Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Ransom Was Paid

By Reverend Mark Hunnemann

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son,that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)

"For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many." (Mark 19:45)

" were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot." (1 Peter 1:18-19)

Only God knows exactly the full price of the ransom that was paid....

On the one hand, Christ paying the ransom price to liberate us from enslavement to sin, Satan, and death (which is the heart of the gospel) is the ugliest, most obscene act ever committed. The infinitely pure, precious, and morally beautiful Lord of glory was brutally beaten and shamefully murdered--and that is just the tip if the iceberg, as we shall see.On the other hand, the self-humiliation involved in this Ransom was the most beautiful act of love ever committed.

Some folks have this notion that Jesus was the one who persuaded the reluctant Father to "let" Him come and  save us.You know, the "mean/vengeful" God the Father of the Old Testament..... No! Who sent the Son? According to John 3:16 the Father did! "God (the Father) so loved the world  that He SENT..."

In John 17,  from eternity past, God the Father and God the Son joyfully agreed between them that the Father would give the Son a gift......a gift the Lord Jesus eagerly anticipated--A Bride!

But "curious" gift....His Son would have to pay for it...and what a price indeed.( Please see vvs 2,6,9,12 for wonderful truth of the Father giving the Son a gift!)

They agreed that Jesus would pay the ransom for those who hated them. This is holy ground upon which we now stand, and I pray for the words to express such indescribability.

Ransom, as defined in my dictionary, "something paid or demanded for the freedom of a captured free from captivity or punishment by paying a price." The Exodus from enslavement in Egypt is a picture of the Greater Exodus--where the ransom is paid to liberate us from bondage to sin, Satan, and death.

Scripture repeatedly speaks of us being sold into slavery to sin, Satan, and death. Starting in Genesis 3 (where all 3 are introduced) to Revelation, we see God dealing with that triad of captors, and overcoming all three.

Before we talk about WHAT was paid, let us look for a moment to WHOM the ransom was paid. A number of early church fathers, and up through the medieval times, many thought that the ransom was paid by God to Satan.  The so-called "Ransom to Satan theory of the atonement", was based on the notion that the death of Christ constituted a ransom paid to Satan, in order to cancel the just claims Satan had on man.

How awful!! Thankfully, Anselm and others saw how incongruous this notion was with the bible and the nature of God. The clarity of thinking and teaching of Luther and Calvin rediscovered the pure gospel after the gospel itself was in chains for 1,000 years. Satan was to be pummeled, not paid, in this grandest of ransoms.God is the Creator of the entire cosmos and its owner and sustainer. God, not the Evil One, is the aggrieved party, who owns all...and God is the One that we have committed cosmic treason against.

That God did not provide a ransom for fallen angels, as He has for fallen humans, surely indicates that His redemption of us was/is entirely of grace and mercy (grace--receiving what we do not deserve,  mercy--NOT receiving what we do deserve, eternal damnation) Both God's love and justice are at the heart of His ransom of us. In .Deuteronomy 9 Yahweh reminds us that His choosing of Israel was entirely gracious. And He loves us, not because of any good He saw in us (we were  His enemies Rom. 5:8)) but because He chose to love us. Why? Because He loves us. Why? Because He freely chose to love us....we cannot go back any further! We can only bow before the Lord in worship.

However, once the Holy Lord freely chose to redeem and save us,He faced a divine dilemma  His nature NECESSITATED the shedding of His infinitely precious blood. That is, I say with respect, God was faced with a dilemma--He is all-powerful but that does not mean He can do everything. He cannot just wink at sin. His perfectly holy nature  made the atonement absolutely necessary...there was no other way. Don't you think He would have done so if it were possible, given the horror and dread Jesus felt in the garden, in anticipation of the unspeakable horror of the cross?.

Perhaps you have heard the phrase, "a kings ransom."  Simply a colorful way of referring to a whole lot of money! But suppose a king had been taken hostage. The more power, authority, and dignity the person has, then the higher will be the ransom price for his release. Thus, a kings ransom is required to pay the ransom of a king. Jesus is the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords...the God/man.We sinned against the King of Kings, and the blood of goats and bulls would not suffice.

THE RANSOM WAS PAID FOR US, and it WAS PAID BY GOD, AND IT WAS PAID TO GOD.  He wrote the check to Himself, as it were. What does that mean? In order to free us from bondage, He had to pay the penalty FOR US....TO GOD.  .Jesus' life, death, resurrection and ascension paid the ransom, which He did not owe, and which we could not pay.

What kind of "currency" did God use to ransom us?

1. Jesus lived a perfect life FOR US...He paid the ransom by earning heaven for us.
2. He paid the ransom by taking our sins upon Himself
3. The most costly aspect of the cross/ransom is what is often misunderstood the most....the primary ransom that had to be paid was the punishment for all the sins committed by all of God's people. While on the cross bearing our sin, the unmitigated wrath of the Father was poured out upon His dearly beloved Son. Human language is inadequate to adequately covey the cursed, hellish misery Jesus experienced FOR US, as our substitute. He paid in currency we shall never fully understand.

The Father punishing the Son to satisfy the demands of His holy character and holy law, is known as "propitiation"...a word every Christian should know. hilasterion--in the Greek, conveys this pacifying of God's wrath by pouring it out upon His Son. Remember it is TO GOD that our ransom must be paid--He was the party offended against, and we became slaves. We could put the propitiation, and how it relates to our ransom, this way...

God Himself, punishing Himself, in order to save us from Himself. (That is the heart of the ransom paid for us)

The cross saved us from many things--GOD'S WRATH BEING THE WORSE.

God Almighty could not have given anything more precious or costly to Himself, than what He did give, in the propitiatory death of the Lord of Glory. He gave His Son to be a "burnt offering"..He gave EVERYTHING....paid the ultimate king's ransom.

The ransom was exceedingly high...infinitely higher than any ransom ever paid by man. Captivity to sin, Satan, and death was paid for by the infinitely precious blood of the Lamb of God. The true price that was paid is known only to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

That is crux of why we must confront and oppose this notion of ghosts.The captors were specifically targeted.(sin, Satan, and death)...then the full ransom price was paid.--FOR EACH OF GOD'S CHILDREN. Is it not unthinkable that after the Lord paid such a high ransom to defeat death, we turn around and act as if nothing had happened? Death is supposed to usher us into the  immediate presence of God--that was the intention in  paying the ransom...that we would be reconciled with God.
"...through death He might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver those who fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery." (Heb. 2:14-15)

"Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire." (Rev. 20:14)
"The last enemy to be destroyed is death." (1 Cor. 15:26)

Physical death is the common lot for believers too, but it is transformed from being the "king of terrors" into being the gateway into the presence and rest of God. Physical death is abnormal, as it is the result of the fall. Like sin and Satan, believers still have to struggle with it, but as we breathe our last breath, we are done with the presence of sin, Satan and death. What God intended to be anticipated as the hope of certain reunion with Him, has been corrupted into an ongoing if the ransom had never been paid. What a wretched idea this notion of ghosts is. It belittles and denies the blood soaked Ransomer and His infinitely precious Ransom.

You've heard the truism, "You get what you pay for." The blood of Jesus is infinitely precious. Thus, we have throughout the bible, the centrality and certainty of hope.However, the notion of ghosts is a hope-killer.It belittles the heart of the gospel itself. It is a negation of the perfection of the Atoner and the atonement.

What will it take for us to take notice and make a stand? It was the realization of how "trapped spirits" threw into doubt the perfection of the atonement (the ransom did not accomplish our liberation from death) that, more than anything else, opened my eyes to how seriously dangerous this notion is...and how grievous it must be to the Holy Spirit--and why we must confront it. Thank you Lord for paying the ransom to free us from bondage to sin, Satan, and the grave.

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