The Sacrificial Labors of the Son
The Sacrificial Labors of the Son
The longest sentence in the NT – Eph. 1:3-14 – reveals the Trinitarian nature of our great salvation. We see how God the Father plans, God the Son accomplishes, and God the Spirit applies. The Father commits to fully redeem, the Son commits to fully obey what redemption requires, and the Spirit commits to fully apply what the Son achieves. To be more specific, the Father especially loves, and sovereignly chooses a Bride for His beloved Son. The Son leaves his residence in heaven and humbles Himself to the level of humanity. He pays the dowry price for His Bride with a bloody, horrific death so that He might raise her up to the heavenly realms from which He came. Finally, the Spirit lures, enchants, and captivates the Bride by the irresistible beauty of the Son. This is the heart of the sacred romance that constitutes God’s grand glory story from Genesis to Revelation.
In our last study we considered the special love of the Father, who is the spring from which all the benefits and blessings of salvation flow to His chosen people. But, as we will see in today’s study, the spring of redemptive love flows full and free because of the sacrificial labors of God the Son upon the cross.
Having examined the first stanza of Paul's hymn of praise, that pertained to the work of God the Father, we now turn to stanza two, focusing on the work of God the Son.
- Redemption – 1:7
“In him we have (“are having” - present tense) redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,”
Financially, America is the greatest debtor nation in the history of the world. Individually, most Americans are in debt up to their ears. They live in houses with wall-to-wall carpeting and back-to-the-wall financing.
Spiritually, not only all Americans, but all mankind has a debt that they cannot pay. By nature, by choice, by birth and by behavior, we are sinners. Sin impoverishes and imprisons us. The wages of sin is death. Because we are sinners who sin, we contract a debt we cannot pay, but one that if not paid will incarcerate us in an Eternal Debtor’s Prison called Hell, where we will forever be paying what we owe.
But God, in His great love has provided a way to Cross-out our impoverishment and imprisonment to sin so that we can live free from bankruptcy and from bondage. “Jesus paid a debt He did not owe; I owed a debt I could not pay - I needed someone to wash my sins away. And now I sing a brand-new song; Amazing grace all day long. Christ Jesus paid the debt I could never pay.”
- The Terrible Enslavement of Sin - Cols 1:13
- Redemption presupposes that Man is:
- Bound by sin; Rom 6:18, “And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” 6:20, “For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.” Rom 6:22, “But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.” In Bible times one could become a slave by line of birth, loss of a battle or a lapse into bankruptcy.
- Barricaded in Satan’s kingdom—Col 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.
- Bankrupt as for as satisfying the indebtedness to God’s broken law - James 2:10, “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.”
- The Tremendous Expense of Redemption
In the 12th Century, Richard the Lion-hearted was captured and imprisoned by the Holy Roman Emperor as he returned from a crusade to the Holy Land. He was thrown in prison and a colossal ransom was demanded for his release. The people of England willingly submitted to a heavy tax to raise the money to free their king. (This is where the term “a king’s ransom” comes from.) His redemption wasn’t cheap. But that expense was a mere pittance compared to the cost of redeeming sinners.
The word “redeemed”, which is used over 160 times in the Bible, means to deliver by paying a price or a ransom. Four different words translate the full import of redemption.
(1) agorazo - To buy in the market - Rev 14:3 and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth.
(2) exagorazo – To buy out of market and remove from further sale - Gal 4:4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, Gal 4:5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
(3) antilutron (only used 1 time) - ransom - Anti has more the idea of exchange and lutron is the common word for ransom for a slave or a prisoner. 1Tim 2:6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.
(4) apolutrosis – This word means to buy out of the market, remove from further sale, and to set free. - Eph 1:7, “In him we have redemption through his blood …” The “blood” of Christ is merely a shorthand way of pointing to his sacrificial death and the new covenant it established with God.
Three thoughts are inherent in the word “Redemption.”: (1) Ransom; (2) Rescue; (3) Release.
There are three phases to redemption – 2 Cors. 1:10, “He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. (1) Has delivered - (2) He is delivering - (3) He will deliver.
