This sermon is number 4 in a series of 36
Ephesians - Part 4
"Praise The Lord For Redemption"
by David Legge | Copyright © 2000 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com
Ephesians chapter 1, and we're looking this evening at one verse (we've narrowed it down now to one, we'll maybe be on half a verse next week!). One verse only, but we'll take time to read right down to at least verse 8 - we may go on a bit further, just to get the context, maybe verse 14. But let's read from verse 1 together: "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory".
Let's read that verse together again, verse 7, and let's take note of every phrase and every word that we read: "In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace".
We're looking this evening, as your brochure says, for praising the Lord. We want to go out of this place praising the Lord for redemption. We've learned over the past weeks - I hope we have anyway - to praise the Lord for many blessings. Indeed, what the word of God says is, verse 3: 'all the blessings that we have, being in Christ Jesus'. In other words the whole span, the whole spectrum of all the promises of God that we have delivered to us by faith, because we are found in Christ. We learned how these were blessings that were signed beside our name before the world ever began. We thought of election - how Paul wrote to Timothy that we are elect before the foundation of the world in Christ to salvation. We looked [at] how God, before the beginning of the world, predestinated us, preordained us, chose us in His foreknowledge to be placed in Christ; and one day, wonder of wonders, to be like Christ! We learned last week how it's all because we are accepted in the beloved. We're accepted - nothing to do with ourselves, but because we are planted, rooted, cemented in Christ Jesus - now when God looks at us, He no longer sees our sin but He sees Christ! We have been adopted, not an adoption that we understand today, but we have been made through the engrafted word by the Spirit of God to the regeneration of our souls. We have been changed from a sinful human nature and been given a holy nature, so that now are we called the sons of God. 'And it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is'.
Now, this evening, in verse 7, we see this: that the foundation of all these blessings that we've looked at (all the blessings in heavenly realms in Christ Jesus: election, predestination, adoption, being engrafted into the well beloved) all of these things rest upon a foundation that is found in verse 7: 'In whom we have redemption'. Now I want you to think about this for a moment - think of this! We will never ever again, in our lifetime or after it, have to turn to God and bow on our knees before Him in contrition, in repentance and say, 'Lord, take all my guilt away!'. We'll not have to do it. We'll not have to, with tears blotting an open Bible, or blotting the floor before which we weep, we'll not have to turn to God and say: 'Lord, blot out my sin!'. No more! We don't need to do that! We don't have to ask God: 'Lord, justify me!'. We don't have to wait until a day for the redemption of our souls, because if we're in Christ - listen to these words - it's been done. It's been done! There's nothing more to do because if we've trusted in Christ, if we've trusted in His death at the cross, His atonement, if we have believed in Him these things are blessedly settled forever. Forever! Forever and ever! That's why it says: 'We have now redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of his grace'. So He not only fore-chose us and fore-fixed our destiny, but He bought us. And we're going to see this evening what a cost it was to Himself.
Now look at verse 7, because you'll see in verse 7, the Holy Spirit shifts our attention from heaven down to earth. He moves our thinking from the past: what God has done in election, in predestination, in all those things before the foundation of the world. He changes us from past to present. Not only does He do that, but there is a change of emphasis from God the Father to God the Son. We learned that it was the Father that elected us, it was the Father that predestinated us to be like Christ one day. But verse 7 is the change where it says this: that although the Father did all this, it had to be the Son who redeemed us. Of the ten times that you find the word redemption within the New Testament, seven times you find it within Paul's letters, and you find it three times within the book of Ephesians.
