You Have Been Redeemed! (1 Pet 1:18-21)

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You have been redeemed!

Living Radically Different

Live in fear of not valuing the sacrifice of Christ

1 Peter 1:18-21

A little boy had made a boat, all painted and fixed up beautifully.  Little coils of rope, little people on deck, three masts and sails.  Sailing his boat one day, the boat pulled away so strongly it broke the string, and it disappeared over the water.  Two weeks later, walking by a pawnshop he saw his boat on display in the window.  He ran in to the pawnbroker and said, “That’s my boat–I made it, then I lost it.”

”That may be the case son, but I had to pay a lot for it.  I won’t charge you more, but you will have to pay me what I paid for it.”  So the boy went home, and for weeks mowed lawns, did chores, and sacrificed everything until he had earned the money.  On the day he returned to the pawnshop, he paid the ransom, held his boat in his arms like a giant hug and said, “I made you, I lost you, but I bought you back.”

Brothers and sisters in a similar way, Jesus Christ can say the same thing about you.  He says to all genuine Christians, “I made you, I lost you, but I bought you back.”  Buying you back is called redemption by paying a ransom.  And Peter now celebrates redemption in 1 Peter 1:18-21.  Turn to 1 Peter and take your outline to follow along.

Peter’s been encouraging some Christians who are struggling.  He’s reminded them how God saved them in verses 1-12, and now he is commanding them in verse 13 to put their hope in God’s soon return, in verse 15 to be made holy, and in verse 17 to live in fear of loving discipline.  Last week you learned you are to . . .

#1  Fear living as if you won’t ever get spanked

Verse 17, “And if you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each man’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay upon earth.”  Treat every deed, every word, and every attitude as accountable to your heavenly Father who loves you, has forgiven you for all your sins past, present, and future, yet also disciplines you when you step out of line.

Genuine Christians don’t fear condemnation.  Real believers don’t dread the final judgment, but true Christ-followers know that God spanks His children, and live in a respectful fear so as to avoid God’s discipline.  But what Peter says next in verses 18-21 is profound.

#2  Fear living as if Jesus’ blood were not precious

Verses 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.”  Peter’s reasoning here is weighty.  He says live in a healthy fear, knowing you were ransomed not with small, earthly, temporary treasures like gold or silver, but with the infinite, eternal value of the blood of Christ.  Simply stated, fear because you have been ransomed at an infinite cost.  Think–this is life-changing.

Peter is saying there has been an infinite ransom paid, the blood of the God-man, Jesus Christ, to rescue you from your old ways of life, so conduct yourselves in fear.  Peter is stressing the surpassing value and eternal durability of the ransom paid for you.

Gold and silver are perishable–they’re not eternal–they don’t last.  But the blood of Jesus is precious, infinitely valuable.  So he’s stressing that the ransom paid for you is permanent and precious.  And here is Peter’s point.  In proportion to the preciousness and the permanence of the ransom, you should all the more conduct yourselves with fear (verse 17), in holiness (verse 15), knowing Christ will return soon (verse 13).

You’d think it would be the other way around–the more precious and permanent the ransom paid on our behalf, the less we need to fear.  And yes, that is gloriously true in one sense, right?  Romans 8:33-34,” Who will bring a charge against God’s elect?  God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns?  Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.”  But it’s clear Peter means in verses 17-21, fear conducting yourself in such a way as though the ransom were not precious.  We know that because in verse 18, the purpose of the redemption is to rescue you from your futile way of life.

Do you see it?  Verse 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…of Christ.”  The design of the ransom in this verse is not forgiveness, but transformation.  The purpose of the ransom is not salvation here, but sanctification.  Not turning to Christ, but becoming like Christ.  The aim in this verse is victory over the power of sin in your everyday life, not merely forgiveness from the guilt of sin, as true as that is.  The reason Jesus shed his infinitely precious blood, here in verse 18, was to change our conduct.

Just like Titus 2:14 says, “who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.”  So when Peter says, conduct yourselves in fear knowing that you were ransomed from bad conduct by the blood of Jesus, he means fear conducting yourself in a way that shows that the blood of Christ is not precious to you.

