In this sermon Tim Giovanelli continues our series in Ephesians and shares about redemption, how Jesus paid the price by his blood on the Cross to save us from our sins and bring us into new life and relationship with Jesus – praise God!
Sermon preached by Tim Giovanelli on Sunday February 21st 2021.
Ephesians Week 3
Welcome – introduce myself.
Last two weeks, we’ve kicked off our new series in Ephesians…
- I thought it would be fun to speak more about predestination today… nah!
- Ephesians is about knowing the gospel story that then changes our story
- And after meeting Paul and his remarkable conversion story and ministry to the Ephesians..
- We have already been introduced to big themes of the Gospel like grace and peace, being in Christ and adopted into the family of God.
- Handout… where we are…
This week, much simpler… but no less profound… look at redemption and forgiveness.
Let’s read Ephesians 1:3-8 (like a good Pat Cummins delivery… need a little bit of run up)
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us.
So, focussing in on verses 7-8…
“we have redemption (in Christ), through his blood, the forgiveness of sins.”
In Paul’s listing of the glorious riches of God’s grace that we have in Jesus and the good news of our salvation, he lists in this one carefully crafted sentence, different aspects of the good news.
- We… we who now live “in Christ” are so blessed… richer than we could ever imagine.
- Dear church is Ephesus, we… are redeemed and forgiven!
- The word redemption is not just another synonym for salvation.
- The word has a particular meaning.
- Our redemption is a particular kind or element of salvation
The Australian NT scholar Leon Morris notes that when we hear the word redemption, we think about it in religious terms.
- But in Paul’s day, the people thought about it in non-religious terms.
- The Greek word Redemption is apollo-tro-sis
- The verb form of the word simply means to loose.
- Redeem means to loosen.
So they would use this word apollo-tro-sis to refer to the loosening of clothing, or loosening tied up animals…
- But it was particularly used to refer to the loosening of human beings who found themselves in some form of captivity to another.
- One of the great desires of the ancient world was to be redeemed…
- To be loosened from slavery. Or a prisoner loosened from jail
- Loosening people from oppressive debt or governments.
- And the word normally referred to the loosening happening through some kind of payment
- Someone paying the price of redemption. Loosening came with a cost.
In the Roman Empire it has been estimated that up to 60 million people lived as slaves.
Individuals created in the image of God were treated like property, not much better than a piece of furniture or a prize cow.
- They could be bought and sold like any other commodity or property.
- If you have seen the movie The Gladiator, you are an expert on this…
- And so it was a glorious thing to be redeemed… to be loosened.
- To be purchased and set free.
- Loosened from ownership by another.
In him (in Jesus) you have been redeemed, you have redemption through his blood.
- One of the glorious riches of the gospel is that you have been loosened.
- What you are oppressed by, what you are captive to, what you are slave to…
- You have been redeemed through his blood.
One of the deepest longings of the human heart is to be loosened from all that holds us captive. To be set free
- Played out before our eyes all the time – human beings long to be free.
- Whether what we see in Myanmar at the moment and people longing to be politically free
- Or free from debt, or free from addictions, or free from anxiety and worries,
- Or free from controlling relationships…
- But especially, I would argue, we long to be free from sin and all that separates us from God.
The words in this verse point us to the human condition, but for the grace of God.
- We have redemption points us to the fact that aside from grace we are in bondage and kept captive
- And unless we are loosened or released from this bondage
- We cannot enter into an experience of our adoption into God’s family
- In order to be a child of God we need to be freed.
Sometimes I think we think evil is out there… in an ideology, or a political party or a leader.
- And we safely put ourselves on the side of the solution… or we think I’m not that bad.
- All the while maybe minimalizing the condition of our own heart.
- I found the author of the Gulag Archipelago Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who was a Russian political prisoner helpful in this…
- He says; “The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either – but right through every human heart…”
- And sometimes coming to terms with this is the first step in our redemption.
- We need to realise our captivity. We need to acknowledge that we are not free!
In another letter, the Apostle Paul would say “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.”
- And so our redemption from sin, comes with the realisation that we need freeing!
- Maybe the answer to our problems isn’t a bigger home or a different job or a more fulfilling relationship…
- Maybe the answer to our problem is dealing with the human heart!
This is not something that Paul makes up… Jesus refers to his mission through this lens all the time.
- In Luke 4 Jesus says he has come to set the oppressed free.
- In John 8 Jesus says all who sin are slaves to sin, but whom the son sets free is free indeed.
- In John 1 John the Baptist, seeing Jesus declares “The lamb of God who comes to take away the sins of the world.”
- Now can we just pause here for a second… there was a lot there.
