Christ Our Ransom
Rev.Angus Stewart, pastor of Covenant PRC of Ballymena, NI. Published January 2014
You know what a ransom is. A ransom is a price paid to effect the deliverance of captives. You have heard of many instances of kidnappers or terrorists seizing people and imprisoning them. Then they demand a ransom: “If you pay us (a specified amount of money), we will release your loved ones.”
I Timothy 2:6 states that the Lord Jesus “gave himself a ransom.” Christ’s cross is not merely some figurative or metaphorical ransom; it is a real ransom. There are real captives in a real captivity or bondage: under sin (Rom. 3:9), under the condemnation of the law (19), under the curse of the law (Gal. 3:10), in bondage to death, under the fear of death (Heb. 2:15), in slavery to Satan (Eph. 2:2), in bondage to the world and under the fear of hell.
There is the payment of a real ransom for real captives in real bondage. This is a ransom of an infinite price: the incarnate Son of God, who was always obedient and who never sinned. He bore the punishment due to us for our iniquities by giving Himself a ransom, in willing submission to His Father and in boundless love for us, as a voluntary payment for our sins.
This real ransom is paid for real captives in real bondage to a real captor. The ransom is paid to God and not to Satan, contrary to the old ransom-to-Satan theory of Christ’s atonement. The ransom is paid to the same One as Christ’s offering and sacrifice is made. “Through the eternal Spirit,” Christ “offered himself without spot to God” (Heb 9:14). “Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour” (Eph 5:2). The ransom is paid to the Almighty, considered as the lawgiver, ruler and judge, the just and holy One against whom we have sinned, so that satisfaction is rendered to His righteous law and character.
Notice the connection between the mediator and the ransom. Our Lord Jesus Christ is both our mediator and our ransom, since He is the mediator who gave Himself as our ransom, as the apostle says, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom” (I Tim. 2:5-6). The truth of the “one mediator” leads us to His one ransom. Why? Because the mediator between God and men can only destroy the enmity between us and effect fellowship between us on the basis of His ransom of us from Jehovah’s avenging holiness.
In contrast to Scripture, there is the idolatrous system of Roman Catholicism. Rome teaches that people ought to pray to and through the saints, making them mediators, contrary to the truth that Christ is the “one mediator.” Also, people can supposedly draw on the treasury of the good works of the saints, making them provide part of our ransom. Likewise, Rome teaches that Mary (not the holy woman in the Bible, but a goddess of its imagination) is a mediatrix, since people are to pray to and through her. More and more, Mary is being thought, and spoken, of as a redemptrix who pays a ransom for sinners.
Our “one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus ... gave himself a ransom for all” (5-6). You know what the Arminians do with the words “for all.” They claim that this means absolutely everybody head for head. They quote “for all” with glee, as if this established their heresy. You ask them for proof that “all” here means each and every individual human being who has ever lived or will live. They give no proof but they appear unfazed. You cite passages in the Bible—dozens of them!—where the word “all” does not mean everyone head for head and again you ask them for proof that the word here means what they claim it means. Again, no proof is given.
You ask them if Jesus really died for those who commit the unpardonable sin, for whom we are commanded not even to pray (Matt. 12:32; I John 5:16). You enquire why Christ would shed His precious blood to redeem those already and irremediably in hell (Luke 16:26). Why would the Lord atone for the sins of the Antichrist, the son of perdition, whose eternal destruction is already predestined and prophesied (II Thess. 2:3, 8; Rev. 19:20; 20:10)?
The Arminians “err ... not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God” (Matt. 22:29). First, they do not know the power of God in Christ’s ransom. The Lord Jesus paid the ransom but, according to Arminianism, it did not ransom most of those for whom it was made. Jehovah received the ransom but He did not release most of those for whom it was paid! Remember that this was a real ransom made and accepted 2,000 years ago. Thus Arminianism denigrates the power (and wisdom) of God the Son, who paid the ransom, and the power (and faithfulness) of God the Father, who failed to release many for whom He received the ransom.
Moreover, what sort of a mediator does Arminianism make of Jesus Christ? A terrible failure! He is a largely impotent mediator for He does not succeed in reconciling to God most of those people for whom He mediates, for most remain at enmity with Jehovah in this world and the next.
Second, the Arminian heresy of a universal ransom also shows that they do not know the Scriptures, for there are many texts which prove the particularity of Christ’s ransom (e.g., Isa. 53:10-12; John 10:11, 15; 15:13-14; Eph. 5:25). Moreover, I Timothy 2:6 must be understood in its context. “All men” in verse 1 is explained as all types or sorts of men, especially, in this instance, “kings” and “all that are in authority” (2). And so we must pray for them, even if they are wicked and persecute us (1-2). God wills to save all sorts of men (4), even civil rulers, and there is no other Saviour or salvation for rulers and magistrates, since there is “one mediator” (5) who “gave himself a ransom for all” types of people (6). Thanks be to the Triune God, for Christ, our only mediator and our only ransom, is our only hope! Rev. Stewart
- Volume: 14
- Issue: 21
Rev. Angust Stewart (Wife: Mary)
Ordained - 2001
Pastorates: Covenant Protestant Reformed Church of Ballymena, Northern Ireland - 2001Website: www.cprf.co.uk/
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