17 February 2010

Redemption: You are not your own and you never will be

Here is a summary of the message from the Rock on February 12th, 2010 entitled "Redemption."
You can listen to it here.
He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1.13–14)
It is easy to think of redemption in terms of freedom. Andy Dufrense finds freedom from Shawshank prison and heads to Zihuatanejo and we call it "Redemption." And, surely, Christ does free us from sin (Romans 8:2 and Hebrews 9:15). The greatest story of redemption in the Old Testament is the Exodus of Israel from Egypt; freedom from 400 years of slavery. But the disquiet we feel when we continue to read the story of Israel, and they are rebellious and complaining on the other side of the Red Sea, is revealing. Something in us senses that they should obey God completely, with gratitude, because He is their Redeemer. And we are right. Biblical redemption is not deliverance from slavery into autonomous freedom, rather, it is the transference of ownership. The redeemer purchases the redeemed at a price.

I realize I'm treading on some cultural high ground here. It is an American value to be owned by none. But just because we value it doesn't mean that it's true. The truth is that none of us are truly free... ever. We all are slaves to something (Romans 7:25). Jesus tells us that anyone who does sin is a slave to sin (John 8:34 - which he said, incidentally, in response to Jews who claimed that they have never been enslaved.) If you can't say no to it... "it" is your master (2 Peter 2:19). Some claim that they will never be a slave to anyone or anything. No one tells them what to do. And, yet, after all this chest puffing they come to realize they are a slave to the identity of never being a slave. So our choice is not freedom or slavery it is Master A or Master B.

In the end, the greatness of redemption is not found in autonomous freedom but in ownership by Christ, who paid the purchase price of our redemption with his blood (Eph. 1:7 and Heb. 9:12). We have been delivered from sin (its guilt and power) but then we were brought into a kingdom with a King. This is great news for at least three reasons:
  1. There is no greater master you could see (Rev. 5).
  2. There is no greater master you could serve.
    All masters use you for their benefit, but only one died to own you and with only one does his benefit equal your benefit.
  3. There is no greater master you could proclaim (again looking to Rev. 5).
The implications of this understanding of redemption are obvious. Paul sums them up in 1 Corinthians 6 and Romans 7:
You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6.19–20)

Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. (Romans 7.4–5)
May we find life in glorifying the King who purchased us and not pine for some counterfeit form of life back in Egypt, in the domain of darkness.

Additional Resources
"He's just institutionalized" - a very old post. There is a lot of talk of gospel freedom here with that sense of autonomy. I thought about re-writing it to fit the ideas in this post but I think it is better to see my learning process. May all our minds continue to be sanctified by a growing understanding of the Bible.


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