Study 4 THE GREATNESS OF OUR REDEMPTION
THE FIRST LETTER OF PETER
by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portions: 1 Peter 1:18-21; Job 19:25-27)
In this letter Peter makes three clear statements concerning the fact and significance of the death of Christ, each of which emphasises a different aspect of His death: 2:24 declares the sacrificial nature of His death; 3:18 states the substitutionary nature of His death; and 1:18-19 presents the redemptive nature of His death. There is a great significance in the names of our Lord. He is our Saviour (Matthew 1:21); Shepherd (John 10:11); Master (John 13:13 KJV); Friend (Proverbs 18:24); but at least 3400 years ago the patriarch Job gave a glorious testimony in which he spoke of his Lord as ‘my Redeemer’ (Job 19:25-27). What is meant by ‘redeemer’ or ‘redemption’? To redeem means: (1) to buy back, to purchase something that has been temporarily forfeited; (2) to set free, to liberate, as setting a slave free from slavery; (3) to deliver from some great danger, as the Children of Israel were delivered from slavery to Pharaoh. When our Lord Jesus Christ died upon the cross He redeemed us in this three-fold sense. By the shedding of His blood: (1) He bought back that which had been temporarily forfeited, for by nature we were sold under sin (Romans 7:14), sold into Satan’s bondage (2 Timothy 2:26), shut up under condemnation (John 3:18), and He died to pay the ransom price to free us (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). (2) He set us free from slavery and bondage, for by nature we were slaves of sin and of Satan (John 8:34). (3) He delivered us from a very great danger. By nature we faced death and judgment – look up John 3:36; our destiny was Hell, but Christ died to deliver us from this. In our key-verses Peter tells us four things about our redemption.
1. THE PLAN OF OUR REDEMPTION
In 1 Peter 1:20, we are told that redemption was planned by God in eternity. It is very comforting to know that the Lord is working to a plan, and here we learn that before Creation He planned our redemption – compare Acts 2:23. This means that the atoning, redeeming work of the Lord Jesus Christ was no afterthought in the mind of God. It was His eternal purpose and plan.
2. THE PURPOSE OF OUR REDEMPTION
What object did God have in view when He planned redemption in eternity and when Christ came to redeem us? His object was to redeem us from eternal death and from Satan’s grip; to recover us from the enemy (2 Samuel 14:14), to translate us (Colossians 1:13), to forgive us (Mark 2:10), to cleanse us (1 John 1:7), and at last to take us to Heaven (John 14:2). But much more than this, His purpose was to make us holy, Christ-like men and women here and now. Notice that in verse 18 we are told that Jesus died to redeem us ‘from’ – what? From the old, empty, worthless behaviour of our unregenerate life – compare Ephesians 2:2-3. We have been redeemed in order that we might be holy – look up and compare 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Titus 2:13-14. So, if Christ died for this, is His purpose being fulfilled in us? Are we being saved from the old, empty life? Are we glorifying God in our bodies and with our spirits, and are we a purified, zealous people? One day our bodies will be redeemed – look up Romans 8:22-23, and compare Philippians 1:20-21; but in the meantime we are to be redeemed from the power and the impurity of sin and set free to live Christ-like and holy lives.
3. THE PRICE OF OUR REDEMPTION
If we have been redeemed by the payment of a ransom, what was the payment? Verses 18 and 19 tell us it was “the precious blood of Christ” – look up Acts 3:6. In order to secure our redemption it cost Christ not silver and gold but His precious blood – it cost Him His life! The expression the blood of Christ is a graphic phrase used to convey the fact of the giving of a life wholly in death. No corruptible thing, no works of ours, no prayers, tears or merit could redeem us – look up Ephesians 2:8-10; Titus 3:5; we could be redeemed only by faith in the precious blood of Christ, the Lamb who was slain – look up John 1:29; the sinless One – look up 2 Corinthians 5:21; God’s Paschal Lamb – look up Revelation 13:8; and when we see the cost of our redemption we long that the purpose that Christ had in dying for us should be fulfilled in us.
4. THE PROOF OF OUR REDEMPTION
How do we know that all this is true, that we really are redeemed, that the precious blood of Christ was and is sufficient for a ransom and that divine justice has been fully satisfied with the work that Jesus did upon the cross? In verses 20 and 21 Peter gives us a three-fold proof that the work of redemption is complete, accepted by God and sufficient for men:
- There is the HISTORICAL proof. Notice the end of verse 20. Jesus actually came 2000 years ago and He said that He was going to die to redeem us – “to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
- There is the FACTUAL proof. The Lord Jesus not only came and shed His blood, but He rose again (verse 21). The resurrection of Christ is the best attested fact of history, and the resurrection was the proof that God was satisfied with the price paid for our redemption – look up Philippians 2:6-8; Romans 8:34.
- There is the EXPERIMENTAL proof. See the first four words of verse 21. Not only did Christ come 2000 years ago and die and then rise again, proving that He had accomplished this work, but we believe and have proved this in our own experience; we are redeemed and we can say with Job, “I know that my Redeemer lives!” We know the Redeemer Himself – He has freed us, He is freeing us and, as verse 21 goes on to say, our faith and our hope are in God!
A Christian lay dying, and his loved ones heard him repeating one word – ‘Redeemed!’ Can you say this in relation to yourself? This is the watchword for living or for dying – redeemed!