Loving Our Redeemable World

Steve Viars February 14, 2016 Ephesians 1:

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Hebrews 6:10 - For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints.

Ephesians 3:20-21 - Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

3 reasons the doctrine of redemption should change the way we view the world around us

I. Redemption Has a Powerful Meaning

A. Alongside several eternally significant concepts related to our salvation

Soteriology – the doctrine of salvation

1. Dikaioo – legal acquittal of a charge.  Used theologically to speak of a sinner’s being vindicated, justified, and declared righteous before God (cf. Romans 3:4, 4:25, 5:18; 1 Timothy 3:16)

2. Aphiemi – to send away.  Used to indicate the legal repayment or cancelation of a debt or the granting of a pardon (Matthew 9:2; Romans 4:7)

3. Huiothesia – the legal process of adopting a child.  Represents the believer’s being adopted into the family of God (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:5)

4. Katalasso – to legally reconcile to disputing parties in court.  Used of a believer’s reconciliation with God through Jesus Christ (Romans 5:10; 2 Corinthians 5:18-20)

5. Agorazo – refers to buying or purchasing (from agora – marketplace).  Speaks of the price paid for our salvation (Galatians 3:13; Revelation 5:9)

6. Lutroo – to release from captivity.  Paying a ransom in order to release a person from bondage, especially slavery

B. A strong historical background for the people of God

1. Embedded in the OT law

Leviticus 27:13 - But if he should ever wish to redeem it, then he shall add one-fifth of it to your valuation.

2. A natural part of OT life

Ruth 4:6 - The closest relative said, “I cannot redeem it for myself, because I would jeopardize my own inheritance. Redeem it for yourself; you may have my right of redemption, for I cannot redeem it.”

3. A way for OT saints to think about their Lord

Job 19:25 - As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth.

4. An important element of OT worship

Psalm 34:22 - The Lord redeems the soul of His servants, and none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.

Psalm 71:23 - My lips will shout for joy when I sing praises to You; and my soul, which You have redeemed.

5. A focal point for the anticipated Messiah mission

Luke 24:21 - But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, it is the third day since these things happened.

C. Well-known to the people of Ephesus

v. 7 – we have redemption

II. Redemption Requires a Tremendous Price

A. It’s “through His blood”

1 Peter 1:18-19 - …knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.

Revelation 5:9-10 - Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.

B. Which provides the focus for our mission

1. Hope, not cynicism

2. At the level of the heart, not the level of the hands

Romans 6:17-18 - But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

3. Viewing the Bible less like an encyclopedia and more like a novel

III. Redemption Provides Marvelous Benefits

A. Forgiveness of our trespasses

Ephesians 1:7 - In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace…

B. An intimate relationship with the Redeemer

v. 6 – in the Beloved

v. 7 – in Him

v. 9 – in Him

v. 10 – in Him

C. Wisdom and insight

Ephesians 1:8-12 - …In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will…to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.

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What a marvelous time of worship this morning. I want to thank our worship team. Many of them have been serving day after day after day in our conference and to come back with passion and enthusiasm on the Lord's day and serve us like they have. Thank you very much worship teams. I also want to add to what has already been said this morning by just thanking the many men and woman who served so sacrificially this past week by our biblical counseling training conference. Pastor Green and Edris Olson and Pastor Folden, their entire team, did a fabulous job of organizing that ministry to over 1900 choice servants of the Lord from around the world.

What an incredible privilege huh? What an incredible stewardship the Lord has given us. I am just so grateful for the many people, young and old, who joined together and served our guests the way that you did. You're really, as the apostle Paul told young Titus, you adorned the doctrine of God. In other words it's possible for Christians to live in a way that makes God's word, the doctrine even more understandable, adorning it and more desirable, more attractive. It's as old and simple as the saying. The proof is in the pudding, right?

