A Body of Divinity by Thomas Watson
Q-xxx: HOW DOES THE SPIRIT APPLY TO US THE REDEMPTION PURCHASED BY CHRIST?
A: The Spirit applies to us the redemption purchased by Christ by working faith in us, and thereby uniting us to Christ in our effectual calling.
In this answer there are two things. It is implied that Christ is the glorious purchaser of our redemption, in the words, 'The redemption purchased by Christ,’ and it is declared that the Spirit applies to us this purchased redemption, by working in us faith, &c.
The thing implied is, that Jesus Christ is the glorious purchaser of our redemption. The doctrine of redemption by Jesus Christ is a glorious doctrine; it is the marrow and quintessence of the gospel, in which all a Christian’s comfort lies. Great was the work of creation, but greater the work of redemption; it cost more to redeem us than to make us; in the one there was but the speaking of a word, in the other the shedding of blood. The creation was but the work of God’s fingers. Psa 8: 3. Redemption is the work of his arm. Luke 1: 51. 'Having obtained eternal redemption for us.’ Heb 9: I2. Christ's purchasing redemption for us implies that our sins mortgaged and sold us. Had there not been some kind of mortgaging there had been no need of redemption: redimere rursus emere. Jerome. When we were thus mortgaged, and sold by sin, Christ purchased our redemption. He had the best right to redeem us, for he is our kinsman. The Hebrew word for Redeemer, Goel, signifies a kinsman, one that is near in blood. In the old law the nearest kinsman was to redeem his brother’s land. Ruth 4: 4. Thus Christ being near akin to us, 'Flesh of our flesh.’ is the fittest to redeem us.
How does Christ redeem us?
By his own precious blood. 'In whom we have redemption through his blood.’ Eph 1: 7. Among the Romans, he was said to redeem another who laid down a price equivalent for the ransom of the prisoner. In this sense Christ is a Redeemer; he has paid a price. Never was such a price paid to ransom prisoners. 'Ye are pretio empti, bought with a price; and this price was his own blood.’ I Cor 6: 20. So, in the text, 'by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.' This blood being the blood of that person who was God as well as man is a price sufficient for the ransom of millions.
From what does Christ redeem us?
From sin. To be redeemed from Turkish slavery is a great mercy, but it is infinitely more to be redeemed from sin. There is nothing that can hurt the soul but sin; it is not affliction that hurts it, it often makes it better, as the furnace makes gold the purer; but it is sin that damnifies. Now, Christ redeems us from sin. 'Now, once in the end of the world has he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.' Heb 9: 26.
But how are we redeemed from sin? Do we not see corruption stirring in the regenerate; much pride and unmortified passion?
Redemption is either incohata or plena; i.e. begun redemption or perfect redemption. Sin cannot stand with a perfect redemption; but here it is begun only, and sin may stand with an imperfect redemption. There may be some darkness in the air at the sun's first rising, but not when the sun is at the full meridian. While our redemption is but begun, there may be sin; but not when it is perfect in glory.
In what sense has Christ redeemed justified persons from sin?
(I.) A reatu, from the guilt of sin, though not the stain. Guilt is the binding a person over to punishment. Now, Christ has redeemed a justified person from the guilt of sin; he has discharged his debts. Christ says to God's justice, as Paul to Philemon, 'If he has wronged thee anything, or owes thee ought, put that on my account.' Verse I8.
(2.) A justified person is redeemed a dominio, from the power and regency of sin, though not from the presence. Sin may furere, but not regnare; it may rage in a child of God, but not reign. Lust raged in David, and fear in Peter, but it did not reign; they recovered themselves by repentance. 'Sin shall not have dominion over you.' Rom 6: I4. Sin lives in a child of God, but is deposed from the throne; it lives not as a king, but a captive.
