Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Redemption's Poster Boy

Growing up I learned that there were very desirable groups and clubs to which I could belong; Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Kiwanis, and baseball teams. Join those and fun was on the way. Good to go.

In college (Go USC!) I took the necessary steps to join another kind of group with benefits galore—a fraternity. Say what you will about “frats,” but I liked the idea and wanted in. Near the end of our probationary period, those already “in” began to make those of us not yet feel like we would never make it. In fact, after putting us through incredibly rigorous tests, they kicked us all out in a single night, one by one. Many of us felt like we deserved it, having failed the tests, but others were incensed at the seeming injustice.

Anyway, with great fanfare, they then welcomed virtually all us into the fraternity, telling us that the whole rejection had been an elaborate ruse. We had been redeemed, and were now bona fide members, all rights and privileges given. Hooray.

That was probably my first biggish lesson in redemption—I needed to be rescued, and I was. But that first exercise was nothing compared to the one I was to receive from God. That first lesson attempted to get me to believe I deserved rejection when, in fact, I didn’t—just kidding. You’re not bad enough for us to kick you out! Welcome! I was still the same, only now I belonged.

That’s nothing like biblical redemption. To the Ephesians, Paul writes, “In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.” (Ephesians 1:7,8; italics mine.)

To put it another way, in keeping with God’s staggering grace, He knowingly lavished upon us the grace of redemption. Of course! That’s how He is. We really were in bad, rejection-worthy shape. But God, Mr. Grace Himself, determined to show Himself through redemption.

Redemption means not only to be brought out of a terrible condition and fate, but also to be brought into an incredible condition and future. It’s similar to the word, “Justification.” This often used Biblical word means that not only has God made you so that you have never sinned (having put all of your failures upon Jesus, and treating Him as though He were guilty of them all), but God has made you as though you have always done everything perfectly (having given you the perfect righteousness of Jesus as your own).

It’s staggering.

Redemption means that never again will I be a sin-natured flesh bag on my way to hell, sins paving the way. Never again. Jesus has made me (and you) a son, a Spirit-born, Spirit-filled son of God on my way to heaven. No matter how it looks, no matter how I look, Jesus redeemed me because He took me into Himself. And in Him, I have redemption, the absolute and eternal forgiveness of sins. And I don’t minimize how great and terrible my condition and sins were—no! In fact, His lavished grace is all the more glorious in light of my previous terrible condition.

Look, I don’t particularly want to be the poster boy for Romans 5:20—“…where sin increased, grace increased all the more;”—but, frankly, I already am! I know pretty much what I was before redemption, a pagan-natured flesh bag on the road to hell, and I rejoice over what I have been made!

Forever and always have I been redeemed. Hebrews 9:12 says that Jesus obtained eternal redemption. To believe that is not only pleasing to God (“Hey! Ralph’s getting it—he believes!”), it’s a great exercise in my daily life.

Just call me Redemption’s Poster Boy.


  1. Bryan Sullivan11:24 PM

    Redemption's Poster Boy: It is in our very nature to desire acceptance and affirmation. 'A God shaped hole in all of us' as Plumb has sung. We have been given just those two things and so very much more as you have written here. Thank you for the reminder.

  2. Aletta Ticki Martinez11:25 PM

    I like to think that I am one of Jesus' Groupy's. (:

  3. Angela Marie Wilcox11:25 PM

    Justification= Just as if it never happened. Quote from Rev. J. Lee Griffis. (Dad to Rev. Paul D. Griffis)

  4. Bryan--Thanks!
    Aletta--You are!
    Angela--Not only that it never happened, but, thanks to the gift of righteousness, that I've done everything right. What a gift.

  5. Aletta Ticki Martinez11:26 PM

    Such awesome dialogue about our lovely Jesus and all that He is. (:

  6. Sharon Fryer11:27 PM

    Thanks Ralph! I Never tire of being reminded of how awesomely I've BEEN REDEEMED! Yes from sin, BUT O WOW, NEVER again REJECTED!!! (no matter who, or what)!!!!! :-)

  7. Brenda Kalas11:27 PM

    Grace is the opposite of self righteousness - there's nothing that we do to merit God's love and forgiveness. The Cross would have no meaning if we could; there would not have been a need for the Son of God to lay down His life - He is our justification and only Him.

  8. Cindy Antekeier-Nichols11:27 PM

    I love what you wrote, Ralph, thank you for that! I so often need that reminder of His redemption for me and His grace! I tend to carry so much guilt. My youngest daughter is named Grace, you'd think I would remember this more!

  9. Bo Mayo11:28 PM

    Guess that makes me Redemption's Poster Girl?

  10. Janice Armstrong11:28 PM

    I really, really enjoy reading these Ralph. You have a great gift of solidifying Biblical truths I sometimes forget!

  11. Conan Barbarian11:29 PM

    Ralph, Thanks for sharing those words of wisdom...for the reminder of who I am in Jesus and what He was willing to do for me and all believers. BLess you.

  12. Julie Belshe11:29 PM

    Great! And you can call me Redemption's Poster Girl! I get it, Good word Ralph. Thanks!

  13. Kimberly Renee Fellner11:30 PM

    The reason He created the 2 words Redemption & Justification was because of flesh sin. Had sin never been impregnated, they wouldn't exist. But we have soul cravings that are only filled with a communion & bond with the Lord. We are His...and He is mine! We each crave to be one. It's a unique relationship that is the closest of any kind. Those 2 words are in essence to me, the bridge & the path of Glorious love, river of blood- Christ.

  14. Chris Pennington11:30 PM

    from a greased pole to hell, to Christ being my righteousness... staggering is right!! (and we didn't even have to be hazed!) FOREVER & ALWAYS REDEEMED, Glory to God!! I feel so accepted :-) Thank you, Lord! ...and thank you Ralph, awesome word!!

  15. Cindi Estep11:30 PM

    Hi Redemption’s Poster Boy! Loved it!!

  16. Christina Wing11:31 PM

    Wonderful Ralph!! Thanks so much for sharing!

  17. Tina Willis11:31 PM

    It is staggering, and mind-boggling isn't it? So simple... yet SO profound! I NEVER get tired of hearing this glorious truth about what it is that He finished for us~ Praise be to our Jesus!

  18. Thanks very much, everyone, for your comments. Your kind words and support mean a lot--a lot a lot--to me.

    - Ralph

  19. Anonymous3:01 AM

    you are a BEAST!!! that's a compliment. beautifully presented. God Bless you!!! Glad I found your blog!!! Keep doing what you are doing. HALLELUJAH!!! You don't know how much this is helping me!!!