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The Brilliance of Redemption (Colossians 1:13, 14)

April 21, 2013 Speaker: Bryce Morgan Series: The Jewel: Understanding the Beauty of the Cross

Topic: Colossians Passage: Colossians 1:13–1:14

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The Jewel: Understanding the Beauty of the Cross

The Brilliance of Redemption
Colossians 1:13, 14
April 21st, 2013
Way of Grace Church

 

I. Pictures from the Past

Consider for a moment how all of these historical events are tied together:

In 1974, Jorge & Juan Born, two wealthy Argentine businessmen and brothers, were kidnapped by a leftist organization. Nine months later, a ransomed was paid for their release. Of course, if you know anything about the region, this is sadly not that unusual. What distinguishes this kidnapping was the size of the ransom: $60 million. Today, that would be equivalent to $293 million dollars.

Jim Thompson, a Green Beret from Bergenfield, New Jersey, was held, not for nine months, but for nine years. He was a prisoner in Vietnam of the National Liberation Front, otherwise know as the Viet Cong. He was captured on March 26th, 1964 and released on March 16th, 1973. He is the longest held American prisoner of war.

Booker T. Washington's monumental autobiography entitled, Up from Slavery opens with this sentence: “I was born a slave on a plantation in Franklin County, Virginia.” One day when he was nine years old, he remembers a scene in which a...

“...man who seemed to be a stranger (a United States officer, I presume) made a little speech and then read a rather long paper—the Emancipation Proclamation, I think. After the reading we were told that we were all free, and could go when and where we pleased. My mother, who was standing by my side, leaned over and kissed her children, while tears of joy ran down her cheeks. She explained to us what it all meant, that this was the day for which she had been so long praying, but fearing that she would never live to see.”

This morning we are returning once again to gaze at what we are calling “The Jewel”. This “Jewel” is the cross of Jesus Christ, and like a jewel, we can look at the cross from many different angles and see the glory of God brilliantly reflected like sunshine off its many faces.

 

II. The Passage: “He Has Delivered Us” (1:13, 14)

So let's continue to hold this “Jewel” up to the light and turn it once again as we turn and look together at Colossians 1:13 and 14. Unlike so many of his letters, Paul did not plant the church to whom he writes. In fact, there is no indication that Paul has even visited this church. Verse 7 tells us that the Colossian Christians heard the gospel from a disciple named Epaphras.

But as Paul mentions in verses 4 and 9, he has definitely heard of their faith in Christ and how God is at work among them.


So look at how he begins this letter. Verse 3: We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you...And in verse 9, he gives them a summary of the God-centered prayer he is praying for them: Paul wants them to better understand God's will, he wants them to walk in a manner worthy of God, he wants them to bear fruit for God's glory, he wants them to strengthened with God's strength, and he wants them to give thanks to God.

And all of this is built on the radical reality of what God has already done for His people. This is where verses 13 and 14 come in. Look at what we read here in verse 13:

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, [14] in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Did you see the “Jewel” there? The cross of Jesus Christ is not mentioned explicitly, but it's still there. Look at that phrase at the beginning of verse 14: in whom we have redemption.

“Redemption”. What is redemption? The word redemption and redeem and redeemer are found all over the Bible, but what do they mean? Well, I think Paul has given a simple 'outline of redemption' in these two verses, an outline that connects us to a ton of other verses about this subject. Let me show you what I mean.

 

A. Redeemed (Delivered) from Bondage (v. 13a)

First, look back at the beginning of verse 13: He has delivered us from the domain of darkness. I believe Paul is reminding us here, I believe God is reminding us here that redemption means being redeemed (or delivered [from 13a]) from bondage.

This idea of redemption “from bondage or imprisonment” is rooted in the OT, where God instructs the Israelites with these words: You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; (Deuteronomy 15:15)

What kind of bondage is this? It means being under the “dominion” or “authority” or “power” of “darkness”. Paul uses this same two words in Ephesians 6:12...

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

We also see from verse 14 that this “domain of darkness” has something to do with “the forgiveness of sins”. In Greek, the primary meaning of the word “forgiveness” has to do with being released from bondage or imprisonment. Listen to how all three of these elements is used by Jesus in the book of Acts when he is first calls Paul (or at that time, Saul) to himself. He tells Saul that he is going to send him to the nations in order...

'...to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’ (Acts 26:18)

The devil also figures into what the writer of the book of Hebrews tells us about this deliverance:


Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, [15] and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. (Hebrews 2:14-15)

But lest we focus too much on the devil, we have to remember that Paul tells us in Titus 2:14 that Jesus Christ gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness. And in Galatians 3:13 Paul writes (and this is key!), Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.

So redemption is always redemption FROM something, and the 'something' Paul wrote and preached about is slavery under the power of sin, which also keeps us under the manipulation of our Enemy, which also leaves us cursed under the perfect justice of God. There is no bondage worse than this. To be enslaved, to be bound, to be captured, to be imprisoned in the “domain of darkness” is the worst of all condition. But remember the rest of verse 13.

 

B. Redeemed (Delivered) for Freedom (v. 13b, 14b )

Paul wrote: He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son. What do we see there? We see that redemption means being redeemed (or delivered) for freedom.

