(Article for publication week of 11-28- AD 2012)
“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which He hath purchased with His Own blood” (Acts 20:28).
Our text this week is the apostle Paul’s farewell address to the elders of the church at Ephesus. Here is the great duty of the true ministers of Christ- to feed the Lord’s people.
The first thing I want you to notice in our text is the Deity of our Lord Jesus Christ. The text says that the Church was bought with the blood of God. Now, we know that it was the Lord Jesus Christ, the Eternal and Coequal Son of God, the God man, Who shed His blood for our redemption. So it is evident that Paul was saying that Christ is and was truly and properly God.
Secondly, notice with me that the redemption made by Christ is spoken of in our text in economic terms. The Church was purchased with the blood of Christ, Who, as I say is clearly God. We have here the language of the marketplace. The atonement secured by Christ was a commercial atonement. There was a price that had to be paid, and the Lord Jesus Christ paid the price. This commercial, or economic aspect of the atonement is shown by other passages which speak of our sins in terms of indebtedness. For instance, our Lord taught us to pray, “forgive us our debts” (Matthew 6:12). We were indebted to God because of our sins. Christ paid our debt that we owed to the justice of God’s law.
Thirdly, please notice the high price of salvation. It took the blood of Christ, that is His death, to save us from our sins. The price of salvation is higher than any man can ever pay. We have been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, not with silver or gold (I Peter 1:18). Nothing but the blood of Christ can ever wash away our sins. None of our good works can ever pay the price of redemption. Our tears of repentance will not pay, or help pay the debt of sin we owed. Our faith cannot pay the price. Rites and rituals, ordinances nor sacraments (so-called) will ever pay, or help pay the debt we owed. But the precious blood of Christ paid once and for all the debt that all the Church owed.
Fourthly, note well that Christ got what He paid for. He actually purchased His Church. He did not just make a down payment, and leave it to us to pay the rest. A thousand times “No”! Salvation is all of the Lord. It is not a joint effort between Christ and sinners. No! The full price of redemption was paid for every blood bought soul when Christ died on the cross.
Finally, I want to be sure who is meant here by the “church”. Our text has nothing to do with a denomination, or a group of churches, or even a local organized assembly. The “church” here in our text is the whole election of grace. Every heir of promise chosen by God, redeemed by Christ, and called by the Holy Spirit is in the “church” of our text. Now, hold your seat and don’t go off on a tangent. I am not suggesting that the organized church is unimportant. I am not suggesting that Christians ought to hold the organized church in contempt. This is one of those ways that some have destroyed their souls by falling into a ditch on either side. There are multitudes who belong to a visible organized church who have no evidence of being saved. Then there are others who maintain that it is superfluous to belong to the church since salvation is in Christ and not the church. Both of these are dangerous errors. It is true that salvation is in Christ, not the church. But it is the duty of all believers to join a local assembly and submit to its doctrines and discipline. Lord willing, we will write on the doctrine of the church one of these days, but now I want you to see that often in the scriptures the “church” refers to all the elect of God. It includes all the Old Testament saints as well as all the New Testament saints. It includes the dying thief who never got baptized, and never joined the visible church. Christ paid the price for all the Father gave Him in the covenant of grace.
Christ paid the price in full. Praise the Lord!