The Accomplishments of Christ’s Death: Redemption
2 Corinthians 5:21; Isaiah 63:5–6; 1 Peter 1:18–19
Matthew Lesson #191
March 11, 2018
“Father, we’re thankful for Your Word—the light that it gives us—that we may think correctly, that we may understand Your creation, that we may understand the problem that we all have, which is sin—and understand Your magnificent grace-based solution that solved everything.
“Jesus said, ‘It is finished’, indicating that before He died physically, it was complete. Everything He had been sent by You to accomplish had been accomplished, everything necessary for our salvation was fulfilled and accomplished. That transaction that took place on the Cross finished God’s plan for salvation. The only thing left is for us to trust in Him.
“Father, as we contemplate the magnificence of Your plan and of Christ’s work, we pray that we might have our understanding expanded, that we might come to even greater sense of gratitude for all that You have done for us, as we stand in awe reflecting upon the work of Christ on the Cross.
“In Christ’s name. Amen. “
We have been studying the death of Christ on the Cross. We have a number of visitors here today who are here for the Chafer Conference, and that’s always the case. This Sunday morning instead of giving, as I sometimes do, a special message related to the topic of the conference, I’m simply continuing our study in Matthew.
We have gone through 25 of the 33 stages that took place between Christ being convicted by Pilate up to His physical death on the Cross. We are pausing to look at the accomplishments of Christ’s death on the Cross—that is His spiritual death—which occurred between 12 noon and 3 PM.
Last week we looked at the important teaching of Scripture on Substitution, that is fundamental for understanding the other aspects of what Christ did on the Cross.
In this interlude we’re looking at five things that Christ did on the Cross: the substitutionary aspect of His death: that He died for us, the Scripture says. Second, redemption, which is what we will look at today—the redemption that was provided for Christ on the Cross, which focuses on a payment. Whenever you hear the word “redemption,” you think of the word “payment.” There is a price that is paid.
Because that price is paid, the result of that is the next word “cancellation.” That technical theological word, which is rarely used anymore today in either everyday language or theological language, is expiation, which means the canceling of a debt. The debt is canceled because the payment is provided and paid for.
The result of the cancellation of the debt is forgiveness. There is a forgiveness for all because the cancellation was for all. Because this took place on the Cross and is related to that aspect of Christ’s work on the Cross, which is directed toward the Father and is providing an objective payment for sin, so that nothing is left for the individual.
That leads to the last aspect and that is satisfaction. The righteousness and justice of God is satisfied by Christ’s payment. This is the biblical teaching of propitiation—another word that is somewhat antiquated, not used in everyday language and not familiar to many people, but they can understand the word “satisfaction” pretty well.
These are the five things that we are looking at in terms of understanding what Christ accomplished on the Cross for all of mankind, for all of humanity.
Just a brief review, last week we looked at what the Bible teaches about substitutionary atonement.
The key verse was 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us …” The idea there: to be sin for us, the substitutionary idea expressed through that English preposition “for,” which is so important.
Christ’s transaction on the Cross meant that we no longer can do what He did. He paid the penalty on our behalf—that’s the purpose of it—“… that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
We learn from other things, that to have His righteousness means that we must believe in Him. That He died for us doesn’t mean that His righteousness is automatically imputed or counted to us. We have to believe to receive that, but the payment, which is the basis for that justification, has been made.
This idea of substitution is pictured in the Old Testament in the sacrifices where the person coming and bringing the sacrifice lays his hand on the head of the animal: the sheep, the goat, the bull, whatever, and recites his sins to God, so that they are transferred from him to the sacrifice.
Then the sacrifice takes place—the animal is killed on behalf of the individual. It is an object lesson teaching that death is the penalty for sin, and that that must be accomplished. There must be a death to have forgiveness of sin.
We’re told by the writer of Hebrews that this didn’t actually provide that. It was a picture of what Christ would do in the future. The picture of what the Messiah would do when He came in order to make atonement.
In the Hebrew the word kaphar there really doesn’t mean atonement, per se. That was a made-up English theological word in the Septuagint. It is often translated with the word KATHARIZO, which means cleansing. It is the provision of that cleansing from sin, which relates it to the objective forgiveness of God because the penalty is paid.