Your heart should soar with joy because of the redemption you have in salvation, paid for and secured by the precious blood of Christ.  But Peter says, don’t ever turn that joyful security into justification for making choices that prove you don’t think the blood of Christ is infinitely precious.  So live in a way that demonstrates with every action, with every relationship, and with every word you speak that you believe with all your heart that the blood of Christ–the death of Christ on your behalf–is the most valuable, most precious, most honored, most cherished person, and greatest sacrifice ever made.

Listen my brothers and sisters, the Scripture tells us that creation was God’s finger work, but redemption took His right arm big.  Listen–don’t miss the connection why verses 18-21 follow verse 17, all one sentence in the Greek.  So Peter is saying, don’t ever live in such a way that makes the sacrifice of Christ look like it didn’t matter.  Don’t ever behave in a way that makes

what your Creator did for you on the cross seem cheap.  Don’t ever speak in a way that makes what your Lord, Master and King sacrificed for you seem common.   Don’t ever act in a way that makes what the God-man, Jesus Christ did, in leaving His heavenly throne to become a man, then pay the terrible price of God’s wrath and death for your sin, seem like it was of little importance to you.

How do we do that?  Start each day meditating on the cross.  Make sure every prayer remembers what Jesus did for you.  Cultivate the habit of thinking about the cross during each conversation, and when you start each task.  Evaluate your behavior at the end of the day to see if it honored the cross, and allow verses 18 -21 to change your life, because Peter wants you to . . .

First  Live knowing you were not redeemed by our best efforts or most valuable earthly things

Look at the end of verse 17, and notice Peter’s focus on life on earth—“conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay upon earth.” Now verse18, “knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things [earthly] like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers.”

Peter begins verse 18 with a word that means informational knowing, telling you to conduct yourself in fear, knowing these facts.  What facts?

1 You were ransomed and redeemed

When someone is kidnapped, the criminals ask for a ransom.  A price is demanded to set the hostage free.  But this has not always been its primary meaning.  Centuries ago, a ransom was the payment given an enemy country to secure the release of prisoners of war–POW’s.  In Bible times, a ransom was the price paid to gain the freedom for a slave.  To pay a ransom was to purchase back someone from captivity or slavery.

You were a slave to sin.  Jesus says in John 8:34, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.”  Then adds in verse 36, “If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.”  Redemption is the action to secure the release of a prisoner and the ransom is the price paid in order to release that prisoner.  And Jesus teaches us that His death on our behalf is the action by which we are set free.  And it was His very life that was the price to be paid to free the slaves of sin.  Redemption is a difficult business, and the ransom was very costly.

This is sweet theology.  The Greek word ransom (the noun), or the word redeemed (the verb) comes from two words–one to loose, like loosing ones clothing or untying an animal, and two a payment that eventually came to mean the payment for loosing, or a ransom price.  When used in Scripture, redeemed means three things . . .

1        The state of sin out of which people are to be redeemed.  We are freed from our slavery to sin, which we cannot break or buy out of ourselves.  But someone else who is willing to make the payment on our behalf can pay the price.  Redeemed also means . . .

2        The price which is paid to secure our release.  By suffering, bleeding and dying on the cross for our sins, and by the Father accepting Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf, Christ has paid the price of our freedom from sin.  Like Mark 10:45, “Christ came . . . to give His life a ransom for many.”  Redeemed also means . . .

3        Believers are now free to serve their true master–the price has been paid–we are no longer slaves of sin, but free to do the will of our Savior.  You are now free.  Romans 6:22, “But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.”

Jesus has paid the ransom price that can set sinners free from the bondage of sin and he has paid the full price, once and for all.  Let this sink in:  the Bible says Christ redeems us from all wickedness (Titus 2:14), the grip of sin (Romans 6:18), the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13), the bondage of the law (Galatians 4:5), death (Job 5:20), and hell (Psalm 49:15).

Redemption buys us out of slavery, but the purchase price to set us free was enormous. The price is way beyond anything we could afford.   Christian, you’ve been set free–you are no longer a slave to sin.  Non-Christians have to sin and can’t stop sinning–Christians don’t have to.  Many wacky views exist around redemption–some say the payment for sin had to be paid to Satan.  But that assumes he had some right to the payment.  But Satan had no rights of ownership.  It is God who made us and all the rights are His.