When God releases slaves or sets prisoners free, it is always for the purpose of bringing them into His own kingdom. When God spoke through the prophet Isaiah to those who were taken in captivity from the land of Israel, he said this:

But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. (Isaiah 43:1)

And if we look at the entirety of Titus 2:14, we find this same idea about Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

This is what it means to be in the kingdom of God's beloved Son. We are redeemed FROM the bondage of sin, and redeemed FOR the purpose of righteousness, for the glory of God. Paul declared this very thing in Romans 6:17, 18... But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, [18] and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

And so strangely, but wonderfully, God's redemption is deliverance FROM slavery FOR slavery. But we know from God's word that we are never more FREE than when we are submissive to God and His desires for us. True freedom is not the freedom to live for yourself, but for the purposes and glory of God. Have you been set free in this way?

But we also have to remember that God's redemption is also deliverance FROM God's justice and FOR God's service.


Remember, as we see here in our main verses, this redemption means “forgiveness of sins”. We are not only freed from sin's power, but also from sin's penalty. And it is that amazing truth reminds us there is one more critical element here in Colossians 1:13, 14.

 

C. Redeemed (Delivered) by Ransom (v. 14a)

Again, Paul writes: He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, [14] in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Redemption is not simply about FROM WHAT and FOR WHAT. It is gloriously centered on, and uniquely made possibly by...IN WHOM. The 'whom” here is clearly God's “beloved Son”. And even though Paul does not explicitly state it here, it is, without a doubt, assumed that this redemption through Jesus is redemption through the cross of Jesus. In a very similar statement in a very similar letter, Paul tells us that, In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace (Ephesians 1:7)

We saw this is in our passage from last time, where Paul reminds us that we are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, [25] whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. (Romans 3:24, 25)

Listen to how the writer of Hebrews expresses this:

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) [12] he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. (Hebrews 9:11, 12)

Our release is not simply for a time. It is eternal; it is forever! You see, in most cases the word redemption implies a redemption price, or what we would call a ransom. But in the ancient world, a ransom wasn't simply a payment to kidnappers (like it is today). It was also a payment made to a foreign army in order to release prisoners of war. Jesus spoke of himself using this same language: ...the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:43-45)

And so in Colossians, we also reminded that redemption means being redeemed (or delivered) by ransom. Listen to how the Apostle Peter describes the gift of the cross:

And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, [18] knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, [19] but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. (I Peter 1:17-19)

How do we know Paul connects our redemption with the cross. He says so in a number of places: Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree” (i.e. the cross) (Galatians 3:13).


Paul will go on to write in Colossians 1...For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, [20] and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (1:19-20)


Paul summarizes our last two points so clearly in I Corinthians 6:19 and 20....Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own [there’s that beautiful counter-intuitive freedom in Christ…you are not your own], [20] for you were bought with a price. [there’s the ransom] So glorify God in your body.

 

III. Let the Redeemed Say So

Two weeks ago, we talked about how the beauty of the cross is seen in the reality of substitution, that Jesus took our place. Last week, we expanded on that by talking how the beauty of the cross is seen in the fact that Jesus took our place in order to take our punishment. He bore God’s wrath, God’s verdict, God’s judgment against sin in order that we might be pardoned. The priest became the sacrifice and the cross was His altar.

But this morning we have seen another kind brilliance in this jewel: because of the cross, we are rescued and redeemed. The cross is the greatest “emancipation proclamation” ever declared.

If you said that all of those opening accounts or stories were linked together by the number nine you would be right. But even more significantly, they were all linked together by the reality of bondage and freedom. And even more significantly for you, if you are Christian this morning, if you are follower of Jesus, all of those accounts were linked by the fact they are all pictures telling your story.

You were held in captivity for many years by an enemy power. In fact, you were born into slavery. But you like every person we mentioned at the outset, you have, by grace, through faith, you have also been set free. How? Because a ransom was paid, a ransom that makes $60 million dollars look like a drop in the bucket. You were freed because another took your place; because Jesus died as a payment for your freedom.

Is that what you see when you look at the cross of Jesus? Do you see a ransom that both reminds you of the horrors of your bondage AND the goodness of your freedom? Listen to how the psalmist instructs his listeners in light of their identity because of God’s grace:

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! [2] Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble… (Psalm 107:1-2)

Look at how this jewel shimmers and shines and sparkles and radiates the glory of God and the depth of His mercy. We can never move the cross. We can never graduate from the gospel. Do you know this redemption? If you can’t honestly say you do, then reach out this morning and be set free.

If you have been redeemed (delivered), how will you live differently this week because of your redemption? You are no longer a slave to sin, to its dictates. You are no longer in bondage to the fear of death. You are no longer shackled by a guilty conscience. You are no longer bound to live for yourself. You have been set free! Are you living in that freedom?

Consider the cost of that freedom, and let it inspire humilty, gratefulness, and worship in your heart this morning.

And let God fill your heart with hope as well. Why? Because even though our redemption has been fully secured, it has not been fully implemented. Listen to again to a couple passages from two more letters by Paul:

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30) What will happen on this day?

For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. [23] And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
(Romans 8:22-23)

Freedom now from the power and penalty of sin. And one day, freedom from the very presence of sin. This has to stir our hearts, so that we sing along with the old hymn:

Praise, my soul, the King of heaven;
To His feet your tribute bring.
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
Who like me His praise should sing:
Praise Him, praise Him,
Praise Him, praise Him,
Praise the everlasting King

 

 

More in The Jewel: Understanding the Beauty of the Cross

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Love's Reference Point (Ephesians 5:1, 2)

April 14, 2013

The Wrath-Bearer (Romans 3:21-26)

April 7, 2013

In Your Place (I Peter 2:22-25)