- Jesus Ransoms us from the Curse of God's Broken Law - Matt 20:28; 1 Tim 2:6, who gave himself a ransom for all. Gal 3:13, Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree").
- Jesus Rescues us from the Condemnation of Sin - Eph 1:7, Titus 2:14, “who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.”
- Jesus Releases us from the Constraints of Satan - Cols 1:13, “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,”
Gal 1:4 who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,
The Lord of Glory, our Lord Jesus Christ, came to earth on a designated mission, with a distinguishing love for His Bride, to provide a definite atonement! He became the Surety, the Substitute, and the Savior of His people. The Scriptures proclaim a positive redemption – not a potential one; a certain redemption – not a contingent one.
To be more specific about redemption, the Father sovereignly chooses a Bride for His beloved Son. The Son leaves his residence in heaven and humbles Himself to the level of humanity. He pays the dowry price for His Bride with a bloody, horrific death so that He might raise her up to the heavenly realms from which He came. Finally, the Spirit lures, enchants, and captivates the Bride by the irresistible beauty of the Son. This is the heart of the sacred romance that makes up God’s Glorious Love Story.
All universal history is joyfully leading toward a wedding. It is all moving toward the consummation of the eternal love between the heavenly Bridegroom and His earthly Bride – the community of faith, the people of God – His Church!
The ultimate passion of God is all about love. Deep, profound, unending love. The passionate love of a man for a woman. The love of a monarch for a maiden. The love of a God for a Bride. God's intended ultimate is about a marriage. It's about a wedding. It's about an unbreakable union. This theme is carried straight through the entire Scripture to the very end, when the story finds its climax in the book of Revelation. And the Bible closes just as it opened: with a perfect bridegroom, a perfect bride, a perfect wedding, a perfect marriage, and a perfect union. Hallelujah!
- Remission – 1:7b
“the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,” One of the words for "Forgiveness" is the Greek word "aphesis" which means to bear off and away. The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross resulted in the "covering up by blood" and the "carrying off" of our sins.
The idea of “carrying off and away” will remind Bible students of the ritual on the Jewish Day of Atonement when the high priest sent the scapegoat into the wilderness (Lev. 16:1-34). First the priest killed one of the two goats and sprinkled its blood before God on the mercy seat. Then he confessed Israel’s sins over the live goat, and had the goat taken into the wilderness to be lost. Christ died to carry away our sins so they might never again be seen (Psa_103:12; Joh_1:29). No written accusation stands against us because our sins have been taken away! Sin made us poor, but grace makes us rich.
The debt of sin is paid in full by the blood of Jesus; door of access to the Father's throne is open; and dying to sin and living to righteousness is a reality ‑ 1 Pet 2:24, "Who his own self bare our sins in his body on the tree that we being dead to sin might live unto righteousness.” The blood of Christ procures our redemption ‑‑ Eph 1:7; promotes peace (Col 1:20); purifies from sin (1 Jn 1:7); provides access(Heb 10:19);proclaims justification (Roms 5:9); and provides victory (Rev 12:11)
Take note of these assuring scriptures: Is 38:17, "for You have cast all my sins behind Your back." Is 44:22, "I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, your transgressions, and as a cloud your sins." Micah 7:18‑19, "Who is a God like unto You, that pardons iniquity, and passes by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage; and You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea." Ps. 103:12, "As far as the East is from the West, so far has he removed our transgressions from us."
"My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought. My sin, not in part but the whole, was nailed to the Cross and I bear them no more. Praise the Lord, it is well with my soul!"
III. Revelation – 1:8-9
“which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ.”
This is the self-contained (‘according to His purpose’), self-determined (‘according to His good pleasure’) purpose of God, independent of any other will or determination. God’s Grace has overflowed in the additional gifts of wisdom and knowledge (note Ephesians 1:17). This is His Sovereign Mind and Design! Yes! God graciously designed to reveal His Eternal Purpose to us! He purposed to make Himself known to us! He could have disdained us altogether, but instead He set Himself to reveal (‘undrape’, ‘unveil’) Himself – Himself - to us, “to make all men see” Who He is, What He is about, and How Much He loves us! This is stupendous and staggering grace! And this is at the heart of Stanza Two in this remarkable Hymn of God’s Grace.
