Author of the Month

Gnosticsm & the Proclamation of Christianity with special reference to John's Gospel (Cont)

Christian Redemption Again: Deliverance from the power of sin through the sufferings and death of Christ the Redeemer
Titus 2: 13,14 (NIV); John 1: 29 (AV); 1 Peter 1: 18,19 (NIV)

Christian Redemption: I keep coming back to this fundamental subject because Redemption is the bedrock of Christianity. Christian Redemption is the Good News in which two phrases keep recurring: "I have blotted out your sins" and "Fear not". The blotting out of sins through the death of Christ linked with Redemption is an essential part of the New Testament but is also repeatedly foretold in the Old Testament. "I have blotted out, as a thick cloud thy sins. Return unto Me, for I have redeemed thee." (Isaiah 44: 22)

To make this quite clear "Fear not for I have redeemed thee" rings out again and again throughout the Bible. It is also an essential part of the Gospel.

But "Fear not for I have redeemed thee" (Isaiah 43: 1) often came, and frequently comes to a world which rejected the message. It still "feeds on ashes. Its deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say: Is there not a lie in my right hand" (Isaiah 44: 20). "Robbed and spoiled, they are ensnared in holes: they are for a prey, and none delivereth; none saith restore" (Isaiah 42: 22). ('Restore' here, does not mean 'bring back the old days'. Rather, it means 'None saith, Return to God and He will bring you back to a good health and a good spirit' [35].)

Fear of death was and still is a great dread, which was more open in the ancient world, less so nowadays. Even now it can be covered up by false beliefs and thoughts of a painless extinction at the end of life, but the dread is still there. Christ has put this away and has "delivered them who through fear of death (dread of death) were all their lifetime subject to bondage." (Hebrews 2: 15) "Fear not";, (dread not), the Redemption and the Resurrection, link together to form a Christian message for our pagan world just like that proclaimed by the Early Christian Church.

We need to return to Redemption, again and again, especially these days when so many churches spend their time stressing 'the good side of humanity'. Their ministers fear they will be unpopular, and their congregations will melt away, if they preach the uncomfortable fact that 'all have sinned' and the amazing answer of God in the fact that Christ came to redeem us from sin. "Others have completely ignored the message of the Early Church that all have sinned and God has sent His Son to save and deliver us from sin. Instead the message of the Gospels has been drivelled away into insurance tickets to heaven, or made to deal only with 'drop outs, wastrels and scoundrels' [36]. 'It does not, of course, apply to us good upright church going folk.' What a travesty of the Good News of the Gospels ! "Jesus was a friend of publicans and sinners" and He reserved His harshest words for the 'good upright' religious leaders.

More recently we have "The New Way of Creation Theology" which stresses that the Church has been too occupied with Sin and must now turn its attention to the wonder of creation and the good things of life. The message of Redemption from the evil of Sin has been forgotten. The 'modernist' clergy say: 'We don't talk of such negative things'. Public popular opinion is that talk like that is absurd, pointless, uncomfortable and not worth listening to.

So the clergy preach great thoughts about Man and small thoughts about God.

How mistaken can we get! People who deny the pervading evil of sin in this world need their heads examining.

What would Paul [37] think of so many of our present day churches? Paul, who said: "We preach Christ and Him crucified; a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the Wisdom of God." (1 Corinthians 1: 23 (NIV))

Isaiah gives us a wonderful look forward to Christ: "Fear not for I have redeemed you. ... Do not be afraid, for I am with you. ... Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland." (Isaiah 43: 1,5,18,19 (NIV))

Isaiah foresees this new thing as he writes of God's Redemption: "I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions ... and remembers your sins no more." (Isaiah 43: 25 (NIV))

"All have sinned and come short of the glory of God." (Romans 3: 23) "We are avid readers of the news of other peoples' failings, though we do not think of them as sins. None of us like to be reminded that we are all sinners. We are blind to our own sins and our leaders are also blind. No wonder that we keep falling into ditches (Matthew 15: 14).

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  1. Definition of 'Restore' adapted from Collins Dictionary and Thesaurus, point 1. Harper Collins, 1995.
  2. "The Shadow of an Agony" by Oswald Chambers, pp. 114-118. Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1934 and paper back 1976.
  3. Some modern clergy unfortunately think that the Apostle Paul is mistaken so they usually ignore him. (Unfortunately for us, and most unfortunately for them!)

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