The Three R’s of the Gospel

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The gospel news of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone is summed up with three words—ransomed, redeemed, and reconciled. Those whom Christ has ransomed by His atonement on the cross He has redeemed and, therefore, reconciled them to Himself intimately and eternally.

A ransom is a payment to free a captive. Interestingly, the payment to free us from our sins was made by Christ and the payment was Christ: “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28). Christ is the payment to satisfy the justice of God by enduring the righteous wrath of God for sinners.

The Scriptures inform us that God will “by no means clear the guilty” (Nah. 1:3). So, how are guilty sinners declared innocent? It is through the obedience of Christ. With His life, He purchased heaven through His perfect obedience on behalf of His people. With His atoning death, He satisfied the justice of God for our disobedience by drinking the unspeakable cup of wrath to give us an unfathomable cup of life. The ransom that Jesus paid was not to Satan but to His Father. The ransom paid by God the Son was to God the Father through the power of God the Holy Spirit. Jesus, our ransom, paid a debt that He did not owe for debtors who have a debt they cannot pay.

The Scriptures also announce the majesty of Christ our Redeemer. To redeem is to “buy back” or “pay off.” Christ, with His perfect life and atoning death, bought us from God’s judgment. We have been redeemed from sin and its eternal consequence of hell through the ransom of “our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14).

Finally, what about that marvelous promise of reconciliation? Reconciliation simply means to reconnect those who have been separated. Our sin had separated us from God. God, out of His unmerited love, sent His Son to pay the ransom for our sin and redeem us in order to reconcile us to Himself through Christ: “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself” (2 Cor. 5:18). We who were all wrong with God have now been made right with God and reconciled to Him. Jesus promises to all sinners saved by grace that He will be with us to the end. And when the end comes, we will be with Him forever: “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:3).

I can illustrate our gospel focus this month with an experience from my childhood. As a young boy, my mother took me to the A&P grocery store every Friday night for two reasons. The first was so that I could carry the bags to the car from the store and from the car into the house. This saved my mother the twenty-five-cent tip to the bag boy.

The second reason my mother took me to the A&P involves what happened at the checkout counter. The clerk would ring up the items on the register. After ringing up the order, the clerk would key the total into a smaller green cash register. Magically, endless rolls of green stamps would flow out of the machine, and the clerk would give them to my mother. S&H Green Stamps were the reason my mother would go only to the A&P.

Here was the deal. You bought groceries, and by buying them you purchased (ransomed) the green stamps. You pasted the stamps into S&H Green Stamp books and took them to the S&H Green Stamp Redemption Center. Seven thousand stamps might redeem a can opener. My mother, with her frugal background, would not let this deal pass her by. Thus, the second reason she took me to the store. While my mother put the groceries away, I licked all the green stamps and put them into green stamp books. We took hundreds of filled stamp books to the redemption center and placed them on the counter. The clerk would go to the shelf and bring us the can opener redeemed by green stamps. The can opener, now ransomed and redeemed, would go home with us.

Two thousand years ago, Christ went to the cross and placed Himself on the counter of God’s justice. There He ransomed us by paying the price for our sins, crying out, “It is finished.” The ransom paid for all the sins of His people. He redeemed us from the shelf of sin and reconciled us to Himself for all eternity.

“Redeemed how I love to proclaim it. Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb; Redeemed through His infinite mercy, His child and forever I am.”

Are you? If so, praise the Lord. If not, come to the Redeemer who ransoms sinners and reconciles them to Himself—forever. 

First published in Tabletalk Magazine, an outreach of Ligonier. For permissions, view our Copyright Policy.