The opposite of redeemed is ruined.
For a creature that was designed to exist in a state of being “a little lower than the angels,” we have made an amazing mess of things. We can’t plead innocence, saying we didn’t ruin things; it was Adam and Eve. That is technically true but it is no acquittal. It is not even a verdict of “not guilty.” We come into this world filled with the potential for ruination which is quickly set in motion.
The home, intended as a safe haven, has been invaded by media and malice, anger and abuse, hunger and hatred, neglect and negativity and has for too many children become a danger zone. Even in the best of homes, children have to be taught to be truthful, unselfish, considerate, respectful, and thoughtful of others. These things do not come naturally to us. As Oscar Hammerstein said of prejudice in the musical play, “South Pacific,” these things have to be carefully taught.
A Slow Ruination
Though Adam and Eve were created whole, they failed to live in obedience to God, tempted by the one tree of which they must not partake. That tiny harvest of forbidden fruit ruined them. Like them, each child comes into this world with a clean slate, a record free from accounts of evils done. At some point, the child will find his or her one tree that is forbidden and with full knowledge that it is wrong, pluck its sweet fruit and consume it. From this point the ledger will begin to fill with deeds and attitudes right and wrong, good and bad. In supreme irony, as the child grows in stature and intellect, the list of sins grows as well—a slow ruination at work in the background of a fast-developing life.
Other, more blessed processes are also in motion.
- Prayers from parents, relatives, pastors, and other Christian friends are at work.
- The Holy Spirit is on the scene speaking to the child in quiet, surprising moments.
- Christian music is on in the car and in the home—the words of the godly poets flying like arrows to the heart of the child.
- Pastors and teachers get the child’s attention and tell them things the world will never tell them. They embrace each child and become the arms of Christ to them. They listen to the children and show them that God is there and He is concerned.
At some point many who have been ruined will be redeemed.
When the work of the Spirit and the fallen nature of the child are both at work, they are on a collision course.
- That collision may occur in a Sunday School room as it did for me at age five. It may happen during a worship service or in the quietness of a child’s room just before going to sleep.
- Some children may live to be adults before the prayers of the saints, the words of the witnesses, and the pursuit of the Spirit collides with their ruination.
- The result is the same—redemption. Sadly, many will never reach that moment.
The Verdict Is Innocent
Jesus came to redeem us, to clear our record of wrong and restore us a new verdict before God. The verdict goes beyond “not guilty” to “innocent.” How can this be? It is because to be redeemed is to not only be restored from ruination, but it is to stand before God as if we had never sinned. It is the sentence pronounced at the end of the Creation Week—“Good. Very Good.”
Psalm 107:1-32 NIV
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say this — those he redeemed from the hand of the foe, those he gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south. Some wandered in desert wastelands, finding no way to a city where they could settle. They were hungry and thirsty, and their lives ebbed away. Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. Some sat in darkness and the deepest gloom, prisoners suffering in iron chains, for they had rebelled against the words of God and despised the counsel of the Most High. So he subjected them to bitter labor; they stumbled, and there was no one to help. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men, for he breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron. Some became fools through their rebellious ways and suffered affliction because of their iniquities. They loathed all food and drew near the gates of death. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He sent forth his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men. Let them sacrifice thank offerings and tell of his works with songs of joy. …Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men. Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people and praise him in the council of the elders.
Colossians 2:13-15 NIV
When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross
Ephesians 1:3-9 NIV
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ… In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.
Lord Jesus, thank You for the prayers of saints I have yet to meet who prayed my forbears and me into Your presence. Thank for the divine encounter I had with You as a child—knowing Your presence has been the central reality of my life. Thank You for my parents, pastors, teachers, and friends who instructed me with words and by example in the ways that would please You. Thank You, Lord for saving me from ruin and giving me, instead, a wonderful, on-going redemption.
Song of Testimony:
Words: Fanny Crosby; Music William J. Kirkpatrick
1. Redeemed—how I love to proclaim it! Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed through His infinite mercy, His child and forever I am.
Redeemed! Redeemed, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.
Redeemed! Redeemed! His child and forever I am.
2. Redeemed and so happy in Jesus, no language my rapture can tell;
I know that the Light of His presence with me doth continually dwell.
3. I think of my blessed Redeemer, I think of Him all the day long;
I sing for I cannot be silent; His love is the theme of my song.
4. I know I shall see in His beauty the King in whose law I delight;
Who lovingly guardeth my footsteps and giveth me songs in the night.
© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved