Many Christians love the story about how they came to faith in Jesus Christ. They enjoy letting others know about how the burdens of their sins left them, taken away by the love of God.
Certain words carry weight and significance in Christian culture and the lexicon. One of the words believers use to describe this experience is “redeemed.” When someone experiences the joy of salvation, part of that elation stems from realizing the price of the sins they committed has been paid by another, and they are free from sin and shame. Because of this freedom, Christians can have a relationship with their Creator and Savior.
Jesus redeemed people from the punishment of their sins to have an eternal relationship with Him, serve Him in this life, and be free from the temptations of the flesh.
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What Does Redemption Mean?
To redeem something, that object must be cleared or taken back. In the secular world, people redeem coupons, rebates, and promises. Unlike a normal transaction, there is an implication that something was owed beforehand, as opposed to walking into a store and making an immediate exchange.
Merriam-Webster offers the following definitions and perspectives on what it means to redeem: “to buy or pay off; clear by payment; to buy back, as after a tax sale or a mortgage foreclosure; to recover by payment or other satisfaction; to exchange (bonds, trending stamps, etc.) for money or goods; to discharge or fulfill.” These definitions imply some sort of debt and equivalent value that needs to be paid.
The secular definition does provide a good groundwork for understanding the way it is used in the Bible. When studying the way the Bible describes man’s relationship with God, there is some language alluding to something being owed. After God established the Law of Moses, sins and transgressions against the law have to be atoned for, and made right, through sacrifice. Whether a known or unknown sin, once the error is realized, the transgressor must bring a sin offering to the temple. “In this way the priest will make atonement for them for the sin they have committed, and they will be forgiven” (Leviticus 4:35b).
Without the sacrifice, there is a debt in the individual’s ledger against the Lord with which they must be dealt. The writer of the Book of Hebrews confirms this cost later in the Bible, writing, “Indeed under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (Hebrews 9:22). Because everyone sins, everyone has debts to be paid, which ultimately gets paid for through death.
During the time of sacrifice, it was frequent, expensive, and no one could truly pay in full for their sins, because they would just sin again. Biblical redemption is the solution to the problem of the cost of sin.
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What Are We Redeemed from and for?
After centuries of sacrifice and atonement, the Law had been the only way for people to mark out the debts they incurred against God, but it was also a barrier between God and His people. The Holy Spirit did not dwell with individuals or even groups, but would sometimes settle on a person. This separation between the Lord and the masses was symbolized by a thick curtain that hung in the Temple in Jerusalem between the Holy of Holies where God spirit would settle once a year, and the rest of the temple.
God sent Jesus, His Son, to earth to live a righteous life, and complete a plan to fully redeem the world. Centuries before the birth of the Messiah, the plan to redeem people forever was in place; “But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). Because Jesus did not sin, He did not have to die as a consequence of sinful behavior. He chose to die. When Jesus shed His blood, that sacrifice paid the price for the sins of all mankind.
By paying the blood price for man’s sin, Jesus made direct access to God possible. The curtain in the Temple was torn as the physical manifestation of this new relationship. If someone wanted to repent of their sins and have a relationship with God, they could because their sins were no longer standing between them and their Creator. Being able to go to the Lord freely and without the barrier of an unrepentant heart is, in large part, what it means to be saved and be a believer.
God did not just free people from sin so they could go about their life as if nothing changed. First, humanity was freed to have that relationship with Him, However, part of why Jesus came was so His disciples could share this news with others, so they could turn to Him, and do good works to show the love of God to the world. “Who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14).
In today’s society there is a concept of paying it forward, meaning if someone does something good for you, pay them back by doing something good for someone else. Jesus redeemed us so we could live with Him, for Him, and for others by sharing the Gospel and spreading His love to all the nations.
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Verses about Redemption
Because of the importance of redemption to God’s plan as outlined in the Bible, there are many verses that address it. They convey the message of hope and an eternal future with the loving God of the universe:
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
“He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name!” (Psalm 111:0).
“And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord’” (1 Corinthians 1:30-31).
“Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble” (Psalm 107:2).
“He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:12).
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
“For you were bought with a price; do not becomes slaves of men” (1 Corinthians 7:23).
“O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption” (Psalm 130:7).
“Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:8).
Through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, all have the opportunity to be redeemed from their sin, the just results of that sin, and an eternity separated from God.
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How Can I Be Redeemed?
After Jesus died and rose from the dead, people no longer have to pay the price for their own sins; “for the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). The Bible points directly towards trusting in the sacrifice of Jesus and repenting of sins, for those seeking salvation from damnation and the path to Heaven. Repenting, or turning away from, sins includes those committed in the past, and those that will be committed in the future.
Paul wrote to the church in Rome, “Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved” (Romans 10:9-10). Jesus has already paid the debt, redeeming the souls of those who put their faith in Him. Anyone who wants to be redeemed from their sins should begin by turning to God in prayer, repenting, and accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
A prayer like the one below is a good way to start a redeeming relationship with God:
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you so much for loving me enough to send your Son Jesus to die for my sins, taking my place, and accepting a punishment I should bear. Please forgive me for all my evil thoughts and actions that I have done, rebelling against you. I am sorry for the wicked things I’ve done to hurt you and others. Teach me to live and love like Jesus. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit so I may be guided by your hand, and live my life in accordance with Your will. Help me to feel Your presence so I can respond when You are speaking to me. Jesus, please be the Lord of my life. I am your servant. Thank you for changing and saving me. Blessed be the name of the Lord!
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10).
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Bethany Verrett is a freelance writer and editor. She maintains a faith and lifestyle blog graceandgrowing.com, where she muses about the Lord, life, culture, and ministry.