So the ransom price was paid by God to satisfy the demands of God’s law, which we violated by our sin.  The law demanded that the wage of sin be the death of the sinner.  Christ then satisfied that demand on behalf of His people by shedding His blood, emblematic of His death on the cross.  He took the full responsibility for our sin, bearing its guilt and punishment.  The perfect God-man’s death alone was the only payment acceptable to God.  God the Son is the only one who could pay the price God the Father would accept.

So we were lost, enslaved to sin and unable to help ourselves, yet God in His great love paid the price to buy us back.  Live in such a way that demonstrates you value the price paid for your freedom.  It was costly, but you were . . .

2  Redeemed not with the most valuable earthly things

Verse 18 says,”not with perishable things like silver or gold.”  People in the first century and people today still think they can buy their salvation.  The golden rule of today is, he who has the gold makes the rules–but no amount of gold will ever buy you a place in heaven.  No amount of giving donations to charity, or plaques with your name on them will make you right.  Jesus reminds us we can’t buy our salvation through His dealings with the rich young ruler.  In Matthew 19 and Luke 18 this rich young man runs up to Jesus, kneels down and asks, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

What a great question.  How do I get saved and go to Heaven?  Jesus doesn’t say, “Pray a prayer, fill out the card, make a decision, join our group.”  No, he attempts to expose the young man’s sinful heart of greed by telling him to sell all he has.  The young man refuses and walks away sad without Christ.  This shocks the disciples, so Jesus says, “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Why?  Because they have no needs.  Just like our culture, rarely do people feel their spiritual needs, because they have all they need materially.  The disciples are wide-eyed over the rich man who walks away without salvation, so they ask Jesus, “Then who can be saved?”  And Jesus said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Only God can redeem you from your slavery to sin.  And you don’t have to be a big, bad sinner to go to hell, all you need is just one tiny sin.  James 2:10 says, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.”  Anyone here not ever sin just once?  Then you’re in a lot of trouble.  Just like one drop of arsenic in a glass of water can kill you, just one sin will send you to hell.  God hates sin.  But God loved you enough to take care of the sin which separates you from Him and enslaves your life.

His plan was to send His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the price for our sins by dying on the cross, then rising from the dead in order to give us new life.  And when you exchange all that you are for all that He is, when you turn to Him in repentance and trust in Him by faith, then you can be redeemed.  The very best this world has to offer, the costliest items like silver or gold cannot make you right with God–you can’t buy it, earn it, or beg for it–redemption is given as a gift.  But that gift is far more costly than you can imagine.  Well sure, I can’t buy it, but if I live good, that will do it.  N0–you are . . .

3  Redeemed not from our best efforts

I’ve heard people say, “Well, this guy really deserves to go to heaven because he was such a nice guy.”  But niceness doesn’t buy any person’s salvation in heaven.  When are we ever going to learn this?  Sally Field said of Paul Newman when he passed away, “God only made a few perfect people, and Paul Newman was one of them.”  Hey, I liked Paul Newman as an actor.  And I have a friend who was his friend, and he said he was a very nice person–a great guy.  But he was not perfect, and all the money he gave to charity couldn’t buy him a home in heaven.  And all his best efforts at being nice or good will not help him.  Nor will it help you.

Look at how verse 18 finishes, “from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers.”  Futile way of life describes a useless and worthless existence.  That was you, I hope.  No matter what they may think, every unredeemed man or woman is living a futile life, even the greatest accomplishments you can achieve.  Signing the Declaration of Independence, building a pyramid, catching more passes than any other receiver, graduating from USC—all are pointless in light of eternity.

Jesus said in Matthew 16:26, “For what will a man be profited, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his soul?  Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”  The best we have to offer is nothing compared to redemption of our souls.  The last phrase of verse 18 says “inherited from your forefathers.”  This speaks of religious tradition–the Pharisees followed worthless traditions and Jesus condemned them for it.

Not only is every religion worthless, but there are many people in okay churches who are following an external religion, and not following Christ.  They speak of Jesus, but are not born again.  They are still externally trying to earn their way to heaven, instead of being internally transformed by Christ—but Christ hates religion.  How can you tell if you are or are not?  Test  yourselves.  If you are born again, you will want to follow Christ, love Him more than your spouse, children or parents, talk more about your sinfulness than your righteousness, want to share the gospel, and you will want to obey Christ in all things.

