Lesson 7: The Basis of Salvation – Ephesians 1:7
Have you ever had the experience of making the last payment on a car or some other debt of long standing – maybe even your house? Or maybe you have even had the experience of someone else paying off a debt you had owed – or an unexpected bonus, etc. That enabled you to do it. Well if you have had that experience, or if you can even imagine it, you will have something of an idea of the subject of this study. Because in Ephesians 7 we have the details of the biggest “payoff” that has ever been made! In fact it is the very basis for our salvation.
Remember the context of this verse: We are in the middle section of the chapter, verses 3 through 14, which I am calling “An Examination of Salvation.” (The first section was “An Extension of Greetings in verses 1 through 3, and the third section will be “An Expression of Supplication in verses 15 through 23.)
As we have looked thus far at that second section of the chapter we have seen: “the blueprint of salvation” in verses 3 through the first part of verse 6, which is the plan that God the Father made for our salvation in eternity past, or “before the foundation of the world” as verse 4 puts it.
Now in this study we begin a new division of that second section of Ephesians 1, which I am calling “The basis of salvation,” which we find in the last half of verse 6 and going on through verse 12. Now this is one of those passages of scripture during which if you are very familiar with the New Testament you may be tempted to take a nap, because your first thought, (and you may have already had it at this point) may be “well, I already know everything there is to know about the basis of our salvation.” But if you take that attitude you will very likely miss out on a blessing, because there is much more to it than at first meets the eye.
In our last study we looked at “our relationship in the Beloved” in the latter half of verse 6, “redemption through His blood.” The fact that we are accepted “in Christ.” But in this study we want to think about the second aspect of the basis of our salvation in verse 7′ and that is redemption through blood.” Look at that verse again
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, to the praise of the glory of His grace.
Probably all of us are familiar with our English word “redemption.” Most of us have “redeemed” a coupon of one kind or another, and received a discount on some item at the grocery store, or maybe you have “redeemed” “points” or “frequent flyer miles” on our credit card account. But the Greek word for “redemption” is quite different from the English word. In fact, there are three Greek words that are translated that way. And we can’t get a full understanding of the biblical concept of redemption without putting all three of those words together. The first of the three is the word “agaradzo.” This is a general reference to the market place where slaves were bought and sold in the Roman world. It is usually used as a noun, referring to the business that went on there. But there is a second word that is often translated “redemption” and that is the word “exagaradzo,” usually used as a verb to describe purchasing a slave at the market. But there is a third word, not used as often. It is the word apolutrosis, which means to go the market, purchase
a slave and set him free! And that is the word that is used here. So when we read that we have “redemption” here in verse 7, what we are reading is that Jesus Christ, by the shedding of His blood on the cross, has purchased us out of the slave market if sin and set us free.
Romans chapter one uses this imagery of slavery to underscore the fact that before we accepted Christ as Savior we were slaves to sin. But when we were saved Christ went to the slave market and purchased us. But He didn’t make us His slaves, He purchased us and set us free. Now that has many ramifications for the way we live our lives after salvation (which is a lesson in itself) but the bottom line is that we no longer have to obey the temptation to sin. I have never served in the military, but I know many people who have, and to a man they say that their drill sergeant in basic training was the meanest person they have ever met, and if they had happened to run into him somewhere years later and he gave them an order of some kind they would probably have obeyed it before they thought. Interestingly enough, the first two bosses I had as an employee (several years apart) were both the closest thing a man could be to being a drill sergeant without being in the military, and to this day I feel the same way about them. But the point I am making is this: since all of us spent some amount time as slaves to sin before we were saved, we are used to obeying temptation instantly, just like obeying the drill sergeant or the tough boss. But here’s the good news: the drill sergeant is no longer in the military. He no longer has power over you. And I no longer work for either my former bosses. And you and I are no longer slaves to sin. It has no power over us, because Christ has purchased us out of the slave market. We have been redeemed.
So that is “the picture in redemption.” But there is something to notice here, and that is “the price of redemption.” Look at verse 7 again:
“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins,
according to the riches of His grace.
Notice especially the phrase “through His blood.” Throughout the ages Satan has tried to make people think that there is some other way to have peace in your life; victory over all of your problems. In fact, that was his very first approach to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden: “You don’t have to do what God says,” He said, “there is another, easier way to get everything that He is offering you. Trace back through of all of the major ancient philosophers and you see the same thing: “all you have to do is believe in yourself and find the inner strength that you already possess. All of the major religions in history have the same message just worded a little differently. But over and over again the Scripture speaks of deliverance and peace within only through the shedding of the blood of Jesus Christ!
Let’s look at some of those passages: First notice Ephesians 2:13
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been made
near by the blood of Christ
Or think about Hebrews 9:13,14
For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling
the unclean, sanctifies the flesh, (14) how much more shall the blood of
Christ, who, through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to
God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
Or skip down to verse 22 of Ephesians 1:
And according to the law almost all things are purged with blood,
and without shedding of blood there is no remission of sin.
