In the garden of Eden, God lost the part of His creation that He considered very good—mankind. Yet, though man fell under the wiles of Satan, God took a tremendous and necessary step to regain what was rightfully His, created for His own purpose from the beginning. This step is the step of redemption.
What is redemption?
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, to redeem is “to get or win back.” For example, let’s say you unintentionally park your car in a tow-away zone. When you return to your parking spot later, you discover your car is gone. You have the keys and the title deed, but you lost possession of your car. To regain it, you must fulfill the requirements of paying the citation and the fees charged by the towing company.
In this example, you obviously didn’t acquire a car with the intention of having to reclaim it later from a towing company. Rather, you got it to drive it. But when it was towed away, you were temporarily prevented from using it for that purpose. To get back, or redeem, what was yours, you had to go through the necessary steps. Why? So that you could use your car again for the reason you got it to begin with—to drive it.
This scenario, though only an imperfect and material picture of redemption, can show us characteristics in God’s act of redemption. We, God’s possessions created for His own purpose, were lost to God when we fell into sin and death. But God regained us through Christ’s death on the cross. Our being redeemed by God at the high price of the blood of Christ confirms our preciousness and worth to Him.
The reason for redemption
It would be absurd if we were to acquire a car with the sole intention of reclaiming it later from a towing company. And it would be just as absurd if we were to go through the trouble of redeeming the car by paying all the fees, only to leave it in the towing company’s lot. That would negate the reason we got the car to begin with, the very reason it was manufactured—so we could drive it.
Similarly, God surely didn’t create human beings just so He could rescue us afterwards. And if that’s the case, then He must have had a higher purpose and intention when He created us to begin with. His redemption of us is marvelous, but it was never God’s goal for creating us. It was something necessary to recover us back to His original purpose and intention.
Not perish but have eternal life
Most of us are acquainted with John 3:16:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that everyone who believes into Him would not perish, but would have eternal life.”
Although we may be quite familiar with this verse, let’s take a closer look. According to this verse, God gave us His Son so that those who believe into Him would not perish under eternal judgment, which is our lot because of the fall. This is marvelous news! But the verse doesn’t stop here. Referring back to our car illustration, stopping here would be like paying the fees but leaving the car in the lot. We have to read on.
The verse continues by saying God gave His Son, not only so that we would not perish, but also so that we who believe in Him would have eternal life. This is something more than redemption.
What does “would have eternal life” mean?
Why exactly does this verse mention “would have eternal life”? Isn’t that already implied by “would not perish?” It’s important to understand this verse properly, and a key to understanding it is to understand what it means for us to have eternal life. For example, it’s easy to think of “eternal” life as “everlasting” life. But does that definition include all that eternal life really is?
Note 3 on “the eternal life” in 1 John 1:2 in the Recovery Version can help us see more fully what eternal life is:
“Lit., the life the eternal. This life denotes the divine spiritual life, not the human soulish life or the physical life (see note 174 in Rom. 5). Eternal denotes not only duration of time, which is everlasting, without end, but also quality, which is absolutely perfect and complete, without any shortage or defect. Such an expression emphasizes the eternal nature of the divine life, the life of the eternal God. The apostles saw this eternal life and testified and reported it to people. Their experience was not of any doctrine but of Christ, the Son of God, as the eternal life, and their testimony and preaching were not of theology or biblical knowledge but of such a solid life.”
To have eternal life doesn’t simply mean we’ll go on living forever in our natural, human life. For us to have eternal life means we have the very divine, rich, spiritual life of the eternal God. And this life is ours subjectively. We don’t simply possess it as we would an object like a book. Rather, this life is now part of us and we possess it subjectively, in the way of being born again with this divine life. As God’s sons, born with His life, we share the eternal life of God.
The reason for redemption and the reason for our existence
First John 4:9 says, “In this the love of God was manifested among us, that God sent His only begotten Son into the world that we might have life and live through Him.”
In this verse, as in John 3:16, we see the love of God in sending His only begotten Son to us to redeem us so that we might have eternal life in the Son. Note 3 on this verse says this:
“We, the fallen people, are not only sinful in nature and conduct (Rom. 7:17-18; 1:28-32) but also dead in our spirit (Eph. 2:1, 5; Col. 2:13). God sent His Son into the world not only to be a propitiation for our sins that we might be forgiven (v. 10) but also to be life to us that we might have life and live through Him. In the love of God, the Son of God saves us not only from our sins by His blood (Eph. 1:7; Rev. 1:5) but also from our death by His life (3:14-15; John 5:24). He is not only the Lamb of God who takes away our sin (John 1:29); He is also the Son of God who gives us eternal life (John 3:36). He died for our sins (1 Cor. 15:3) that we might have eternal life in Him (John 3:14-16) and live through Him (John 6:57; 14:19). In this the love of God, which is God’s essence, has been manifested.”
For us to have eternal life was God’s intention even before mankind fell in the Garden of Eden. God’s intention was always to share His divine life with the human beings He created for Himself. Yet because of the fall, God had to take the step of redemption.
Christ’s redemption is to bring us back to His original purpose for creating us. Redemption, then, does more than free us from eternal judgment in the future; it positions us to receive the eternal life of God today and, by that life, to live a life in God’s purpose as He designed it from the beginning.
So we see that the reason not only for redemption but also for our existence is for us to have the divine life of God and live by that life as part of God’s purpose for us.
We were created as vessels to receive the treasure of God’s own eternal life, and God sent us His Son so that we could have this life and have it abundantly. By His filling our earthen vessel with His divine life, He meets all the deepest needs of our human life and enables us to live a life according to His design, expressing Him.
Exploring the divine life in us
So, while we can never exhaust our praise to God for His wonderful redemption, the story doesn’t end with righting the wrong of Adam’s fall. Because we have God’s marvelous eternal life today, much, much more awaits us in our Christian life. As redeemed ones, we can be inspired and encouraged to explore a life lived according to His purpose, a life lived by His life in us. In such a life, He supplies us and meets all of our needs from day to day so that we can grow in His life to manifest Him.
Take a moment to simply turn to Him, our Creator, Father, Savior, and Lord, and pray,
“Thank You, Lord, for dying for me. Thank You for loving me and for redeeming me from my fallen position and freeing me from my sins. Lord, thank You even more for saving me so that I could have your eternal life and live by that life today according to Your eternal purpose. Thank You, I can daily enjoy Your eternal life. Show me more of this great purpose of Yours and all that awaits me as one who has been redeemed. Amen.”
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