We could talk all day long in our sessions about the gospel changing people, but when a couple who were at once on the verge of divorce now provide housing for guests and through the course of that week just share how God is helping them build a stronger marriage together, that seals the deal. They've adorned the doctrine of God, not because they're acting like they're perfect, but because they're proving that they're changing.

We could talk all day long in our sessions about how growing Christians love to serve. That's one of the things I hear often from other pastors around the country and around the world. We can't get our people to serve. We can say progressive sanctification will help people serve as long as we want, but when a group of teenagers has a day off school and they use it to come over to the church house and haul books around or empty trash and they do it with a smile on their face and joy in their hearts, that quick interaction with that teenager, sometimes does more than a dozen lectures. I hope you believe that. It adorns the doctrine of God.

When our guests are leaving at the end of a long day and they see a bunch of young professionals appearing behind the custodial bathroom carts, you know what duty they're on, right? You might think it didn't matter or no one noticed. That's not true. That's not true. I can't tell you how many times as I was just interacting with our guests I would turn around and someone else wanted me to tell you thank you, thank you and someone else wanted me to tell you thank you.

In fact here's just a slice of the cards that I could read that were written from our guests to our church family. Let me just give you a sampling. This one is to each and every volunteer. "You've been gracious and patience and welcoming and helpful and kind." There's some good things huh? God bless you for your generosity and kindness.

This person said, "To all the behind the scenes folks, thank you. As someone who has helped organize several large conferences and events, you guys are so instrumental in helping speakers and attendees have a successful experience." That's so true.

"To the volunteers at Faith, all of you have been fantastic with your time and having a servant's attitude, especially those who have encouraged their children to help." In case you didn't think that mattered. "To all the Faith Church volunteers, thank you for your servants' hearts. Thank you for your demonstrated love for others. Thank you for taking time away from your families to attend to our needs. Thank you for demonstrating Christ's likeness. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you."

That's it for sure. I also want to thank the hundreds and hundreds of people who served just by praying. Just by praying. You did that while you were driving to work. You prayed. You prayed for our conference when you bowed your head at lunch time at your place of work. You gathered your family together before you went to bed and you prayed for us. Many of us who were involved in some of the more upfront stuff, we would say and I'm not even sure what words to use but something like this. We felt the prayers of God's people. You know what I mean by that? Maybe we knew and were encouraged by the fact that people all over town were praying for us. Thank you for that.

Ultimately we're glad for truths like this. For God is not unjust so as to forget your work. That's the really good news, is it not? To forget the love which you have shown toward his name and having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. Here's a question I'd like to ask you to ponder. Humanly speaking, why would so many people come to Lafayette in February? Explain that. We know, let's be careful here. We know ultimately the answer is because of the power and blessing of our God. That's why.

We always want him to be glorified and in fact we're about to study a pastor of scripture that emphasizes that concept in undeniable ways. We also know this. God uses the simple and the weak to accomplish his plan. If our conference was an example of us being useful to the Lord in some way that doesn't mean we're something. He uses the weak and the simple. Doesn't mean we're something, it means that he's something. We always say, to him who was able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works within us to him. To him, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever.

That is always the first answer to the question that I'm posing. Assuming that foundation is there, push it a step further. Why were people coming here? One very important answer you could give to that question is this, because we have somewhat novel or usual view of the world. Maybe even more specific we somewhat of a unique or somewhat novel view of the problems of the world. In the simplest sense, we say it all the time around here. Problems are for solving. We're not going to ignore them. We're not going to run from them on any level. Nor are we going to hate those who have them. We are going to take out our sufficient bibles, which tell the story of our sufficient savior and we're going to find powerful and life changing answers to the problems that we all face.

Starting inside the church, when problems arise, well what are they for? They're for solving. We believe we ought to have a level of authenticity where we can acknowledge what's happening. We have resources in place were we can sit down in whatever setting is appropriate and then address those challenges head on. Change and growth occurs spiritually within the body as we speak the truth in love and keep our problems solved.

