July 18, 2010

Redemption through His Blood - Jul 18, 2010

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This is the Redemption Church calendar. I printed it off from the Redemption website. You can find that at www.redemptionCLC.com . This here is the most recent Redemption membership directory. This is the Redemption constitution. Outside in the parking lot you’ll find the Redemption Church van. There’s also the Redemption storage container (freshly painted), in which you’ll find the Redemption lawn mower.

Oh, I’m sorry. Today is our 50th anniversary celebration and we’ve got a good number of guests. I forgot to mention to our visitors, in case you didn’t see the sign on your way in, our church is called, “REDEMPTION Evangelical Lutheran Church”.

We name things (streets, buildings, parks, rivers, mountains, churches), we name them after important people, places or events. But when we then use those names over and over and over, the significance wears thin.

This church was named “Redemption” by the first families that gathered together to worship. The Petersons and the Dragers. They wanted a name that was different than all the churches around them. You know, so nobody would get confused about which group was which. And they also wanted a name that would express what was important to them. What was precious to this group.

Today, as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Redemption Church, we’re going to take a step back and look again at what the Bible says about that word, “Redemption”.

Ephesians 1:7-10 (ESV)

(boldface pronouns refer to God the Son, other pronouns refer to the Father)

7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

If you’ve been through Catechism Class you might remember the definition for “redeem”. Redeem means “to buy back”.

When you hear the word “redemption” think “release”. That’s what “redemption” means, to RELEASE by making a payment.

You and I deal with redemption all the time. You know how it works. You screw something up. Then you have to do something to make things right again.

In sports, at work, in marriage, with friends - we’re always redeeming ourselves. We’re always messing something up and making up for it.

Usually, the worse you mess up, the more you have to do to redeem yourself. And that’s where the whole problem with sin comes in. When we do something that is morally wrong, when we sin, that sin is ultimately against God. Against our absolutely perfect and sinless Creator. And there simply isn’t anything we can do to redeem ourselves in God’s sight. He created the human race without sin, and anything less than perfection, He just can’t accept.

To make things worse, you and I are constantly adding sins to our record. Sins are like miles on the car - once they’re on, you can’t take ‘em off.

It took the blood of God’s own Son to take our sins away. It took His intense physical, emotional and spiritual suffering in order for our sins to be paid for. His suffering even included being separated from God the Father while He hung on the cross.

All of this the Son endured because the Father loved sinners. We didn’t deserve it. But God doesn’t give us good things because we deserve them. He doesn’t accept sinners because they’ve made enough good-deed payments or put enough stars up on their church attendance charts. God had His Son go to the cross for us because He is full of grace.

You might remember “grace” from Catechism class too. Grace means “undeserved love”.

So, “redemption” means that our shackles of sin have been broken open. But the “redemption” that comes from God is richer still. In verse 9 Paul says,
“…making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ…” (Ephesians 1:9 ESV).
When we like it or not, God is a mystery. People don’t usually get to see Him with their eyes. It’s true that throughout history God has visibly appeared to some. Individuals, groups, huge crowds at times. But usually He doesn’t choose to show Himself in that way.

But God DOES wants people to know Him. He wants them to trust Him. He wants them to rely on Him. He wants to be involved in our lives. He wants to have the most intimate of relationships with us. One even closer than husband and wife. One where nothing is hidden.

So, to draw us into this kind of a relationship, He has opened His heart to us. In everything that Jesus did and said, we see the Father’s heart revealed.

Philip, one of Jesus’ twelve apostles once said to Him…
“Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
9Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work” (John 14:8-10 NIV)
And in Colossians the apostle Paul writes…
“9For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9 NIV).
By Jesus’ life and His teachings, God’s heart and His will is opened wide for us to know, and to absorb.

Redemption means freedom from sin’s punishment. But God isn’t satisfied with just taking away the criminal’s sentence, He also seeks to change the criminal’s heart.

In chapter four of Ephesians, Paul tells his fellow Christians…
“29Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:29-32 NIV).
Redemption means seeing God’s heart, and receiving the impression of His heart on our own.

Here at Redemption church, we want everyone to who comes into contact with us to hear about the free forgiveness that God has given through the blood of His Son. But we also want people to continue in their God-education. We want them to grow in their knowledge of God and their love for God.

We don’t want to remain Christian children, we want to become mature Christians. Christians whose lives reflect the love if Him who redeemed us.

It’s easy to remain shallow Christians, grasping the forgiveness of Christ for ourselves, but not extending that forgiveness to others. That’s not what we want. We don’t want to be judgmental Christians, looking down on people around us because they are not followers of Christ.

We need to look at the world through God’s eyes. Seeing all others as just like us. Sinners who need to know the loving God just as much as we do.

Redemption means forgiveness and change, but it also means a future has been opened to us. A future given as a gift along with the blood of our Savior. In verse 10 Paul wrote that in Christ God’s plan has been revealed.
“…a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Ephesians 1:10 ESV).
In the beginning, all things were created through God’s Son. The Bible tells us that Father, Son and Holy Spirit, all three persons of the Triune God, created together. That means that in the beginning, all things were under the authority of the Son of God.

In the future, all things will again be gathered again, under Jesus. All things will come full circle. All people will be released from their grave. Brought back to life, to stand before their Creator for judgment.

Those who have trusted in God’s Son will be released from all the effects of sin. Their bodies will no longer be limited by fatigue and pain and sorrow.

The Creation itself will be freed, released, redeemed from the deteriorating effects of sin. It will be made new. No more oil spills. No more devastating floods. No more earthquakes.

This is the future that we have to look forward to because of the blood of Christ. In the end, we will stand cleansed from sin and united with God forever. All because of the blood of Christ.

This message may not seem like anything new to those who sit in this sanctuary from Sunday to Sunday. Because it isn’t anything new. This is the message that has been preached at Redemption Church from its very beginning. This is the message that the Petersons and Dragers gathered around to remind each other of, and to share with others.

And, if it be God’s will, it is the message will be taught here long years after we have been released to join the congregation gathering around God’s throne in Heaven.

Redemption is our name. May it ever be our treasure, and our message. Redemption through His blood.

Prayer: Father in heaven, you have made yourself known to us through your dear Son. You have released us from the heavy guilt of sin. You have taught us to live as your children, and to grow as your people. Continue to lead us by your Word. Send us faithful pastors and teachers all manner of fellow servants to encourage our faith. Cause us to always rely on you. Make our hope to rest squarely on the blood of Jesus, your dear Son. Give us this gift. Let us be true to our name. People of your redemption. People who share redemption, until that day when your great plan comes to it’s glorious conclusion, and our greatest joy begins.


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