(3.) A believer is redeemed a maledictione, from the curse due to sin. 'Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.' Gal 3: I3. Christ said to his Father, as Rebecca to Jacob, 'Upon me, upon me be the curse; let the blessing be upon them, but upon me be the curse.’ And now, there is no condemnation to believers. Rom 8: 1. An unbeliever has a double condemnation; one from the law which he has transgressed, and the other from the gospel which he has despised. But Christ has redeemed the believer from this malediction, he has set him out of the power of hell and damnation.
To what has Christ redeemed us?
He has redeemed us to a glorious inheritance. 'To an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you.' I Pet 1: 4.
(I.) To an inheritance. Christ has not only redeemed us out of prison, but he has redeemed us to a state of happiness, to an inheritance; heaven is not a lease which soon expires, but an inheritance; and a glorious inheritance; called an inheritance in light. Col 1: I2. Lumen producit colores; light adorns and gilds the world. What were the world without light but a prison? The heavenly inheritance is irradiated with light. Christ, as a continual sun, enlightens it with his beams. Rev 21: 23.
(2.) To an inheritance incorruptible. It does not moulder away or suffer dissolution. Earthly comforts are shadowed out by the tabernacle which was transient; but heaven is set out by the temple, which was fixed and permanent, built with stone, overlaid with gold. This is the glory of the celestial inheritance; it is incorruptible. Eternity is written upon the frontispiece of it.
(3.) Undefiled. The Greek word for undefiled alludes to a precious stone called Amiantus, which cannot be blemished. Such a place is heaven, undefiled, nothing can stain it; there is no sin there to eclipse its purity. For holiness and undefiledness it is compared to pure gold, and to the sapphire and emerald. Rev 21: I9. 'The sapphire has a virtue,’ says Pliny, 'to preserve chasteness, the emerald to expel poison.' These are the lively emblems of heaven, to show the sanctity of it; no fever of lust; no venom of malice; none but pure virgin spirits inhabit it.
(4.) It fadeth not away. The Greek word is the name of a flower, Amarantus, which keeps a long time fresh and green, as Clement of Alexandria writes. Such is the heavenly inheritance, it does not lose its orient colour, but keeps its freshness and greenness to eternity; the beauty of it fadeth not away. To this glorious inheritance has Christ redeemed the saints; an inheritance which cannot be fully described or set forth by all the lights of heaven, though every star were a sun. And that which is the diamond in the ring, the glory of this inheritance, is the eternal sight and fruition of the blessed God. The sight of God will be a most alluring, heart-ravishing object; the king's presence makes the court. 'We shall see him as he is.' I John 3: 2. It is comfortable to see God showing himself through the lattice of an ordinance, to see him in the Word and sacrament. The martyrs thought it comfortable to see him in a prison. Oh then, what will it be to see him in glory, shining ten thousand times brighter than the sun! and not only see him, but enjoy him for ever! Praemium quodfide non attingitur. Augustine. Faith itself is not able fully to comprehend this reward. All this blessedness has Christ purchased through the redemption of his blood.
Use one: Of instruction. (I.) See into what a wretched deplorable condition we had brought ourselves by sin; we had sinned ourselves into slavery, so that we needed Christ to purchase our redemption. Nihil durius servitute, says Cicero, 'Slavery is the worst condition.’ Such as are now prisoners in Algiers think it so. But by sin we are in a worse slavery, slaves to Satan, a merciless tyrant, who sports in the damnation of souls. In this condition we were when Christ came to redeem us.
(2.) See in this, as in a transparent glass, the love of Christ to the elect. He came to redeem them; and died intentionally for them. Were it not great love for a king's son to pay a great sum of money to redeem a captive? But that he should be content to be a prisoner in his stead, and die for his ransom; this were matter of wonder. Jesus Christ has done all this, he has written his love in characters of blood. It had been much for Christ to speak a good word to his Father for us, but he knew that was not enough to redeem us. Though a word speaking made a world, yet it would not redeem a sinner. 'Without shedding of blood there is no remission.' Heb 9: 22.
Use two: Of trial. If Christ came to purchase our redemption, then let us try whether we are the persons whom Christ has redeemed from the guilt and curse due to sin. This is a needful trial; for let me tell you, there is but a certain number whom Christ has redeemed. Oh, say sinners, Christ is a redeemer, and we shall be saved by him! Beloved, Christ came not to redeem all, for that would overthrow the decrees of God. Redemption is not as large as creation. I grant there is a sufficiency of merit in Christ's blood to save all; but there is a difference between sufficiency and efficiency. Christ's blood is a sufficient price for all, but it is effectual only to them that believe. A plaster may have a sovereign virtue in it to heal any wound, but it does not heal unless applied to the wound. And if it be so, that all have not the benefit of Christ's redemption, but some only, then it is a necessary question to ask our own souls, Are we in the number of those that are redeemed by Christ or not?
How shall we know that?
(I.) Such as are redeemed are reconciled to God. The enmity is taken away. Their judgements approve, their wills incline ad bonum. Col 1: 2I. Are they redeemed that are unreconciled to God, who hate God and his people (as the vine and laurel have an antipathy), who do all they can to disparage holiness? Are they redeemed who are unreconciled? Christ has purchased a reprieve for these; but a sinner may have a reprieve, and yet go to hell. John 5: 6.
(2.) Such as are redeemed by Christ are redeemed from the world. 'Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver (or redeem) us from this present evil world.’ Gal 1: 4. Such as are redeemed by Christ are risen with Christ, Col 3: 1: As birds that light upon the ground to pick up a little seed, immediately fly up to heaven again; so the redeemed of the Lord use the world, and take the lawful comforts of it, but their hearts are presently off these things, and they ascend to heaven. They live here, and trade above. Such as Christ has died for are 'dead to the world;’ to its honours, profits, and preferments. What shall we think of those who say they are redeemed of the Lord, and yet are lovers of the world? They are like the tribes who desired to have their portion on this side Canaan. 'Who mind earthly things.’ Phil 3: I9. They pull down their souls to build up an estate. They are not redeemed by Christ, who are not redeemed from the world.
Use three: Of comfort to such as are redeemed. You are happy, the lot of free grace has fallen upon you; you were once in the devil’s prison, but have broken from that prison; you were once bound in the chains of sin, but God has begun to beat off your chains, and has freed you from the power of sin, and the curse due to it. What a comfort is this! Is there any consolation in Christ? It is shine. Is there any sweet fruit growing upon the promise? Thou mayest gather it. Are there any glorious privileges in the gospel? They are thy jointure, justification, adoption, coronation. Is there any glory in heaven? Thou shalt shortly drink of that river of pleasure. Hast thou any temporal comforts? These are but a pledge and earnest of more. Thy meal in the barrel is but a meal by the way, and an earnest of that angels, food which God has prepared for thee. How mayest thou be comforted in all worldly afflictions, though the fig-tree flourish not! Nay, in case of death, it has lost its sting. Mors abiit morte Christi [Death takes its leave, through the death of Christ]. Death shall carry thee to thy Redeemer: fear not dying since you cannot be perfectly happy but by dying.
Use four: Of exhortation. Long for the time when you shall have a full and perfect redemption in heaven, an eternal jubilee; when you shall be freed not only from the power but from the presence of sin. Here a believer is as a prisoner that has broken prison, but walks with a fetter on his leg. When the banner of glory shall be displayed over you, you shall be as the angels of God, you shall never have a sinful thought more; no pain or grief, no aching head or unbelieving heart. You shall see Christ’s face, and lie for ever in his arms; you shall be as Joseph. Gen 41: I4. They brought him hastily out of the dungeon, and he shaved himself, and changed his raiment, and came in unto Pharaoh. Long for that time, when you shall put off your prison garments, and change your raiment, and put on the embroidered garment of glory. Oh long for it! Yet be content to wait for this full and glorious redemption, when you shall be more happy than you can desire, when you shall have 'that which eye has not seen. nor ear heard. nor can it enter into man’s heart to conceive.’
From A Body of Divinity. Published by Banner of Truth Trust.