On February 23, 1836, 187 Texans defended the Alamo mission in San Antonio, Texas for 15 days against nearly 3000 Mexican soldiers. At one point during the bloody siege Col. William Barrett Travis drew a line in the dirt with his saber and said, "Any man who chooses to stay and fight should step across the line. Any man that does not step across the line will not be thought a coward." All but one man stepped across that line. All but one man thought the price of freedom was worth that much. And all but one was slaughtered. But those 15 days bought valuable time for General Sam Houston to prepare his newly organized Texas army. As a result, on April 21, 1836, Gen. Sam Houston and his Texas army were able to defeat the Mexican army at the battle of San Jacinto, and force Gen. Santa Ana to sign a treaty, thus establishing the Republic of Texas. To this day if you visit the Alamo, you will see a phrase that Texans are quite proud of plastered on just about everything imaginable: "The Alamo: The Price of Freedom". One-hundred-eighty-seven men were willing to give their lives, and the rest of Texas was willing to let them, because their freedom was worth that much to them. Their freedom had that much value to them.
In this article, I will discuss freedom. True freedom. Spiritual and eternal freedom. But instead of freedom, will use a biblical term--redemption. We see that word a lot throughout the Bible, such as Ephesians 1:7-8. We sing it in many of our hymns. "Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it. Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb." Yet how many of us know what it means? Many of us know it means being saved and forgiven of our sins. But how many of us truly know and appreciate the richness and depth of that word "redemption"?
Here are a few wonderful passages of scripture that speak of redemption, other than Eph 1:7-8. Galatians 4:4-5, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” Colossians 1:13-14, "He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." Hebrews 9:11-12, "But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption."
The English verbs that are translated from the Greek Old and New Testaments as "redeem" are exagorazō and lutroō. Exagorazō is a compound word from two words: ek (out) and agorazō (to buy). Thus exagorazō literally means to bring out by means of purchase. And the second word (lutroō) can literally mean to "release for a ransom". Thus, redemption is the language of commerce, of purchasing or buying something. In the Bible the second appearance of the word "redeem" is found in Exodus 6:6 where the Lord says to Israel, "I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment." Redemption is the language of deliverance, but deliverance at a price. For we see in Leviticus 25:47-50 that scripture says this:
"If a stranger or sojourner with you becomes rich, and your brother beside him becomes poor and sells himself to the stranger or sojourner with you or to a member of the stranger's clan, then after he is sold he may be redeemed. One of his brothers may redeem him, or his uncle or his cousin may redeem him, or a close relative from his clan may redeem him. Or if he grows rich he may redeem himself. He shall calculate with his buyer from the year when he sold himself to him until the year of jubilee, and the price of his sale shall vary with the number of years. The time he was with his owner shall be rated as the time of a hired servant."
Thus, redemption carries the meaning of securing or purchasing one's freedom with a price.
However, redemption carries a deeper meaning that is sometimes overlooked. If you read throughout Leviticus 25, what you will discover is that the word "redeem" does not simply mean to purchase something for the first time, but to purchase back something that once belonged to you or to purchase back something that is rightfully yours. Notice vv.47-48, "If a stranger or sojourner with you becomes rich, and your brother beside him becomes poor and sells himself to the stranger or sojourner with you or to a member of the stranger's clan, then after he is sold he may be redeemed. One of his brothers may redeem him." One of his brothers may purchase him back.
Have you ever noticed that on soda bottles or on soda cans there's a little statement that reads: "Redemption value in the following states,” then there's a list of states in which you can take that bottle or can to certain locations and get money for it. That is because in those particular states, the company has agreed to purchase back (to redeem) their own cans or bottles. Thus, when we see the word redeem in the Bible it means to purchase back that which is rightfully one's own. More significantly, when the Bible tells us that Christ came "to redeem those under the law" (Gal 4:5) or that in Christ "we have redemption through His blood" (Eph 1:7), "we have redemption, the forgiveness of sin" (Col 1:14), "by means of his own blood [Christ secured] an eternal redemption" (Heb 9:12), what the Bible is telling us is that Christ came to purchase back those who are rightfully his—those who had been given to him from eternity past.
