Christians throw around Bible jargon often, but I’ve often wondered a couple of things regarding that practice. First, do the Christians who use those words truly know what the words means? And second, do people who are new to Christianity or are curious about it know what those words mean? This blog series will attempt to give brief explanations for common Christian jargon.
Todays’ word: Redemption
Once again, we must always start with Scripture.
"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace…" - Eph. 1:7
“...in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” - Col. 1:14
The grammar is unmistakable. Redemption means having one’s sins forgiven. So there is substantial overlap between ‘redeem’ and ‘forgive.’ Forgiveness doesn’t require a payment for settlement. If it did, it wouldn’t be forgiveness. So implied in ‘forgiveness’ is grace. Forgiveness is giving someone something they don’t deserve. It’s giving up the right to get even.
If I injure you, you forgive me by giving up the right to get even - it’s forgiveness; it’s grace.
But right away we should see a problem. The problem is seen most clearly with a severe injury. Take murder or rape for example. No society would be able to hold together if every judge released all the murderers and rapists who “felt sorry" for what they had done. Additionally, in this case, isn’t justice being ignored? Releasing a murderer without consequence isn’t justice; it’s injustice!
The same is true of God. Every sin is the moral equivalent of murder or rape committed against God because he’s infinitely holy. God can’t just say to us, “Are you sorry?” And if we are, let us go free. That’s ignoring justice - which is injustice. In order for God to let us criminals go free, there has to be some dramatic demonstration that justice hasn’t been ignored. The dramatic demonstration that God’s justice hasn’t been ignored is seen in the cross of Jesus Christ. The above verses are clear about that! “In him we have redemption through his blood…”
These verses are so clear: redemption is having our sins forgiven through the death of Jesus Christ.
But that’s not all…
"And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies." - Rom. 8:23
"And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption." - Eph. 4:30
Redemption is already and not yet. On the one hand, redemption has already happened: our sins have been forgiven. On the other hand, redemption is something we await in the future. We, the redeemed, along with creation itself “groan” under the weight of living in a fallen world. But a day is coming when what causes us to groan will be no more. There will be redemption.
One more aspect to redemption can be seen in Titus 2:
Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. - Titus 2:14b-15
Jesus gave himself for us so that we could be redeemed from lawlessness to purity and good works. There’s an aspect of redemption that is ongoing growth in good works.
In each example, redemption demonstrates movement from something to something. From guilty offender to exonerated child of God; from groaning under the weight of sin’s corrosive effects, to perfected existence; from lawless living to holy devotion.