Under the last few of several points last week, I focused on these prepositions. For example, in Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many.”
That word “for” is translated with the Greek preposition ANTI, which means in the place of and instead of. So, this idea of substitution is clearly taught not only by the pictures of the Old Testament, but by the prepositions of the New Testament.
Here we see a word we will look at this morning, LUTRON, which is translated ransom. That is part of a whole word group based on that root that has the idea of paying a price, and it’s often translated “paying a ransom for many”.
That word indicates substitution and relates that to redemption. That’s what that payment of a price is.
The 11th point: a second preposition, HUPER. Romans 5:8, “God demonstrates His own love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died—as a substitute—for us.” That’s the Greek preposition HUPER plus the genitive object of the preposition indicating substitution, one dying for another. Christ died in our place.
That same preposition is used in 2 Corinthians 5:21.
In summary—and this is important; I repeat this again and again to get it into your minds—that there are three problems that every human being faces, born into a fallen world:
1. The judicial penalty of spiritual death.
When Adam ate from the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, he died spiritually. There was a separation that occurred between him and God. He didn’t die physically for over 900 years. In fact, the penalty that is stated in Genesis 2:17 is not the penalty of physical death, it is the penalty of spiritual death.
That has gone into effect by the time God walked in the garden with Adam and Eve so that they ran and hid. They had already tried to cover their nakedness with fig leaves. They were aware that something had occurred, and that they were separated from God. And when they heard God, they were afraid. They were spiritually dead.
Then God outlines consequences of that spiritual death in Genesis 3:14 and following. The last of which is “from dust you came and to dust you will return.” So, the judicial penalty is spiritual death.
2. The reality of that is that when every human being since that point has been born, they are born spiritually dead, except for Jesus Christ because of the virgin birth.
So, we are born—that is our experience; it’s our reality. We’re born spiritually dead, separated from God.
3. We are born unrighteous.
We are corrupt. We do not have righteousness. In order to get to Heaven or to have a relationship with God, we have to be spiritually alive, and we have to have perfect righteousness.
Christ’s death on the Cross doesn’t make us spiritually alive, it doesn’t regenerate us, and it doesn’t make us righteous.
1. It pays for the legal penalty of spiritual death.
Christ paid that penalty, that substitutionary work on the Cross.
2. The spiritual death problem is solved by regeneration and is limited to those who believe in Christ.
This is why Jesus says to Nicodemus, no one can enter the kingdom of Heaven unless he has been born again. There must be that rebirthing. He must move from spiritual death to spiritual life.
3. The “lack of righteousness” problem is solved by the fact that the instant we trust Christ as Savior, His righteousness is imputed to us.
2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “… that the righteousness of God might be found in us.” When we believe in Jesus, God gives us Christ’s righteousness. That’s the transaction that takes place.
What we’re looking at are those facets of Christ’s death that relate to that first category of the payment for sin. They come under different designations because each focuses on a different facet.
This morning we’re looking at what the Bible teaches about redemption. The key verse for substitution was 2 Corinthians 5:21; a great verse to memorize.
Second, the key verse related to redemption is 1 Peter 1:18–19, “Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, such as silver and gold, from your aimless or your empty manner of life by tradition from your fathers …”—that is the rabbinical tradition that somehow you could pay for your sins by your good works. Peter is saying it’s not paid with corruptible things—“… but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”
That takes us back to what we studied at the beginning: those Old Testament prophecies and pictures called “types of Christ” that portrayed different aspects of what would be accomplished by the Messiah when He came.
He is identified as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world by John the Baptist. It is at His death that He fulfills that imagery and that typology of a sacrifice that He is sacrificed like the lamb.
Since the lamb was without spot or blemish, He is without spot or blemish. He is impeccable. He has no sin. We talked about this in the Lord’s Table we observed earlier, that that unleavened bread pictures the perfect humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ qualifying Him to go to the Cross.
When we look at what was accomplished on the Cross, we have a barrier between man and God. That barrier is composed of different facets. I’m not going to go through everything in the barrier.
