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Description: Golden Chains of Love
Golden Chains of Love
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
Will you turn loved ones to Ephesians 1:7a and we’ll just do a third of a verse. Ephesians 1:7
reads like this, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses,
according to the riches of his grace.” You can see yourself that that verse contains three massive
concepts that are really the basis of the gospel and so we’ll only be able to cover the first one
today. Ephesians 1:7a, “In him we have redemption through his blood.”
You remember the man up in Scotland who took the guns and shot the children in the school? Well
just project your mind into what might have been the mind of his father, when that happened. What
would his father have felt? And I think all of us would say, “Responsible. Responsible.” Whether
you think that’s fair, or just, or not he would have felt responsible. He would have felt, “I
wonder what I did when my son was growing up? What did I do that brought this about that made him
the kind of person that could go in and shoot little children in an infant school?” Or, if you
think of a pit bull terrier that had maybe savaged a little child, what would the owner feel? Well,
I mean, he’d feel the same. If you were the owner of a pit bull terrier that savaged anybody you’d
feel, “I’m responsible. It’s my dog. I’m responsible for its existence, I’m responsible for him
being able to do that kind of thing and therefore I’m responsible for the consequences of that.”
Now that sense of responsibility we get directly from God, because that’s his whole attitude. When
he resolved to have children like his Son whom he could love and who could love him, and he gave
them free will so that they could do that, God himself felt responsible for all the consequences
that would come from that. And I think you can easily grasp that yourself. You can feel, “Yes,
well that is what I’ve come to believe God is like. That God is not somebody who just makes a lot
of little creatures with free wills and lets them free in the universe to do what they want and then
watches the consequences and thinks, ‘Oh well, that’s good. That’s bad, that’s good. No, that’s
I think we’ve come to believe that’s what God is. No, God is the kind of person that feels
responsible for all that he has done and particularly of course, because he is the final resort.
There is none behind him. He is the one whom there is no greater. So when God conceived of making
us and making free willed human beings, he decided that he would bear in himself every consequence
of that action. That he would face it all. He did not want to create something that he himself was
not willing to bear, and that’s why he made us. You might say, (because it’s really true), inside
himself, and that’s why he made us inside his Son.
It was not a matter of making something that he could keep out there that could do what it wanted
and he wouldn’t be affected by it. He determined that he would be affected by it. This was his
dearest wish. He wanted others like his Son Jesus and he determined he would face all the
consequences of that, whatever they were. Therefore he would not make them out there apart from
himself. He would make them inside here in his own Son, in his own heart, in the heart of his own
home and his own family. And that’s part of the meaning of that verse that you know so well. “We
here are God’s workmanship, created not outside himself but created in Christ Jesus for good works
which he has prepared for us to walk in.” But also for the bad works because God did see that there
would be bad works. He did see that there would be bad consequences and that’s what he prepared
himself to face.
So, when we think of this verse you begin to see that what God did was he paid the price of that
choice. He paid the price of his vision. And that’s what that word that we translate redemption,
really means. In Greek it’s “apolutrosis” and it means ransom. Redemption is made up of two Latin
words “rede” and “emo” which is to buy. So it means to buyback. And that’s what that verse means.
God was prepared to pay the price for this decision to make other free will agents who could chose
to love him or not to love him. He determined that in his own Son he would pay whatever it took to
buy those people back from the consequences that might follow from that creation. And so when we
talk about redemption we’re talking about this word which really means a ransom. It really means
paying something to get someone back.
They’d use the word, in a pawn broker’s shop where you would be out of money and you’d have a watch
that you thought was worth so much. You’d take it into the pawn broker and you’d say, “What would
you give me for that if I deposit that watch with you?” And then he would give you four or five
pounds. Then whenever you got the money again, you’d go and buy that back from him.
That’s what this word means. It means that God himself determined that he would pay whatever price
was needed to make freewill agents. He wanted freewill beings who could chose to remain in his Son,
become like his Son, and then to allow his Son to live in them. And that was part of the price that
needed to be paid. And that’s why we say that God saw that price from the very beginning. He
foresaw all of this.
He foresaw what would happen, but his own nature and integrity requires that he pay the price of
every action and word that flows from people like ourselves whom he created. And so that’s the kind
of truth you get, in Matthew 20:28 if you’d like to look at it. Matthew 20:28, you remember are
Jesus’ words, “Even as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as
ransom for many.” Part of what that means is that every caustic word that we speak, every attitude
of pride that we have, every moment that we waste, every fear and anxiety that we have, every
selfish action that we do, every secret critical attitude that we express is borne by the one in
whom it is done. It is borne by Christ himself and therefore by God.
There’s a verse, you remember, in a poem by Tennyson, that I won’t remember precisely but it runs
along the line of, “Let thy voice rise like a fountain to me night and day in prayer because the
whole earth is tied to the feet of God with chains of gold.” I think that’s it. And of course, the
whole earth is chained to God’s heart. Everything that happens in this earth reverberates right
through those chains to that heart of God. Everything that we human beings do is borne by Christ
right at that very moment. And that’s part of the price that God in Jesus has borne and paid.