So let's look at this word 'redemption', this concept that we find within the word of God. Let's look at the first phrase of verse 7: 'In whom we have redemption'. Now I want you to notice this - that if you were to search the New Testament there are three ideas held for this word 'redemption'. The first is this: it is simply the idea 'to purchase something', 'to buy something'. When you spend money, you pay a price, you pay the cost, that commodity or object - whatever it is - becomes yours. You have bought it. That's what the word of God means when it says, 'We have been bought with a price, even the precious blood of Christ'. Let's meditate on this! We have been redeemed to God. We have been redeemed to God by Him. We have been purchased by God, by the Son. Therefore we say: 'We are not our own'. And there was a day that we were sold under sin, we were sold to the world, the flesh, and the devil. But praise be to God and His Son, that He has paid the price so that He could purchase us. Do you remember the day when you were sold under sin? Do you? Do you remember the day you prostituted yourself to this world for absolutely nothing? You were sold under sin, without money and without price, but He - Jesus Christ - has redeemed us without money but with His own precious blood.
That's the first meaning of redemption: to purchase something. But the second meaning is simply this: to buy something, to purchase something out of the market, out of somewhere else. That simply means what has been purchased - and this is beautiful - will never ever, ever, be put on sale again! Have you got it? Not only have you been bought out of the slave market of sin, but the second grasped meaning of this word is the idea that never again will you be found in the ranks of Lucifer. Never again ought the child of God to be found in this world. Never again need the child of God be found dabbling in the flesh. The history books tell us that when one went into the slave market and saw a certain slave that you wanted to buy for sale, and you looked at him and you said: 'I'm going to purchase you'. When the money changed hands and when you bought that slave, you were at liberty as the buyer, as the redeemer, to take a piece of paper - a certificate - and place it in the hand of that slave: a legal piece of paper which guaranteed him complete freedom. He could go. He could go and live his life the way he wanted. He perhaps could go back to his father or his mother, or [her] husband] or his wife, and the meaning is this: that never again would that slave be in that position, because he had this piece of paper given to him by his redeemer. Never would his life be put in jeopardy again. It's the word - this second word and this meaning - that Peter uses in his epistle in 1 Peter 1, verse 18: "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot".
The third meaning of redemption that we find within the New Testament is the one that's found in our verse, verse 7. It's a Greek compound. That means it's two words put together, and the first part is the word 'apo' which means 'away from' - to put something away from you. It entails the idea of not just putting something away, but putting something away from something else - to separate. The second part of the word is 'latrosis' (sp?) - and it means this: 'to be free'. To be loosed! So putting the two together it literally means this: to be loosed away from something. Christian, do you know what you've been loosed away from? Do you? Some of us forget about it, but - oh - it does us good to think about where we came from, what we've been saved from, what we've been saved to. The fact that we have been loosed away from the law, that we could not keep it, that we could not measure up to it, that the law condemned us and God condemned us by the law, but in Christ we have been loosed away from the law! We have been loosed away from the judgement of God, for by His holy law and by His holy person - His holy character of righteousness, His justice - we were condemned for all eternity, but because of Christ and our redemption we have been pulled away from His judicial wrath. We've been pulled away from the guilt of our sin. Does that not make you rejoice? Remember the guilt that you felt? That guilt that weighed you down? That guilt that tore into your life - every facet and being of it - that you couldn't get any peace? That guilt that crucified your nature? Do you feel it? Can you remember what it felt like: the guilt that you had before God where you saw Christ, and Christ was dying, and Christ had your sins upon Him, and you felt the guilt of it? Do you remember? As Ironside says: 'The question of our guilt will never again rise'.
Did you hear me? I don't think you did hear me! The question of your guilt will never rise again! 'There is no condemnation for them that are in Christ Jesus' - why? Because it was raised on a cross with Christ at Calvary - all of our judgement, all of the curse of the law, all that my guilt deserved. We can say:
'Death and judgement are behind me,
Grace and glory are before me.
All the billows rolled o'er Jesus,
There exhausted all their powers'.
Can you not praise God for redemption? For the fact that you've been bought - you've been purchased? For the fact that you've been purchased out of something? Away from the slave market of sin of the world, the flesh, and the devil:
'Redeemed, redeemed from sin and all its woe.
Redeemed, redeemed eternal life to know.