Do you remember 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.”  Only Jesus Christ can change your heart so you’ll want to follow God’s Word.  You can’t be religious enough, your best efforts are futile, and it doesn’t matter if your dad or mom were really godly.  No person here can pay the price needed for our redemption.  So, what do we do?

Second  Live owning the cost of your redemption

Verse 18, “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.”  Peter uses the term “blood” as a vivid synonym for the sacrificial death of Christ, which involved the shedding of blood.

The blood was not just any blood, but precious, because it belonged to the only true unblemished and spotless lamb, Jesus.  Every year at Passover, every believing Jewish family was to bring or buy their best lamb to kill as a picture of the need for a sacrifice for sin.

Peter’s words implicitly picture the immense sacrifice the owner of such a lamb made when he killed the finest, purest animal from his flock for the Passover.  The lamb had to be the most perfect lamb.  Yet no animal sacrifice ever really took away sin.  They only pictured the ultimate substitute who would one day take the sinner’s place, which was fulfilled by Christ once for all.

Jesus was (verse19) “unblemished and spotless”, reminding us He is impeccable, sinless and utterly incapable of sinning.  And the blood of Christ is the most precious blood of all, because He was the only utterly perfect person who ever lived.  God is perfect, and to fellowship with God and live with God in heaven, you have to be perfect too.  And that is a problem.

So God solved the problem through Christ’s death on the cross for sins–and if you turn to Him in repentance and faith, He’ll take your sin on Himself, and give you His perfection (righteousness), so you can be right with God.    And it had to be that way for redemption to work.  2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

God imputes His righteousness to us, and He takes our sin upon Himself.  If He wasn’t perfect, His sacrifice would not have been acceptable to God.  He could not have paid the wages of sin, which is death, and died in our place.  He could not have given us His perfect righteousness–absolute perfect standing.  Therefore we could not be acceptable to God now, nor stand in His presence later in heaven.

Since all sin is a violation of God’s holy law, then God is the only one to whom the price must be paid.  Get this my family–only the creditor can determine the terms of redemption.  You don’t set the prices charged at the store.  No one says, “I want to pay only $1 for this box of cereal, which has a $3 price tag.  This WII should only be $25–not $200.  Change the price.  You don’t set the terms of the lawsuit laid against you—not a million.  And you do not negotiate the terms of your redemption.

Verse 19 says the terms are the blood of Christ–which is not the fluid in His body, nor a supernatural substance carried to heaven and applied to each sinner at salvation, but a reference to the perfect Christ bearing the guilt of all the sins of all who would ever be saved with His death on the cross while bearing the Fathers wrath.  Just like the term “the cross” is used to describe Christ’s redeeming work and not merely two wooden beams, so the precious blood of Christ is referring to His ransom price.  The blood is the death, the substation, God’s acceptance–all of it.

And Peter describes this incredible cost here in verse 19, to motivate us to live in such a way as to honor that vast cost.  Do you recognize great cost?  A gem dealer was strolling the aisles at a gem and mineral show when he noticed a blue-violet stone the size and shape of a potato.  He looked it over, then as calmly as possible asked the vendor, “You want $15 for this?”  The seller, realizing the rock wasn’t as pretty as others in the bin, lowered the price to $10.  That stone was later certified as a 1,905-carat natural star sapphire, about 800 carats larger than the largest stone of its kind.  It was appraised at $2.28 million.  Very few realized its worth.

Do you realize the worth of your redemption?  Do you live like it?  Typically, when you wear your most expensive costly clothes, you behave better–you act differently . . . classy, refined even cool!  Those who have been carried to safety by a fireman often treat all firemen differently, and treat that fireman super special.

Friends, the truth that the God of the universe would bear all the punishment for our sin, shed His precious blood to the point of death, and do all that for you should cause you to live better–more like Christ!  You should fear living as if Jesus’ blood were not precious.  In fact, like a fireman who saved your life, you will . . .

Third  Live cherishing your amazing redeemer

Read verse 20-21, and see if you can discover the uniqueness of your amazing redeemer.  “For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.”

