When we talk about redemption, we usually mean “liberation from slavery, usually by paying a price.” In the Old Testament, the term is related to the redemption of the firstborn of humans or animals, which, according to the law, belonged to God. In Exodus 13:13, God told Moses: “Redeem with a lamb every firstborn donkey, but if you do not redeem it, break its neck. Redeem every firstborn among your sons” (NIV). Next, God tells Moses that in the days to come, when the children ask the parents about the meaning of that redemption ceremony, the parents should tell them that the Lord had brought them out of Egypt with a mighty hand, out of the land of slavery (v. 14). Implicit in this statement is the recognition that the redemption of the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt required the direct intervention of Almighty God to overcome the power of Pharaoh.
The redeemer was also that close relative who was obliged by law to rescue a relative who, due to his poverty, had sold himself into slavery to pay his debts (Leviticus 25:47). Also, if an Israelite became impoverished and sold his land, the redeemer or closest relative had to redeem what his brother had sold (v. 25). Another aspect of redemption was that if a man died childless with his wife, it fell to a brother or close relative to marry the childless widow, not only to give offspring to his brother, but also to care for her. This was what happened with Ruth and Boaz (Ruth 3–4). The redeemer was called the goel.
The above statements help us understand that the term redemption is related to the liberation of someone who cannot free him/herself, and therefore requires someone more powerful than him/herself to intervene.
Our crude reality is that, because of our rebellion and disobedience to God, we are slaves to sin. Sin has brought us all under God’s condemnation. In our sinful condition, we cannot save ourselves, and therefore we need someone more powerful than ourselves to come to our rescue. It’s like when someone bigger and stronger than you is attacking you and you can’t defend yourself. Then someone bigger and stronger than your aggressor comes and defends you freeing you from him.
This is where our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ comes in. There was no way we could break free from Satan’s power and sin’s dominion over us. But Jesus became our goel, that is, our redeemer. Jesus defeated the devil and set us free. But to accomplish that, he became human and gave his life for us. To his disciples Jesus said, “the Son of Man came to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Jesus sees his death as a substitutionary payment for those who live in slavery to sin and death. Jesus, with his death on the cross, paid the price for our liberation, and now we are no longer slaves of the devil or of sin, but servants of God.
How was our redemption achieved?
As we have said before, redemption involves a business transaction, where someone has to pay one way or another to obtain the freedom of someone who cannot free him/herself. We have also said that Jesus became our goel, that is, our redeemer. Our redemption is based on the love that God has for us. Jesus told Nicodemus for “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Redemption has to do with the recovery of something that has been forfeited. If you buy something and cannot continue paying for it due to some adverse circumstance, then the owner can seize your property, until it is paid. When the debt has been satisfied, you recover what you had bought. That is what Jesus did, who satisfied the debt that we could not pay.
To achieve our redemption, Jesus became the propitiation for our sins. The apostle John tells us in 1 John 2:2, “And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world” (NKJV). In 1 John 4:10, he writes again: “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
Propitiation is a word that describes the covering provided by God to protect the sinner from the judgment of God. We usually describe this covering as the blood of Jesus, but Jesus is the propitiation. Jesus is the atonement cover over the believer. Jesus is the covering provided by God to be the protective covering for the sinner for the forgiveness of his sins. Can you imagine God providing Jesus for us to cover us and protect us from God’s judgment? This means that in our sins, we are under the judgment and condemnation of God, but at the same time, God provides us with Jesus, who covers us from the wrath of God. For this reason, John writes that “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).
To redeem us, Jesus had to shed his blood on the cross of Calvary.
The apostle Paul tells us that “we were bought at a price” (1 Corinthians 7:23). The price Jesus paid was his blood that he shed at Calvary. The apostle Peter reminds us: “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God” (1 Peter 1:18-21). Our redemption was not bought with the usual financial instruments of doing business in this world.
Our redemption required the ultimate sacrifice of love, which was the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, for “without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22).
The writer of Hebrews reaffirms this truth by establishing the difference between the ancient system of animal sacrifices and the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus, saying that we were redeemed not by the blood of goats or bulls, but “He entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.” So, “for this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of eternal inheritance” (Hebrews 9:12-15).
The ancient sacrificial system required that calves be offered for atonement each year, but the apostle Peter, like the writer of Hebrews, tells us that Christ “died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God” (1 Peter 3:18). Jesus, the Lamb of God, offered himself, suffered, and died only once to purchase our redemption.
Glory to God for Jesus Christ, who with a single sacrifice purchased our redemption!
Why did the Lord redeem us?