These are the two foremost revealed works of Christ in this great Age of Grace. Without His redemption, we would be without Salvation! Without His revelation of His Father’s Truth, we would have no Sensibility, no intelligent awareness of His Truth!
This mystery of His will that He has made known to us centers in Christ, and that one element in it is that which is expressed here, namely, that literally everything, things in heaven, things on earth, everything above us, around us, within us, below us, everything spiritual and everything material, has even now been brought under Christ's rule. This is, indeed, a mystery, for no one would ever have guessed it had it not been revealed. "Now we do not yet see all things subjected to him" (Heb. 2:8). It takes nothing less than faith — and not a very weak faith either — to "see Jesus crowned with glory and honor" (Heb. 2:9), actually ruling the entire universe from his heavenly abode.
- Restoration – 1:10
“that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth - in Him.”
In Ephesians 1:10, the uniting of all things in Christ includes the sort of relational reconciliation found in 2 Corinthians 5. But it reaches much further, encompassing not just human beings but “all things.” God is unifying not just people but everything in the universe. This is clarified and reinforced by verbal repetition that is not apparent in the NIV. Verse 10 could be rendered more literally, “to bring unity to all things in Christ, the things in the heavens and the things on the earth, in him.” “All things” means all things: the whole universe and everything it contains. Notice that this cosmic unification happens “in Christ,” emphasized by the addition of “in him” at the end of verse 10 (not shown in the NIV).
The central miracle of the mission of the Crucifixion will be forever the reconciliation of all things back to the Father by the blood that was shed there (Colossians 1:18-20). God's long-awaited "grand reversal," the recapitulation of all creation, is now underway. The lost are being found. The sick are being healed. The oppressed, liberated. The shamed, embraced. The guilty, pardoned. The sinned-against, restored. The condemned, swallowed up in forgiveness and grace. The offenders welcomed home. All of this only begins to express the infinite, incomprehensible measure of the potency of Christ's "atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world" (1 John 2, NIV).
- Reservation – 1:11
“In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will,”
The King James Version reads, “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance,” but “in whom also we were made an inheritance” is also a possible translation. Both are true and the one includes the other. In Christ we have a wonderful inheritance (1Pet. 1:1-4), and in Christ we are an inheritance. We are valuable to Him. Think of the price God paid to purchase us and make us part of His inheritance! God the Son is the Father’s love gift to us; and we are the Father’s love gift to His Son. Read Jn. 17:1-26 and note how many times Christ calls us “those whom Thou hast given Me.” The church is Christ’s body (Eph 1:22-23), building (Eph 2:19-22), and bride (Eph 5:22-23); Christ’s future inheritance is wrapped up in His church. We are “joint-heirs with Christ” (Rom 8:17), which means that He cannot claim His inheritance apart from us!
Notice once again that the ultimate end or aim of God's omnipotent oversight of all things, of his predestinating grace, is that his glory might be praised, extolled, adored, and enjoyed. But note well: it is not simply a plan or a purpose or an event but 'we who are to be to the praise of his glory. In the final analysis it is redeemed people who most honor God.
During the days of slavery, a young black girl was being sold at public auction in a slave market. As the auctioneer begin the bidding an elderly gentleman stood up and announced that he would pay whatever the owner was asking. When he finished the transaction, he gave orders to remove the shackles from her ankles. He then signed the papers and gave them to the girl and said, “I have just purchased you in order to set you free. You may now go your way.” The young girl, overwhelmed by such a sacrificial act, replied, “Mister, since you bought me to set me free, if it’s all right with you, I’d love to go to your house and live the rest of my life for you!”
Because Christ Jesus, our Lord, has purchased us from the slave market of sin, delivering us from a futile, fruitless lifestyle, we are bound by the cords of love to live holy and righteous lives because of His re-deeming love.
Ever since by faith I saw the stream thy flowing wounds supply, Redeeming love has been my theme and shall be till I die.
Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood shall never lose its power Till all the ransomed church of God be saved to sin no more.
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