“You Were Bought With a Price”
“You were bought with a price. By all means, glorify God in the body of you people.”—1 CORINTHIANS 6:20.
1, 2. (a) What opened up “the ways out from death”? (b) What had to be done to make Christ’s sacrifice legally valid, as foreshadowed by what?
“THE true God is for us a God of saving acts,” said the psalmist, “and to Jehovah the Sovereign Lord belong the ways out from death.” (Psalm 68:20) The sacrifice of Jesus Christ opened up that way. But for that sacrifice to be legally valid, Christ had to make a personal appearance before God himself.
2 This was foreshadowed on Atonement Day when the high priest entered the Most Holy. (Leviticus 16:12-15) “However,” wrote the apostle Paul, “when Christ came as a high priest . . . , he entered, no, not with the blood of goats and of young bulls, but with his own blood, once for all time into the holy place and obtained an everlasting deliverance for us. For Christ entered, not into a holy place made with hands, which is a copy of the reality, but into heaven itself, now to appear before the person of God for us.”—Hebrews 9:11, 12, 24.
The Power of Blood
3. (a) How is blood viewed by Jehovah’s worshipers, and why? (b) What shows that blood has the legal power to atone for sins?
3 What role does Christ’s blood play in our salvation? Since Noah’s day, true worshipers have viewed blood as sacred. (Genesis 9:4-6) Blood plays an important part in the life process, for the Bible says that “the soul [or life] of the flesh is in the blood.” (Leviticus 17:11) So the Mosaic Law required that when an animal was sacrificed, its blood be poured out before Jehovah. At times blood was also placed upon the horns of the altar. Clearly, the atoning power of a sacrifice was in its blood. (Leviticus 8:15; 9:9) “Nearly all things are cleansed with blood according to the Law, and unless blood is poured out no forgiveness takes place.”—Hebrews 9:22.
4. (a) What purpose was served by God’s restricting the use of blood? (b) What was significant about the way Jesus was put to death?
4 Little wonder, then, that under the Law, any misuse of blood was punishable by death! (Leviticus 17:10) All of us know that when a substance is made rare, or severely restricted as to its use, its value increases. Jehovah’s curb on its use ensured that blood would be viewed, not as something of ordinary value, but as precious, valuable. (Acts 15:29; Hebrews 10:29) This accorded with the exalted purpose the blood of Christ would serve. Fittingly, he died in a manner that caused his blood to be shed. Thus, it was evident that Christ not only sacrificed his human body but poured out his soul, sacrificed his very life as a perfect human! (Isaiah 53:12) Christ did not forfeit the legal right to that life because of imperfection, so his poured-out blood had great value and could be presented before God for the atonement of mankind’s sins.
5. (a) What did Christ take into heaven, and why? (b) How was it evident that God accepted Christ’s sacrifice?
5 Christ could not take his literal blood into heaven. (1 Corinthians 15:50) Rather, he took what that blood symbolized: the legal value of his sacrificed perfect human life. Before the person of God, he could make formal presentation of that life as a ransom in exchange for sinful mankind. Jehovah’s acceptance of that sacrifice became evident at Pentecost 33 C.E., when the holy spirit came upon 120 disciples in Jerusalem. (Acts 2:1-4) Christ, as it were, now owned the human race by purchase. (Galatians 3:13; 4:5; 2 Peter 2:1) Hence, ransom benefits could flow to mankind.
The First Beneficiaries of the Ransom
6. What arrangements has God made for the application of the benefits of Christ’s ransom?
6 This did not mean, however, that mankind would be granted instant physical perfection, for unless man’s sinful nature was overcome, physical perfection would not be possible. (Romans 7:18-24) How and when would sinfulness be overcome? God first arranged for 144,000 heavenly ‘priests to our God to rule as kings over the earth’ with Christ Jesus. (Revelation 5:9, 10; 7:4; 14:1-3) Through them the benefits of the ransom will gradually be applied to mankind over a period of a thousand years.—1 Corinthians 15:24-26; Revelation 21:3, 4.
7. (a) What is the new covenant, who are the parties to it, and what purpose does it serve? (b) Why did a death have to take place to make the new covenant possible, and what role does Christ’s blood play?
7 Leading up to that, the 144,000 king-priests are “bought from among mankind.” (Revelation 14:4) This is accomplished by means of “a new covenant.” This covenant is a contract between Jehovah God and the spiritual Israel of God for its members to serve as kings and priests. (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Galatians 6:16; Hebrews 8:6-13; 1 Peter 2:9) Yet, how is a covenant between God and imperfect man possible? Paul explains: “Where there is a covenant [between God and imperfect man], the death of the human covenanter needs to be furnished. For a covenant is valid over dead victims, since it is not in force at any time while the human covenanter is living.”—Hebrews 9:16, 17.
8, 9. How is the ransom related to the new covenant?
