“In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace, which he made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence.” (Ephesians 1: 7-8)
To sin means to miss the mark. As the target is set and placed by God then to sin means to violate Gods Law; and that can be either through omission or by commission of acts that are in violation of that law. The apostle John says just that in 1 John 3: 4.
Now it can also be safely stated that all sins performed in the past cannot be undone. We could sooner move the sun from its path than to undo that which has taken place in the past.
Suffering is stated in the scriptures as the inevitable consequence of sin. The prophet has said “be sure that your sin will find you out.” God has said that “all shall stand before the judgment bar of God to give account of the things done in the body, whether they are good or whether they are bad.” And so it is therefore a very serious question that asks how it would be possible for people to ever escape from the penalty due to their sins.
People commit crimes with the hope of never being caught, never having to pay the penalty – to escape punishment. Some try to outrun the sheriff, to bribe or manipulate the jury, to hire a crafty lawyer, or to break out of jail – they follow all sorts of legal and illegal maneuvering by a great variety of corrupt means — all of this done in order to escape from the grasp of men and the long arm of the law.
But, God has said there is no escape from his grasp. We cannot run, we cannot hide. And we cannot outrun the arm of death. Once death approaches he is a sure and swift collector. And Gods eye searches our every motive and intent – none can escape.
Even with that, a part of the penalty for our sins lies within our souls and we cant run away from that either. So, we can only deceive ourselves. “The soul that sins, it shall die.”
The scriptures not only tell us that as God has prepared a place for those who seek him and do his will, but that he has also prepared a place for those that dont. And the scriptures tell us: “It is given unto man once to die and then judgment.”
As it comes to redemption and forgiveness of sins, many will say that Christ has redeemed us with nothing so much as our attention even being required to it, and that we are educated out of our sins, so that our spirit sins no more, irrespective of what we may physically do. Many say that the sins are automatically displaced – unconditionally forgiven when you accept Christ as your personal savior, in itself a concept unknown to the word of God. Some say sin doesnt cost a thing, and that all will be forgiven in the great by and by.
Some dont care to know the answer – and will not give time to such an activity. Many seem to believe that some kind preacher will show up at their funeral and through the good wishes, the feelings and prayers of the mourners and of those that surround the casket that they will be accepted through the pearly gates and into the fold of God. Still others dont care at all for any of this. But, I believe they will when they leave this world – for God has said, that “every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess.”
Yet the scriptures dont seem to lend support to any of this. These theories dont have a foundation in the book of God – lets look at but a single example (though there are many).
In Matthew 19, when Jesus was asked, “What good thing must I do to inherit eternal life?” His answer was “but, if you will enter into life, keep the commandments.”
So apparently there is something that must be done – some rule must be followed. And just as apparently God does not indiscriminately dismiss sins. You must in fact do something, and within that something that must be done is the keeping of commandments, where education only plays a peripheral part.
What about those of us that are interested in being forgiven of our sins and that are interested in redemption? It would seem that if we are under the scrutiny of the God of heaven we might do well to heed the warning given. If so, how is it that we may be justified or made free from sin? How do we escape the penalty? How are we redeemed? Now we cant escape death, but can we escape the consequences of our deeds?
With that query put forth I lead you back to the scripture we read at the outset: Ephesians 1: 7, 8 –
“In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace which he made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence.”
The scripture here says that we have redemption through the blood of Christ. How is that?
Let’s look at Acts 13:38: “Therefore let it be it known to you brethren that through this man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins, and by him everyone that believes is justified from all things, from which you could not be justified by the Law of Moses.”
(Some people make a lot out of that simple statement – “everyone that believes is justified of all things…” as if all of Gods plan should be explained within a single sentence thereby dispensing with the rest of the word of God – but I give the readers here more credit than that.)
But let us say that if its not indiscriminate, and people are not educated out of sins, then what’s to be done?
In this passage we are told that there has been some preaching done by and through the authority of Jesus and that “by him” all that believe are justified from all things. It is also noted that this was not previously accorded through the Law of Moses.
Let’s read it again, specifically noting those things.
“Therefore let it be it known to you brethren that through this man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins, and by him everyone that believes is justified from all things, from which you could not be justified by the Law of Moses.”
So then, how can the effect of sins then be lifted and done away? By answer – these things are accomplished through the preaching of forgiveness of sins and with belief in Christ.
The text said “by him” and “through him.” And it went on to say that all believers have this hope. Friends, it is an open highway wherein the wayward cannot err.
Now this is the grand question with a very simple answer. The question: how can I be redeemed – my sins forgiven? The answer: redemption and forgiveness is found in the preaching of Christ and his Gospel and through belief in Christ. Now you know there is more detail than this, and yet it is not a matter that is indiscriminate or flippantly served.
