The Power of Redemption and It is Particular Redemption
Atonement is AT ONE MENT and refers to the full satisfaction made unto God through the sacrificial death of the Son the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Puritan, William Bridge, makes this point –
“Despite the Lord Jesus Christ making full satisfaction for the sins of his people, many Christians are so perplexed in their consciences with regard to sin that they act as if no satisfaction has been made at all. The reason for this is that believers do not make a study of this truth and are therefore ignorant of it.”
So how much do we, here this morning, know of the Atonement of our saviour and its effect on our lives? Are we plagued in our consciences still thinking that we have a debt to pay for our sins?
What if you had run into hard times and you had gone deep into debt with a finance company? Say a friend comes and settles the debt for you and clears you from further payments – do you go back to the monthly statements and pore over the number of times that you received goods or services reading every item that reminds you of your debt? If you do this is it because you can’t believe that it has all been paid?
So it is between us and the Lord Jesus – He has paid everything that we owe with His own blood and we bear the guilt of sin no more. But our consciences keep going back over the things that we have done as if we still have to look forward to punishment!
Therefore a healthy and strong acquaintance with and knowledge of the doctrine of Atonement or Redemption is the remedy for such thinking that can tend to drag us down.
In Paul’s letter to the Romans we read these remarkable words –
3 v 21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: 23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
This remarkable passage leads us to think again this morning about
redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
Last Lord’s day we began to think about the subject of REDEMPTION. We looked at the Bible words in both Hebrew and Greek and from them determined what Redemption means – it is being bought with a price. It is being delivered from bondage and it is about our being recovered by the payment of a ransom. We discovered
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. We discovered how we are slaves – slaves to sin, slaves to Satan and people who are held for punishment in God’s justice system – before we were saved that is!
But now Christ has redeemed us by paying our debt and bringing us pardon.
So we move on in this wonderful subject on this Easter morning from the Price of Redemption to
2. The Power of Redemption.
In Arabella Hankey’s Hymn “Tell me the old, old story” she uses the phrase
“That wonderful redemption God’s remedy for sin.”
The unknown author of the Hymn that has the chorus,
“All that thrills my soul is Jesus, He is more than life to me: And the fairest of ten thousand In my blessed Lord I see,”
has the lines
“What a wonderful redemption, Never can a mortal know How my sin though red like crimson Can be whiter than the snow.”
Both Hymn writers are expressing poetically the awesome wonder of what the Lord God has done in power and glory to redeem us! Redemption is a basic doctrine of our faith and if we do not understand it we will rarely be able to give a credible account of the great things that God has done for us as believers.
With this in mind we should go back to basics. The basics that most of us learned at school at one time were reduced to what was called the THREE “r”s. They were not really three “r”s – only one was an R – reading. The other two were writing – beginning with “w” and arithmetic – beginning with “a”.
Nevertheless they were basic to general education.
A Pastor named Linleigh Roberts has suggested that there are 3 “r”s of Redemption – and they all DO begin with the letter R. And they reflect the fact that we NEED redemption.
1. We need REVELATION that leads to a RATIONAL TRANSFORMATION.
2. We need RECONCILIATION that leads to a MORAL TRANSFORMATION.
3. We need RESTORATION that leads to a TRANSFORMATION of the WILL.
Revelation, Reconciliation and Restoration.
1. We need REVELATION that leads to a RATIONAL TRANSFORMATION.
We need to understand REDEMPTION.
Human beings have the capacity to desire knowledge and information about the world that God has made.
Psalm 19 v 1 the heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.
It is plain to see what the Lord has made and we marvel at creation when we take time to look. But the very creation also points us through nature to see God. However it is His invisible attributes that cause us to bow before Him. Paul explains this in Romans 1 v 20
For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead;
God exists – creation proclaims it! Nevertheless the information that we get from creation provides enough light to condemn us; it does not however provide enough light to save us.
We are obliged to gather additional information about the universe. We NEED information that enables us to put things in their proper perspective. We need to see the truth, which Adam exchanged for a lie. How do we get it? One thing is certain – we cannot get it by natural means!
We are so dead in our sins that the Lord God has to REVEAL the information about Him to us.
Matthew 11 v 25 – 27
25 At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. 26 Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight. 27 All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.
and 1 Corinthians 2 v 6 – 10
6 Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: 7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: 8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
The Revelation is written in this book the Bible. God’s own Holy Spirit makes the Revelation to us supernaturally. God has told us about Himself.
Now it is one thing for God to reveal His truth to rebel sinners – but what will we do with that truth? What difference will it make? None unless the sinner’s MIND is changed – a rational transformation. The first man Adam exchanged the truth of God for a lie and set his mind AGAINST the truth. It is plain then that we need RENEWED minds – an inward transformation – and God requires this of us – the following scriptures make this plain –
Romans 12 v 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
2 Corinthians 10 v 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
Ephesians 4 v 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
Philippians 2 v 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Our minds will never be changed when we fill them with the world’s philosophies or immoralities, with ungodly schemes and ideas wherever they originate. We need to meditate on God’s word as often as we can. Let us not be Christians who compartmentalise our Christianity into neat little boxes – a Sunday box; a Tuesday night PM and Bible study box; a Ladies’ meeting box; a daily quiet time box; or even a preparation to teach Sunday School box. There is no time off from being a Christian. If the mind of Christ is to be in us then we must be thinking Godly thoughts all day and every day, bringing God’s word to bear onto every situation, work, family, leisure. We will never be transformed by the Redemptive Power of the Lord Jesus Christ unless we are prepared to READ THE REVELATION.