Because I think in these three verses from or about Jesus in the Gospels we see redemption worked out…
- We see the Problem… The solution… The means… The result…
- The problem is all who sin are slaves to sin. That is everyone!
- The solution is Jesus saying I have come to set the oppressed free
- The means is he is the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
- The result is whom the son sets free is free indeed!
So back to Ephesians 1:7 Through his blood – through his shed blood… that is what redeems us, it looses us from our captivity to sin.
- It loosens us from all that held humanity captive.
- From curse of the law
- Compulsion of sin
- From the powers of spiritual forces at work in the world
- From lies that have ensnared the human heart and mind
- From the finality of death and therefore the fear of death
Jesus blood, shed on the cross, as the sacrificial lamb of God… pays the price so that we can be loosened!
- Are you with me?
Now I am not good at talking about blood. In fact in year 8 woodwork I cut my finger on a saw, and seeing blood I fainted! A career in medicine was never on the cards…
- But Paul tells us here that it is the blood Jesus shed on the cross that pays the price, that redeems us.
- And we should understand this if we are to know the glorious riches of the gospel.
- And key to this is that verse that Jesus is the lamb of God.
In the Old Testament, a spotless lamb would be sacrificed to make amends to God for the wrong we have done.
- A price in one sense was paid showing their contrition, and to be right with God.
- But what the Old Testament sacrifice could never do, because sin would rear its head again…
- Jesus in offering himself as a spotless sacrifice for the sins of the world accomplishes once and for all.
- It is why in Mark 10:45, Jesus knowing his redemptive mission says;
- “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Ephesians 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins
- In Jesus, a ransom has been paid to loosen us from the grip of sin.
- Blood was shed, a price was paid by God.
- In love, he gave himself so that we could be redeemed.
And now… (part of the meaning of the word redemption) is we now belong to him.
- Sin is no longer our master.
- What Jesus redeems by his blood, he now owns.
- I am his. You are his.
- When we confess Jesus is Lord we come into a new kingdom, a new family, a new inheritance, a new destiny!
- So that we can live in the glorious freedom of the children of God.
- We are richer than we think.
Leads to the fact (verse 7) that we have the forgiveness of sins.
Not just a different meaning of the word redemption…
- Not just a different word for salvation
- But again an aspect of our salvation that leads us to join Paul in verse 3 of saying “Praise be to God”
- Forgiveness is about the relationship.
- We could be released from captivity but still not be in relationship
- Someone could pay the price to get us released from jail, but then walk away… and not want anything to do with us.
Forgiveness is about restoring the relationship for our past sins and trespasses.
There are 3 main different words the bible to talk about this.
3 words used to describe the human condition apart from the grace of God.
- Sin, transgression and iniquity
- Find these in Psalm 32 where King David confesses his adultery and is forgiven
- Psalm 32:5 “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.”
- Sin, transgression, iniquity.
- If you want to understand the human condition or your captivity, understand these words.
Sin refers to missing the mark (like an archer) – we all sin and miss the target
- Does this resonate? Does anyone ever sin? No? Just me?
- We know the right things to do, but we cant quite hit it.
Transgression means to cross the line – we come to a fence with a sign that says – No trespassing… but we go where we shouldn’t anyhow.
- We overstep the lines and boundaries within which God has said we will thrive.
- For King David this meant sleeping with another man’s wife.
And here is the most interesting one to me; iniquity
- Iniquity is the thing in us that makes us miss the mark and cross the line.
- Its our twistedness or perversion. It is what makes us want to cross these lines…
- Our iniquity is our fallen nature that leads to the mess in and around us.
By his blood, Jesus rescues us from this iniquity, he releases us from its terrible grip on our hearts and minds.
- By his blood he erases our sin… he wipes it clean
- By his blood he forgives our transgressions… God does not hold it against us.
- By his blood we can be brought back into relationship with him and his Father.
I want to finish there… but just to close, imagine with me, if you will…
- Paul sitting in his prison cell, writing to the church in Ephesus that he had established over two years of ministry.
- Dear friends who had come out from the grip of worship to Artemis the God of fertility, out from under the control of Caesar who demanded to be Lord.
- Ordinary men and women, both Jews and gentiles… each with their own stories of challenges and struggles.
He reminds them… he reminds you and me of the glorious riches of what God has done through Christ in their lives.
- Paul will get to how we are now to live our lives and what will help us…
- But for now he reminds them: God has given them grace and peace.
- He has chosen them and adopted them into his family.
- He has redeemed them… loosening them from their captivity and slavery to sin
- He has forgiven them of their sin, through his blood shed on the cross.
- Ephesians 1:3 PRAISE BE TO GOD!