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Welcome! This is where it all began. I no longer post on this website and some of the content reflects former convictions and understandings. Some of these posts are hard core on issues that I am softer on these days. I deleted many posts that I feared would lead people into legalism, so if you find a missing hyperlink that may be why. Our family is no longer "quiver full," I no longer wear a headcovering, and I do not wear skirts/dresses exclusively. These days I write at Covered By His Hand.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Redeemed, How I love to Proclaim It

Last night I finished reading the book The Narrative of Sojourner Truth, which is an autobiography of a slave turned free woman. This book got me to thinking again about the meaning of the word "redeem."

I have been writing a series on the labels that we Christians use to define our doctrinal beliefs. I said in my post Identification, Please, that there are some titles that are more important than others. The title of Redeemed is one that should be considered as most precious, it is among those basic understandings of what Christ accomplished for his elect when he died on the cross.

To fully understand this post, you may need to start back at the beginning of the series:
What am I saved from?
Justification - Part One
Justification - Part Two
These posts explain (to the best of my ability) why Jesus died on the cross.

The Apostle Paul writes much of redemption, here is one such passage:
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. Titus 2:11-14 (KJV)
Strong's Bible Dictionary says that the word "redeem" in this context is referring to liberation or release. The idea conveyed in this verse (and throughout the entirety of the Bible) is that God saved us (liberated us) from a multitude of sins that all people born with a sin nature are enslaved to (that is everyone, we are all born sinners).

Think back to a time when slavery was still legal in America (or in your own continent), and imagine with me a slave. I will not go into great length to describe how miserable his life is, because you already know the grotesque way these unfortunate people were treated. His whole life he dreams of freedom, yet cannot imagine how he could ever really be freed. Then, one day an abolitionist shows up at a slave auction and buys the slave, with every intention of giving him his freedom papers. The slave has now been redeemed (liberated). The slave would be likely be confused, yet grateful - thinking, "Why is he doing this for me, a common slave?" Then, as time goes on, and the now-freed slave shows that he is living in an honorable manner in his new life, the abolitionist calls the slave to himself again, saying, "I wish to make you my heir." How would you imagine that slave feels now? Is he doubtful? Overwhelmed? Grateful? I guess it depends very much on whether or not he trusts the character of his redeemer, as to whether or not he will believe and accept such a gift.

We can understand the feeling of the common slave, because that is what/who we are before we come to salvation! We are a slave to every kind of sin! And, God redeems us from that by the death of His Son, Jesus Christ! What's more - He makes us His heirs!
Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Gal 4:1-6 (KJV - emphasis mine)
As a result of Jesus death on the cross (and resurrection from the grave) we are made sons and heirs to God! We were in bondage to the system of the Law, which we would never be able to live up to perfectly, but now we are set free from the curse, and the law becomes a delight:
Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. Gal 3:13-14 (KJV)
There is another side of redemption that I want us to examine, by way of another analogy: A coupon in the newspaper is of no value while it stays in the paper. But, if I cut it out, and hand it to the clerk at the grocery store - it becomes very valuable! I have just redeemed a coupon.

This is another aspect of what Christ's work on the cross as done for us, He has not only liberated us to be free men, but He has made us valuable. We are not saved so that we can sit around and be as we were before! Christ has redeemed us to live in a new life and represent His Goodness to the world.
In chapter one of his First Epistle, Peter tells us that we are redeemed by Jesus Christ, and that redemption is incorruptible. He continues for some time telling believers how they ought to act since they have been redeemed. In this context we read these verses:
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. 1 Peter 2:9-10 (KJV - emphasis mine)
We were once useless and invaluable, because we were living in darkness. But, one who has been redeemed now has new value and usefulness! We are now called to show forth the praises of our generous God! He has freed us, and we should be eager to tell people all about God's mercy!

I would welcome a discussion of what this looks like! How do we practically proclaim the Mercy of God to the world? I want to hear your ideas!

9 comments:

Arthur Sido said...