In our community, we're not going to shy away from problems. We think scripture sufficient, in both the diagnosis and the cure. We want to be like the fire fighters or the police officers or the marines. While others might want to run out we want to run in. In the power and love of Christ offering a cup of cold water in Jesus's name. Many times it starts right there. Then, more of God's sufficient word for anybody who's interesting in listening. What that means is, instead of hating the people of the world or avoiding the people of the world or separating ourselves from the people of the world. We think, here's an idea, we think we ought to love the people of the world. You buying into that? I thought so because we think the world is redeemable.

There it is, because we think the world is redeemable. It's the natural implication of the powerful doctrine of redemption. That's what we want to talk about this morning. With that in mind open your bible, if you would, to Ephesian chapter one. Ephesians chapter one, that's on page 150 of the back section of the bible under the chair in front of you. Ephesians chapter one or page 150 of the back section of the bible under the chair in front of you.

Our theme this year is loving our world. What we're seeing is that it's one thing to say that we do that. Anybody can say it. It's quite another to actually roll up our sleeves and practically figure out what does that look like in real time. Loving our world. Well, so far we've looked at that from several different perspectives. We actually started this year by thinking about the end of the story. Revelations chapter 22, the redeemed from all nations gathered into a diverse city of God and loving and praising him in all of his splendor and all of his majesty. That's where loving our world concludes. Then just because of where we were in the calendar we thought about loving the world of the unborn. We celebrated and emphasized the sanctity of human life and we should have. No question about that.

Then we've had a couple of Sundays now to think about loving the mission fields of the world. Didn't you love hearing from our special speakers last week? Wasn't that an absolute delight? Our service pastors helped us two week ago when they gave us an honest appraisal from Romans chapter 3 about loving our fallen world. Today it's my happy privilege to lead us in thinking about loving our redeemable world. Loving our redeemable world.

Ephesians chapter one, beginning in verse one. Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God. Think about this as a letter, that's what it was. "To the saints who were at Ephesus and who were faithful in Christ Jesus. Grace to you and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ just as he chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love he predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to himself, according to the kind intention of His will to the praise of the glory of his grace, which he freely bestowed on us in the beloved. In him" ... in him what? "In him we have redemption, in him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace which he lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight he made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to the kind intention which he purposed in him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is the summing up of on all things in Christ. Things in heavens and things on the earth in him. Also we have obtained an inheritance having been predestined according to his purpose who works all things after the counsel of his will to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of his glory."

We're talking this morning about our redeemable world. The privilege that we have of loving our redeemable world. With the time we have remaining let's think about three reasons this doctrine of redemption should change the way we view the world around us. First of all, this redemption has powerful meaning.

I. Redemption Has a Powerful Meaning

Now let's just face this, one of the disadvantages that we have, if we want to say it that way, is that the further we move away historically from the cultures in which the scriptures were written the more challenging it is to grasp and appreciate word pictures the original audience would've have just immediately taken for granted. What that means we just have to think a bit harder on days like this to be sure that we get it. You know what, that'll actually warm up the room, all this brain power. So in addition to Valentine's Day just warming up the room, feel free to smooch your honey any time you need to this morning, okay. That's legal right here in the church house.

In addition to that just heat and now we're talking about the heat that comes from working out brain as we study theology, isn't that great? We'll have to turn on the air conditioning before this service is over for sure. We can do that because have the holy spirit residing in us, huh? We're up to the challenge. We didn't come here today to the church house to fluff around. Absolutely not, we're going to work at it.

Now perhaps it's best to set this doctrine of redemption in an overall context. The word is placed along several in this text, eternally significant concepts related to our salvation here and in other places of the scripture. Just to be clear, we're talking about soteriology. Redemption is a part of soteriology the doctrine of salvation. In light of what our service pastors reminded us two weeks ago about the fallen world, the fact that salvation soteriology is even possible is a delightful proposition for sure. So much so that there's a number of different words in the original language just to help us marvel at what we potentially enjoy in Christ.