Jesus redeemed us for a special purpose. First, with redemption, Jesus has reconciled us to the Father. Now we are “justified through faith, and have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). Now, we are children of God, members of the family of faith. We are no longer children of wrath, but Children of God. We now belong to the family of God.
Second, since Jesus bought us with his blood, he redeemed us so that we may be “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (1 Peter 2:9-10). We have been redeemed by the love and mercy of God.
Third, Jesus redeemed us to be salt and light in this world: “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16).
The apostle Paul tells us that “Jesus redeemed us for good works” (Ephesians 2:10). In other words, there is an ethical aspect to our redemption. We are not redeemed just to say that we are children of God and that we are a special people. We have been redeemed to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth.
As light, we are called to illuminate the darkness. Our way of living should contrast with the world’s way of living. Our way of living must reflect Jesus, in everything we do. Like salt, we are called to preserve this world from corruption and putrefaction. Salt gives flavor, preserves, prevents rotting, but to achieve that, it must be in contact with what it is going to preserve. We are called to live in the world, without contaminating ourselves from the world, but preserving the world. Being light and salt is also related to our good works of service that we do in favor of others. Those that benefit from our good works will glorify our God who is in heaven.
The apostle Paul reaffirms the theme of good works by saying that Jesus “gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good” (Titus 2:14).
Another ethical aspect of our redemption is the care of our bodies. Paul writes to the Corinthians and tells them: “You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:20). Our bodies are the temple, that is, the most holy place where the Spirit of God dwells, therefore, we must glorify God in our bodies and in our spirits. Paul tells us that if anyone “destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple” (1 Corinthians 3:17). In a time where bodies are devalued, we must recognize their value, since God is jealous of our bodies and will judge us for the things we do through them. Paul exhorts the Thessalonians and tells them: “May God himself, the God of peace sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body, be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
What is our future as a redeemed people?
The redeemed of God have a glorious and victorious future. Our future as God’s redeemed people is to reign with Christ for all eternity. Our story does not end in this world. Our story is linked to Jesus’ story. Jesus died, rose again, and ascended to heaven, but he promised to return for us. When he comes, he will take us with him, so that where he is, we may be also (John 14:3).
In Revelation chapter 5, John heard the song that the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders sang after the Lamb that was slain took the scroll from the angel’s hand. The four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb; they all had harps, and golden cups full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints, “And they sang a new song: You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:9-10).
John also saw us standing before the throne and in the presence of the Lamb:
After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshipped God, Saying: “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!” Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes – who are they, and where did they come from?” I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7:9-17).
Brothers and sisters, we have been redeemed to spend eternity with our Redeemer. God will spread his tabernacle over us. This means that God is going to dwell with us. Jesus will shepherd us and guide us to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from our eyes. No more suffering, death, or pain. We will be with our God forever.
Fanny Crosby reminds us that our redemption came with a high price. I invite you to sing “Redeemed,” rejoicing in your God-given freedom by the blood of the Lamb. Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it!
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed through His infinite mercy,
His child, and forever, I am. Redeemed, redeemed,
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it!
His child, and forever, I am. I think of my blessed Redeemer,
I think of Him all the day long;
I sing, for I cannot be silent;
His love is the theme of my song. I know I shall see in His beauty
The King in whose law I delight,
Who lovingly guardeth my footsteps,
And giveth me songs in the night.
- Marshall, I. H. “The Development of the Concept of Redemption in the New Testament.” In R. J. Banks, ed., Reconciliation and Hope. 153–169. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1974.
- Morris, L. The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross. 3rd ed. 11–64. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1965.
- Mundle, W., J. Schneider, and C. Brown. “Redemption.” DNTT 3 (1978): 177–223.
- Gause, R. Hollis. Living in the Spirit: The Way of Salvation. 53. Cleveland, TN: CPT Press, 2009.
- Vila Ventura, Samuel and Santiago Escuain. Nuevo Diccionario Bíblico Ilustrado. In Editorial CLIE. 431. Terrassa: Barcelona, 1985.
Bishop Elias Rodriguez, DMin
Bishop Elias T. Rodriguez was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He obtained a Master of Divinity degree from the Church of God Theological Seminary (now Pentecostal Theological Seminary) in 2007 and a Doctor of Ministry from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in 2014. Dr. Rodriguez served as regional bishop for the Southeast Hispanic Region prior to his appointment as a Center for Biblical Leadership (CBL) Instructor. He has taught extensively throughout the world. He has been married to the former Maria E. Vargas since 1983. They have three children
As published in the April 2023 issue of the White Wing Messenger.