In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
(Ephesians 1:7-10 NIV)
In verses 3 through 14 of Ephesians 1 Paul describes the spiritual blessings God has bestowed on those who believe. In the original Greek these 12 verses are one long sentence. It is as if Paul cannot contain himself as the Holy Spirit directs him to write down all these blessings – they just spill out on the page. I don’t think this is coincidence. Just like the sentence conveys the notion of excess by its run-on nature, so too are the blessings of God on His children excessive.
One of these blessings is “redemption”. The Greek word here is απολυτροσισ (pronounced: ap-ol-oo’-tro-sis) which means “liberation procured by the payment of a ransom”. By nature we are in bondage and need to be liberated. What holds us in bondage is our sin. We are slaves to sin. And in order to free us a ransom had to be paid.
That ransom was the blood of Jesus. Blood here is referring to Jesus’ death. God did not free us from the penalty of our sins by ignoring them or through Jesus’ perfect life. There had to be a payment.
Sin puts us in bondage because it comes with a corresponding penalty – eternal separation from God (aka “hell”) [Romans 6:23]. But we do not have the ability to free ourselves from this bondage – we cannot make the necessary payment on our own behalf [Psalm 49:7-9]. We are hopeless and helpless to save ourselves. So God had to make the payment for us.
The redemption that we have – the verb tense is in the present; redemption is something every believer has right now – means that our “trespasses” (sins) have been forgiven. Every sin that a believer has committed or will commit is 100% forgiven by God.
But forgiven doesn’t mean that our sin was swept under the rug. If God did not punish sin He would not be acting fairly. All sin is punished. But it was Jesus – God’s own Son – who paid the penalty for believers. He paid it on our behalf.
Therefore there is nothing else that needs to be done except to accept this free gift of God. Anyone who rejects his need for forgiveness or who tries to find forgiveness any other way – such as through good works as the Catholic church teaches – will be shocked and disappointed when they come face-to-face with Jesus after death and He tells them to go away [Matthew 7:21-23].
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