“I have redeemed this valuable watch!” remarked a man to his friend, who replied, “I could purchase one at the jewellers just like it!” “That may be true, but you could not have obtained this one, for you had not the right of redemption. It is mine, and I only had that rights.” God has redeemed those who have believed in His beloved Son at a great price. He had the right to do so, and the redemption wherewith we are redeemed is eternal (Heb. 9:12). Believers are not simply purchased, they are redeemed by the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18).
The man already referred to, through a quarrel, became alienated from his old friend. In this case it was not redemption that was necessary but reconciliation. The two things are quite different. One has to do with judicial rights, the other with the desires of the heart. God desired our reconciliation to Himself, as well as our redemption, and He secured it through our Lord Jesus Christ, even as we read: “Reconciled to God by the death of His Son” (Rom. 5:10). “And you that were sometime alienated . . . yet now has He reconciled” (Col. 1:21). Both redemption and reconciliation are connected with the grace of God. What no works of ours could procure, His wonderful grace has brought to pass for us; and wonderful, wonderful indeed, that grace is!
The believer can truly give thanks to God, “being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24). Knowing, too, that in Christ “we have redemption” (Col. 1:14); yea, he can “also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the reconciliation” (Rom. 11:5 N.Tr.); for the peace and rest which are found in the perfect righteousness of redemption are his, as are also the favours and rejoicings of reconciliation. Although they are distinct things, both are ours in Christ Jesus. We are redeemed and reconciled to God in Him, and both are based upon His completed work at the cross. It is important that we should understand and be established in these great verities of our faith.
The former is very prominent in the types of the Old Testament, while the latter in its true meaning is reserved for the New, for it is here we have the full revelation of God’s love. Among the many striking types given by the Spirit for our edification, that of Boaz and Ruth stands out as one of the most beautiful in regard to redemption. Boaz, the mighty man of wealth, was of the kindred of Naomi, Ruth’s mother-in-law. To Ruth she said, “My daughter, shall I not seek rest for thee, that it may be well with thee?” She sought this rest and well-being for the young Moabite widow in Boaz, for he had the right of redemption; and he worthily proved himself to be the kinsman-redeemer indeed! for in the gates—where judicial questions were considered, before the elders—all was settled, and the witnesses declared their satisfaction (Ruth 4). On the ground of this redemption Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife. Soon the worthiness of our Lord Jesus Christ will be publicly celebrated. Then shall we gladly sing to Him the new song, “THOU ART WORTHY! . . . THOU HAST REDEEMED” (Rev. 5:9). Soon, too, shall the bride, the Lamb’s wife, be seen shining with the light of the glory of God! (Rev. 21:9-11). Redemption’s work in redemption’s day shall fill heaven and earth with redemption splendours, and the glory of the Redeemer shall be worthily proclaimed.
The love of God seeks also man’s reconciliation to Himself; and if righteousness is prominent in redemption, the deep desires of His heart are shown in regard to reconciliation. This is eloquently expressed in the words of 2 Corinthians 5:20, “God as it were beseeching by us, we entreat for Christ, be reconciled to God.” Such words could not be used in regard to redemption. His love desired the reconciliation, though we did not. Even in regard to sinful Israel we read, He stretched out His hands to a disobedient and gainsaying people (Rom. 10:21). He waited upon them with long-suffering, but they refused; and it is to the glory of His own grace that we have been brought to Himself. Rich in grace and in mercy too, He produced a response to His love in our hearts, having discovered to us the distance and distress we were in. It was the wanderer who felt his need, that came back to his Father! It was the confessed sinner, that returned and received the best robe, the ring and the sandals! It was the one who found out he was lost, that returned home! It was the one who was dead, that became alive again! The favours and the rejoicings at the feast were concerning him (Luke 15). This brought out the irreconcilable enmity of the elder brother, who said he had never transgressed. It shows that man at his boasted best is thoroughly alienated from God’s thoughts of love—from that which gives PLEASURE TO HIM! And, though entreated to go in, he would not yield to the Father’s gracious beseechings. Like self-righteous Israel, be scorned the outstretched hands, and the divine merry-makings of reconciliation were definitely refused. They that are in the flesh cannot please God, however cultured in religion they may be. Neither redemption nor reconciliation are accepted by them.
On the other hand it is deeply pleasing to the believer to know that God Himself is both glorified and gratified by these two divinely designed blessings; and those who enter into them by faith give pleasure to His heart—whose love counselled them—and by so doing it is shown that the enmity and alienation (which once estranged them from what was agreeable to God) are gone, and communion in mind and heart with Him in these glorious realities is theirs instead. Intimacy has taken the place of enmity. Nearness is now theirs instead of alienation. Oneness of thought and feeling marks them in regard to these righteous and rich providings of His great wisdom and love. Estrangement is therefore gone for ever.
“How great the grace wherein we stand—
The favour of our God:
’Tis joy and peace on every hand,
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
This is according to the good pleasure of His will, and to “the praise of the glory of His grace,” just as the fullness of redemption redounds to “the praise of His glory” (Eph. 1:6, 14). Redemption brings us to God in righteousness for His own glory. Reconciliation sets us before Himself in rejoicing for His own pleasure. Both place us in His presence infinitely suitable and eternally agreeable to His own fullness—we are “redeemed” and “reconciled”.