In his epistle to the Romans, Paul defines the gospel as “the revelation of God’s righteousness” (Rom 1:16-17). He elaborates on this in the third chapter, telling us that this revelation is by faith in the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood for the redemption of His people who He justifies by His grace as a gift in order to show His righteousness apart from the Law. (Rom 3:21-26). In other words, the gospel is the revelation of God’s righteousness revealed by faith in the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
We face two questions then in the light of this definition. First, are there other redemptions to be found besides the one that is in Christ? And second, what exactly is the redemption that is found in Christ Jesus?
As to the first question, there are indeed CLAIMS to other redemptions. None of these redemptions are true though. None of them save and none of them are Biblical.
All these other redemptions are just possible redemptions rather than an accomplished one. That is, in the scheme of a false redemption, Christ died for everyone in order to make it possible for people to be redeemed. Under this scheme, Christ’s death introduced an immediate condition that must be met in order to fulfill the requirement necessary for redemption. This condition is believed to be a free will choice made by the recipient of the death – us, in other words. Under this scheme, the choice itself, rather than the death that necessitated it is the righteousness which serves to secure the redemption. In other words, in a false redemption scheme, redemption is found in a person’s choice, rather than in Christ.
Now, let’s contrast this false possible redemption with the true accomplished redemption found in Scripture.
True redemption is a redemption that has indeed redeemed all those for whom Christ’s death was intended. It is not a will redeem, but rather it is a has been redeemed. The redemption found in Christ Jesus is a redemption that does not need its intended to choose it, before its intended can be redeemed. Rather, its intended will believe, because Christ’s death has already redeemed its intended.
Hebrews 9:11-12 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.
Ephesians 1:13-14 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation – having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession to the praise of His glory.
Notice in these texts that the Holy Spirit is an inheritance. An inheritance is not something you receive that later makes you a member of the family. No. You had better already be a member of the family if you expect to receive an inheritance. An inheritance is something only a family member can receive. An inheritance is not something the gardener receives.
The Holy Spirit is given as a pledge of an inheritance. A down payment, if you’d like. And He is given with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession.
In other words, the reason why the Spirit is given is because God has a possession that He has redeemed. How has He redeemed this possession? He redeemed it with the death of His Son. His Son’s death redeemed the possession. Notice that this is a has been done issue.
In most churches today, the kind of redemption you hear about is a redemption that God will accomplish at some point in the future. The listener is left with hopelessness and despair, because the message leaves open the question of whether he will ever be redeemed. Hopelessness, because if the death of the Son of God was not enough to redeem me, then what is enough? Despair, because I can never measure up to Christ’s perfection, and if His death couldn’t redeem me, then what hope do I actually have that I will ever be redeemed?
In the darkness of such a hopeless message, people are taught to look to their obedience for assurance. How do I know I will be redeemed? Guess I’d better check in with my performance to see if I have improved.
Standing opposite such a hopeless message is the message of God’s true redemption. God’s true redemption begins by informing us that Christ died to redeem a select few whom He had chosen for salvation from before the foundation of the world. God did not choose to save everyone. Instead, He chose to glorify His mercy and grace by saving some people from their sins, and to also glorify His righteousness and holiness by condemning others for their sins. God is just and righteous and good to do this, because He is perfect and therefore worthy to be worshipped for all His attributes, and not instead for just the attributes that benefit us. Christ’s death was an act of perfect obedience to God on behalf of His people. More than this, His death was also a sacrifice to God for the sins of His people. God is right to do it like this.
At the cross, God charged the guilt for His people’s sins to Christ. God credited Christ with their guilt. And there upon the cross, God poured out upon Christ the full and eternal measure of His anger that He held against His people for His people’s sins. Christ took the full measure of God’s anger in obedience, and in obedience died on the cross.
Christ had satisfied God’s anger that God held against His people for His people’s sins. To prove this, and to prove that Christ did it obediently without ever having sinned even once, God raised Christ from the dead. Christ’s resurrection is the proof to God’s people that Christ has fully redeemed them from the punishment of death for their sins.
In dying for His chosen few, Christ accomplished what no goat, no bull, no dove, no lamb or sinner’s pledge of improved performance had ever done or could ever do – that is, He fully satisfied God’s wrath on behalf of His chosen few, and thereby atoned for their guilt. His death did not make redemption possible. Rather, His death actually redeemed His people. His death satisfied God’s anger that stood against His chosen few. His death is why His people are brought to faith. His death is why His people are made willing to believe. His death is why not one of His people shall be lost to eternal death.
God commands everyone everywhere to repent of their false ideas about the cross and to instead believe what He has said is true about the cross. That means you too. God commands you to believe the truth about the cross.