2. We need RECONCILIATION that leads to a MORAL TRANSFORMATION.
Across the River Thames in London, near to Greenwich, there is a Barrier to keep the flood tides of the North Sea from damaging land on the riverbanks. At the entrance to Downing Street and at every Forces base there are barriers to prevent unauthorised people from getting in. We are up against barriers of all kinds every day.
Society has many barriers too – between people of different religions, moral standards and political ideas. However the biggest barrier that can cause separation between people is when an offence has been committed and a wrong has been done.
This is the problem between us human beings and our creator the sovereign Lord God. There is a mighty barrier between us – the barrier of our sins. Our sins have offended God so we are now under the curse of His wrath – the curse that causes all the miseries in this life and ultimately death followed by the eternal misery of hell. It is not God’s fault that we have lost communion with Him and suffer the consequences – it is entirely our own! We raised the barrier to shut Him out.
Therefore if we are to have a relationship to God we cannot just make up our minds and think that we can stroll into His favour whenever we feel like it.
Our salvation MUST include some means to APPEASE God’s wrath and somehow to remove His curse upon us – the barrier. So there must be an inclusion of RECONCILIATION in the plan of redemption.
We can know, by special revelation and transformation of mind, all that there is to know about Redemption – but unless God is appeased and we are reconciled it will do us no good!
The atonement made by the Lord Jesus – is a true AT ONE MENT – there is reconciliation in what He did for us – for He turned away God’s wrath through His sinless life and sacrificial death; and He brought us near to God by washing us with His blood. Paul says in Romans 5:10
For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
Reconciliation does not come about by our own efforts, as some would teach – penances, rituals or human resolutions. Jeremiah tells us that this is impossible!
Jeremiah 2 v 2 for though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before me, saith the Lord GOD.
The Lord Jesus Christ has reconciled us to God and we are NEW CREATURES in Christ – old things have passed away – behold all things have become new.
Therefore the moral transformation that comes with being born again is all of God’s grace. And when we indulge in the things that were characteristic of our old natures, the things we did habitually before conversion, then we either demonstrate that we are not truly saved OR we forget that we are to be involved with a continuous process of making our “calling and election sure.” Growth and development as Christians flows from this second R of Redemption – Reconciliation.
3. We need RESTORATION that leads to a TRANSFORMATION of the WILL.
Rational transformation in our minds and moral transformation in our behaviour through revelation and reconciliation in the Atonement, must be joined by this third “R” of Redemption. Restoration.
One thing that is so noticeable in the world of work today is the loss of a sense of VOCATION. Vocation is another word for “calling” – that belief that you have with all your heart that you should be doing something – for the Christian in the will of God. But vocation is not confined to believing people. Anyone can be aware of a calling to something in particular. This is why we were asked as children, “What do you want to do or be when you grow up?” Sadly today so many are working simply because they have to have a job – consequently they just drift through life with no sense of purpose or calling.
Some believers drift through their Christian lives like this. Their salvation does not seem to affect daily living – what is the point – salvation is just seen as a ticket to heaven and so long as a good moral life is lived then that’s all that matters!
But my friend there is much more to existence than that! We have been delivered, like the Israelites who escaped from Egypt, by a rescuer and set free – in order to fulfil the purpose for which God has made us – and it is not to be slaves to sin and Satan! We have been saved to be restored to the original purpose that God had for man – to glorify Him and to enjoy Him forever. But you can’t do that when you are a slave to another master. Redemption has set us free. The deliverer has come and He has
“spoiled principalities and powers, and made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” Colossians 2 v 15.
In His finished redemptive work the Lord Jesus Christ according to this verse, disarmed the rulers and authorities and raised us out of the pit of destruction, as Psalm 40 v 2 tells us. Now we are restored to a meaningful and fruitful life, a fulfilled life and a purposeful life. This is what people are looking for – but they are looking in the wrong place! Only in the Lord Jesus Christ can full satisfaction and purpose be found. Because the restoration involved in Redemption so transforms our WILLS that we are redirected to have the Lord God as our object in life.
The freedom has been obtained – through the cross, the responsibility to do God’s will from now on is ours – a transformation of our wills.
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.
But now we must move on to another aspect of our redemption – and that is to ask a question that has been asked constantly among Christians for 2000 years. For whom did Christ die? When He died on the cross just who was Jesus redeeming? Our third heading then is another P –
3. It is PARTICULAR REDEMPTION.
Most of us know the meaning of the word PARTICULAR. Simply put it is the opposite of general or universal. We are all familiar with numbers, being able to count from an early age. But if we are speaking of 50 or 97 or 3,752 we are speaking about PARTICULAR numbers, and not about all numbers in general.