The basic problem is sin that separates us.
The second problem is the penalty of sin.
The third problem, which we will look at under propitiation, is the character of God.
Those three are positional, as is the last one, our position in Adam. But spiritual death, our problem of being unrighteous, and the problem of our position in Adam don’t change until we believe.
Those first three—the sin problem, the penalty of sin, the character of God—are resolved by the work of Christ directed toward God the Father. These are covered under the aspects of unlimited or substitutionary atonement, redemption, and expiation, as we will look at this week and next week.
As we look at redemption, as we do with any teaching of the Scripture, it’s important to go back and look at the words that are used in the original language. I’ve got many other lessons where I go through all the different words that are used and translated, some different aspect of redemption.
Basically, in the Old Testament, you only have two words. In the New Testament you have two word groups. In the Old Testament you have a great picture that we talked about two weeks ago, the word ga’al that relates to the noun go’el, which is a Kinsman-Redeemer. Ga’al is the verb for redeem and it means to purchase.
We saw that picture in the Old Testament that is provided for Israel, that if there is someone who is a slave, they have incurred a debt, that they can be redeemed by someone who is a blood relative.
The picture there is that for our payment of sin to be accomplished, it has to be paid for by a human being. An angel couldn’t do it; God alone. if Jesus had come just as deity, He could not pay the penalty. Like had to substitute for like. That’s the emphasis under the picture of the Kinsman-Redeemer.
The other more predominant word in the Old Testament is the word padah, which emphasizes the payment of a price. That’s what runs through the doctrine of redemption.
The other day we were driving down Gessner after they had just finished all this expansion work, and for those who been around this part of Houston for a while, there used to be a redemption center. Back in the day they used to give out these little stamps when you bought groceries and whatever.
Then you could take S&H Green Stamps or bonus stamps or something like that, and you would go to this place, and it’s called a redemption center. You engage a transaction where you exchange your book of stamps for a new coffee maker, or whatever …
At one time Camp Peniel collected enough bonus stamps to buy a school bus to take campers to Camp Peniel. See ,you could get just about anything if you had enough stamp books!
It’s called a redemption center. It is a financial term for an exchange of one thing for another, where you pay the price. That’s the idea in redemption.
The New Testament has a number of different words, but they’re all based on two roots. There is the root LUTROO. You have various forms of that depending on the prefixes and different things. Six different words are used there to emphasize the payment of a price, especially to purchase something or to purchase the release of a slave, to release somebody from slavery. That’s the LUTROO group.
The AGORAZO group has a little different emphasis. In English, we have a word agoraphobia, which is somebody who has a fear of going out into public places or fear of being in the marketplace. The term for agora was the marketplace.
If you go to the market on any given day, you go to the grocery store or to Walmart where you get just about anything, then that’s going to the Agora, as it was in the ancient world.
They had everything. That’s where you bought anything from hard goods to groceries. The idea of the verb is to go purchase something. But it was often used for purchasing someone’s freedom or someone from the slave market. That was the idea.
The Bible is using these two words that are very common in everyday language for purchasing things and applies that to an understanding of what is happening at the Cross: that there is a financial-type transaction that occurs.
It’s very interesting how many of the words related to sin and related to the payment of sin are financial.
The words for forgiveness, CHARIZOMAI and APHIEMI, relate to canceling a debt. They were used in banking systems. That’s applied to the believer, that his sin penalty is a debt that has to be paid. That transaction is paid at the Cross through that redemption price.
The idea of redemption in the Old Testament is pictured by what happened at the original Passover. It’s the 10th plague in the series of plagues that led to the freedom of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. There you have all those images; they were slaves in Egypt.
There is a payment that is paid for their freedom which was the lamb that was without spot or blemish—the Passover Lamb that was slaughtered and the blood applied to the door of their homes. Then God passed over, so that He did not take the life of the firstborn in Israel; whereas, He took the life of the firstborn in Egypt.
Deuteronomy 15:15, “And you shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this today.”