Or First Peter 1:18,19
Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things like silver
or gold from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers
(19) but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without spot or
Now in the Old Testament the animals were killed by slitting the jugular vein so that the offerer could see the heart pumping the blood out of the animal’s throat until it was dead. And this was a picture of the fact that someday the ultimate sacrifice would be made by the Savior. Obviously, Jesus didn’t bleed to death on the cross. In fact, His actual death was different from the animals in other ways too – He didn’t die on an altar. But the fact that the death of Christ is referred to so consistently by the term “the blood of Christ” indicates that His death was the ultimate fulfillment of all that was taught by all those sacrifices.
The actual sacrifice of Christ on the cross took place when He cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Habakkuk 1:13 says that “God is of purer eyes than to behold sin and cannot look upon iniquity” So when God the Father looked on Jesus Christ and saw your sin and mine, He had to look away from it. And in doing so it was the first time in all eternity that God the Father and God the Son were ever separated. And technically speaking that was the moment of our salvation. You think you aren’t loved? You think you aren’t worth something to God?
It is hard for our human minds to comprehend, but the worst part of hell will not be the fire. The worst part of hell will be absolute separation from God. And that is what Christ went through for us. Otherwise He would have had to go through hell to pay for our sins. Hell is just the repository for those who won’t accept the sacrifice of Christ.
So all of those references to the precious blood of Christ are telling us that it was the sacrificial death – pictured by all of that animal blood that was shed throughout the Old Testament. And the physical death of Christ took place because of that spiritual death. And we know that because he was still alive physically when he cried out “It is finished!”
There is one other aspect of our redemption through blood, and that is “the purpose of redemption.” But it is so important that we are going to save it for a chapter in itself. Over the past 30 or 40 years or so one of the largest areas of interest and development within Christianity has been the area of what has come to be called “Christian psychology.” At the time I began my ministry in the late 1960’s and the 1970’s I only knew of three or four academically qualified Christian psychologists and perhaps two or three psychiatrists. At that time the statistics showed that when Christians had situations that required counselling 75% of them turned to their pastor. Since that was true I and many of my contemporaries spent a lot of time in counseling that probably would have been better spent in studying and preparing messages that would have helped a broader scope of people. In those days only a few seminaries provided more than the most basic of courses in that area. Some pastors did have abilities and insights along that line and developed fairly extensive counselling practices. During the decade of the 1980’s more and more Christian colleges and universities and seminaries began offering more and more courses, graduating such “pioneers” as Dr. James Dobson, Dr. Paul Meier, Dr. Frank Minnerth, and, more recently others, until today very few pastors spend much time in counselling as such. When I have been approached for counseling during the past 20 years or so practice has been to take somewhat the role of a family practice medical doctor, who makes an initial assessment of the need of the person or family and then recommends them to a “specialist”. I think it is good practice in these days for a pastor to have a working relationship with one or more godly Christian licensed counsellors for this purpose. One thing to keep in mind in a situation like this is that there is a difference between a counselor who is a Christian and a Christian counselor, whose practice is built on the principles of scripture.
In the past many Christians thought that the Bible was all anyone needed to be able to face the “emotional” needs that many Christians face; that psychology had no place in the Christian life. But as time has gone by and Christian counselors have been able to take the Word of God and show Christians how the Bible addresses the various problems they have, Christian counselors and counseling have become much more a part of the Christian mainstream.
It may seem at this point that I have digressed far from the truths of Ephesians chapter one, but actually, I have gone into all of this counseling talk merely to set the stage for the next point in the text. That is the fact that the Scripture is full of references to the heart and the mind and thoughts and relationships. In fact, the word “heart” is used 1008 times in scripture. So we should, in fact be very interested in what God has to say about these kinds of things. In fact the verses of scripture to which we now come holds one of the very most important concepts in all of the Word of God concerning our “self-worth” as most counselors refer to it.
By way of review, remember that we are talking about “the basis of salvation” as it is described in the last part of verse 6 and going on through verse 12. And in that regard we have seen that our salvation has been provided for us on the “basis” of, first, “relationship in the beloved” in verse 6b, and, “redemption through blood in verse 7. And as we looked at that redemption that we have through the blood of Christ we saw “the picture” that is in the word “redemption” – to purchase a slave and set him free. And we saw “the price of redemption” the very separation of
God the Father and God the Son, because the Father could not look on our sins that had been placed upon the Son.
And that brings us today to a third aspect of our redemption and that is “the purpose of redemption.” But that is such an important subject that we will consider it separately
In closing, let me say that what we have talked about our study today is the most important information in the history of the world. It has to do with your eternal destiny. Romans 3:23 says that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” And that includes you. All you need to do is think through the famous “ten commandments” and realize that if you have told a single lie or looked on a woman with lust in your heart or spoken disrespectfully to your father or mother you are guilty of sin. Romans 6:23 says “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life. And Jesus Himself said that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. Jesus took all of your sins upon Himself and died a punishing death for them. All you have to do is believe that that sentence is true. Pray a simple prayer and tell him you do believe that he died in your place and you will immediately a member of His family. He will become your heavenly Father and you will have eternal life with him