That is a harder question than it might seem at first, because we have to communicate to people who are unsaved what salvation means, and for those people what we have been given as a gift of grace and what is on infinite value for us is of no value to them and is foolishness. I think the problem with much of modern evangelism is that we are trying to redefine the precious gift of the Gospel in such a way that it makes sense to the unregenerate. That doesn’t make the truth more clear to them, it muddles the truth. The cross is foolishness to the perishing (1 Cor 1:18). As much as we may want to make people understand how we have been changed, we cannot. We can only proclaim the Gospel faithfully, boldly and humbly and trust in the Holy Spirit to do in others what He has done in us.

Bethany W. said...

Arthur,

You are exactly right. But, there are things that the world can understand as "weird" or "different." And, those are the things I was aiming for as practical ways to proclaim that we are redeemed...
For example, y-day, I said that living without complaining is living as a light that shines before men.
That was the kind of suggestions I was looking for. I know that such things do not escape the notice of the world, just its understanding!

Bethany

Steve and Paula said...

Enjoying God's grace to the fullest measure ... John 1:16

Extending God's grace to the farthest reaches ...1 Peter 4:10
Paula

Tina said...

Hi Bethany,
I've been wanting to post to your blog for a while (thank you for your blog!).
Over the past couple years, God has been SO gracious to reveal His truth to us. During this time, our "outward" appearance has changed dramatically (both our dress as well as things we do and don't do). To most of the world, we'd look "weird" and to most of the church I think it probably comes across as legalism. I loved where you said, "We were in bondage to the system of the Law, which we would never be able to live up to perfectly, but now we are set free from the curse, and the law becomes a delight:" because that's exactly how we feel. The things we "do" certainly don't gain us any higher standing, but we delight in doing them out of a love for our beautiful Saviour and for God's great mercy upon us. For instance, I wear dresses/skirts for modesty and a head covering. Just a few years ago, I was wearing shorts and tank tops, but I just can't do that now that I know how precious modesty is in God's eyes. My love for Him is much greater than my desire to want to "fit in" by wearing those things (and by God's grace I don't WANT to "fit in"!) Members of our family have called this legalism, but I don't think they understand our heart's desire to honor the Lord in all we do. I used to think, "If we do this or that and we look 'different', then we'll be a stumbling block to others." Now, I realize that that thinking was wrong thinking because God will use our obedience for whomever and however He wants for His own glory. God brings the increase and our job is just to be obedient out of love and honor to Him.
It's neat to know that what we do and don't do, in an attempt to proclaim God's mercy to the world, will be seen as foolishness to many but will be seen as a true witness to those whom God has chosen! Our God is so wonderful.

Steve and Paula said...

Ok, I am blaming you for having the hymn Redeemed How I Love To Proclaim It, running through my head constantly :o)
Paula

Bethany W. said...

Tina,
I love the comment you left here, it blessed me. You ought to write your own blog! I am encouraged by your thoughts.
Bethany

Bethany W. said...

Paula,
You are most welcome! Hee hee.

Bethany ; )

Ruby said...

Hi Bethany,
Good (deep) thoughts the last few posts. I will look for this book in Aussie stores as it sounds like a good read.
Ruby

Bethany W. said...

Ruby,
I was not exactly recommending the book, just mentioning that the book was a springboard for some good thoughts on slavery and redemption.
The book I mentioned, an autobiography of Sojourner Turth, is an interesting read, but not for everyone... Sojourner has some good doctrine and some odd doctrine. She refers often to when she was young and trusted completely in God's provision - and God always provided. Later in the book, she is taught by quakers... then later caught up in a cult... then later involved in other odd movements... and in the end she travels from one place as another leacturing on her experience and doctrinal beliefs. She also claims to hear God audibly and to have seen Jesus in a clear vision. I find these things to be suspicious. However, She lives to serve the Lord, and tell others about Him.
Anyway, it is not a book a new believer should read, nor young children - it is for the more discerning.
Bethany