Reasons to fear…

(part 1)

There are a lot of different ways we should respond after thinking about our salvation, one of those responses should be reverent fear.  

Peter puts it like this,  

“…conduct yourselves in fear” 

1 Peter 1:17ff 

“Knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers.”

We could translate that word knowing really, because you know.

He’s giving a reason for a lifestyle of wonder-filled humble joy, and it has to do with the fact that God is not only our Judge, He is also our Savior.

If you look at the text, you’ll see Peter doesn’t speak of the salvation God has provided in general terms.  The term he uses to describe what God has accomplished in our salvation is the word ransom or redeem.

Knowing that you were ransomed.

Now I want you to think about that word.

The salvation God has provided for us through Jesus Christ is big, so big that the writers of Scripture use many different terms and images to describe it.

Five of the main terms, I think would have to be, justification, forgiveness, reconciliation, adoption,

and then this word, redemption or ransom.

Each of these terms helps us grasp a little different aspect of our *salvation.

For example, there’s justification.

In justification the sinner stands before God the Judge as the accused and is declared not guilty, more than that, righteous on the basis of the work of Jesus Christ.

Then there is forgiveness, where the sinner stands before God as one who owes a great debt and through the work of Jesus Christ, that debt is paid and forgotten.

In reconciliation, you have the sinner who stands before God as His enemy made God’s friend through Christ’s death.

With the term adoption, the sinner stands before God as an outsider, a stranger, someone who is actually part of another family, and then through a legal act is transferred into the family of God, made his son or daughter.

And in redemption, we find the sinner standing before God as a slave, someone who is being held captive and being granted freedom through the payment of a ransom. 

This term redemption focuses in on the pathetic condition in which we found ourselves and the cost that God paid to release us. 

You see that coming out in the way for example this term was used in Peter’s day.   The original readers of Peter’s letter would have recognized the Greek term that Peter uses here for ransom as being almost a technical term that was used to describe a process which obtained the release of a person in captivity through the payment of a price; whether it be a slave or even a prisoner of war.

To give you a specific example, apparently in the Greco-Roman culture, a slave could receive his freedom by depositing a certain amount of money into the temple of a god or goddess.  That money would then be paid by the temple to the slave’s owner, the idea being that the god was buying the slave.  The slave would then be considered free from his former owner and you know the point is that they called the whole process that dealt with going out of that condition, redemption.   

The word redemption though, it wasn’t just used in Peter’s culture.  It was used in the Old Testament.  And it is more likely that Peter’s use of the word is rooted in the Old Testament than even in his cultures.  This whole book is rooted in the Old Testament.  He quotes continually from the Old Testament.  He makes a point at the beginning of the book to show how the apostle’s message was tied to the Old Testament and so when we hear Peter using a word like redemption, our minds should run to the Old Testament.

And when we run to the Old Testament we find that this term was use in many different places.  In the Old Testament, all sorts of things were  redeemed by the payment of a price.  Property, people, etc.  You can think for example of how the Old Testament talks about the role of the kinsman redeemer, a relative who could pay a price say to buy back a piece of property that was taken away from the family or tribe. 

Whether it is a piece of property, a person or whatever, in every case throughout the Old Testament where it talks about redemption, it talks about somebody paying a price to release someone else or something else from a desperate condition, a kind of bondage you might say.

In fact one of the primary ways the term is used in the Old Testament is to describe the way God Himself rescues His people from being held in exile.  Like for example, when he rescued His people from slavery in Egypt, Deuteronomy 7:8 says that the Lord “kept the oath he swore to your forefathers that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of the King of Egypt.”  

What’s interesting is that often when the writers talk about God’s redeeming His people, they seem to place an emphasis on the effort involved.  It talks about God redeeming with His outstretched hand for example.  We are not supposed to think of this as a small thing in other words.  Whenever God acts to redeem His people it is to be seen as at great cost to Himself.

This whole idea of redemption, it is huge biblically, and you know coming back to 1 Peter 1, this is exactly where Peter goes when he wants to motivate us to fear.  Peter is telling us here that this idea of redemption, the fact that God paid a ransom to set us free, it is supposed to be life transforming, specifically, it should cause us to fear. 

*(the ideas in the following paragraph comes from a sermon I recently heard from John MacArthur)

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