Redeemed, redeemed by Jesus' blood.
Redeemed, redeemed, O praise the Lord!'
You see if you don't praise the Lord about it - I'll try my best, but the bricks in this building will shout out to His praise. For He is worthy of praise for redemption and we're going to see, this evening, why. Do you remember when you were in Sunday school, or the children's meeting, and maybe you heard the story about the little boy that made the boat, himself, out of wood? And he made it, and he went out with his daddy, and he went out to sail it down the river. He put it in the water and he watched but, all of a sudden, to his amazement, he was terrified to see that it just went down the river, and he couldn't get it any longer, he couldn't reach it. It went out into the ocean, into the sea and he lost it! One day he was walking down the main street and he saw, in the window, that little boat. He looked, and he saw it, and he said: 'That's my boat!'. He went into the shopkeeper and he said: 'You've got my boat in your window!'. The shopkeeper said: 'No, that's my boat! If you want that boat you're going to have to pay for it'. And the boy bought his boat and as he was walking - now listen to this - down the street, holding that little boat in his arms like a child, do you know what he said to it? 'You are twice mine! I made you, and now I bought you!'.
Do you remember what the Lord said to the children of Israel in Isaiah 43 and verse 1? Listen to this - and there are four phrases that I want you to grasp: 'But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine'. Do you know what God says to your soul, child of God, today? 'My child, you are twice Mine. I formed you and you were lost to Me, but I redeemed thee. Thou art mine!'. Now think of it: when the Lord Jesus Christ, and remember it was the Lord Jesus Christ that created this universe - when He created the universe, He only had to speak a word and the whole thing was done in a millisecond! But when He wanted to redeem you, He had to shed His blood. A word wouldn't do! A sentence wouldn't do! A lifetime of holiness and an example to the world of humanity that they had never seen before, the teachings that far outstretched every philosopher, every religious leader ever - that wouldn't do!
He had to shed His blood, and the extent of the redemption, and the greatness of the redemption is seen from our passage and from our verse in the very fact of what it cost - the price of our redemption. Look at it: 'In whom we have redemption,' - look at this - 'through his blood' - that's your second point. We have redemption, but never you forget this: it's redemption by His blood! What a price for our redemption! Think of it! Nothing else would do! The scriptures clearly testify that - that it had to be the blood of Christ, and the blood of Christ nothing more or nothing less. Why? Because as slaves in the bondage of sin - Romans chapter 6 and verse 23 tells us that the penalty of sin was what? Death! 'For the wages of sin is death' - and because that is the penalty only a substitute life would satisfy the righteous, judicial demands of God. He had to have someone die, it had to happen! Now don't you ever get this into your head that the grace of God, or the forgiveness of God, is simply God wiping the slate clean. It's not! For the slate was never wiped clean for Christ. For you it was, but God's justice cannot be ignored for His love or His grace. God had all these accusations against humanity and against you personally and they had to be dealt with - they couldn't just be forgotten about!
So a substitute had to come, and since the word of God tells us - and it's God's law and I don't argue with it - that the life of the flesh is in the blood; that means that what makes us live and be a living soul is the blood flowing through our veins. Therefore, Matthew tells us that 'The Son of Man gave His life a ransom'. The ransom payment could only be through blood. Now let's get this! There was no other way! God's justice had to be satisfied, but the amazing thing is this: the infinite, judicial wrath of a righteous, all-powerful God was satisfied! Can you grasp that? His righteousness - remember He's an eternal God; that means the righteousness of His eternity. He is an all-powerful God, that means the righteousness, and the holiness, and the wrath of a God who is stronger than anything - He epitomises strength! Oh, God help me understand it: that on that centre cross that all-powerful, unlimited, eternal God exhausted His wrath. Do you know what exhausted means? Like a damp sponge He wrung it out. Every drip, every drag of the anger that He had against the human race and against sin - hallelujah! - it was all exhausted on Him! It wouldn't do if there was one of my sins that wasn't laid upon Him, for I'd be on my way to hell. It wouldn't do if it was the same for you - it had to be: 'all my sins were laid upon Him'.
One of the early church fathers devised a doctrine that said that Christ paid a ransom, but He paid it to the devil. And that means simply this: that the devil had us (and the devil did have us) and that we were in his prison - and if God was going to get us free, Christ had to pay the ransom to Satan. Nonsense! That's not what the Bible teaches, because that would erase the remarkable thing about redemption which is this: the offended party, the one who's hurting, the one who's had the wrong done unto Him - the Father Himself - provided the way by which an irreversible sentence of law and justice that was our due could be placed on His own Son as our substitute. That's the amazing thing! Paul says in Corinthians that this is the amazing thing: that if you think of God and man with their back to back; in Christ, God's back (that's what it says) has been reconciled to man - turned around in the cross of Christ. That's what it says! God, the first prime mover in salvation, has done His due - He, the offended party, has come and made salvation - made a ransom for sin. The miracle is this: that He made the ransom for Himself. He was the one who needed the ransom paid to Him, and if I can say it reverently, it was from His own pocket.
I don't think we can ever enter into this: what God has done. What God has done in redemption; and remember that the gift of God to you, my friend, is not simply salvation or eternal life (although they are gifts) but in theory, the gift of God to His church is Jesus Christ! And everything - salvation, redemption, regeneration, justification, sanctification - all these things are in Him. Do you know what I love about redemption? That, because of the great price that had to be paid for it, it means that it's secure. It means that there's no doubt about it; that my salvation is not resting upon how good I am as a Christian, but how good the blood of Christ was to save me! That's what it's resting on. Now there are these people that believe - and some of them are dear brothers and sisters in Christ - who believe that one day you can be saved and at a later day you're lost. And I ask this question - and I'm being honest from the depths of my soul: is the blood of Christ not good enough to save to the uttermost? I ask another question: will the Father reject the paid price of His own Son's blood because I fall into sin today? Never! For He is as satisfied tomorrow as He was (as our brother reminded us yesterday) when that veil of the temple was rent in twain. He is as satisfied today and tomorrow as He was when He raised Him from the dead; when He took Him to glory; when He entered that heavenly tabernacle and temple by His own blood, and sat down - the work finished. Hallelujah! He is satisfied with Christ! Whether the world is matters nothing - for God is, and that's all that matters.
Have you ever thought about how precious that blood must have been? It's not just precious, like all our blood is precious because it's our life, but it is precious because of whose blood it is! It is the Beloved's blood, think of this! How great your sins are, think of that for a moment! How great wrong you have done in your lifetime! And I know that my sins and your sins are great enough to damn for all eternity, but - praise Him! - His blood is greater than my sin! His blood is able to save to the uttermost. And, oh, the scream and the shriek of my soul as it slides down into hell's fires if it was not for the blood of Christ! For it would have - and the sooner we remember our lot before the shedding of the blood of Christ, the better we would be as Christians in winning the lost, in realising what it cost Him, in realising what a gift we have in salvation. If we realised what the blood of Christ means to you my friend! The brethren writer Nicholl put it well when he said this:
'The more I know the wickedness of my sin,
The more I know the preciousness of the blood.
I see my sinfulness more today than ten years ago,
Yet I value the blood of Christ more also'.
Can I say this? God save us from a bloodless gospel, because a bloodless gospel cannot save. My friend, if you preach or if you teach in any capacity, or you witness, and you find something within you that holds back when you think of mentioning the blood - there's something wrong. For the blood of Christ is everything, and I say this advisedly - and maybe you think it's harsh - but any man or woman that will not preach the blood, or see salvation by the blood - let them be damned! Do you know why I say that? Because Paul the apostle said it in Galatians 1:8 and 9: 'But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed' - that means eternally damned forever! My friend, it's so serious that he repeats it, and he says: 'As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed'.
We don't take these things [seriously] enough. You know, it blesses my heart to think that this is what it says 'the angels desire to look into'. It says that this was the thing that the prophets, now - Elijah, Moses, Ezekiel and Daniel - this was the thing that they were all puzzled at. They couldn't understand it, because it is the mystery of redemption - and you will find out, as we go through this book, that a mystery within the word of God is not something 'airy-fairy, sci-fi'. That's not what it is, but it is something that hitherto has not been revealed. The mystery here is this: that God loved a world of sinners lost and ruined by the fall. Is that not a mystery to you? It's a mystery to me. How God loved me, how God came to earth as a man for me, and died for me, and shed every ruby drop of blood for me, and was buried for me, and raised from the dead for me, and ascended to heaven for me, and sat down beside God for me - that amazes me! Never let it cease to amaze you, whatever you do, or that's the end of your Christian walk my friend - you'll not be in hell, but at least you'd be a bit warmer if you were in hell! Never lose it my friend.
We read, in the autobiography of Dr. Joseph Parker, that he lost it. He was the great preacher during Spurgeon's day, in the city temple in London. And he says, within his autobiography, that he began to give too much attention to the modern theories of his day that tried to improve upon the fundamentals of the word of God, to make them intellectually respectable, and palatable to all those and sundry. We run into that danger today! Just believe the Bible my friend, that's all! Just say: 'God said it, I believe it, that settles it!' - that ought to be enough. One of them that he caved into was the doctrine of the atonement and redemption through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. And as he went through his life he didn't realise that these teaching were getting a grip of himself. Suddenly, down his life's pathway, tragedy struck and his wife took ill, and within a few hours she dropped dead. And he was standing there, with his life's partner just gone into eternity in a matter of hours. And it says that in the days and the weeks and the months that lay ahead, he was unable to share his grief with anyone. And he walked around his empty house, through the empty rooms, with a heart that was breaking, with pain that was in his bosom. And he tried to find a place of rest in his modern theories and beliefs, but there were none! And then he said, and I quote you his autobiography:
'In those hours of darkness, in those hours of my soul's anguish when filled with doubt and trembling in fear, I bethought myself of the old gospel of redemption alone, through the blood of Christ: the gospel I had preached in those earlier days - and I put my foot down on that! And my brethren, I found firm standing. I stand there today and I shall die resting upon that blessed, glorious truth of salvation alone through the precious blood of Christ'.
Isn't that why Edward Mote wrote those words that we sang:
'On Christ the solid rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand'.
Remember the old man that said: 'Any other rock is shamrock'. My friend it's only the blood of Christ that you can stand on, and this is what our verse says. Look at it: 'In whom we have redemption through his blood' - and here's the next thing that I want you to see: 'the forgiveness of sins'. Your first point, redemption: it is redemption by blood, it is redemption by blood that brings forgiveness. The Greek word for 'forgiveness' has this idea, again, of 'letting loose'. It's the idea - we don't have time to look at it but I would advise you to look at it when you get home - of Leviticus 26. There you'll read of Aaron, and he takes a goat, and he places his hands on the head of the goat, and it says that he confesses the sins of the people upon it. He imputes - puts onto the goat - all the sins of the children of Israel. It says that he takes it away into the midst of the wilderness and he looses it - that's the word for forgiveness. He looses it! He let's it go - the scapegoat, our Lord Jesus Christ who took our sins, who let it go into the depths of the ocean, as far as the east is from the west, as high as the heavens above. He buried it into the ground. He put it behind God's back, so that He says now: 'Thy sins, my child, and thy iniquities I will remember no more'.
