Salvation: A Summary Overview of the Ransom

By David Barron


Great comfort is found in knowing that we have salvation by faith through the redemptive work of Jesus.  The greatest expression of love he could give was in his death on our behalf, so what can we be but eternally grateful for this gift of which we are entirely undeserving?  Indeed, we love him and his Father who sent him (John 3:16), and we strive to serve them through faith, for they are deserving of all “blessing and honor and glory” (Rev. 5:13).[1] 


Christ’s death is scripturally defined as “a ransom” (Mat. 20:28), which is a price paid for the release of another.  He paid the price necessary to release us from our sin that we might live eternally.  While all Christians recognize this truth—understanding that it is real and the resulting salvation—some may not fully understand how the ransom works.  Allowing God’s word to reveal this brings great encouragement by making the ransom even more vivid in our minds.  Indeed, its simplicity adds to the beauty of its accomplishment. 


As our human father Adam was a sinner, so too are we (Rom. 5:12).  We have inherited from him the imperfection that produces sin, and despite what may be our best efforts to overcome it, sin is a part of our nature.  We have no way to free ourselves from this bondage and we must pay the penalty.  


What a blessing from God that regardless of the quantity of sin the penalty is constant.  “The wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23), so that no matter how much or how little one sins, there is but a single final outcome.  For Christians, this thought is especially comforting when there are family members who may have died without coming to God and Christ.  This single penalty, irrespective the quantity of sin, is key to Jesus’ ransom payment.  He was born a man but without a biological human father, thereby not inheriting Adamic sin (Mat. 1:20).  Without sin (1Pe. 2:22),[2] imperfection was not part of his makeup.  He was not deserving of death and could have continued living forever.  Even so, when he came to earth from God it was with other plans (John 3:16; 13:3).


Though Jesus did not deserve to die and would not have died, he came to bring salvation.  He willfully laid down his life as a sacrifice for us, paying the penalty of death on our behalf, fulfilling God’s perfect judicial requirement.  Indeed, “He Himself bore our sins in His body” (1Pe. 2:24), paying our penalty for our transgressions.  As the punishment of death did not change regardless of the quantity of sin, he was able “to bear the sins of many” (Heb. 9:24) as a sinless human through a single death.    


Though Christ paid the penalty of death on our behalf, we continue to die because of our imperfection.  Our bodies have not been restored from the sinful state we inherited from Adam, so they decay and decline. By Jesus’ sacrifice we are counted as righteous so that we will be resurrected. 


[1] Unless otherwise noted, verse citations from the New American Standard Bible.
[2] Some maintain that Jesus was even unable to sin, but this is inconsistent with his temptation (Mat. 4:1), which could not be called such had he not the ability to succumb.