Question:

I've read The Living Redeemer article. But why do we need redemption and forgiveness? (Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14). Is redemption not enough? Kindly explain.


Answer:

"In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace" (Ephesians 1:7).

"In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins" (Colossians 1:14).

A common literary style that Paul employs is similar to one found in the Old Testament poems. Two statements are given in a row, saying basically the same thing, but word slightly differently. The two sets of terms refer to the same thing, but the difference is because often no one word can fully capture the meaning of what is going on. We do this often. You could call me a preacher, it is accurate but it doesn't tell you all of who I am. I'm also a husband and a father. Each is accurate but at the same time incomplete by itself, but together they paint a more complete picture.

Thus, redemption and forgiveness refer to the same thing. Each accurately describes what happens, but each independently is not a complete picture.

Forgiveness tells us that our sins have incurred a huge debt that we cannot pay back, but from which God is willing to release us. "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23). The parable of servant who owed 10,000 talents illustrates the concept.

"Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, 'Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.' Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, 'Pay me what you owe!' So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.' And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?' And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses." (Matthew 18:23-35).

Redemption invokes the image of war and slavery. We are in a battle against Satan and sin, but we lose and put ourselves into bondage serving sin. Christ paid the price to buy us out of slavery so that we might then serve him. "And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (I Peter 1:17-19).

Forgiveness and redemption each accurately describes what happens when the sinner is restored to God, but each is not a complete description. Together we get a deep more complete view of what God has done for us.

Thank you so much. May God continue to enlighten you so that you can be a blessing to others as you were to me.