For sake of time I just want to give you a brief summary from John McArthur's commentary on Ephesians about the various words from the original language that help us understand soteriology, help us understand the doctrine of our salvation. One of them is Dikaioo, which literally means legal acquittal of a charge. It's used theologically to speak about a sinner being vindicated or justified or declared righteous. Here's what that means. In Christ your guilt can be removed and his righteousness is placed on your account. You have been acquitted of your crimes. That's like really good news, you know that? Really good news.

Then Aphiemi is another, a different word that would talk about different aspects of salvation. It literally means to send away. Something is sent away. Used to indicate the legal repayment or cancellation of a debt, or the granting of a pardon. Here's what that means. That means the price and the penalty of your sin can be sent away. Can you think of anything about you that you would rather have sent away than that? Let's see, my dry cleaning or my sin. I'd go for sin, huh. Praise God. Don't tweet that by the way. Pastor Viars just says he's going for sin. Don't, don't do that.

Huiothesia is a third term. The legal process of adopting a child, while represents the believers being adopted into the family of God. Do you realize salvation gets you a new last name? In a miraculously brings you into the family of God. Katalasso, another beautiful term to legally reconcile, that should be two disputing parties in court. T-W-O, that's my fault. Used of a believer's reconciliation with God through Jesus Christ.

Each one of these terms speaks of a different facet of the salvation process that's available to every person who would put his or her faith in Christ. Now that's just kind of the background. There are two remaining terms that especially emphasize the doctrine of redemption. One of them is Agorazo. Great term, it refers to buying something or purchasing. It actually is from Agora, the marketplace. Whenever that term is there, it speaks to the price that had to be paid for our salvation. Scripture says we have been bought with the price and what an incredibly high price it was. You had to be redeemed.

Then lastly Lutroo, which means to release from captivity. That's what's emphasized here, so yes, something had to be paid but for a purpose. Paying a ransom in order to release a person from bondage, especially slavery. That's the word, of all these different words that we could've talked about, that's the one that's actually used here in Ephesians chapter one. Here's what that means, summarize everything we've said so far. If there's been a definite time in your life and I hope there has been. Oh my, I hope there has been. If there hasn't been, how about today? How about today? Valentine's day, basking in the love of your God in Christ and embracing a relationship with him through trusting Christ the savior and Lord.

If you've done that, here's what happens. You've been legally acquitted of all charges against you, the penalty of your sin has been sent away, you've been adopted into a new family, you've been reconciled to God through the shed blood of his son, you've been purchased from the slave market of sin. There it is, and you've practically and eternally been released from that terrible master. We choose to love our world, bring it back around. We choose to love our world because that exact same message and process of redemption is available to them as well. We don't look at people at what they are. We look at them for what they can be in Christ. Redeemable. Redeemable.

Now redemption also had a strong historical background for the people of God. It's not as true for us, it's not as true for us. It certainly was true for them and you understand every time we read the bible. We always start by asking, how would this have impacted them? How would this have applied to them? Then and only then do we try to broaden it out to ourselves. Otherwise we end up taking things out of context. No question about the fact that redemption had a strong historical background for the people of God. Something needing to be redeemed. That was just impartial of their life embedding the old testament law.

Just a random example, okay. Do you realize that in the old testament if you gave an animal as an offering and then you changed your mind and you wanted that particular animal back, what do you think you had to do? You had to redeem it. Verses like Leviticus 27:13, "if he should ever wish to redeem that animal that he had given", you can do that if you add 1/5th to the valuation you can do that. It'd be like you gave some marvelous clothes and other gifts to our dear friends in Cuba. Let’s say for some goofy reason you came back and said, "I want that back". Really? Under old testament law, you can have it back, if you gave the value and another fifth. I know you don't want it back. Plus it's gone.

