Thank, Lord, for saving my soul,
Thank you, Lord for making me whole;
Thank you, Lord, for giving to me
Thy great salvation so rich and free.
Let’s stop and think of the words “so rich and free”. At face value we have a paradox, words that should not be associated together. If it’s rich, it’s expensive, and if it’s expensive, most people are automatically disqualified from purchasing it.
“If you have to ask, you (probably) can’t afford it” is a saying used to describe purchases of expensive products, such as homes, cars and jewellery. Financier J. P. Morgan (1837-1913) allegedly gave this advice to banker Henry Clay Pierce in 1902.
The emptiness of riches
To the very rich, “money is no object”. They can purchase whatever their heart desires. To King Solomon money was no object. He experimented with life and discovered that there was no lasting satisfaction in possessions, pleasures, power or prestige. He had everything “under the sun”, yet his life was empty!
No matter how much wealth, education, or social prestige you may have, life without God is futile. You are only “chasing after the wind” if you expect to find satisfaction and personal fulfilment in the things of the world. “For what shall it profit a man, if he should gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” asked Jesus (Mark 8:36).
Not for sale
Psalm 49:6 “ They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches; None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him: For the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever.” (KJV)
If there is one truth that Solomon emphasizes in Ecclesiastes, it is the certainty of death. No matter what Solomon enjoyed or accomplished, the frightening shadow of death was always hovering over him. People trust in their gold and in the power it gives; they boast about how affluent they are.
But all their money cannot save their brother from death or their own selves either. The redemption of a man’s life is tremendously costly; attempts to stave off the day of death through financial negotiations must be abandoned forever. No one has the means to purchase endless life on earth or to escape the grave.
1 Peter 1:18-19 “Knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. (ESV)
The word ransom was used when someone paid money to buy back a slave’s freedom. In Old Testament times, a person’s debts could result in that person’s being sold as a slave. The next of kin could ransom the slave (buy his or her freedom), a transaction involving money or valuables of some kind. However, silver and gold can do nothing to change anyone’s spiritual condition. No amount of money can buy our salvation.
It has to be done God’s way. Not with money, but with the precious lifeblood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. That God paid a ransom to save us means that He paid the price to set sinners free from slavery to sin. Christ paid the debt we owed for violating the righteous demands of the law.
Christ purchased our freedom and it cost Him His own life. Only the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross was effective atonement for our sins. The Old Testament saints sacrificed lambs in order to atone for their sins, but New Testament believers have had their sins covered by the blood of the sinless Saviour.
Salvation “ so rich and free”
When you and I meditate (“knowing” 1 Pet 1:18) on the sacrifice of Christ for us, certainly we should want to obey God and live holy lives for His glory. The high call for godly living makes sense in light of the price that was paid for our redemption. More than one professed Christian has followed Solomon’s bad example and started living for the things of this world.
Paul wrote about one of his associates in ministry, “Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world” (2 Tim 4:10). The apostle John warned, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world” (1 John 2:15), and James admonished us to keep ourselves “unspotted from the world” (James 1:27).
Don’t be natural
Natural man instinctively thinks he can make himself happy through possessions, pleasure, or travel on the one hand or through drugs, liquor, or sexual indulgence on the other. When you start living for the world instead of for the will of God, you begin to look at life from the wrong perspective: “under the sun” and not “above the sun.”
Instead of seeking “those things which are above” (Col 3:1), you start set your gaze on the things that are below. This wrong vision soon causes you to adopt wrong values, and you stop living for the eternal.
Christ is all we need
We can save ourselves all the expense, heartache, frustration, and disappointment by looking “above the sun” to the One who alone can satisfy—the Lord Jesus Christ. As far as wealth and pleasure are concerned, God gives to us “richly all things to enjoy” (1 Tim 6:17). “The blessing of the Lord makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it” (Prov. 10:22).
The wealth and pleasures of the world do not satisfy, and the quest for power and position is futile. In Jesus Christ we have all that we need for life and death, time and eternity.