The Role of God the Son: Redemption Ephesians 1:7-10 Let’s return once again to the book of Ephesians. Why is it important to know who God is and what he has done? It’s strange that we should even have to ask that question. In all of the universe, we are just peons—microscopic space dust. We are one planet out of millions and billions of endless stars. We are one planet out of nine that orbits our sun. We are one nation about of hundreds on our planet. We are one state out of fifty. One town out of thousands within our state. We are relatively a hundred out of over three thousand in our town. And even in this room, you are one in a hundred. And yet there is something in our nature that makes us so self-absorbed that we find it pretty easy to forget about everyone and everything else but ourselves. And we have to ask, “Is there any value to knowing God and what he has done?” So let me just begin by saying that it’s pretty ridiculous that we even have to ask the question. But we have to start somewhere. And since we didn’t come into this world with a knowledge of God, we have to learn it. What we learn in Ephesians is that God exists in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These three members of the God-head are one God, and they have existed like this forever. And they live to glorify one another. Sometime before creation, these three set in place a plan to create and redeem a world, a plan to glorify one another by expressing power, love, and justice to creatures. And they assigned roles. And these roles are what we have been looking at. The Father elected and adopted. Today we see the role of the Son. And these roles are known as the Covenant of Redemption, which doesn’t mean anything to you, but it should. It should intrigue you the same way back room deals and secret plans intrigue you. This is a contract that involves you, but didn’t include you in the planning. This is an agreement between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and if you understand it, it will change the way you live. Now stick with me, I’m getting to the good part. Now, if you weren’t here last Sunday evening, you missed my illustration about the trinity. Christianity is alone among the world’s faith in teaching that God is triune. The Trinity means that God is, in essence, relational. And I described it as a circle of light that has no beginning and has no end, and as you examine it, you realize the circle is really made up of three lights, moving infinitely fast along the same course, three lights making up one circle, each one working to make the make the others glow even brighter. And we call that the Covenant of Redemption, although I like how one writer described it as a dance. The dance of God. Did you know that in dancing, the point is to move in unison with the other person so as to make the other person look good? I didn’t know that. I guarantee that if I dance, I will make anyone around me look good. But the Triune God moves continually in this dance. The Father glorifies the Son. The Son glorifies the Father. The Spirit the Son, and so on. There is this continual pouring out of themselves into one another. Why? Because ultimate joy is to see others in joy. Jesus says, “It is better to give than to receive.” And that is true because that is the essence of God. So God created the world as an expression of his glory. He sought to display his glory in tangible, creative ways. And He created mankind, the pinnacle of his creation, to join in with this dance. God would pour his love into man and man would in turn love and glorify God. And God and man and creation would dance this dance of love. But man stepped out of the dance when he put himself before God. And the rhythm of this dance is lost. Man no longer loves and glorifies God. Instead he puts himself in the center of his universe. God can no longer express his love for man because man is a sinner and man can no longer enter his presence. We can rightly say that we are, by nature, out of sync with God. Jesus was born into the world to restore the dance. He came to create a people who could lose their self-centeredness and put God back in the center of their lives. What the Father planned, the Son came to perform. It’s what we call redemption, and it’s what we find in v. 7. Read Text Redemption means to rescue or to save. It’s the thing we talk about every Sunday. To a Christian, it is the most important thing. I picked up a book once (I can’t remember what it was called or who wrote it), but I do remember it compared the world’s major religions in a way to show that they are fundamentally different. And it had a chart to show what each religion saw as the main problem of the world. So, a Buddhist sees the main problem in the world is pain, and the goal of life is to escape it. A Muslim sees the main problem in the world as pride, and the goal of life is submission. But a Christian sees sin as the main problem in the world and the goal of life is salvation. And the way of salvation is through a redeemer. I have four points on why redemption is important. I. Redemption is not a do over. I didn’t really know how to describe this. You remember playing a video game, like Mario Bros., and you fell into a pit and you died, but that’s okay, because you have three lives, so you just start over at the beginning of the level. Redemption isn’t that. Redemption isn’t a second chance. When you believe in Jesus, it isn’t as though