8 Hence, the ransom sacrifice is fundamental to the new covenant, of which Jesus is the Mediator. Paul wrote: “There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, a man, Christ Jesus, who gave himself a corresponding ransom for all—this is what is to be witnessed to at its own particular times.” (1 Timothy 2:5, 6) Those words especially apply to the 144,000, with whom the new covenant is made.
9 When God made a covenant with fleshly Israel, it was not legally valid until animal blood was shed in sacrifice. (Hebrews 9:18-21) Similarly, for the new covenant to become operative, Christ had to shed the “blood of the covenant.” (Matthew 26:28; Luke 22:20) With Christ acting as both High Priest and “mediator of a new covenant,” God applies the value of Jesus’ blood to those being brought into the new covenant, legally crediting them with human righteousness. (Hebrews 9:15; Romans 3:24; 8:1, 2) God then can take them into the new covenant to be heavenly king-priests! As their Mediator and High Priest, Jesus assists them in maintaining a clean standing before God.—Hebrews 2:16; 1 John 2:1, 2.
Gathering the Things on Earth
10, 11. (a) How does the ransom extend beyond anointed Christians? (b) Who are the great crowd, and what standing do they have with God?
10 Is it only anointed Christians who can experience a release by ransom, the forgiveness of their sins? No, God is reconciling to himself all other things by making peace through the blood shed on the torture stake, as Colossians 1:14, 20 indicates. This involves the things in the heavens (the 144,000) as well as the things upon the earth. The latter are those in line for earthly life, humans who will enjoy perfect life in Paradise on earth. Especially since 1935 has there been a concerted effort to gather such ones. Revelation 7:9-17 describes them as “a great crowd” who owe salvation to God and to the Lamb. They still need to survive “the great tribulation” and be ‘guided to fountains of waters of life,’ for Revelation 20:5 shows that such ones will become fully alive, having perfect human life, by the end of the Thousand Year Reign of Christ. Those who then pass a final test in their perfect human state will be declared righteous for everlasting life on earth.—Revelation 20:7, 8.
11 Nevertheless, in a preliminary way, the great crowd have already “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:14) Christ does not act as Mediator of the new covenant toward them, yet they benefit from this covenant through the work of God’s Kingdom. Christ still acts toward them, however, as High Priest, through whom Jehovah can and does apply the ransom to the extent of their now being declared righteous as God’s friends. (Compare James 2:23.) During the Millennium, they will gradually “be set free from enslavement to corruption [until finally they] have the glorious freedom of the children of God.”—Romans 8:21.
12. On what basis did God deal with faithful men in pre-Christian times?
12 As to their standing with God, it might seem that those of the great crowd differ little from pre-Christian worshipers. However, God dealt with the latter with the future ransom provision in view. (Romans 3:25, 26) They enjoyed forgiveness of their sins only in a provisional way. (Psalm 32:1, 2) Rather than fully relieving them of the “consciousness of sins,” animal sacrifices caused “a reminding of sins.”—Hebrews 10:1-3.
13. What advantages do we have over pre-Christian servants of God?
13 It is different with true Christians today. They worship on the basis of a ransom that has been paid! Through their High Priest, they “approach with freeness of speech to the throne of undeserved kindness.” (Hebrews 4:14-16) Being reconciled to God is not some hoped-for development but a present reality! (2 Corinthians 5:20) When they err, they can receive real forgiveness. (Ephesians 1:7) They enjoy a truly cleansed conscience. (Hebrews 9:9; 10:22; 1 Peter 3:21) These blessings are a foretaste of the glorious freedom of the children of God that Jehovah’s servants will enjoy in the future!
The Depth of God’s Wisdom and Love
14, 15. How does the ransom highlight Jehovah’s unfathomable wisdom, as well as his righteousness and love?
14 What a marvelous gift from Jehovah the ransom is! It is easily comprehended, yet profound enough to strike awe into the greatest intellect. Our review of the workings of the ransom has barely scratched the surface. Yet, we exclaim with the apostle Paul: “O the depth of God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How unsearchable his judgments are and past tracing out his ways are!” (Romans 11:33) Jehovah’s wisdom is shown in that he was able both to rescue mankind and to vindicate his sovereignty. By means of the ransom, “God’s righteousness has been made manifest . . . God set [Christ] forth as an offering for propitiation through faith in his blood.”—Romans 3:21-26.
15 No criticism can be leveled against God for forgiving the sins that were committed in the past by pre-Christian worshipers. Furthermore, no criticism can be leveled against Jehovah for declaring the anointed righteous as his sons or the great crowd as his friends. (Romans 8:33) At great cost to himself, God has been perfectly legal, or upright, in his dealings, completely refuting Satan’s lying claim that Jehovah is an unjust ruler! God’s unselfish love for his creatures has likewise been demonstrated beyond question.—Romans 5:8-11.
16. (a) In what way has the ransom provided for settling the issue of the integrity of God’s servants? (b) How does the ransom give us a basis for faith in a coming new world of righteousness?