What that immediately brings to our attention is the imagery of slavery. That we are, as Paul talks about in Romans 6, born in slavery to our sin nature. We are born with one master, the sin nature. The sin nature controls, the sin nature dominates. We can’t do anything that isn’t a product of the sin nature because the sin nature is the controlling feature of every human being’s life.
The sin nature can produce relatively good things and the sin nature can produce horrible, evil, wicked things. But that picture of slavery and redemption purchasing the slaves’ freedom is the picture that we see in the Passover in Deuteronomy 15:15.
Because of that, God earns the title in the Old Testament of the Redeemer. He is the Redeemer, the Holy One, the Unique One of Israel, and this is used in Isaiah 48:17.
Isaiah 44:22 uses a slightly different terminology, but this is the picture that takes place, as we’ll see in the New Testament in Colossians 2:12–14 God says, “I have wiped out your transgressions.”
It is the counterpart to the Greek in Colossians 2:12–14, that the debt is canceled. It is wiped out. God deals with, eradicates, the sin problem. He cleanses from sin.
At this time, Israel is in rebellion to Him; Isaiah 44:22, His message is, “Return to Me, for I have purchased you.”
When did that happen? In the history of Israel that purchase price occurs at the Passover. They have been bought with a price, so they are to now follow the Lord. They are His.
1. Redemption looks at salvation from the standpoint of the complete payment of sins.
It’s complete, so nothing can be added to it. This is why Jesus says TETELESTAI. It is complete; it was completed in the past. That perfect tense verb indicates something that isn’t continuing to be completed, but has already been completed it. It was finished in the past, but the results continue.
When Jesus said TETELESTAI, it indicates that payment is complete. In the ancient world papyri have been discovered. Other things have been discovered—pottery and other things—that have this word TETELESTAI there. There is a bill that is due, and when the bill is paid in full, then TETELESTAI is written at the bottom of the bill. Just as we would go someplace and pay a bill, and they would stamp it “paid in full.”
It’s that financial transaction. It is complete. We can’t add to it. In fact, if we try to add to it, then we destroy the grace nature of Christ’s salvation, and we’re not saved.
Faith plus anything—faith plus baptism, faith plus doing “good” [works], faith plus discipleship—any of these terms that come along today distort grace, and you’re not saved because you’re trying to do something in addition to what Christ did on the Cross.
Whenever a person tries to do something to add to what Christ did on the Cross, they are in essence blaspheming the work of Christ on the Cross. They’re saying, “It wasn’t enough. I’m good enough to add something to what the perfect Savior provided on the Cross.” That’s why they’re not saved by believing a “faith-plus-something” gospel.
1 Peter 1:18 tells us that this redemption was accomplished by the precious blood of Christ. The term “blood of Christ” is an idiom, a picture again. The violent shedding of blood pictures a violent form of death.
It is not the blood in and of itself, the properties of the blood—the plasma, the hemoglobin, the red cells, white cells, all of that—that’s not what’s efficacious. Because this is a metaphor; it is a picture of something that happens in terms of physical death.
In Genesis 9:6 when God is speaking to Noah, giving him the covenant, He says, “If anyone sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed.” That idiom of the shedding of blood pictures a violent kind of death. It pictures murder; it doesn’t just restrict it to a murder where blood is shed.
Somebody has been stabbed and they bleed out; it is picturing a murder. It could be accomplished through some sort of head trauma where there’s no bleeding, or it could picture somebody who takes poison. Any of those things would fit the category of a violent form of death.
That’s the image there. The blood of Christ pictures a violent form of death, and it ultimately pictures not the physical death, but the spiritual death. God the Father imputed to Christ our sins from 12 noon to 3 PM, when darkness was on the face of the earth.
Jesus was not separated from God during that time in terms of His Trinitarian relationship to God; but judicially, He is separated from God. He’s still one with God in terms of the Trinity; that’s not fragmented. But He is judicially separated, and that’s spiritual death. He died spiritually on the Cross, but it is on our behalf.
The key verse is1 Peter 1:18–19.
Lewis Sperry Chafer, founder of Dallas Theological Seminary and for whom Chafer Theological Seminary is named, said:
“Redemption is an act of God by which He Himself pays as a ransom the price of human sin which the outraged holiness and government of God requires.”
