dord (dôrd), n. density of mind; chiefly exhibited by one who attempts to demonstrate supposed knowledge --adj. dord'ish



Forgiven. Alive. Servant. I love the thoughtful responses to my last post. We can easily become over-familiar with the vocabulary of the Cross, and cease to consider the significance of the words we use so often. I don't think that one word can encapsulate all that we are and all that we have received in Christ, but I do think that some words are particularly packed with meaning, and I know that it's worthy thing to take time to consider them.

So yes, I did have a word in mind when I asked that question in my last post. I've been thinking, of late, about what it means that we have been ransomed. This word had been on my mind earlier this year. Then, this month, a chapter in The Cross of Christ brought it back to the forefront of my thoughts. In the chapter called "The Salvation of Sinners," John Stott discusses four words which together describe our salvation: propitiation, redemption, justification, and reconciliation. (I hope to write more about the book, and especially that chapter, sometime soon.)

In the section on redemption, Stott writes that "[We] have been 'ransomed' by Christ, not merely 'redeemed' or 'delivered' by him." This has had me thinking about the significance of being ransomed, beyond merely being redeemed or delivered or freed. Also contributing to my thoughts on this word were the following verses, which I read in my devotions earlier this week.
"Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life, for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice, that he should live on forever and never see the pit. . . But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me."
--Psalm 49:7-9, 15 (ESV)

If we want to understand a word, one thing that we can do is look at the dictionary: a consideration paid or demanded for the release of someone or something from captivity.
  • If we have been ransomed, then we were in captivity.
  • If we have been ransomed, then we have been released from captivity.
  • If we have been ransomed, then a price had to be paid. There was no chance of merely "escaping."
  • If we have been ransomed, then someone else paid the price.
  • Finally, the word ransomed is also in the past tense. It means that it is finished. The price has been paid in full. We are not being ransomed. We have been ransomed.

But the Scriptures instruct us far beyond the dictionary.
  • From the Scriptures we see that we were in captivity to sin (John 8:34).
  • From the Scriptures we see that we are no longer in captivity because we are alive in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:5).
  • From the Scriptures we see that a price had to be paid, yet that no man could pay it (Psalm 49:7).
  • From the Scriptures we see that Jesus Christ paid our ransom with His own blood (Revelation 5:9).
  • From the Scriptures we see that it was finished at the cross (John 19:30), and that Jesus Christ sat down at the right hand of the Father (Hebrews 10:12).

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Blogger Clear Ambassador said...

Interesting, Jason. And articulate, as always :-)

I have a thought: due to something God was brewing up in my Dad back a few months ago, and a chapter I read in "Knowing God" by JI Packer, I wonder if perhaps the most correct answer to your question is "son."

It may not imply as many aspects of our salvation as other words, but I think it utterly describes our current and future state, and how we are to move forward in this life. I don't think any other word fully conveys the extent of our salvation and status and hope. (Past, present and future. Aha!)
Ransomed describes something that's been done for me. Son describes what I am.

More than enemies, more than captives ransomed (perhaps by some distant philanthrope), more than servants trying to please God, more even than friends, courtiers or attendants in the hall of the Great King, we are sons of the Great King.. with all the power, the calls to duty, the history, and the hope of that state.

What do you think?

12/05/2007 12:56 PM

Anonymous stephen said...

I think clear ambassador (that seems akward) is probably on to something. Even as I wrote my comment, I kind of felt this. Son probably best describes God's past, present, and future work in and for us. But I don't think that this narrows our spiritual aspects and roles. We need to seek to understand and to cherish the fullness of our salvation. That we are ransomed, forgiven, servants, etc. these are jewels, but that we are made children of God (Jn. 1:12), surely this is the crown jewel. If we lay hold of any of these other things to the neglect of sonship, I think we easily stray into error.

12/06/2007 8:32 PM

Blogger Jason said...

Thanks for sharing those insights, guys. Having conversations like this is my favorite aspect of blogging.

I especially like the reference to Packer's Knowing God spurring thoughts on the subject. There's nothing like a solid book to move our minds from the mundane to the eternal--in a way that transforms our outlook on the rest of life.

As I said in the post, I don't think that one word can encapsulate everything. I agree that no better word comes to mind to describe our current relationship with God than "son."

Of course, without taking into account other words and the doctrine behind them (ransomed, etc.), there are some who would say "But of course we are children of God," as though we never could've been anything else, and no price had to be paid by God Himself for us to be adopted as sons.

But this bears repeating, especially for its emphasis on believing and upholding the complete word of God.
"If we lay hold of any of these other things to the neglect of sonship, I think we easily stray into error."

12/09/2007 6:22 PM


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