By the way, I actually used that illustration so I could find a way to tell you this. I've had a number of people say, "Did our friends from Cuba get back through customs yet?" Here's the answer to that question. They're not back yet. On purpose they're going back into the country separately and that was always part of the plan. They're also not going through the US. We're not trying to be all clandestine about this, we're just trying to be smart. Because of your incredible generosity, you understand we always practiced some donative intent so what is given to a purpose goes to that purpose. We were able to send them back with rather significant resources.

The bottom line is, I think it's fair to say they're going to be in a position to solve any problem that might arise in customs. We have asked them to communicate back to us because we are planning a number of additional trips. Things are changing so fast they don't even know what to expect. They live there, they don't know what to expect in customs. If we're going to go back additionally in the future we want to know what we should expect in the days ahead. As soon as I get word, we'll try to find a way to relate that to you because I know a number of you are very, very concerned about that. Also let me just say, your generosity to our dear friends in Cuba, it blew them away. This church raised over 50 thousand dollars plus all of those clothing items that packed and I do mean packed eight suitcases. Just as an incredible expression, they're blown away. They were absolutely blown away. Thank you for doing that.

Now let's go back to the stuff you want back. In the old testament if that happened you have to buy it back, that's the whole point of that little story right there. That mentality was part of their culture it was also just a natural part of old testament life. In fact if you're trying to connect the dots right now you might say, "Hey, I can think of a book in the old testament where the issue of something being redeemed was the central part of the story." What would that be? That'd be the book of Ruth. You remember that? That's a great Valentine's story right here, where you have this young Moabite widow, Ruth and her Jewish mother-in-law named Naomi who go back to Bethlehem at the brink of starvation. There's a man who's a relative of Ruth's deceased husband, which means he's a relative, he could potentially under old testament law ask for Ruth's hand in marriage, if, if what? If he was willing to pay off her deceased husband's debts and that person was known as what? As the kinsman redeemer

Right at the climax of that delightful little love story there's a potential wrench thrown in the narrative. What was that? It was determined there was another guy. There's another guy? It was actually a closer relative, so he has the right to ask first. You breathe a sigh of relief when the closest relative says, "I can't redeem it for myself because I would jeopardize my own inheritance." Then he speaks to Boaz, to Boaz. "Redeem it for yourself. You may have my right of redemption." That proves that redemption was a natural part of their life.

How many times have you read redeemed or one of it cognates in one sentence? "Redeem it for yourself. You may have my right of redemption for I cannot redeem it." That allows Boaz to function as the kinsman redeemer and if you know your bible you know that he and Ruth eventually give birth to a son who's actually, where? In the line of Christ. The ultimate connect the dots, the ultimate kinsman redeemer. I'm trying to say, they thought about redemption just all the time. All the time.

In fact, it was also, this may be, do you realize this may be the oldest book at least written in the bible? A way for old testament saints to think about their Lord. It's the book of Job. One of the most significant verses in the book of Job is when he affirms in the middle of unspeakable grief, what? I know that my redeemer lives. I know someone has bought me and I know that he is alive. Put those two thoughts together in your mind, friends, because I'm going to tell you right now, that can really sustain you through hard times. I know that my redeemer lives and at the last he will take his stand on the earth.

Think about some of the dear people right now in our church who are going through periods of significant suffering. Like Daniel and Jamie Schlueter and little Izzy. What a challenging time right now. I can tell you what's sustaining them in part is I know that my redeemer lives. Think about the Davies family and Robin. Struggling with incredible cancer. It's a serious as it can be. I know that my redeemer lives. Think about Eric Seubring and Steve Tolbert having lost fathers this week. I know that my redeemer lives. I would encourage you to get that though deeply embedded in your soul because if it hasn't already, the day will come when it can greatly encourage your hearts.

