Summary: Many a times we wonder if we can really be restored or is it just a great idea! Tomorrow as we delve into God's Word, we will see what God has already done to reconcile us to Him. The question remains how have we responded to His restoration for us?
Opening illustration: A woman who restores valuable paintings says many works of art that seem hopelessly damaged can be saved by an expert. Rebecca McLain has brought color and life back to dulled oil paintings by carefully removing dirt and discolored varnish. But she has also seen the damage done when people attempt to clean their own soiled art with oven cleaner or abrasive powders. Her advice? If you value the art, take it to an expert in restoration.
The same need exists in lives soiled by sin. Our efforts at ridding ourselves of the guilt and defilement of sinful actions and attitudes often end in frustration and despair. In our attempts to get rid of guilt, we sometimes blame others. Or we simply give up, thinking that we cannot be any different.
But Jesus our redeemer is the expert who can restore the most damaged, defiled, and discouraged person. Christ died so that anyone who by faith receives Him can be completely forgiven and restored. With His own blood He will cleanse us (1 John 1:7) and make us a new creation, God’s own “workmanship” (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:10). [David C. McCasland, ODB]
Introduction: The Bible uses a variety of words to describe the salvation we have in Jesus Christ words like rescue, ransom, forgiveness, redemption and propitiation.
Bible commentator Gordon Fee calls redemption “the least metaphorical” of the whole bunch. That is, they are all figures of speech in some way, but the word redemption is the one that is the closest to reality. Another way to put it is that all the other terms indicate something done for a reason, but reconciliation is the reason. God forgives us, for example, not because forgiveness is a purpose in itself, but because forgiveness enables the real goal, which is a relationship between God and us. But reconciliation means restoring a relationship back to God, and it is not done for some other purpose, but the relationship itself is that purpose.
The whole point of salvation is not that we will live forever, but that we will live forever with God. Relationship is central to the whole purpose and plan, and reconciliation is the term that describes what God is doing. So even though the Bible does not use the term very often, it is an important concept for us to understand.
How has God RESTORED us?
1. Christ becomes our Punishment (vs. 14-15)
Now that is good news: we have all died, because Jesus died for us. Paul is not talking about physical death (as we can see by looking around us). We are all very much alive – some of us more alive than others, but all of us are alive. And Paul is not talking about being “dead in trespasses and sins,” like he does in Ephesians. The death of Jesus did not cause us to die in that sense. So what is he getting at? It’s that the penalty, the natural consequence, of sin is death and Jesus as our Creator has paid that penalty for us. He died for us, so his death counts for us. His death pays the penalty of sin for us. We are all paid up, so to speak, because Jesus has paid it all for us. It was a substitute for us; he did it on our behalf. And there was an exchange: he gets our penalty, and we are freed from the penalty, and that’s the good news about the love of Christ that Paul wants to share with others. That’s why Paul preaches.
And how should we respond to Christ’s death for us? We get our answer in verse 15: Paul is one of those people, so he lives and preaches not for himself, but for Jesus, because Jesus died and was raised for him. This verse encapsulates the gospel and the response that all of us ought to make: Jesus died for us, so we are to live not for ourselves, but for Jesus. Our goal is not to get as much as we can for ourselves, but to do what we can for Christ. Our life is not about us – it’s about Jesus; he is the reason for our life. And as Paul says elsewhere – we are not the ones who are living, but Christ is living in us. If we do anything worthwhile at all, it’s because Christ is living in us, initiating it and energizing it. And we get the pleasure of participating in it.
Illustration: Don Miller is a writer from Portland. He was teaching a class in Canada. His students were all freshman college students who had grown up in the church. The class was called "The Gospel and Culture." He started the class with an experiment. He told the class that he was going to share the gospel of Jesus, but was going to leave something out. He wanted them to figure out what was missing from what he was going to say. So he told them about sin, about how we are all fallen creatures. He told some stories and used some illustrations. He talked about repentance, and again told some stories. He talked about God's forgiveness, and then he talked about heaven. He went on like this. Listen to what happened: