Implications of the Word, Pt. 7
Living a Redemptive Life in a Broken World
Study Guide, September 3, 2017
Pastor Clay Olsen
One of the great hymns is called ‘Redeemed’. And it says, “Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it! Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb; Redeemed thro’ His infinite mercy, His child and forever I am.” We know that in Christian teaching that redemption is a part of our salvation and assures us of our deliverance from sin’s penalty and from the consequences of a broken relationship with God. This great truth is celebrated in 1 Peter 1:17-19- “…you are to conduct yourselves in reverence during this time of temporary residence. For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from the fathers, not with perishable things, like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish.” Holman Bible
Redemption also implies assigning the true value to something which was delivered from a crisis. God valued us, wanted us, to be His children in His forever family and delivered us from the crisis of our condemnation. And so He did just that! The crisis of our condemnation is now over. Rom 8:1- “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” NASU
In fact, theologians throughout history have suggested that we write one word across the closed pages of our Bibles, so that when you look at your Bible you would see that the theme of it is ‘Redemption’. Actually, when you think about it, that one word could be the theme for each of our lives, for we are a ‘Redeemed’ people of God, and we ought to be living ‘Redemptive’ lives in the midst of a broken world.
This last week we have witnessed just how broken our world is, as a major hurricane brought devastation to so many people’s lives in parts of Texas and Louisiana. It’s very clear that even our physical world, including weather, is suffering under the chaos of a world that is broken and wearing out like a garment. You recall what the Scriptures say about that. Ps 102:25-26- “Of old You founded the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. Even they will perish, but You endure; And all of them will wear out like a garment; Like clothing You will change them and they will be changed.” NASU And in the book of Hebrews we find this explanation of the condition of the Earth: Heb 1:10-12- “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of Your hands; they will perish, but You remain; they will all wear out like a garment, like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But You are the same, and Your years will have no end.” ESV
Remember, that is what people need to understand about our Earth, particularly when they ask what’s wrong with the world and the weather and such. The fact is that our Earth and all of its weather systems are wearing out, like an old garment. And no matter what so-called solutions scientists or anyone else comes up with, the fact is that this Earth is wearing out. Thankfully, God intends to first renovate it in the Millennial Kingdom and to then resurrect it for the Eternal Kingdom. You talk about a make-over ahead for our Earth!
But the other realization about this is that because the Earth and all of its weather systems are wearing out, there will be more crises like these of storms and devastation. We live in a broken world, physically broken and spiritually broken. But God is the Redeemer of broken things and broken lives.
One of the organizations that especially carries this ‘Redemptive’ theme into everything they do is Samaritan’s Purse. Other organizations do wonderful works in helping the hurting…but I’m just using Samaritan’s Purse as a particular of example of ‘Redemptive Ministry’. The Chapel sent a donation this week through them to help with this hurricane crisis, as I’m sure many of you have also donated as well. This Christian ministry seeks to minister in redemptive ways to the whole person, physically and spiritually. They see the value of both aspects of people’s lives and they seek to bring hope and help and relief, physically and spiritually, in any way that they can. And we continue to pray for all of the brave responders as they give of themselves to help others.
One of the hard realities in this life is that things get broken when you live in a broken world. And when things like these storms wreak havoc on your life and on the things in your life, sometimes Christians feel guilty about being sorrowful over their losses, their physical losses. But they needn’t feel guilty about that at all. Remember, God values the things of His created world. He called the material world ‘very good’ when He created it. The Apostle Paul also reminded us believers that these created things are good and are blessings to be enjoyed in our lives. 1 Tim 4:4-5- “Since everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it but receive it with thanks. For we know it is made acceptable by the word of God and prayer.” NLT
So when we experience the loss of these good things due to storms and such, it’s rightful to be sorrowful over the loss. Many of our possessions have great value beyond the things themselves, as to what they mean to us by way of memories, or as meaningful gifts from others and such. There’s to be no shame in sorrow over the loss of good things in our lives, even when they are physical and temporal. And yet, as those who belong to the eternal world, to the Eternal God; we do not grieve the same as those who do not have their highest hope set upon Christ and the eternal world. We may experience sorrow over the loss of these temporal blessings, but our inner joy is fixed upon our relationship with our Savior and our loved ones in Christ and in the eternal blessings that far exceed anything we could ever acquire in this world. Note this astounding reality of just how blessed God’s children really are: Eph 1:3- “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ…” NASU