Not surprisingly then, it's an important element of old testament worship. Many psalms, you could do a ... "What am I going to do today, there's no NFL football?" Well, do some bible study I guess. Here's an example, Psalms 34:22, "The Lord redeems," there it is, "the soul of his servants and none of those who take refuge in him," got to love that, "will be condemned." Psalms 71:23, "My lips will shout for joy when I sing praises to you, my soul which you have redeemed." That's why. I'm trying to show that it just embedded in their culture. That's why the concept of redemption was a focal point for the anticipated Messiah's mission.

Do you remember what the dejected disciples on the Emmaus road said on Easter Sunday? This was such a fascinating story. Before they realized that Jesus was alive they say, to the resurrected Christ that they don't recognize. This is one of the goofiest things ever. We were hoping that it was he who was going to, what? What were they hoping for? We were hoping that the Messiah would be he who would redeem Israel indeed besides all this. It's the third day since these things happened. You don't say, you don't say.

All of this would've been well known to the people of Ephesus, unfortunately. They lived in a culture where slavery was common place. Think about that part of the dynamic. The practice of freeing a loved one or a friend through buying that person yourself. What did you do? You redeemed that person and then releasing him or her, that was a normal part of life. Also a culture that was so entrenched in idolatry and sin that the thought of being enslaved to the presence and power and penalty of sin for time and eternity was easy to understand. Now put all these different threads together and the thought of those three words in the center of verse seven, "we have redemption," would have been the best news that they could've ever received. The world's redeemable.

You probably noticed the media reports the last couple of weeks about the rising crime rates in our downtown neighborhoods. I'm not qualified to speak about whether that's accurately an increase or not. The chief of police did make it clear that he saw a direct relationship between crime and addictive behavior. Obviously, crime and drug and alcohol abuse. that makes sense.

A reporter was talking to me about that and was intrigued with the Cooler Keg, Hartford Hub project downtown. Was very surprised to hear that there are couples in our church who are intentionally moving downtown to make a difference. Also surprised to hear about some downtown who are serving as foster parents. Or hearing that we're actually purchasing homes in those downtown neighborhoods and rehabbing them for our seminary students so they can live incarnationaly in our downtown neighborhoods with the goal of being good neighbors and developing potentially redemptive relationships.

This reporter eventually said something to me like this. "I assumed the church would be trying to get out of neighborhoods like that." Boom. That's the crux of what we're studying. We run into places like that because we believe problems are, what? Problems are for solving. We believe our world is, what? We believe our world is redeemable. If we happen to be doing better than someone else it's only for one reason. I didn't shoot anybody all last week. Hadn't taken drugs for a long time. If we're any better than anyone else it's solely because what? We were already redeemed by ourselves? No, by someone else, that's the whole point. We have been bought by a price and we are eternally grateful and we believe that no one is beyond the hope and reach of redemption.

I prepared this message the week before the conference because my responsibilities last week didn't leave a lot of prep time. Literally it's been about ten days ago now or whatever. I was working on this section of the message and I just love the sovereignty of God. I get an email from a public school administrator saying, our schools had an alarming number of parent deaths over the last 90 days. We also have several of our students who have been hospitalized with significant health issues. He said is there ever, is there a possibility of some biblical counselors from Faith to come and help our student body providing biblical counseling, if that's approved by the school administration? Are you even willing to do that?

What do you think the answer to that question's going to be? Absolutely. Why, because we love our world. We love our world. In the depths of our hearts we believe in the power of redemption. I'll stake my reputation on this. I try not to say this very often, okay, because I understand that this is taped. I'll stake my reputation on this. The waters of our baptismal will eventually splash because of the redemption of people in the north and as a result of the ministries of the Hartford Hub.

Anybody here want to bet against that? Preacher shouldn't bet! It's an investment, okay. Going to take your money. Why do we believe that? That's how powerful redemption is.