He talks about the requirement of God’s holiness: His righteousness and His justice. That last part connects redemption to satisfaction in the fourth of the five things that we’re talking about in terms of Christ’s work on the Cross.
All of these are interconnected, but they are distinct works of Christ on the Cross.
2. The Old Testament imagery of slavery in Egypt forms the background to teach about our slavery to sin.
Just as the Israelites were slaves to the Egyptians, so we are born slaves to sin. Paul talks about this. In Roman 6:6 he uses the phrase “that we should no longer be slaves to sin.”
Why? Because it’s at salvation that tyranny of the sin nature is broken. Before that we were slaves to sin.
Romans 6:17, Paul says, “But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin …” That is the unbeliever: he is a slave to sin.
Romans 6:20, again Paul says, “For when you were slaves of sin ...”
We are born in that slave market to sin. We are all enslaved to our sin nature with no option but to do what the sin nature dictates, whether it’s morality or immorality, whether it is the relative good deeds that any human being can produce, or whether it is evil and wickedness.
This is also referred to in Galatians 4:5 where Paul says “… to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”
The word there for “redeem” is EXAGORAZO. AGORAZO means to buy something at the marketplace. EXAGORAZO means to purchase it out of the marketplace. EX = to take out of. We are purchased out of that slave market of sin.
3. Redemption then becomes the basis for our justification.
Romans 3:24, “Being justified freely by His grace through—that’s the means that justification is accomplished—through the redemption—that is through the payment made by Jesus Christ.”
4. Redemption then becomes the basis for our sanctification.
That is our positional sanctification and also our experiential sanctification. That’s used in an analogy related to the love husbands are to have for their wives; that that is compared to Christ’s love for the Church.
He “gave Himself for her …” That is substitutionary atonement again, substitutionary redemption for the purpose “… that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word.”
This is related to our spiritual life after salvation. So, by redemption—because He has paid the price—we are able to live for Him and grow spiritually.
5. Redemption is directly tied to the forgiveness of sin.
Forgiveness is the means by which justification is accomplished.
Redemption is the basis for our post-salvation spiritual life and spiritual growth and sanctification. It is directly tied to forgiveness of sins. Redemption doesn’t just hang out there in isolation.
It is connected to propitiation, but it’s connected to forgiveness. That is the payment price that leads to the remission of sin.
Two passages are important here:
Ephesians 1:7 Paul says, “In Him we have redemption through His blood.”
Again, we see the emphasis of His death as the payment price for sin: the redemption, the forgiveness of sin.
A lot of people can get confused on this. I remember it wasn’t until I studied an important passage here that we’ll get to probably next week in Colossians 2:12–14. That forgiveness, talked about in Colossians 2:13, is explained as having taken place when the certificate of debt was canceled, taken out of the way and nailed to the Cross.
Forgiveness here isn’t talking about our experience of forgiveness at the time of faith in Christ. It’s not talking about our post-salvation forgiveness. It is talking about the payment for sin that cancels the debt at the Cross. This occurred historically in AD 33 and is the basis for the doctrine and the teaching of unlimited atonement or unlimited redemption.
Colossians 1:14 says the same thing, “In whom—that is in Christ—we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sin.”
Paying the price cancels the debt. That payment of sin is something objectively real, so that sin is no longer the issue for anyone. When you talk to an unbeliever, he needs to understand he’s spiritually dead, but the issue isn’t how bad he is.
The issue isn’t that he’s got to confess all the sins he’s ever committed. He doesn’t have to recite and feel guilty about every horrible thing that he’s done. His personal sin isn’t the issue because that’s been paid for at the Cross. The issue is what Christ did for him. Will He accept that payment or not? Will he believe in Christ or not?
Hebrews 9:12 says that “with His own blood—that is by His death—He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.”
There’s nothing that can be added to Christ’s work.
Thinking through what we’ve looked at already:
Redemption pays the price, redemption cancels the debt—that’s forgiveness. The word for forgiveness, APHIEMI that is used in Ephesians 1:7 and Colossians 1:17, is a financial term that this debt has been canceled.
