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UCGia Bible Insights Thursday, September 02 2021

What does it mean to be redeemed?

In a Psalm of repentance David prayed: "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me" (Psalms 51:10), and in Psalm 69:18 David asked his Creator to "draw near to my soul, and redeem it."

by John Ross Schroeder

In another Psalm King David exclaimed "When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me ... [Finally] I acknowledged my sin to You ...I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,' and You forgave the iniquity of my sin" (Psalms 32:3-5).

To redeem is to buy back, whether as a purchase or a ransom price. After repentance, which is a firm resolve to turn away from sin, and the admission of our guilt, God promises to totally forgive all transgressions of His great spiritual law, because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ (John 3:16). David looked ahead to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and we are told that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will be in the Kingdom of God (Matthew 8:11), as they were redeemed in advance by Christ's sacrifice.

The Apostle Peter tells us just how high a price Christ paid for our redemption: "... you were not redeemed with corruptible things like silver or gold... but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (1 Peter 1:18-19), and Paul adds, "... we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins" (Colossians 1:14).

Jesus also spoke of our redemption to eternal life in the prophecy He gave to His disciples on the Mount of Olives shortly before His death. "Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near" (Luke 21:27-28). This occurs at the second coming of Christ when those who have faithfully served God over the centuries, will be resurrected to eternal life (1 Corinthians 15:22-23; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

Redemption cancels out our sins through the blood of Christ and looks forward to the day when our physical bodies will be transformed from flesh into spirit (1 Corinthians 15:50-54). Redemption is eternal in its effects, and ultimately means everlasting life in the Kingdom of God.





With time, he also came to understand the days observed by most of Christianity are not commanded in the Bible, and Scripture backed up his realisation that associating the name of Jesus with these days did not make them more acceptable: "... in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men" (Matthew 15:9).




While in high school, he also discovered that in the King James Version of the Bible the word translated as "Easter" in Acts 12:4 was an erroneous translation of the Greek word ‘pascha’, a word clearly meaning the Passover (described in Leviticus 23:5). It was not until the second century, long after the New Testament was written, that people began to replace the Passover observance with Easter.




Jesus and His family observed the Holy Days of the Bible, travelling to Jerusalem, when He was twelve years old, to observe the Passover (Luke 2:41, 42). John 7 also shows Christ keeping the Feast of Tabernacles and Last Great Day (described in Leviticus 23:33-36) in spite of the threat of bodily harm. Jesus kept all of the annual festivals, not only because He was a devout Jew, but because God commanded them and He was setting an example for Christians today (Matthew 28:20).




These Holy Days were also observed following Christ's ascension. The disciples were gathered together to observe the feast of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was sent (Acts 2:1), because Pentecost was still a "holy convocation," a commanded assembly (Leviticus 23: 15- 16, 21).




Gentile Christians also observed the biblical Holy Days. More than 20 years after Christ’s crucifixion, about the year A.D. 55, the Apostle Paul gave important instruction to the Church in the gentile city of Corinth, where most church members were gentile. A man was involved in an immoral relationship, and Paul instructed them to expel him from the church:"...Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump...For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with ...the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth" (1 Corinthians 5:6-8).




The Corinthians had put out leaven to observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, but had not applied the spiritual lesson. Paul’s intent, by instructing them to "keep the feast," was not to spiritualize away the Days of Unleavened Bread, but to magnify them. The New Testament builds on the foundation of the Old by emphasizing the spiritual intent of the Holy Days.




Colossians 2:16, 17 is perhaps the most oft-quoted New Testament Scripture used to discredit the Holy Days: "So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ."




Paul was not saying not to keep the Holy Days, he was addressing their proper observance. The Colossians had been introducing ascetic practices on the Holy Days, as they were being influenced to follow the commandments and doctrines of men (verses 18-23). If anything, these verses corroborate the practice of God's true Church in the first century was to observe these days,




Another misunderstood text is Galatians 4:8-10. Verses 8 and 9 refer to the practices of the Galatians before they knew the true God, and after learning the truth, they were beginning to return to these ‘weak and beggarly elements’. To say God's laws are weak and beggarly is blasphemous. These "days and months and seasons [times] and years" were pagan practices, possibly similar to astrology today.




When a person looks into the commands and examples in the Bible to determine which religious festivals to observe, there is only one choice to be found: the annual festivals and Holy Days of God. If we are to build on the foundation of the apostles and prophets and follow the example of Jesus Christ, we will faithfully observe these days, and come to learn more about God's plan of salvation for humanity.

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