by J. D. Watson
We continue our thoughts on Ephesians 1:7: “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins.”
An interesting illustration of redemption appears in the Old Testament. As one expositor explains: “In the Old Testament there were two means of redemption—by power and by purchase. The book of Exodus illustrates redemption by power; the book of Ruth illustrates redemption by purchase.
It is significant that the first time the kinsman-redeemer Boaz is introduced in the story of Ruth, we are told that he was “a mighty man of wealth” (Ruth 2:1). Only a rich man could redeem. Redemption is a costly business. What a wonderful truth! The only way to redeem man in His sin was by purchasing him, and the only One wealthy enough to pay that ransom price was God through His Son.
We should also note that while it does not appear in our English translation, the definite article “the” precedes “redemption” in the Greek—“In Him we have [the] redemption.” This emphasizes two truths: there is only one redemption for sin, and there is ownership by the redeeming person.
Many have the mistaken idea that as Christians we’ve been freed from sin and that our life is now ours to live. But the very opposite is true. Redemption always implies ownership. Jesus bought us and now owns us. We, therefore, live the way He wills, as Gal. 2:20 declares: “I am [i.e., have been] crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
Our dear Savior did not merely “rescue” us as liberal theology says—that is, rescue us from ignorance, superstition, and social backwardness. No, our Lord redeemed us. He bought us. We belong to Him. When you go to the store and purchase an item, does the item belong to itself? No, it belongs to you. You purchased it and own the right to use it in the way that you wish. Likewise, our dear Savior redeemed us and now owns us.
This thought is brought out wonderfully by a particular story that has been around for many years: In a city on the shore of a great lake lived a small boy who loved the water and sailing. So deep was his fascination that he, with the help of his father, spent months making a beautiful model boat, which he began to sail at the water’s edge. But one day a sudden gust of wind caught the tiny boat and carried it far out into the lake and out of sight. Distraught, the boy returned home inconsolable. Day after day he would walk the shores in search of his treasure, but always in vain. Then one day as he was walking through town he saw his beautiful boat—in a store window! He approached the proprietor and announced his ownership, only to be told that it was not his, for the owner had paid a local fisherman good money for the boat. If the boy wanted the boat, he would have to pay the price. And so the lad set himself to work, doing anything and everything, until finally he returned to the store with the money. At last, holding his precious boat in his arms, he said with great joy, “You are twice mine now, because I made you, and because I bought you.”
Likewise, but infinitely greater, what a wonderful redemption we have in Christ! First He made us, and then He bought us.
To be concluded
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 www.TheScriptureAlone.com