God takes all of the bad things you have done, as if written on a list, and throws them away, and says, “Try again.” That would be nice, but I would need like unlimited tries. Do you know how long it took me to beat Mario Bros.? Along with this, redemption is not escapism. I don’t know if that’s the right word, but here’s what I mean: When you escape, you hide from your problems and they go away, and then you live like they never happened. It’s sort of the Adam and Eve approach to dealing with problems. Hide! And there are many who live this way, even Christians. Maybe you still live this way. Christians who live this way are glad when, after time, their sin feels less real. Oh, I sinned. I feel bad. In a week, I won’t feel so bad. But some problems don’t go away. Redemption is different that just your bad things going away. When you believe and are saved and become a Christian, okay, it’s not like God says, “Here are all of your bad things. I’m going to take them over here, out of sight. You just forget about them. We’re not worried about them anymore.” Sometimes I wish that’s how God would handle things. But God has a way of wanting to deal with these things. Redemption means that God in Christ takes your bad things and turns them into good things. Notice v. 10, he’s “uniting all things in him.” Romans 8:28, “All things work together for the good of those who love him.” So this is more than just taking your bad things and taking them away. God is doing much more in redemption. He is taking your bad things and turning them into good things. I don’t know exactly how God does this. He does it in different ways. But ultimately the point is that you will rejoice in God even more because of the bad things, more than you would if the bad things simply disappeared. Remember the movie Rudy? Rudy’s a small but determined boy who wants to play Notre Dame football. He gets beaten up in every practice, but he keeps at it until he has won the hearts of everyone there. And when he finally does get to play, he gets in for one meaningless play and sacks the quarterback. How many sacks happen every weekend? Yet they carried him off the football field. You see, it wouldn’t have meant that much if he hadn’t had all of the difficulties in his way. His bad things were turned to good things and it made the rejoicing even greater than if he hadn’t been short and small. This redemption applies to us and to all of creation. Everything that sin has touch and polluted, God is going to renew. He isn’t going to discard it. He’s going to purify it. This world, the one we now sit on, is going to be renewed and we will live here forever and ever and ever. I firmly believe that, even though it seems most believe God is going to destroy this one and start over with another one. But in doing that, it’s a victory for sin. What God createdgood, he ultimately had to destroy. But it isn’t. Redemption means God restores, not starts over. This may not make total sense to you, but it might be the thing you need to remind yourself often when you are having trouble dealing with things. Redemption means that even the bad things in your life will be turned into good things, and your enjoyment of heaven will be greater for you having experienced them. II. Redemption is a one time act realized over and over again. As Christians, we are in a continual struggle with sin and temptation. We have to learn how to put on the armor and overcome our natural urges that are displeasing to God. I’m reading the book The Giver by Lois Lowry right now. It’s kind of a futuristic super-communist world. Whenever you have a urge to do something bad, they give you a pill and it takes that urge away. Wouldn’t that be nice? But God doesn’t give us a pill. Instead he gives us a sword and a shield and tells us to fight and kill the old man who lives inside us. When we believe, we are relieved of our burden of guilt and shame. We feel good about that and we try not to sin anymore. And over time, we often start to think we have a real hold on our weaknesses. What we are really doing is not fighting, but forgetting that we do not stand on our own two feet yet. We have to trust God at every moment, but then we are not. We are trusting that we haven’t sin in a while. And because we are not able to keep ourselves from sinning, we fail. What do we do when we fail? What happens when a Christian sins? The law says it’s over. God is mad at you and doesn’t want to hear about it. Redemption says that God has not given up on you and he is even using your failure to bring about good. You are learning to hate your sin and trust God. Those are hard lessons to learn. As a Christian, you are going to have to learn the painful cycle of redemptive growth. When we sin, God allows us to feel guilty. Your sin nature tells you to hide. Hide and it will eventually go away. Hide and eventually they will stop looking for you. The gospel tells you to come clean because Jesus died for your sin and great cost to himself. It’s not something you do once, it’s something you do over and over again. Being a Christian doesn’t mean you go to Jesus once and never worry again. A Christian goes to Jesus continually, over and over again, receiving forgiveness and experiencing the joy of salvation over and over again. III. Redemption means that all people struggle with sin. All people need to be redeemed. You need to understand what it cost in order to save even the most moral person