We are doing a 3-part series called "The Redemptive heart of God". In this 3-part series, our goal is to understand and capture the redemptive heart of God, so that we will learn to view life's situations with His redemptive heart and also learn to be co-workers with God in His redemptive process for things in our own lives as well as of those around us.
God's heart is redemptive in nature. God never quits on what He starts. He loves and saves to the uttermost no matter what the cost. We are called to be like Him, and hence our approach to life situations and to the problems we face must be redemptive as well.
When something deviates from its original plan and design, and is released, recovered and restored, we call it redemption.
It is important for us to understand God's redemptive heart, and how He goes about His redemptive work and the process involved, so that we can learn to co-labor with God in seeing His redemptive heart bring everything back to Himself.
Today, in part-3 of this series we focus on Key elements in God's redemptive process
Part 3: Key elements in God's redemptive process
God's redemptive process involves key elements of TIME, SACRIFICE, FORGIVENESS and RESTORATION. We are here to be co-workers with God in this redemptive process. We must work with God, recognizing and following each element of His redemptive work, as we co-labor to see people redeemed into His Kingdom and blessing.
God unfolds His redemptive work in the fullness of time.
God was and is always at work. But we see the specifics of His redemptive work take place in the fullness of time, what the Bible refers to as the kairos (in Greek) time.
Great plan of salvation Galatians 4:4,5 4 But when the fullness of the time (kairos) had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
In the great plan of salvation, 4000 years went by before God sent His Son to carry out His redemptive provision. But all along, God was at work, preparing a people, a place and the proper time. The Lord Jesus gave Himself as a ransom and this was testified (announced, made known) in due time (1 Timothy 2:5,6).
Eternal purpose Ephesians 1:9,10 9 having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, 10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times (kairos) He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him.
kairos is Greek for set, proper, opportune time or season. Time when things are ripe.
We see that even in God's redemptive work in the lives of individuals, or groups or people, He works at the opportune time. In the life of Job (James 5:7-11), in the life of Joseph (Psalm 105:19). God works according to times and seasons (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
Even so, as we co-labor with God we recognize that even when it seems like nothing is happening, God is still at work.
In God's redemptive work leading people to salvation we see the Scripture talk about their "day of visitation" (1 Peter 2:12). Similarly for a woman in the church at Thyatira, the Lord said " I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent" (Revelation 2:21). So also for a city (the city of Jerusalem) the Lord Jesus wept over it because the people failed to recognize their "time of visitation" (Luke 19:41-44).
God gives people time, while He is at work drawing them. He visits them at opportune times and in different ways drawing them to Himself. Our goal as co-laborers is to recognize what God is doing and flow with that.
A second key element in God's redemptive process is sacrifice.
Great plan of salvation
Redemption is possible because of a redemption price that has been paid.
The Lord Jesus gave Himself as a ransom or redemption price for all.
1 Timothy 2:5,6 5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time,
The sacrifice is given as an atonement for the wrong doing, or for the cancellation of the debt. The atonement then made redemption possible.
Old Testament Understanding
In the Old Testament, all types of ritual sacrifices (e.g. burn offerings) are explained in terms of "atonement" (kapar). The annual Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), as described in detail in Leviticus 16, was pointing to Christ's redemptive work.
Spiritual sacrifices - such as intercession, worship, also serve as a ransom, a redemption price for deliverance, as in the Old Testament.
The understanding that a ransom was needed as a redemption price (for deliverance) was even in the oldest book of the Bible, the book of Job.
Job 33:23,24 23 "If there is a messenger for him, A mediator, one among a thousand, To show man His uprightness, 24 Then He is gracious to him, and says, 'Deliver him from going down to the Pit; I have found a ransom';
When Job was going through his troubles, he longed for an intercessor - a man who could stand before God on his behalf and intercede, mediate and bring him out.
Job 9:32,33 32 "For He is not a man, as I am, That I may answer Him, And that we should go to court together. 33 Nor is there any mediator between us, Who may lay his hand on us both.
Job 16:21 Oh, that one might plead for a man with God, As a man pleads for his neighbor!
Moses interceded for God's people
Psalm 106:23 Therefore He said that He would destroy them, Had not Moses His chosen one stood before Him in the breach, To turn away His wrath, lest He destroy them.
Delivering Christ's provision
The Lord Jesus has already provided salvation (redemption) for all mankind. Yet, we are His agents to deliver what He has provided to people for them to personally experience His redemption. As co-laborers in His redemptive process, we must also be willing to sacrifice. This 'sacrifice' could be in terms of praying/interceding, in giving financially, going to difficult places, giving up comforts, etc.
We would like to emphasize the role of intercession here.
Part of this process of delivering Christ's provision of salvation, is to offer up intercession on their behalf.
Christ's sacrifice on the Cross is also called as a work of intercession (Isaiah 53:12).
Spiritual sacrifices, such as intercession, is a key element in God's redemptive process. He redeems because He finds a ransom, a sacrifice, an intercessor. That is why you interceding for someone else is key to God's redemptive work in their lives.
This does not mean we are paying the price for their redemption. There is only one complete sacrifice, which is what Christ has already paid. Instead, as co-laborers in God's redemptive process we are doing our part, sacrificing, in order for people to experience and receive what has been provided for them (see Paul Colossians 1:24,25). They are saved, not because of our sacrifice, but only because of what Jesus did for them. We are only co-laborers with God in His redemptive process of reaching hurting people that He seeks to redeem.
The next key element in God's redemptive process is extending forgiveness.
We must bring assurance of God's forgiveness into people's lives - this is letting them know that they have been washed, justified and sanctified in Christ (1 Corinthians 6:11) and God holds nothing against them.
At the same time, we must release forgiveness to those who have wronged us.
There is something powerful in the release of forgiveness.
Stephen released forgiveness to Saul, the man overseeing his stoning, and all the others.
The next thing we see is Saul encountering Jesus!
If God has forgiven them, then we have no right to hold this against them.
The redemptive process of God includes receiving people into a community that see people as redeemed.
The man in the Corinthian Church who sinned in immorality, was to be received as a forgiven person, once he repented.
2 Corinthians 2:6-11 6 This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man, 7 so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow. 8 Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him. 9 For to this end I also wrote, that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things. 10 Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, 11 lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.
The book of Philemon is a wonderful story of a run-away slave name Onesimus. He has stolen from his master Philemon, in Colossae, who is a believer and one of Paul's fellow-workers. Onesimus runs away and ends up meeting Paul while in prison at Rome! There Paul leads him to the Lord, and then sends him back to Philemon with this letter. This is a beautiful story where Paul urges Philemon to forgive and receive Onesimus:
Philemon 1:12,16,17 12 I am sending him back. You therefore receive him, that is, my own heart, 16 no longer as a slave but more than a slave—a beloved brother, especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord. 17 If then you count me as a partner, receive him as you would me.
If we are to be a community that will co-labor with God in His redemptive process in this world, we must know the power of forgiveness.
The fourth key element we see in God's redemptive process is restoration.
We discussed this last Sunday.
Restoration itself is a process, where God begins to take things back to their original state and elevates things to even higher levels.
We must believe God for restoration and work towards this in the lives of people we serve.