This is an amazing revelation. And of course, these blessings include such wonders as our pardon and peace, our redemption, our adoption as sons and daughters of God, the promise of the sealing of the Holy Spirit upon us, and more. But what is often overlooked is that we are not only endowed with these blessings, but we are to be deeply influenced and changed by the experience of these blessings. That statement about ‘heavenly places’ is actually a description of ‘heavenly realms’, of which, even this broken world is now within these realms. And the reason it’s within these ‘heavenly realms’ is because of the world-wide population of redeemed heavenly citizens that, although away from their heavenly home, are being used by God to live redemptive lives on each one of our journeys to our eternal home. Some of these ‘blessings’ are the same as what we call ‘Christian graces’, which enable us to live redemptively in the midst of a broken world. These blessings, these graces, refer to ‘blessed enablements’ of the Spirit of Christ working within us in order to help us to live redemptive lives and to also see the redemptive value in things and to do those things that have redemptive value. We could think of these enablements in terms of what the Apostle Peter says about what God has done to prepare us for godly living. 2 Peter 1:2-3- “May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord. By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life.” NLT
So God has bestowed in us, through His Spirit who indwells us, enough provisions to actually live out a godly life and to actually carry out redemptive works. He has even granted us the provision of redeeming qualities in which to do our works. Some examples of these redeeming qualities are: Servant-heartedness – the enablement to make our personal schedule and plans secondary to the needs of those around us; Chivalry – the enablement to create safe places for others and to provide protection for the weak and suffering, and to even carry out justice when needed; Consistency – the enablement to stay firm in our commitments and to practice helpful habits that others can count on; Deference – the enablement to limit our own personal desires and preferences for the sake of promoting good things in the lives of others; Flexibility – the enablement of being able to change plans or actions when unexpected conditions or needs arise; Gladness – the enablement of experiencing and demonstrating joy and good courage in order to encourage those facing discouragement; Humility – the enablement of giving glory to God for His graces and talents and opportunities that He gives to us to better serve and make a lasting differerence in people’s lives around us; Perseverance – the enablement to practice diligence in doing good in spite of other difficulties or setbacks; and so on. You see, God has provided us redeemed people with these graces in order to do those things that have redemptive value, great value for both now in this world and forever in the coming Kingdom.
In fact, God has even poured out a general grace upon all people, in that even though the image of God was effaced in man through the Fall of man in sin, it was not completely erased. How else do you explain people doing redemptive acts in the midst of crises like those we have witnessed in scenes from the hurricane and the suffering it caused. Of course, some of those doing redemptive works are redeemed and born again followers of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But of course, there were others who were moved to do redeeming works, not from their redemption in Christ, but from this general grace implanted in them from their Creator; the general grace that the Fall did not erase that still resides in the souls of men.
Again, there resides in the soul of mankind remnants of the image of God, or enough of the law of God written on their hearts that shows people that they were made for more than to just live for themselves and to just serve themselves; they were made to live for so much more. The Law of God in the hearts of people is telling people and reminding people to do good and not evil, to do right and not wrong. And crises like these storms tug at people’s souls to do just that. In fact, the Redeemer is calling them to do redemptive works; to give help to the hurting, to care for the poor, to defend the defenseless…it all matters to the Lord. And yet, God wants it not only to matter for now, in this temporal world…He wants it to count for all time, to count in the eternal world. But in order to make what matters in time to also count for eternity is that people need to realize that they themselves are broken in their souls, and their greatest need is to have their soul redeemed. And when their soul is eternally redeemed then they can make all of their redemptive works count for eternity. Every person needs Christ in his or her life in order to make their life count for now and for eternity.
That is something else we should remember about a ‘crisis’. Every crisis on Earth is another reminder of everyone’s need for Christ in their lives. Every crisis is another reminder that this world is a broken world, full of broken people. Even nature itself is broken, along with its weather. But we have a Redeemer, who can redeem our soul and make our spirit whole again, reborn again, and can even redeem the broken things in our lives, even when they are broken in a storm. We will even begin to see things in redemptive ways, as to what are the true redemptive values in the things in our lives. Yes, there may be sadness in the loss of temporal things, but there can also be joy over the eternal things that this world of storms can never take away; our union with our Creator and Redeemer, our eternal security in Christ, our eternal relationships with all brothers and sisters in Christ…and even our present and future rewards for giving of ourselves in doing the redemptive works that we have done for the sake of God and for the blessings of others. This broken world can’t touch those eternal possessions of ours.
Sometimes crises take away some valuable things in life from us; but sometimes crises reveal what our highest valuables really are, and reminds us of what is most valuable in our lives. And as we then come to see those things more clearly, we can then think and live the rest of our lives enjoying the experience of them, and also giving our highest attention to them.
We are called to a high calling. As redeemed people of God, we are to live redemptive lives for God. And as we do we will then be serving God as His ‘first responders’ in giving the great hope of the Gospel and great help for those around us dealing with the brokenness that comes from living in this broken world.
One day God is going to fix everything that’s broken and make a world that’s all new and whole again. But until that day, we need to redeem the time for the days are evil, and to live redemptive lives in the midst of this broken world.