II. Redemption Requires a Tremendous Price

This text also teaches us redemption requires a tremendous price. What does verse seven tells us? It's through his blood. Some people believe that in salvation God simply overlooks sin or he grades on a curve. That is a serious theological error. Why? It's an affront of the substitutionary death of Christ.

That's why, by the way, last week we didn't sit around talking about the latest psychological theory or the latest self-help fad at our conference. Why? We were too busy talking about the powerful blood of Jesus, that's why. In I Peter 1:18, "Knowing that you are not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood as of a lamb, unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ." We talked about how worthy are you, Jesus. To take the book and to break it's seal for you are slain.

You want to talk about Valentine's day. The model of our love is that, "For you were slain and purchased for God with your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom of priests to our God and they will reign upon the earth."

For some of you old timers you're probably about ready to break out into a hymn, aren't you? Anybody old enough to remember this? "What can wash away my sin, nothing but the blood of Jesus. What can make me whole again, nothing but the blood of Jesus. For my pardon," there's a beautiful verse. "This I see, nothing but the blood of Jesus. For my cleansing, this my plea. Nothing but the blood of Jesus. Nothing for sin atone, nothing but the blood of Jesus. Not of good that I have done, nothing but the blood of Jesus." Here you go. "This is all my hope and peace, nothing but the blood of Jesus. This is all my righteousness, nothing but the blood of Jesus. Oh precious is the flow." Is it still precious to you? "Oh precious is the flow that makes me white as snow. No other fount I know, nothing but the blood of Jesus."

What an incredible price that was required for our redemption and friends, that provides the focus for our mission. We're going to have hope, not cynicism. Do you realize that? Why? Because remembering the price that had to be paid for our salvation provides the humility, I hope we have that. Believing that price is sufficient for all who repent and believe provide the hope. That's why, why are we thinking about I'm launching a new men's ministry out at Bethany Farms? Because we believe in the power of redemption. We believe in the efficacy of the shed blood of Christ. That's why we're making preparations to start a new church on the north end of downtown. Seriously? That's how effective and powerful the blood of Christ is.

That's why we're investigating the possibility of beginning a ministry to victims of human trafficking and on and on and on and on. We're not going to waste this year arguing endlessly about politics. We all got that? I had somebody all up in my face last week. Who are you going to vote for? Who are you going to vote for? Who are you going to vote for? I have no idea, I can't even name all of those people. What do I know? Nor are we going to give up and run away. Just too bad, hunker down. No, Jesus's blood is just way too powerful for that.

Also regarding the focus of our mission, because of the power of the blood we're going to do our work at the level of the heart. Not the level of the hands. I'm glad for all the social programs out there I suppose that try to help people change on a behavioral level, but you understand that's not where we're coming from. We believe in change because of the power of the blood of Christ. We believe in change at the level of the heart. As Paul would say something like Romans 6:17, "but thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin," we were. I got to be bought out of that. "You became obedient from the heart," there's the key part, "from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed and having been free from sin you became slaves of righteousness." That's what redemption does.

Meaning we view the bible less like an encyclopedia and more like a novel. What do you mean by that? Scripture isn't simply a disjointed set of principles we connect to whatever wrong behavior needs to change. The bible's not an encyclopedia. Point, point, point, point, no, no. Our attempts to change have to be rooted in the story of a redeemer. It's a narrative. It's a novel. The story of a redeemer who died and lived to empower us to change for his glory and honor.

By the way this might be a good time in this discussion just to ask you to think about the way you think about our world. There may be some adjustments that need to be made there, huh? How you relate to our world. Honestly, do you see our world as being redeemable? What would the evidence of that be?

One of the things I love is the number of people coming up to me saying, could we do this at the Hartford Hub? Could we do that down there? God's given me this skill, I'm wondering if that would be useful to urban teens. God's given me this ability or this interest, could we start ... By the way, does that ever annoy you? Absolutely not. Bring those ideas on, I absolutely love them and if they're really good ideas, I'm going to steal them. There's just no question ... I shouldn't have said that. I need to be redeemed.