That is the focus of expiation, the cancellation of our sins, which we will look at in more detail next time in Colossians 2:14.
I’ve expanded the translation because what you have is a string of participles in the Greek. Usually translators just translate them as a raw participle without showing what they mean adverbially, so I’ve added that.
It begins, “And you, when you were dead—emphasizing that at the time that we trust Christ we’re dead. When we’re dead in that status of being “… dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him.”
He makes us alive together with Him when we trust in Him. We’re born again by faith, but we go from being spiritually dead to spiritually alive by faith in Him.
Then you have a participle related to forgiveness. The verb is CHARIZOMAI, which also talks about the cancellation of a debt; it is a financial term. It’s used in the parables that Jesus uses one time to refer to the landowner who cancels a debt that was to be paid. It’s that cancellation of a debt idea.
“He has made us alive together with Him.” How do we understand that next verb? It’s causal. He makes us alive. He can regenerate us because He has already canceled the debt. He canceled the debt, which is the legal guilt of our trespasses, that legal penalty of spiritual death.
It says—another participle which I think is temporal. He canceled the debt when—“He wiped out that handwriting of requirements—that certificate of debt—that was against us.” He is able to regenerate us because He has canceled or forgiven our sin, our trespasses, when “He wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us.”
When did He do that? He did it when “He nailed it to the cross”—that last line. That’s a historical event. It’s not when you and I trust Jesus. That’s not when He cancels the debt. He canceled the debt by nailing it to the Cross. That’s a historical reality.
This is one of the greatest passages that is not, I think, well taught or understood a lot of times. It emphasizes that Christ paid the penalty for everyone, believer and unbeliever, on the Cross, so that sin is no longer the issue, only faith in Christ.
Redemption not only applies to salvation, but it is going to apply to our bodies eventually, that they are to be redeemed in the resurrection.
Ephesians 1:14, referring to the Holy Spirit, “Who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession to the praise of His glory.”
That is “the redemption of our body,” Romans 8:23.
In terms of the practical significant application of this, in 1 Corinthians 6:20, Paul says, “For you were bought with a price; therefore, glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
He paid a price, so that when we trust in Him we realize that we are no longer ours. We’ve been purchased out of that slave market of sin. There’s no intermediate owner. We don’t get freedom; because Christ paid the price, we are now His. We go from being under the mastership of the sin nature to being under Christ’s mastership. He is the One who is now our Master.
That’s why Paul says that we are to no longer live as slaves of sin, but slaves of righteousness. But it’s not Lordship salvation, which is often taught today, because we can choose not to be slaves of righteousness and slaves of Christ.
We are bought by Him, we are owned by Him, but we can still be rebellious slaves. There are many Christians who are that way, thankful they have been freed from slavery to the sin nature, and they use that as an excuse to sin. That’s also what Paul talks about in Romans 6.
The endgame for redemption is first of all realizing our sins are canceled, the penalty is paid, so all that we need for salvation is to trust in Christ. Second, once we do that we are now owned by the Lord Jesus Christ for a purpose: that we glorify Him in our lives today.
“Father, we thank You for this opportunity to study redemption today, to be reminded that we are our Lord’s. We have been bought with a price, and we are to live for Him. We are no longer to yield ourselves to the sin nature, to the tyranny of the sin nature, because of the fact that we have been bought with a price, we are now His.
“Father, we pray that you would challenge us, that those who have never trusted in Christ would have a better, clear understanding of the good news of the gospel, that our salvation is complete because Christ paid the penalty.
“Our sin has been paid for completely because Christ paid the penalty. All we need to do is to trust in Him, to believe in Him, and instantly we will be regenerated, we will receive the righteousness of Christ, and we will have eternal life.
“For the rest of us, we’re to be challenged that we are to live for Him. We have been bought with a price; and therefore, we are to glorify Him in our body with the rest of our lives.
“Father, we pray that as we think and reflect upon these great truths of redemption, that God the Holy Spirit would make it clear to us and in terms of understanding its ramifications in every area of our life.
“We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”