But in our verse - verse 7 - the reference is to sins (you'll note that): 'In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins'. Whereas if you were to turn to Colossians 1 and 14, you read this verse: 'In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins'. So in verse 7 of chapter 1 of Ephesians it's 'forgiveness of sin', and in chapter 1 verse 14 of Colossians it's 'forgiveness of sins'. Sin, here, is the Greek word 'Hamartea' (sp?), that's the word used in Colossians. But sins - 'parapatoma' (sp?) - is a different thing, because sin is the condition that we are in by our nature, being in Adam, the black spot of disease morally, spiritually speaking: our dead soul. But sins is not our condition, sins are the acts of our condition: the fruit of who we are and what we are. But listen to this: you put those two verses together, and God forgives them both in Christ. Isn't that wonderful? I hope you think this is wonderful, I really do. That dead soul of yours; Christ took the punishment, but not only for the root of the problem, the branch, the vine that all the sins that you commit stem from - not only did He take that, but everything that you do wrong in your life - Christ took it! Christ put it away! Christ let you loose from it! This is something beyond anything that a psychologist can do, this is beyond anything that a hypnotist can do - and you can have all the positive thinking that you like you like, and read all the books about it, listen to all the tapes about it, but they can't give you, through therapy, the forgiveness of sins. For only God, in Christ, can do that.
There are three distinct aspects of forgiveness that we find within the word of God, and it's important that we understand this because they're so often misunderstood. The first is eternal forgiveness, and what that simply is, is this: the man who says, 'Well look, if I trust Christ and His death on the cross, does that mean all my sins up to the cross, or all my sins up to now when I trusted Christ: they're forgiven? But my present and my future, what about it?' Eternal forgiveness means that all my sins - have you got that? - past (those skeletons that you still remember), present (the thing that you did today, and it's annoying you), future. 'For if we say that we have not sinned we deceive ourselves; we make God a liar and the truth is not in us', because we're going to sin, we're going to keep on sinning until we get to Glory - hopefully not at as great an extent as we are now, but we'll still do it. But praise God, in Christ we have redemption through His blood, even the eternal forgiveness of our sins.
And then, secondly: there's restorative forgiveness. This often confuses young believers; that they don't understand that if Christ has forgiven their past, present and future sins, why is it that if they slip up today they need to confess their sins again? It's simply this: that because you are a child of God, you are no longer in a relationship between God who is a judge and you who are a guilty sinner. Do you understand? That relationship's gone. It is now God who is your Father and you that are His child. Your sins are gone: past, present and future; but what you need is restorative forgiveness. That means this: that sin, when we commit it as Christians, goes between our fellowship and God - not our salvation, but our fellowship between us and God. That is why John says, in 1 John chapter 1 and verse 7: 'If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and' - verse 7 - 'the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin'. 'And if we confess our sin' - what does that mean? Does that mean God's not going to forgive us as Christians? We're going to go to hell if we don't confess every little sin that we do? Do you know what confessing your sin as a Christian is? It's putting your hands up and saying: 'Lord, there's me again. I've done it again. Would You forgive me? Take it away. I don't want it to be between You and me. I'm Your child, You're my Father; just take it away. And I plead the blood, I know there's power in the blood to restore this fellowship to me as Your child'.
Then, thirdly, there's governmental forgiveness and I want you to note this. That is simply this - to give you an illustration and an example - a drunkard gets saved; and he's drunk for fifty years, hardly a day sober, and his liver is like a sultana. Have you got it? When he gets saved, God, with giving him a new nature, won't give him a new liver. Sometimes we live with the consequences of our sin, that is what's called governmental forgiveness. Therefore we need to beware as Christians, because there are Christians running about and saying: 'Well, I'm forgiven in my past and my present and my future. And I'm a child of God and God's my Father and if I put my hands up and admit my sin, well then God's just going to forgive me'. That's true, but don't you think God can wipe away, or will wipe away, the consequences of what you do - for you'll live with them.
