Our Gospel focus this month is illustrated by a weekly experience in my childhood. As a young boy, every Friday night I went to the grocery store with my mother. Specifically the A & P. My mother went nowhere else. One reason she was loyal to the A & P would later give me an illustration to understand the three R’s of the Gospel.
The Gospel News of Salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone is Biblically summed up with three words – Ransomed, Redeemed and Reconciled. Those whom Christ has ransomed by His atoning work on the cross He has redeemed and therefore reconciled them to Himself intimately and eternally.
What is a ransom and how is Christ our ransom? The definition is simple. “A payment to free a captive…” Interestingly, the payment to free us from our sins was made by Christ and the payment was Christ. “…the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Matt 20:28) Christ is the payment to satisfy the justice of God by enduring the righteous wrath of God for sinners. The Scriptures inform us that God will “by no means leave the guilty unpunished.” So, how are guilty sinners declared innocent? It is through the obedience of Christ who, with His life, purchases Heaven through His perfect obedience on behalf of His people, and with His atoning death satisfied the justice of God for our disobedience by drinking the unspeakable cup of Divine wrath to the bottom to give us an unfathomable cup of life. The ransom that Jesus paid was not to Satan but to His Father. The ransom paid by the Son of God was to God the Father through the power of God the Holy Spirit. Jesus, our Ransom, paid a debt that He did not owe for debtors who had a debt they could not pay.
Now what about Redeemed? The Scriptures announce the majesty of Christ our Redeemer. To redeem is to “buy back” or “pay-off.” So, Jesus redeemed us when He bought us back from the power and penalty of sin with the ransom He paid which satisfied God’s justice. Christ, with His perfect life and atoning death bought us from God’s judgment. We have been redeemed from sin and its eternal consequences of hell through the ransom of “…our great God and Savior Jesus Christ 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)
Finally, what about that marvelous Gospel promise of Reconciliation? Reconciliation simply means to intimately “reconnect those who have been separated.” Our sin had separated us from God. God, out of His unmerited love sent His Son to pay the ransom for our sin and redeem us in order to reconcile us to Himself through Christ. “…God who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation…” ( II Cor 5:18) We who were all wrong with God have now been made right with God and reconciled to Him. Therefore, Jesus promises to all sinners saved by the grace of the Gospel that He “will be with us to the end.” And, when the end comes we will “be with Him forever.” “…and if I go to prepare a place for you then I will come again and take you to myself so that where I am there you may be also.” (John 14:3)
Now back to the grocery store…
My mother took me to the store with her for two reasons. The first was so that I could carry the bags to the car from the store and from the car into the house. This saved my mother the 25 cent tip to the bag boy. My second task began when my mother arrived at the checkout counter. The clerk would “ring up” the items on the cash register. (For our younger readers, cash registers are now in museums!) After ringing up the order the clerk would key the total into a smaller “green” cash register. Magically endless roles of green stamps would freely flow out of the machine and along with the groceries were given to my mother. S & H Green Stamps… the reason my mother would only go to the A&P!
Here was the deal. You bought groceries and by buying them you had purchased (ransomed) the Green Stamps. You pasted the stamps into S & H Green Stamp books. You took the books to the S & H Green Stamp Redemption Center. Seven thousand books might redeem a can opener! What a deal! But, my mother with our frugal, Celtic background would not let this deal pass unsecured. Thus, my second task. While my mother put the groceries away I licked all the green stamps and put them into the Green Stamp Book…thousands of them! I have no idea how many diseases from the glue are in my body having licked all of those stamps as a child. We would take the Green Stamp books to 418 Pecan Ave in Charlotte, N.C. We would place hundreds of books on the counter. The clerk would go to the shelf and bring us the can opener redeemed by green stamps. The can opener now ransomed and redeemed would go home reconciled to us!
Two thousand years ago Christ went to the cross and placed Himself upon the counter of God’s justice. There He ransomed us by paying the price for our sins, crying out “it is finished.” The ransom had been paid for all sins of all of His people. He redeemed us from the shelf of sin and reconciled us to Himself for all eternity.
“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…”
Are you? If so, praise the Lord. If not, come to the Redeemer who ransoms sinners and reconciles them to Himself…forever.