The Practicality of Redemption
The best news that the world ever had came from a graveyard! The victim of Calvary, buried and sealed is now loose and at large! And resurrection is like a seal of redemption. We were dead in our sins – as believers we have been raised from the dead in order to walk in newness of resurrection life. The wonder of it is that we are called to live the resurrection life still housed in these bodies that once contained dead souls!
It is true that one day these old bodies will die, return to the dust and await the resurrection to come.
But in the mean time we are called as believers to live as those who have already been raised from the dead – in dying bodies. In our thinking about redemption that is in Christ Jesus we have come to see the need for application of this wonderful doctrine to our lives. The route that has brought us here is like this -
1. The Price of Redemption.
It is no less than the sacrifice of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world; it is the perfect sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Son, on the cross; and it is the shedding of His precious blood in order to cover us from the pollution of our sins and to cleanse us from them. But now Christ has redeemed us by paying our debt and bringing us pardon.
2. The Power of Redemption.
It is a wonderful redemption because the Almighty power of God is involved. It is God’s remedy for sin. In His finished redemptive work the Lord Jesus Christ disarmed the rulers and authorities and raised us out of the pit of destruction, and now we are restored to a meaningful and fruitful life, a fulfilled life and a purposeful life.
These practical aspects of Redemption help us to understand what has happened to us as believers in the risen Lord Jesus Christ – transformed minds and transformed desires and transformed wills.
No wonder it is a WONDERFUL redemption! No wonder we call it a POWERFUL redemption! And it is powerful because in transforming us weak creatures, it reflects the awesome power of the cross at Calvary and the work done there by the Lord Jesus Christ; furthermore it points us to the amazing power of His resurrection, bursting through the bars of death and securing an eternal future for all of the elect.
3. It is a PARTICULAR REDEMPTION.
The Bible clearly teaches that the Lord Jesus Christ died for a particular number of sinners –
chosen in Him from the foundation of the world.
Particular Redemption affirms that the Lord Jesus Christ in dying bore the sins of His people, enduring the punishment that was due to them by becoming for them the curse that the law demanded. In doing this He gained forgiveness, righteousness, sanctification and eternal glory for a large and definite number of people, all of whom He knew and to whom He was joined before the foundation of the world.
So now we consider how this all comes together as
4. The Practicality of Redemption.
Professor John Murray once said that,
“the believer is not redeemed by obedience TO the law but he is redeemed unto it.”
By this he meant that there is no law-keeping that we can do that can earn us redemption – but when we as dead creatures are redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, and raised to life, we are those who have within them that dynamic driving force of desiring, wanting to keep God’s law for His glory.
At the end of our NT reading this evening from 1 Corinthians 15 we came to these verses
57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
From these 2 verses there are 2 simple things to say –
1. An enemy has been overcome.
2. An exhortation to be understood.
1. An enemy has been overcome.
57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
The very existence of the fear of death, which is the root of practically all human fears, is a clear indication that death is unnatural even though its incidence is universal. We all know that we will die. Indeed we are gradually dying every day.
But have you ever thought of death being unnatural? We talk of people dying of natural causes – but death? Unnatural?
Yet when we recall that we were made to live forever – then this makes sense.
So why do we die? Why is death as due to a sinner as wages are to a worker?
It is because death is the judgement of God upon sin. And death strips the soul of all the disguises in which it appeared before other people, so that it might appear naked and open before God.
Death seems to be an enemy with different faces.
1. v 56 The sting of death is sin;
God has pronounced the death sentence on all mankind because all have sinned. Sin causes death. If you have never sinned then you should not have to die! Is there any one here who has never, ever sinned? Anyone here who has never spoken or thought evil things about others? Acted in a selfish way? Anyone here who can say that duty to God has always been fulfilled – to worship Him, serve Him, honour Him? The wages of sin is death. A sting is something that hurts and some stings are deadly to the body. But sin is deadly to the soul as well as the body – and we have all been stung, my friends – whoever you are and however old you are – at sometime in the future you will die of your sting – sin. There is no medicine or ointment that can cure you – no therapy or counselling that will make things better so that you don’t have to die – sooner or later you will die.
However if there was a way of preventing the sting from working its deathly power on you, you would jump at it – yes I want it – let me have it – I’ll do anything to get it – just so that I do not have to die of the sting of sin.
Paul tells us next in the second face of the enemy death how the sting came to us –
2. v 56 and the strength of sin is the law.
Romans 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. 8 But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. 9 For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. 10 And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. 11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me. 12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. 13 Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.
If I had not sinned then I would not have to die. Adam had been told in Genesis 2 v 17
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
And that death has been handed down to me – Romans 5 v 12
Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
I am a sinner by nature – I sinned from the beginning of my life – and I am rightly condemned by the law – the ten commandments and all the law that flows from them. Sin is very strong and has its root in the Law – since I am a law breaker by nature then I deserve to die – and so do you!
3. Third face – the grave.
55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
Everywhere we go in this country there are reminders of the finality and tragedy of this condemnation by the law – these reminders are called cemeteries, graveyards or these days, gardens of rest where ashes have been scattered. Graves seem to be shouting Victory! Victory over mortal human beings.
Death my friends is an enemy.
HOWEVER! Verse 57 causes us to give thanks – to rejoice! To sing and shout Hallelujah! Why?
Because the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ – the wonderful redemption through His cross has conquered death so that it no longer has any victory over us! I did not say that we would not die – but the Bible says that the power of death for believers has been neutralised. The sin question has been dealt with. The law question has been dealt with. The grave question has been made sense of – in that for the Christian the grave clothes become our nightclothes. They are temporary attire pending our getting up in the morning! That resurrection morning when the Lord Jesus will come to call us out of our graves to occupy new bodies and rise to be with Him forever!
Jesus lives! thy terrors now Can, O death, no more appal us; Jesus lives! by this we know Thou, O grave canst not enthral us. Hallelujah! Jesus lives! henceforth is death But the gate of life immortal; This shall calm our trembling breath, When we pass its gloomy portal. Hallelujah!
The Lord Jesus Christ has conquered sin, and by conquering it has procured victory for us, and has REDEEMED US from the curse of the law.
No longer are we who believe struggling under the power of death. We know that for us beyond the grave there is nothing terrible to face – we will not have to face a judgement for our sins – they have all been dealt with – Jesus has substituted Himself for us. We will not have to face punishment for our sins – He, the Lord Jesus Christ, has taken that punishment instead of us.
My friends we who love the Lord and have been gloriously redeemed can face death with absolute confidence. We will be able to triumph in death because the Lord Jesus Christ is the Victor OVER death.
Low in the grave he lay, Jesus, my Saviour! Waiting the Coming day, Jesus, my Lord! Up from the grave He arose, With a mighty triumph o’er His foes; He arose a Victor from the dark domain, And He lives for ever with His saints to reign: He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!
Christ has abolished sin, satisfied the law, endured the curse, appeased God’s anger and obtained eternal life for us! Someone has put it like this,
“Though we still carry about with us the remains of sin, it, nevertheless does not reign within us; though it still stings us, it does not do so fatally, because its edge is blunted, so that it cannot penetrate into the centre of the soul.”
For the Christian his soul is safe for eternity even though his present earthly body will be laid in a grave one day. But he doesn’t mind – he will get a new body soon enough. In the meantime he will enjoy the presence of His risen Lord in heaven.
Let me pause for a moment and ask a question.
Is this your hope tonight my friend? Are you prepared to die? Do you know of the wonderful redemption worked by the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross for sinners? Are you fearful of death? If you are what are you afraid of – the process of dying?
Yes we all are – no one likes pain, illness or disease. But could there be something else to be afraid of – afraid of what is after death?
Many people try to cope with this by denying anything after death. Others joke and say that they will take their chances. But what about you?
Jesus says that He has overcome death and is victorious over the enemy called death.
Paul says in our text tonight that he has given US the victory too –
57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Do you know of this victory in your soul?
On the victory side, on the victory side, No foe can daunt me, no fear can haunt me, On the victory side; On the victory side, on the victory side, With Christ within the fight we’ll win, On the victory side!
This victory is only through a living relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ by grace through faith. Simply trusting in what He has done to bring victory to His people will make sure that you too have the victory over death and you will be absolutely sure of your eternal future – with Christ which is far better.
So thanks be to God indeed for this wonderful news about victory.
2. An exhortation to be understood.
Paul now applies the doctrine of redemption, having proved it through the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, the resurrection that overcame death, to the hearts of believers – in verse 58
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
In view of the certainty of the resurrection and the fact that faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is not in vain, Paul tells the believers to
1. Sit still!
This is the meaning of steadfast. The Greek root is the word for chair – stay seated and settled. You have been settled by grace onto a firm and good foundation. As a metaphor it means being fixed in moral goodness. In other words maintain your position. You have heard what Christ has done in overcoming death – stay still in that position.
2. Don’t move!
Stay where you are – be as solid as a ten-ton rock that no man can move – unmoveable. Don’t ever be moved away from the hope of the gospel as revealed to you through the Lord Jesus Christ. Resist the seductive power of unbelief that would overthrow your faith in the doctrine of the resurrection. It is thought that some of the Corinthians believers had been affected by some strange teaching that cast doubt on the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul tells them to be firm in what they had believed!
3. Keep going in the work of the Gospel.
Always abounding in the work of the Lord means more than maintaining a firm and steady expression of faith – it means labour, spend and be spent for the Lord. The work of the Lord is the preparation of the soul for the end when no man can work any more; mutual service with other Christians in the church and in the earnest spreading of the Gospel. This is not a works doctrine – it is the simple fact that the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is such a positive doctrine that we cannot but help but go to tell others of the greatness of our risen Saviour!
Is this our testimony here, or your testimony where you are if you are a visitor?
The resurrection spurs us on to labours for the Lord Jesus Christ that are not fruitless – in vain. The sovereign Lord God calls us and equips us to serve Him and be involved in the gathering in of His people – His elect – who are waiting to be saved – although do not yet know it.
May He help us to be thrilled with His wonderful redemption and look for opportunities to tell others about it. May He also comfort us with the knowledge that death could not keep the Lord in the grave – and neither will it keep us there either.
There is a resurrection day coming – and we will be involved – ALL OF US IN THIS CHURCH TONIGHT.
A closing thought is this – to what will you be raised?
To eternal life in heaven with Jesus?
Or to eternal death and suffering in hell with satan, all his angels and all those who refused to believe in the wonderful redemption of Christ our saviour?
Make sure tonight that you know where you are going!