There's a legend about Martin Luther that he was very sick with an illness. As he lay on this bed it says that he had a sense of the evil one - Satan - entering his sick room, looking at him with a triumphant smile. And it says that, in his mind's eye, Satan rolled a big scroll on the floor. And as the fiend threw it from one end of the room to the other, it unwound itself and Luther's eyes read the long, fearful record of his own sins before his face - one by one. And his stout, courageous reformation heart quailed before the ghastly roll of his transgressions. Then suddenly, it flashed into Luther's mind and consciousness that there was one thing not written on that scroll. And he cried aloud: 'One thing you have forgotten! The rest is all true, but one thing you have forgotten: the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sins!' - and as he said this the accuser of the brethren and his heavy scroll disappeared. Can I say this: believers sometimes can be crippled with their past. You will never be what Christ wants you to be if that thing in your mind stays there forever as a skeleton to haunt you. But you need to take the exhortation of Paul to the Philippians: 'Forget it - those things that are behind - and press on!'. For we read in the book of the Revelation that they overcame him - and I'm telling him that tonight - you tell him it! Christ overcame him at Calvary with His own blood! And because His blood has covered me, I can overcome him by the word of my testimony.
But finally, not only do we have redemption by His blood that brings the forgiveness of sins, but it says this: 'In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace'. Did you know that our God is not a miser? Did you know that? He is not a miserly God. And although the word of God teaches stewardship and sensibility with your money and what God has given you, if you're a miser and a scrooge: that's not a fruit of the spirit. And I would vouch to say that you're not showing the proof and the evidence that you are a child of God. But listen to this, the poet put it like this:
'Stern justice can demand no more
And mercy can dispense her store'.
We are forgiven. We are blessed in Christ according to the riches of His grace. Do you know what this verse means? If you had some kind of measuring instrument to measure the depth, the volume, the area, of the love of God, of the gracious riches of God - you could never measure it! Yet it's all given to you. Do you dwell on that enough? Do you? Do you count your blessings enough? Do you name them one by one, what the Lord has done, what He has given to you? And listen: His grace - this verse tells us - is infinite, as His forgiving grace is infinite in the power of the infinite blood of Christ. Now notice the difference, it says: He gives according to His riches, not out of His riches. There's a famous photograph of the old man Rockefeller - scrumpled up face, thin, frail. He's giving a dime to a little waif on the street. He was giving out of his riches. One of the richest men that America has ever seen; but if he was to give according to his riches that young child would have a mansion, would have millions of dollars for himself. But God gives us, not out of what He has, but according to what He has because He has given all that He has! He has given Christ - and He says to you today, 'Here's a blank chequebook, My Christian friend. It's an eternal chequebook and you write cheques to Me as much as your heart is content. Just charge them up child! Like a fish in the ocean - drink until it's dry'.
I want to finish with this beautiful story. In a market place in Rotterdam in Holland stood, for many years in the old corner, this house that was known as 'The House of a Thousand Terrors'. And the story goes like this: during the sixteenth century the Dutch people rose in a revolt against the cruel king, Phillip the Second. And Phillip, what he did was, he didn't like it and he sent a great army under Duke Alva (sp?) to suppress the rebellion. And Rotterdam sieged itself - it held out for a time - but finally it capitulated. And from house to house the victors went slaughtering children, men and women; the citizens being killed in their houses. And a group of men and women and children were hiding in this little corner house that is called 'The House of a Thousand Terrors'. And one young man said: 'I've got an idea'. He says, 'Here's a goat', and he slew it and he spilt out the blood on the floor, and he took a broom and he broomed it underneath the door outside. And when the soldiers came by that door one looked to the other and listen to what they said: 'Come away. The work is already done here. Look! The blood is beneath the door'. God says, 'When I see the blood I will pass over you'.
Our Father, we look forward to a day when we'll sing a new song, singing: 'Thou art worthy to take the book and to open the seals thereof. For Thou wast slain and has redeemed us to God by Thy blood, out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation'. Lord Jesus, we thank Thee for shedding Thy blood for us. Help us never to lose the wonder of it all, Amen.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the fourth tape in his Ephesians series, titled 'Praise The Lord For Redemption' - Transcribed by Trevor Veale, Preach The Word.
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