Chapter 26 Redemption Through The Cross

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

The need for redemption and the consequent forgiveness of sins lies in the fact that man has sinned. We all have need of forgiveness. Sin is trangression of God’s holy law, and can be righteously forgiven only through the shed blood of Christ our Saviour.

The sin of man is not a trivial fault, easily pardoned, easily effaced. The slightest sin is open rebellion. It casts God down from His throne of rule in the heart of man. It avows the godless principle of independence. It sets up self-love as an idol in place of the living God. God is holy, and cannot connive at evil. He abhors it. To transgress His law is death— death which is the withdrawal of God’s holy presence from man.

The Source of Redemption

The source of redemption is clearly written in the text as “the riches of His grace.” We cannot secure redemption by anything which we can do. It is all of grace from beginning to end. There can be no merit of man where grace operates, or else it would make grace of none effect. Nor does grace merely supplement our deficiency—making up the measure where we may fall short. No! It is “not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:9). We are a sinful race—death-stricken in body, dead in soul and spirit. The life of God was extinguished in man the moment man sinned. “In Adam all die.”

It is “the riches of His grace” which has wrought our redemption for us. The movement toward it began in the heart of God—the outflow of His love which, coming to such undeserving sinners, is now known as grace.

That grace is not withheld from sinful man because he lacks merit. It is given because he has no merit and because of his unworthiness. If man had any merit at all, then God would be obliged to give him a reward for this merit. But we have none, so that what God gives is all of grace. Nor is grace more to the less deserving—less grace to those who have sinned more, more grace to those who have sinned less. No! “The riches of His grace” is abundantly lavished upon all our race.

The Ground of Forgiveness

“Through His blood,” says the text. The only ground upon which God could procure the forgiveness of sins was through the precious blood of His own beloved Son. Forgiveness must please and answer to the holiness, truth, righteousness, and justice of God. But the blood of Jesus is so precious, the shedding of it so meritorious, that all manner of sin can be forgiven the children of men. It makes the scarlet white as snow and the crimson like wool. It transforms the vilest into perfect purity. Its merits render and present men spotless before God.

The blood of Christ accomplishes all this. He has “by Himself purged our sins” (Hebrews 1:3). This was done on Calvary’s cross and is an accomplished fact. This He did when, on that cross, He “offered up Himself (Hebrews 7:27) and thus through His own blood “obtained eternal redemption for us” (Hebrews 9:12).

We are not to make pictures of the blood. Some of our hymns tend to do that—as, for instance, a river of blood into which we are to plunge. No! We must interpret the blood. Blood is the symbol of life. “The life of the flesh is in the blood” (Leviticus 17:11). The shedding of blood, therefore, is life poured out, and life voluntarily laid down is sacrifice. The pouring out of the Saviour’s blood is the basis upon which God can grant a righteous forgiveness.

The forgiveness of sins is the profoundest of all problems. The real question is not why God finds it difficult to forgive, but how a just and holy God can forgive. The only way He can do this is through the blood of His own holy and perfect Son, and the sacrifice for sin He made on our behalf.

The Assurance of These Blessings

The text tells us that in Christ “we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” “In whom”— that is, in Christ! Only because He is God could He redeem, and remain supported under the whole flood of God’s outpoured wrath. Who but God Himself could bear that? But there is one thing we ourselves have to do—that is to believe and receive it. Believing is an act which puts us, as it were, in Christ, and in Him we have redemption and forgiveness. To be in Him is to be joined to Him—made one with Him. All spiritual blessings are in Christ, and in none other, and become ours when we are in Him.

In another Scripture we are told that “we have peace with God” (Romans 5:1)—we have it! In verse 2 “we have access”—we have it! So here—“we have redemption … and the forgiveness of sins”—we have them! Let us not pass by this confident assurance. This assures us that God’s smile is upon us. No enmity remains. Reconciliation is complete.

Faith is not some pious hope for the future, but a present experience of every trusting soul and something consciously enjoyed. Thus we read: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9)—that is, it is the right thing for God to do. Since He has promised, He is faithful to keep His promise. God cannot be unfaithful because He has promised. He cannot be unrighteous because the blood of Christ has been shed.

Amazing grace! how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils, and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace that brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

John Newton