Redemption is received, not earned
Presuppositionalism. Modalism. Hypostasis. Social Trinitarianism. Amillenialism. Not the stuff of your average Sunday School class. But it is of some. Know what they all mean? If not you’d better learn, ‘cause your salvation depends on it.
Not really. But suppose it did. Suppose these and other philosophies and descriptions of reality were required by God to be believed in to be saved. Imagine what it would mean if everyone, no matter their level of intelligence or access to learning, must understand and assent to a host of specific and sometimes difficult concepts in order to share eternity with God in Heaven. The few who make it would be so darn proud of themselves as to be totally insufferable to each other. And to God. But certainly, there would be few.
But I think for anyone who is at all familiar with the Scriptures, such an elitist plan of salvation is quite incongruous with what is revealed there. So what about salvation schemes that are slightly less elitist but nevertheless impose layers of duties and beliefs as necessary to be counted among the redeemed?
I think a good question to ask here is, what does it mean to be redeemed? The word ‘redeem’ literally means ‘to buy back’ or ‘buy up.’ So it applies to buying back that diamond ring you pawned, but it also connotes a ransom or rescue. Christians and others engaging in slave redemption in Sudan pay the slave traders a sum of money to buy the slaves in order to give them their freedom.
In God’s economy, as described in the Bible, all people are enslaved to sin1 totally helpless to free themselves. Jesus paid our ransom2 with his sacrificial death on the cross, buying us back, redeeming us so that we would belong to him.3 Yet in him we are free.4
What does the slave contribute to his own redemption? Does the redeemer first examine the slave to see if he merits it…if his good works outweigh his bad? Does he ask her to assent to a creed? The slave contributes nothing. All she has to do is follow the redeemer in submission and she belongs to him.
Now she could refuse his redemption, preferring instead to remain a slave. And so she would. But all that is required if she wants to be free is believe there is someone who has paid her ransom, and act on that faith by turning away from the slave owner and willingly placing herself under her redeemer’s authority.
Are we really free if we are under anyone’s authority? Yes, if our Master is the one from whom we derive our being, and who loves us with an undying love.
I don’t understand why people assent to a salvation scheme that involves doing the impossible. We cannot redeem ourselves. No quantity or quality of works or believed doctrine is enough payment to gain our own freedom. And our Redeemer doesn’t offer an insufficient payment with a balance due. He doesn’t need our help; he paid it all.
Romans 3:23-24 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus
1 Romans 6 2 Mark 10:45 3 Romans 7:4 4 Galatians 5:1