as impossible for me to live up to it on my own as it would be for me to completely obey the Mosaic Law. The extent to which I am able to fulfill it depends on Christ’s gifts to me of faith, forgiveness, and the Holy Spirit.

 

For our own sins a sacrifice was required. This sacrifice Jesus offered for us by going to the Cross. What Jesus did is made effective in us by our repentance for our sins, our acknowledgment we are not able to present ourselves righteous before God by our own efforts, and our belief the Jesus Christ is the living Son of God. It is in this way we come to redemption.

What I Believe: The Story

The Bible tells, in sixty-six books, the story of God’s relationship to humanity. The story begins before the creation of the earth and ends in eternal blessedness for those people whom he has redeemed. There are three major themes that continue throughout the story. These are God’s creation of all that exists, the disobedience of the first humans and the consequences of that for all of physical reality, and God’s work to make right (redeem) according to his purposes all that has gone wrong. Redemption is a long and complex project and, I believe, cannot be finished in the framework of our present reality.