The Fruit and End of Our Redemption (1): The True Worship of God in Holiness and Righteousness. By Bishop George Downame.
September 3, 2018
The oath which he sware to our father Abraham,
That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear,
in holiness and righteousness before him,
all the days of our life.
Luke 1. 73, 74, 75
The second part of the gift promised by this oath, is, to worship or serve him, &c which is both the end and fruit of our redemption. The consideration of which end is of great importance. For if we know not to use aright any of the least gifts or creatures of God, unless we know the true end thereof (for to the end the right use is referred:) it is more than probable, that he shall abuse this great benefit of redemption, if we have not respect to the end thereof; which is our sanctification. For else what can be the cause of such dissolute living, as is everywhere to be seen among those who profess themselves redeemed by Christ, but a foolish opinion, that Christ having freed them from their sins, they may sin the more freely and that he having died for their sins, they need not to die to them, and so abuse the grace of God unto wantoness. For if our sanctification be the end of our redemption then do we abuse this great benefit of God, if we do not refer it to this end. Yea rather, we deceive and abuse ourselves with a vain opinion of our redemption. For if this be the end of our redemption, then those that live in sin as the servants of sin, either are not redeemed (for whom Christ the son makes free, they are free indeed) or else they are redeemed in vain, for that is in vain which is frustrate of the end.
Now that sanctification is the end of our redemption, it may be proved by the testimonies of holy scripture, and also by sound reasons drawn from thence:
Christ hath given himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and that he might purify or sanctify to himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. Titus 2. 14.
Christ loved his church and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleans it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish. Eph. 5. 25, 26, 27.
You that were enemies Christ has reconciled in the body of his flesh through death to present you holy and unblameable in his sight. Col. 1. 21, 22.
Christ himself bare our sins in his own body, on the tree, that we, being dead to sin should live unto righteousness.1 Pet. 2. 24.
The reason is evident. For that which is the end of all God’s blessings in this life, both spiritual and temporal, must needs be the end of our redemption. But our sanctification is the end of all God’s blessings in this life. 1. Thess. 4. 3 This is the will of God even your sanctification; this is that which God wills, and intends in bestowing his benefits upon us. He has elected us, that we might be holy, Eph. 1. 4. He created us after his own image, that we might worship him in holiness and righteousness, Eph. 4. 24. He has called us to holiness 1. Thess 4. 7 and we are called to be Saints, or Saints by calling, Rom. 1. 7 and 1. Cor. 1. 2 he does regenerate us to the same end. For we are the workmanship of God created in Jesus Christ unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them. Eph. 2.10. To the same end he has planted us in his Church that we might be called trees of righteousness, bringing forth fruit to his glory, Isa 61. 3, and finally to the same end he bestows his temporal benefits upon us. The Psalmist having in the 105th Psalm recounted the manifold blessings of God bestowed upon the Israelites, in the last verse he concludes this to be the end of all, that they might observe his statutes and keep his laws.
And as it is the end, so also the fruit of our redemption; as it is plainly delivered in this text, that he would give us, that we being delivered from the hand of our enemies, should worship him without fear in holiness and righteousness. More plainly, Rom. 6. 22 ... being made free from sin, and become servants to God, we have our fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. And to these, we may add Heb. 9. 13, 14. For if the blood of bulls and goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge our consciences from dead works to serve the living God. And Tit. 2. 11, 12 The saving grace of God hath appeared to all (namely both by deed & by word: in deed by sending Christ to redeem us. 2. Tim. 1. 9, 10 & 1. John 9, 10 by word in publishing this benefit of redemption by the preaching of the Gospel,) the fruit whereof is this, teaching us, that we renouncing all ungodliness, and worldly lusts, should live soberly and justly, and holily in this present world, expecting the happy hope, that is, the happiness hoped for &c.
Seeing then that holiness of life is both the end and fruit of our redemption, and of all other the gifts of God, let us labour to attain to this end, and to bring forth this fruit so shall we show ourselves thankful unto God for this and all other his benefits, and shall also make, not only out justification and redemption, but also our calling and election sure 2. Pet. 1.10.
But on the contrary, if professing ourselves redeemed by Christ, we live in sin, as the servants of sin, then are we most unthankful unto God, this being the end of our redemption, and the only fruit, which he expects in lieu of this and all other his benefits: and most injurious to ourselves, not only depriving ourselves of all assurance of our salvation, but also drawing upon ourselves most deserved damnation. And let us know, that the foundation of God which is sure, has this seal: let every one that nameth the name of Christ, depart from iniquity. 2. Tim. 2.19.
But let us come to the words: whereof there may be some doubt, how they are to be translated; whether that we might, or that we should worship him? Both are included: the words are λατρεύω, that he would give us to worship him: including both to can and to will, and also to do. But we must remember that our new obedience, which is the fruit of our redemption, stands in the study of piety, that is, in the truth of our desires, uprightness of our will, and purpose, sincerity of our care and endeavours, rather than in the perfect performance, the Lord in his children accepting the will for the deed. By which desire, will, and endeavour, though we do not perfectly fulfil the law, yet we may be truly said to keep it. And if we have this unfeigned desire, sincere purpose, and upright endeavour to please God in the duties of piety and charity; we shall be accepted of God, according to the Covenant of Grace, as true worshippers of God in holiness and righteousness. This caution is carefully to be remembered; otherwise, the greatest part of true Christians might seem to be excluded out of the Covenant of Grace, and out of the number of them that are redeemed by Christ.
Excerpt from The Covenant of Grace or An Exposition Upon Luke 1. 73-75. By George Downame Doctor of Divinity, and Bishop of Derry.