The Essence of Christianity in 8 Words

by J. D. Watson

Ephesians 1:7 declares one of the great riches we have in Christ: “In whom we have redemption through his blood…” In only eight words, this statement summarizes the entire essence of the Christian message.

Tragically, however, this central truth of redemption is actually in decline in our day. As one commentator observes: “We are living in a time when there has been a wholesale attempt to reconstruct Christianity apart from its central focus on personal salvation. That is to say, it seems as if people today want a Christianity without redemption.”

But we cannot avoid the fact that at the heart of the teaching of Jesus and of the apostolic message is a God who redeems His people. In other words, if you remove redemption, you no longer have Christianity. All you have is another religion, another philosophy, another creed. Neither do you have any hope of salvation.

What an overwhelming concept is embedded in this word “redemption”! It is in this word our salvation lies. It is this word that is, indeed, the heart of our salvation.

In the days before Princeton Theological Seminary spiraled into the abyss of liberalism, professor and scholar Benjamin B. Warfield spoke the following in an address delivered in Miller Chapel in 1915:

There is not one of the titles of Christ which is more precious to Christian hearts than ‘Redeemer.’ ... [It] is a title of more intimate revelation than either ‘Lord’ or ‘Savior.’ It gives expression not merely to our sense that we have received salvation from Him, but also to our appreciation of what it cost Him to procure this salvation for us. It is the name specifically of the Christ of the cross. Whenever we pronounce it, the cross is placarded before our eyes and our hearts are filled with loving remembrance not only that Christ has given us salvation, but that He paid a might price for it.

 How right Warfield was! Redemption should be the most precious truth that the Christian embraces.

There are several words used in the Greek for redemption, and all of them picture paying the price from something. They all graphically picture the ancient agora, the open-air market place in ancient cities where goods were bought and sold. Paul used this concept very deliberately to picture where we were outside of Christ—in the marketplace, the slave market of sin. He wanted to demonstrate that we were “bought at a price,” and therefore no longer belong to ourselves or our father the devil, but are to “glorify God in [our] body and in [our] spirit, which are God’s (1 Cor. 6:19,20).” Just like the some six million slaves that were bought and sold in ancient Rome, we too were slaves to sin and even dead in sin (Eph. 2:1-3), but He bought us and we will never be slaves again.

We’ll continue this thought next time.

Dr. Watson is pastor-teacher of Grace Bible Church, Meeker, Colorado
Pastor Watson’s full exposition of Ephesians and other resources are available on-line at

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