In John 6:37-39 Jesus said this: "All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day." Jesus came to redeem, to purchase that which is rightfully his, to purchase those whom the Father had given to him from eternity past. Jesus did not come to make redemption possible; He came to make redemption actual. What God wants—God gets.
The need for redemption is clear enough from Scripture. Romans 6:16, "Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?" The Bible makes clear that man is totally depraved and unable to do that which is truly good (namely, repent and believe upon the Gospel), which demonstrates man’s bondage to sin. In fact, man is not only in slavery to sin, but is also in bondage to Satan. “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God" (2 Cor 4:3-4). Unbelievers are in slavery to the law. "For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.’ Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’ But the law is not of faith, rather ‘The one who does them shall live by them.’ Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us" (Gal 3:10-13). Unbelievers are also in bondage to death. "For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” (Rom 8:2). Thus, man is desperately in need of redemption.
This is exactly what Christ came to do for his Church, for his bride. In 1 Cor 6:20 we're told that believers "were bought with a price". In 1 Peter 1:18-19 scripture tells believers that “you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot." Christ purchased or ransomed us with his own precious blood. That was the price that needed to be paid, and that was the price that was paid.
What is often misunderstood when we hear the word "ransom" regarding the death of Christ is that we think of someone demanding a price for the release of someone else. Hence, the question is raised: "To whom did Christ pay the ransom to?" One of the most popular theories out there, one made popular by Augustine, is that the ransom was paid to Satan. Augustine himself, in discussing the "Ransom to Satan" theory, said the mistake Satan made was in killing a perfectly innocent, but because Jesus was sinless, he could not possibly remain in the grave. The idea is sort of like handing Satan a bag of money with a rope tied to it. As soon as he releases the hostages, God yanked the money bag out of his hands.
Now as comical as that may seem, there are two major problems with that theory: (1) the Bible never explicitly or implicitly states that the ransom was paid to Satan, and (2) it would mean that Satan set the price of the ransom and that God had to submit to Satan's demands. Instead, it is more correct and more biblical to say that the ransom was paid to God the Father for the release of his people from the powers of Satan. When we ask the question: "For whom did Christ die?" The answer is that Christ died for God the Father. Christ died to meet the demands of and to satisfy the justice of God the Father.
Then who set the price of redemption? Remember that redemption is the language of commerce and in a commercial transaction, it is the buyer who sets the price of the transaction. Within the study of economics, there is a principle known as "supply and demand". And within that principle there is a sub-principle known as the "price-determining mechanism", which seeks to answer the question: "What is it that determines the price, value, or worth of product or service?" The textbook answer to that question goes like this: "A product or service is worth what a consumer is willing to pay for it." The classic example of this is the sale of a home. You might put your house on the market for $500,000 because you believe it's worth that much. Your realtor thinks it's worth that much. Your appraiser and even your neighbors all think your home is worth $500,000. But a year later if your house is still on the market, then your house is not worth $500,000 because no one is willing to pay that. A product or service is only worth what someone else is willing to pay for it.
Thus, we are left with the question: How, when, and by whom was the price of redemption established for the elect? The "1689 Baptist Confession" answers the question in chapter 7 this way: "The salvation of the elect is based upon a covenant of redemption that was transacted in eternity past between the Father and the Son." There was an agreement of "redemption that was transacted (a transaction took place) between the Father and the Son." Thus, in theory, at some point in eternity past, the conversation may have gone something like this between God the Father and God the Son.
God the Father: "Son, I want to give you a bride."
If you are a believer, if you have placed your faith in Christ, know that this is how much you are worth to him. This is how valuable you are to him. The question for us then is this: How valuable is Christ to you? One-hundred-eighty-seven men gave their lives at the Alamo for political freedom. Christ, the Son of God, gave his perfect and sinless life for your eternal freedom. How should you then live?
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash
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