The other day I was having a casual conversation with a coworker who hosts international students. In her house, she has a sign that reads, “My Redeemer Lives.” Curious about the sign, the student asked, “What is a redeemer?”
My friend paused. How do you work around the language barrier to explain the concept of a redeemer to a foreign college student? You have to word it differently than you would to a native speaker but also different from how you would tell a child.
I pondered the thought. If I had been in her shoes, what would I have said?
Here’s what I thought:
When you go to a store and pick up items, you have to pay for them before you leave. Each item you pick up goes towards an amount you have to pay to the store. What would happen if you did not have the money to pay for your items? This is where the redeemer comes in. A redeemer pays your bill for you.
The concept is simple, and all of us can relate to buying items at a store. I trust the above explanation is sufficient for understanding what a redeemer is, but, I'm sure, some of you are curious about the theology behind a redeemer. So, for you, below is a more in-depth explanation.
When a human is born, he is born in the nature of Adam. That is, he is born with an inclination to sin. To sin simply means to disobey God. Therefore, anything that is contrary to the laws, will, or character of God is a sin. Adam sinned when he chose to disobey God’s commandment to not eat of a particular tree in the Garden of Eden, and we, his children, picked up the same habit of disobedience from him.
If you ever doubt that you have an inclination to sin, consider this question: what is your first instinct when you did something you know will get you into trouble with your parents, your teachers, or your boss, etc.? Aren’t you tempted to lie about it or cover up your mistake?
This instinct to protect ourselves from the consequences of our actions is a clear indication of our sin nature. Adam chose to hid from God as soon as he had eaten he forbidden fruit. When God confronted him, he blamed his wife for his decision. Each of us follows in Adam’s footsteps: we try to weasel our way out of punishment for doing what we want to do regardless of what God has told us to do.
So, how does God respond to this inclination to disobey Him?
God needed a way to “undo” Adam’s decision so that we would be able to reject the desire to disobey God. That is, God needed a new father of humanity whose children would be able to say “no” to sin. Such is why Jesus is sometimes referred to as the second Adam; through Adam all of humanity became victim to sin, and through Jesus all humanity has a way of escape from sin. How does it work?
"God needed a way to “undo” Adam’s decision so that we would be able to reject the desire to disobey God."
When a person accepts Jesus as his Redeemer, he is saying he no longer wishes to be a son of Adam but instead wishes to be a son of God. That person wants to change his nature from one who disobeys God to one who obeys Him. This is why Jesus says we must be born-again to enter into heaven; we must experience a change of heart. Yet, it is more than a change of heart; it is an actual change of our essence.
Before salvation, you cannot help but sin. After salvation, you are free to chose not to sin. For example, if you have a problem with anger, you suddenly realize you do not have to give into your anger anymore. Or, you are finally able to let go of that jealously towards your best friend or maybe you can finally forgive that person who hurt you so deeply.
When Jesus saves you, He redeems, or buys back, your soul. He restores you to the pre-Adam nature, a nature that can choose whether or not to sin. (Notice that salvation does not mean you are suddenly free from sin; it means that you now can choose to be free from sin.) A supernatural transactions occurs in which your heart is transformed from an Adam-like nature to a Christ-like nature. This transaction involves the Holy Spirit coming to live inside you; the moment Jesus purchases you, He sends the Holy Spirit to lead you on the journey home to Him.
Jesus has the right to purchase us because He suffered the wrath of God and was found blameless; during His death at Calvary He took to Himself the wrath of God that was should have been poured out on all of us for our many sins. That is, He paid the full penalty for our sins.
Jesus is our Redeemer because He has the ability and resources to pay-off our spiritual debts and restore us to our original position of constant fellowship with God. His blood utterly condemns the Adam-nature (proving that it is possible to be human and not sin, even when unjustly beaten, scorned, and killed), and His life sustains us in a new nature—His nature—which is to please our Heavenly Father. He is able to transform us into the image God originally designed us to be; sons and daughters of a righteous God living in peace with our Creator.
May we all acknowledge Jesus as our Redeemer.
Have you ever thought about how you would explain a redeemer? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.