There’s another verse that says the same kind of thing in 1 Corinthians 1:30. “He is the source of
your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and
redemption.” God made Jesus our redemption. Therefore Jesus is the one who, is paid over the pawn
broker’s counter. And if you say, “Is it paid to Satan?” No, it is paid to the inner integrity,
honesty, truthfulness, and responsibility of God himself. That’s it. God’s own character requires
that he face squarely, plainly, and bluntly all the results of what he himself has done. And of
course, he did all that in that moment in eternity.
Why? Because, of Psalms 139:4 if you’d like to look at it. “Even before a word is on my tongue,
lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.” “Did you know Lord that this person would curse that
person?” “Not only did I know it, but I felt it in my heart a million times more than the person
who was cursed. I felt it on Calvary. The moment I conceived of creating all of you, I felt it at
that moment on Calvary from before the foundation of the world.
Then Psalm 139:16, “Thy eyes beheld my unformed substance; in thy book were written, every one of
them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” “You mean the day
those two boys in America killed their parents, you saw that day?” “I saw that day before the earth
was made. I saw that event. I not only felt a million times the pain of the father and the mother,
but I felt the agony that the brothers would feel afterwards. I felt all that. That was done in my
Son. My Son felt that far more than any human being would do.” And that’s what happened from
before the foundation of the world and that’s part of what this means, this apolutrosis”. God felt
But, it goes further than that because the rest of the verse in Greek is “Dia tu hymatos”. This is
the word that means “blood” and this is “through” of course. God doesn’t only face personally the
consequences of his actions. If he doesn’t act against that evil he himself will be destroyed and
the whole universe will be lost in chaos. So, it is not as if he is just an individual person. He
is also the final protector, the final guardian, the final guarantor of the whole universe. The only
way he can do that is to destroy what opposes the good that he has in his heart and that he has in
mind for all of us. And the only way he can do that is by death. That’s why when we were learning
gospel verses to explain the truth to others we learned Romans 6:23, “The wages of sin is death.”
In other words, sin automatically brings destruction in a world that is created by a good and loving
God. If he’s good and loving at all it has to be because he knows if he lets it carry on it will
simply destroy other people and he’s responsible for them. And so death was the only thing that
could come to that sin. In other words, when God saw you or me being angry, sarcastic, cruel,
unkind in our actions, unclean in our thoughts, filled with covetousness, or lust in our feelings,
he immediately had to act to destroy the person in whom that originated. In whom did it originate?
His own dear Son.
Everything that you and I have done we have done inside the one in whom we have been created. You
and I could never have born God’s burning wrath. But we didn’t have to because the one who
surrounded us was the one who bore it. That’s why we talk about redemption through the blood of
Jesus, because the blood is the outpoured life. It was his actual death that saves us. It’s not
even God being prepared to bear the effects of what he has done but it’s him in his Son bearing
destruction itself in a way that is beyond us. God actually bore his own death in Jesus. The
meaning of that we can only guess at when we here Jesus cry, “My God, my God why hast thou forsaken
But that’s what we mean when we say we are redeemed. We have redemption through Jesus’ blood. Of
course, there are many verses that state that but maybe you’d like to look at 2 Corinthians 5:21.
It states the unthinkable really. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in
him we might become the righteousness of God.” And what that verse is clarifying is that because we
did all that inside Jesus, that was experienced by Christ himself. Even though he himself knew no
sin yet he felt all the dirt, and the evil, and the uncleanness of sin itself. On top of that he
experienced its destruction.
So the creation of free will agents in the gospel are not just games. They are the price that our
Creator paid to make people like ourselves who were free to either love him or not to love him. Yet
he preserved in us (even after we had ceased to love him, even after we had deserved only
destruction), the chance of looking at it all and coming round again to accept what he had planned
So that’s what the verse means in 1 Peter 1:18-19. “You know that you were ransomed from the futile
ways inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the
precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was destined before the
foundation of the world but was made manifest at the end of times for your sake.” So our own lack
of love for our neighbor, or our lack of sensitivity to our customers has been destroyed in the one
in whom it was allowed to take place, in our Savior. Let us pray.
Father, we hardly know what to say. We see plainly that you’re certainly not going to require
further destruction. We see that it has been done once and for all and so you do not intend to
bring it about upon us. Lord, what can we do but look up to you in gratitude? Thank you Lord
Jesus, dear friend and Savior for bearing the destruction of not only every sin that we have
committed but the whole attitude of wanting to stand apart from God and wanting to be on our own and
do whatever we wanted.
Lord, you have borne the overwhelming pain and destruction of that inside yourself and now you hold
your arms out to us and say, “Come unto me all that you that labor under heavy labor and I will give
you rest.” Lord Jesus, we do not know what to say. We can only thank you and say that our life is
yours. We owe you everything. You made us and bought us back. We are not our own because we have
been bought with a price, the price of your own blood, your own life.
Father, we thank you and we thank you Lord Jesus. We give ourselves anew to you today to be at your
disposal for whatever your plans are. The grace of our Lord Jesus, and the love of God, and the
fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with each one of us now and ever more. Amen.