The truth of Particular Redemption says to us something about the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. Three views are commonly held amongst people who call themselves Christians. When asking the question about whose punishment did the Lord Jesus bear and whose salvation did He obtain on the cross the answers are –
1. Christ died to save all men without distinction.
2. Christ died to save no one in particular.
3. Christ died to save a certain number.
Those who believe number 1 are called UNIVERSALISTS and they maintain that since Christ died to save all men then all men will be saved.
Those who believe number 2 are called ARMINIANS named after the scholar Arminius who suggested the doctrine. They maintain that Christ procured potential salvation for all men by dying for them on the cross – but this only becomes effectual for them when a man or woman “decides” for Christ and is thereby saved.
Those who believe number 3 – that the Lord Jesus Christ died positively and effectually to save a certain number of hell-deserving sinners who had already been called by God’s free electing love, are called CALVINISTS or Reformed Christians because this doctrine is a principle doctrine of the Reformation. It is what I and your Church Officers believe; it is what is written in our 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith; and in our Church Declaration of Faith where it states
“we believe in the Deity of our Lord Jesus Christ and his work of atonement for sinners of mankind by His substitutionary sufferings and death.”
“Of mankind” – not all mankind.
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.
The Lord spoke at the last supper about the cup that represented His blood.
“For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Matthew 26 v 28.
This is the view that does real justice to the purpose of the Lord Jesus coming to earth to die on the cross. He came to save HIS PEOPLE from their sins, which implies a group of people exists that are NOT His people. Christ died for HIS church. He was delivered for OUR offences and was raised up for OUR justification.
If it had been the intention that the Lord Jesus should die for ALL people then His atonement has been a great failure, because vast numbers of mankind down through history have not been saved. But the creator God in whom we believe does not have failure in His character. The Lord said in John 6 v 37
“All that the Father giveth me shall come to me;”
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.
But what about some of those problem verses in the Bible? Verses that use the word WORLD, and ALL? Let us, before we close this morning, examine some of these and explain them.
1. 1 John2 v 1
My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
Does the phrase “the whole world” refer to each and every individual ever born? If we say yes then how do we explain verse 19 of 1 John 5
And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.
There is the phrase again “the whole world” said to be under the control of the wicked one.
Therefore ‘whole world’ CANNOT MEAN all without exception. It must mean a certain particular section of society – in 1 v 2 it refers to all believers; in 5 v 19 it refers to all unbelievers. And we can easily understand it when we use the phrase the world of music, the world of anglers, the world of sportsmen. World here is not used generally but particularly.
2. John 12 v 32
And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.
In this verse the Saviour is responding to the disciple Philip who has told Him in verse 20 – 22 that Gentiles were seeking to see and speak with the Lord Jesus. In the subsequent discourse about His death the Lord makes it plain that He would be the Messiah for Gentiles as well as Jews, thereby embracing people from every ethnic background in the world – all sorts of men from every nation – and not only the Jews.
3. Hebrews 2 v 9
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
The first thing to say about this text is that man is not there. It is a translator’s addition to try to make sense of the word EVERY – we need to look down to verses 10 and 11 to see what the every refers to –
10 For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
11 For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,
And in verse 13 every refers to “the children which God hath given me”, “children” in verse 14, “seed of Abraham” in verse 16 and “his brethren and His people” in verse 17. EVERY here gives the assurance to the elect that not one of God’s chosen people will experience the suffering that is coming to the wicked. There is full certainty – nothing can change it. Redemption is for the seed of Abraham – it is not said to be for the seed of Adam! Only those who have the same kind of faith that Abraham had will be redeemed.
The doctrine of Particular redemption is a most comforting doctrine as well as a challenge. Since the Lord determined to save His people then it is HIS responsibility to call His people; reveal Himself to His people; reconcile His people to Himself; restore those people in their wills and renew them day by day as they grow in grace. The comfort is this – the work of salvation is God’s work. Once we are saved we will stay saved – we cannot lose it. We cannot even do anything to make God reject us. All of the work of redemption is God’s gracious work – from His choice of us from the foundation of the world; through the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to be the sacrifice for us – right through to His regenerating us at His time in our lives and saving us – is all of His sovereign grace and will.
Surely on this Easter Morning we must marvel in our souls at this great work for us? Is there any one here who is not amazed at the wonderful redemption that is ours through Christ? Is there any one here this morning who does not feel the heart lifted when we think of this mighty powerful redemption that rescues us from slavery and sets us free to love the Lord?
Is there any one here whose heart is cold because the Lord has not yet revealed Himself to you and you are not yet saved?
Remember the Lord’s method is to reveal Himself to you through His word – therefore look at His word – read His book – think about Him and what He has written – and let your thoughts become belief. He has promised to draw all of His people to Him – is He drawing you this morning my friend? I urge you to listen for His voice – seek Him while he is available and may be found – then repent of your sins and trust Him for ever!