But many people have a different answer.
Look at another well-known scripture: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes in him should not perish but should have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
Now note some things in this text. Note that the text does not say that God just sent his Son to die – but rather that he “gave” his son. This indicates that it was a willful and purposeful act. This is the giving that is being referred to. Again, we have to note that it says all that believe in him “should” not perish. Notice it doesnt say “would” not perish – it says “should” not perish. Do you know that the word “would” expresses a wish, and is the past and past perfect tense of the word “will?” “Should” on the other hand, is the past tense of “shall” and means “ought to.” That means that those who believe have some means whereby they ought to be saved. Its not a done deal; its a deal in the working.
Now re-read the verse showing that distinction: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes in him ought not to perish but ought to have everlasting life.”
It doesnt say its a sure thing but only that it ought to be so – there is a good indication that it can be that way. But, it doesnt just happen, it is not carte blanche and it is not a wish. And so it appears from here that this means redemption and forgiveness from sins and salvation is not indiscriminate.
“In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins.”
This is a keynote in the plan of salvation, and of the scheme of redemption. The means then is that redemption is obtained through blood and not through just any blood – but the blood of Christ. Here it is also noted that in this same redemption and purchase we also have forgiveness of sins. And so to hearing this preaching of Christ we add that redemption then is through his blood — preaching and blood both must then be had by all.
Therefore there is not only redemption – the price paid, but also forgiveness that we should also seek out — and this is all accomplished through coming into contact with preaching and with the blood. Now I hope that you already know that “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” (Romans 10:17)
As far as missing the mark and being found either just or condemned (that is after all the topic) in John 12:48 there is another statement that ought to capture our attention. “He who rejects me and does not receive my words, has that which judges him – the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.”
Then I don’t suppose it would do much good to listen to something other than the Word of God – do you? What we just read from Romans 10 and John 12 is pretty plain and easy to understand. Faith comes through hearing and adhering to the Word of God, and that same word will be the judging factor when we appear at the bar of God.
I was listening to a bluegrass song that says, “The first step to Heaven is in knowing that youre lost.” Thats got it just about right. Once you know you are lost and have missed the mark, we have just established that you then need to get to the preaching of Christ and the Word of God. Once that is done through hearing and doing you can then build your faith in the plan of salvation and on Christ to which we have been referring in this little essay.
So then how do we find this redemption paid? Lets go back once again to Ephesians 1. “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace which he made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence.”
As indicated and identified redemption was made “through his blood.” The text also indicates as I previously noted that the forgiveness of sins came by the same route – through his blood.
How then is that so? Paul says in one place, “for I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” In another place Peter said – “Therefore let all the House of Israel know assuredly that God has made this same Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2: 36 )
But lets go to Hebrews chapter ten and read some there. “And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool.
For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them. Then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.
Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin. Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.” (Hebrews 10: 10 – 25)
To conclude, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” What way is he talking about?
“And many will follow their pernicious ways by whom the way of truth will be (blasphemed) evil spoken of.” (2 Pe. 2:2)
Here we learn that there is a way of life and there are other ways – called pernicious ways by Peter. Pernicious means deadly or fatal, causing great harm or ruin. And so the choice is between that which causes death and ruin or that which is the path of truth. What choice do you intend to make?
Not only is the gospel the way of truth but also Jesus is truth and life itself. Now this fits so nicely (dont you think?) into what we have already noted – that we have redemption and forgiveness through the preaching and blood of Christ. We have also noted that if we believe we ought not to perish but ought to have everlasting life. It is then up to each one of us to work out our own salvation. In taking up these things we can then avoid deadly harm and ruin.
Let us go back to Ephesians and read chapter 1 verse 7 and 8 one final time. “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace whereby he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence.”
Let us now note that all of the previously identified things are given through or by the grace of God. It is through his favor (grace = favor), that we ought to be saved and not to be lost. Note that this also says that these things proceed out of wisdom and prudence. Prudence means understanding: that caution and good judgment characterize it and it is judiciously offered and therefore highly practical. So it comes to us from the wisdom and understanding of God – then wouldnt it be prudent of us to lay hold of such a thing?
With this entire issue now presented and understood why is it that so many have trouble with this? Why do we have so much trouble conveying the truth to our friends and neighbors? Why is it that the teaching goes unheeded; why is there only a remnant that will hear and do?
For the simple reasons that we noted at the outset, not but a few feel any need to believe in God, in his plan of salvation and redemption. In particular, this society thinks it has all that it will ever need without seeking after some inconvenient God. But, what about you — what will you do? Will you take the offer of redemption and for remission of sins? Will you come to the blood of redemption and to the offering for forgiveness of sins and be washed and sanctified?
What will your answer be?
(This article was based upon a lesson by John W. McGarvey)