1  Christ is amazing because He is . . .

A  Predetermined–verse 20 says He was foreknown before the foundation of the world–literally He having been foreknown, tells us God planned to send the Son as the incarnate Redeemer before creation.  That is a dramatic truth.  Most of us tend to think of God as first our Creator, then our Redeemer.  We think of God as creating the world, then when things went wrong He found a way to rescue it through Christ.

But here is the description of God who is first Redeemer before He was Creator.  God redeeming you was not an emergency measure where He was compelled to act when things went wrong.   Before the creation of the world, the Father predetermined to send His Son as Redeemer– that’s amazing.  Do you cherish Him?  He is also . . .

B  Incarnate–verse 20 says “but has appeared”.  Appeared has the idea of making something clear or manifest, and uses a tense that refers to a historical event.  In this context “appeared” refers to when God the Son became a man.

The second person of the trinity took on human flesh, was born as an infant, lived 33 perfect years, and then accomplished redemption.  He appeared just like Galatians 4:4-5, “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”

Jesus was born a man and His appearance accomplished our redemption, since verse 20 says “in these last times,” describing the time between Christ’s first coming and His second coming, meaning “these last times” are our time now.  The time to be redeemed is now.  God was born a man, fully-God fully-man–that’s amazing.  But what’s the guaranty Christ accomplished redemption?  He is.

C  Resurrected–verse 21 adds “who raised Him from the dead”.  This is the powerful proof that Jesus was the sacrifice for sin and accomplished God’s redemptive work.  Buddha and Mohammed are physically dead in the grave, but Christ is back from the dead and is forever alive.  Acts 17:31 says, “because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”  Jesus Christ is risen from the dead–that’s what?  That’s amazing.

And the Redeemer is also amazing, because He is also . . .

D  Glorified–verse 21 says, “and gave Him glory”, which points to Jesus’ ascension to heaven, which is the ultimate culminating affirmation of His ability to redeem us.  Christ returned to the heaven and to the glory He enjoyed with the Father from all eternity.  As Jesus said in John 17:5, “Now, glorify Thou Me together with Thyself, Father, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was.”  So now Philippians 2:9-11 says, “Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Your Redeemer is the Lord of all glory.  Christ was predetermined, incarnate, resurrected and glorified–that’s amazing.  But what is the purpose–why did He do it–what’s it all for?  Verse 20 and 21 give us two answers . . .

2  Christ is an amazing redeemer in order . . .

A  To make you believers in God  Verse 20-21 “for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God,” Peter says to these scattered believers, that Christ’s redemptive work was for the sake of you–meaning all the redeemed.

And this redemption is through Him alone.  There is only one way to be redeemed, there is only one way to be right with God, and that is through the redemptive work of Christ.  Joseph Smith, Confucius and the Dali Lama, did not die for you.  Only Christ shed His blood and died to make His own believers in God.

Peter says in verse 21, people can’t be believers in God unless they acknowledge the death, resurrection, ascension and Lordship of Christ.  Verse 21, only “through Him” can you be right with God.

As Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.  And Acts 4:12, “There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.”  Christ died for your sake in order to make His children believers.  Are you a believer in Christ?  If so, you are no longer a slave of sin, but now are Christ’s joyful slave.  So what should you do right now, how should you respond?

B  To put your faith and hope in God

The ultimate two-fold blessing of redemption is found at the end of verse 21, so that your faith and hope are in God.  Faith is a gift from God, and allows us to depend upon God, so when you are in difficult circumstances like Peter’s readers are, then faith enables you to trust God for necessary grace in the midst of difficult circumstances, struggles, and fears.

And hope enables the believer to have confidence in future heavenly glory and coming grace, where God fixes everything that’s wrong.  We know one day God will raise us from the dead and bring us home sinless, healthy, without weariness or need, to be with Him in heaven, forever in happiness and perfection.

That’s the promise of redemption–as Christians, we have been redeemed in spirit, but one day we will be redeemed in body, and there will be no more effects of the fall, no remaining sin, struggle, trial or conflict, poor health or aging, getting fat or relational issues, slander, fears, worry or pain.  Are you thankful you have been redeemed?

About Chris Mueller

Chris is the teaching pastor at Faith Bible Church - Murrieta.