16 The way in which the ransom was provided also settled the issues involving the integrity of God’s servants. Jesus’ obedience alone accomplished that. (Proverbs 27:11; Romans 5:18, 19) But add to that the life course of 144,000 Christians who, in spite of Satan’s opposition, remain faithful till death! (Revelation 2:10) The ransom makes it possible for these to receive as their reward immortality—indestructible life! (1 Corinthians 15:53; Hebrews 7:16) This makes absurd Satan’s claim that God’s servants are untrustworthy! The ransom has also given us a solid basis for faith in God’s promises. We can behold a framework of salvation that is “legally established” through the ransom sacrifice. (Hebrews 8:6) A new world of righteousness is thus guaranteed!—Hebrews 6:16-19.
Do Not Miss Its Purpose
17. (a) How do some show that they have missed the purpose of the ransom? (b) What can motivate us to remain morally clean?
17 To benefit from the ransom, it is necessary that one take in knowledge, exercise faith, and live by Bible standards. (John 3:16; 17:3) Relatively few, though, are willing to do so. (Matthew 7:13, 14) Even among true Christians, some may “accept the undeserved kindness of God and miss its purpose.” (2 Corinthians 6:1) For example, over the years thousands have been disfellowshipped for sexual misconduct. What a shame in view of what Jehovah and Christ have done for us! Should not appreciation for the ransom move a person to avoid becoming “forgetful of his cleansing from his sins of long ago”? (2 Peter 1:9) Appropriately, then, Paul reminds Christians: “You were bought with a price. By all means, glorify God in the body of you people.” (1 Corinthians 6:20) Remembering this gives us powerful motivation to remain morally clean!—1 Peter 1:14-19.
18. How can a Christian who falls into serious sin still avail himself of the ransom?
18 What if a person has already fallen into serious sin? He should take advantage of the forgiveness that the ransom makes possible, receiving assistance from loving overseers. (James 5:14, 15) Even if strong discipline is needed, a repentant Christian should not give out under such correction. (Hebrews 12:5) We have this marvelous Biblical assurance: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous so as to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”—1 John 1:9.
19. What view can a Christian take of his misconduct that took place before learning the truth?
19 Sometimes Christians are unduly discouraged because of past misconduct. “Before coming into the truth,” wrote one disheartened brother, “my wife and I contracted genital herpes. At times we feel unclean, as if we don’t ‘fit’ in Jehovah’s clean organization.” Granted, even after becoming Christians, some may reap a degree of suffering from past mistakes. (Galatians 6:7) Still, there is no reason to feel unclean in Jehovah’s eyes if one has repented. “The blood of the Christ” is able to “cleanse our consciences from dead works.”—Hebrews 9:14.
20. How can faith in the ransom relieve a Christian of unnecessary guilt?
20 Yes, faith in the ransom can help to relieve us of unnecessary burdens of guilt. One young sister admitted: “I have been struggling with the unclean habit of masturbation for over 11 years now. I nearly left the congregation at one point, feeling that Jehovah would never want a person so disgusting to defile his congregation.” We must remember, though, Jehovah is “good and ready to forgive” as long as we conscientiously put up a fight against unrighteousness, not succumbing to it!—Psalm 86:5.
21. How should the ransom affect our view of those who offend us?
21 The ransom should also have a bearing on how we deal with others. For instance, how do you react when a fellow Christian offends you? Do you freely extend Christlike forgiveness? (Luke 17:3, 4) Are you “tenderly compassionate, freely forgiving [others] just as God also by Christ freely forgave you”? (Ephesians 4:32) Or do you tend to harbor grudges or nurture resentment? That certainly would be missing the purpose of the ransom.—Matthew 6:15.
22, 23. (a) What effect should the ransom have on our goals and life-style? (b) What resolve should all Christians make regarding the ransom?
22 Finally, appreciation for the ransom should have a profound effect on our goals and life-style. Said Paul: “You were bought with a price; stop becoming slaves of men.” (1 Corinthians 7:23) Are economic needs—home, job, food, clothing—still the center of your life? Or are you seeking the Kingdom first, putting faith in God’s promise to provide for you? (Matthew 6:25-33) Might you slave for your employer but fail to make enough room for theocratic activities? Remember, Christ “gave himself for us that he might . . . cleanse for himself a people peculiarly his own, zealous for fine works.”—Titus 2:14; 2 Corinthians 5:15.
23 “Thanks to God through Jesus Christ” for this superlative gift—the ransom! (Romans 7:25) May we never miss the purpose of the ransom but allow it to be a real force in our lives. In thought, in word, and in deed, may we always glorify God, gratefully remembering that we have been bought with a price.
□ Why is blood considered sacred, and how was Christ’s blood presented before Jehovah in heaven?
□ What role did Christ’s blood play in ratifying the new covenant?
□ How does the ransom benefit the anointed and the great crowd?
□ How can we show that we have not missed the purpose of the ransom?
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The atoning power of a sacrifice is in its lifeblood
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One who appreciates God’s forgiveness is willing to extend forgiveness to others