Anyway, I love that. I love it, when people are thinking, "How can I take whatever God has given me in my interests, my gifts, my life experiences and put them in a position where I might be able to build a redemptive relationship with somebody else in my town?" Boom. There's a person who loves the world. That's what I'm saying. There's a person who is convinced in the depth of his or her heart about the power of the doctrine of redemption.

III. Redemption Provides Marvelous Benefits

Lastly, redemption provides marvelous benefits. This passage, it's like a wet rag. You keep ringing truth out of it. It's incredible. I don't have time to even begin much of the benefits. Here's a few of the major ones. Forgiveness of our trespasses. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness.

I would just say, friend, if you don't know that you know that you're on your way to heaven, today right now, why would you not want to be redeemed. Especially when somebody else was willing to pay the price. I would just encourage you to acknowledge your need. You have to admit there's a problem, but the good news is problems are for solving and somebody else solved it on your behalf. I would invite you, I would urge you to place your faith and trust in Christ today.

Here's the amazing news, it's not like okay, what Jesus does he'll forgive your sin like five percent of them today. Then 30 days from now you have to log back in and click this little thing and you get five more percent and five more percent. Aren't you glad Jesus isn't like Discover card? Bam. Where did that come from? I guess I'm a little annoyed right now. You have an intimate relationship with the redeemer. Did you notice as I was reading the strategic use of that little word "in"? In. You're in the beloved. You're in him and you're in him and you're in him.

The reason we can have or hope for change in ourselves and others is the power of our union with Christ. Then wisdom and insight. In all wisdom and insight. Where did you get that? You had to be redeemed to get that. In all wisdom and insight he made known to us the mystery of his will. Once you have been delivered from the penalty and the power of sin you can begin viewing people in situations in a way that are wise and insightful. What I'm saying is, you can start viewing people through God's eyes.

I was down at Lafayette transitional housing a little while ago for a meeting in their conference room and I had to get the keys to the conference room. I went in and if you're not familiar with that organization they serve our homeless population here in town. We have the opportunity to partner with them in providing some meals and other service and we're absolutely thrilled. Absolutely thrilled.

Anyway, I went in and there was a line of people who were waiting to talk to a volunteer who was there, who I think is actually a man who had been part of the homeless population. He was a volunteer. I didn't want to just bust in line, I thought that would be rude as all get out. Although I did need to get to the meeting and I needed the key. I waiting in line and finally I got to this fellow and I said would it be possible for me to get the key to the meeting room. We have a meeting scheduled there and it's locked. He said, "Well who are you?" I said, "Well, I'm Steve Viars, I'm from Faith Church." Next thing he says to me, "Can I come give you a hug?"

Let me assure you, generally speaking when I introduce myself that's not the automatic response. Can I give you a punch? Can I tell you ... Can I give you a hug? The guy actually, he started tearing up. It's very ... and I had no, what ... as he's coming around the desk he could only get one word out. You know what the word was? Sue. Some of you know what that means. Sue Svenson, one of the ladies of our church who organizes that. The beauty of this story is, he could've said a dozen names or more of dear people from this church who have just served and served. It overwhelmed him just to think about the love of this church family led by Sue Svenson and just to possibly meet the pastor. I felt a little bit guilty because I hadn't been down there doing that like they had been and yet I'm the one getting the hug out of the deal. How does that even happen? It happens because people look at our world through the eyes of Christ believing that this world is truly redeemable.

Let’s stand together for prayer shall we.

Father in heaven, Lord I pray that we would never, ever, ever get over the fact that we had to be redeemed. I pray that every day between now and when we go to heaven, we would consider the blood of our savior to be precious. Lord I pray that that would humble us and I pray that it would also fill our hearts with hope. Not just in a theoretical way, I pray that it would practically change the way that we think and the way that we live. We praise you. We praise you that we can say, "I know that my redeemer lives."

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video