on earth. When Jesus died, what was he doing? It isn’t enough to say that he was showing us how much he loved us. Sometimes you’ll hear, “Jesus loved us so much that he went to the cross for us. He did that to show us just how much he loved us.” That’s true. He did. But Jesus’ death was much more than just showing us how much he loved us. And it isn’t enough to say that Jesus’ death provides us with an example to follow. You might hear, “He loved us so much he was willing to die for us. Now what are you willing to do for him?” Jesus was a good example for us to follow, but his death is much more than an example. His death was a necessary action to appease the wrath of God. It’s much more morbid than saying, “He loved you this much.” About the only way to accurately portray that is to say it and then pouring out blood. We have redemption through his blood, which means that our sins required the death of a substitute. And it was necessary for everyone. What that means is that everyone you know, just like yourself, is a rotten sinner. Although many of you get hung up on other who appear to never struggle, everyone does. They may not struggle like you do, but I guarantee that they have not yet reached perfection. If you want to know what it took to bring the godliest person you ever knew heaven, picture Jesus hanging on the cross. Sometimes it seems like we are the only ones who ever struggle, whoever feel distant from God. You’re not. And it would also do us good not to forget just who we are. We are not standard of all things good and moral. We are criminals. And it would do us well to stop looking at others as criminals and start seeing ourselves for who we really are. We are all the walking wounded. And it would probably do your brother or sister in Christ more good for them to see that you are weak and need continually to lean upon Jesus than to show them your strength. You may be doing more to break their spirit than you build them up. IV. Redemption gives you a context for dealing with sin. I was reading this week in a book that I hoped would help me do a better job working with the youth. You know, there is a change that happens to a youth somewhere between junior high and high school that is more than physical and more than attitude. There is a complete change in how they deal with things. And I came across this part in a book called Shepherding a Child’s Heart. And it’s talking about how you have taught you child about God and taught him right and wrong. And you think this will help him coast through his teenage years. Then he says this: “In his teen years, he is receiving new input. He has a growing realization of his own sin and brokenness. He has accepted the standards he has been taught. Now, in his growing self-awareness, he is confronted with his inability to do what he ought to do. He has not become worse than he has been all hislife, he is simply more self-conscious of his weakness and need.” That makes sense. You know, we teach our children as they grow up, “Admit to God that you are a sinner.” And they do it because they know the Bible says they are. But honestly, children don’t feel like sinners. They don’t feel temptation. But as they become teens, they start to realize that they can’t live up to the standards of right and wrong. They can’t fight temptation, and they even feel guilty for having the temptation. But they have no context for dealing with sin. They know they should admit to God they are a sinner, but that isn’t helping them fight sin. It isn’t helping them deal with their guilt. Ask them, “How much does the gospel impact your daily life?” The answer is none. They’ve never learned to internalize it. Redemption means that God is working even through your sins. It means you can’t overcome temptation on your own. It means that when you sin, you have an advocate before the Father, who ever lives and pleads for you. It means that God still owns you for a child even when you feel like a sinner. I know what it’s like to feel like a sinner. And now when I sing a song that makes much of the redemption that Christ has won for me, I experience more from that song that should I have never felt it. God has turned my bad things into a good thing. He has turned my mourning into dancing. I know what it means that where sin increases, grace abounds all the more. And through Jesus, I am learning to stop centering my life on me, and center it on God. It’s a dance of love. God loved me and came around me and now I love him and make much of him. Are you a part of the dance? Do you know the love of God? Do you know Christ? The offer to you is this: Come. Come to Christ. He redeems you from the grave. He turns the bad things into good things. He brings the struggling sinner to himself. He gives you a context for dealing with your guilt. Even if you are a Christian, he lets you experience it over and over again as you come to him. Application Questions: 1. Describe the dance of God. What does it mean that God seeks to glorify himself? Why is that a good thing? 2. What is the difference between hiding from your problems and having them redeemed in Jesus? Can you see instances of how God has turned bad things into good things in your life? 3. How does redemption help us to deal with our sin? What is the painful cycle of redemption? Why do you think God allows us to feel the guilt of our sin again even after we have believed? 4. How does redemption help us to see others?