Humanity's Need of Redemption

How did humanity come to need redemption?

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The redemptive purpose of God arises out of a necessity for redemption. And that indicates that there was a relationship that God had with man, had with that being that was made in his image, that was unbroken at the beginning. Our redemption is being bought out of a slave-market of sin. God did not create humanity in sin. He did not create humanity with a need for redemption in the beginning, even though, mysteriously in God's covenant, this was his plan. But he arranged it in such a way that all the creation is under his control; he uses it for his own glory. And yet, there is operating within creation those, like cause and effect relationships within the material order itself that do operate and genuinely can be discerned, and yet they're under the hand of God. And even in the more complex moral relationships, the beings who actually enact these moral relationships are responsible for them. So we are responsible for our actions. We are responsible for our sin, and yet, God nevertheless is, sort of, by his own determination, in the background, making sure that these things go as he sees fit.

So the reason for the need of redemption is that the ones in whom we were all created, Adam and Eve, had a relationship with God that was filled with fellowship, filled with joy. There was only one positive command they had that would test their growing love for him and their continued determination to follow what he said no matter what else was brought to their mind. And that was not to eat of a particular tree in this beautiful place where he had placed them, where all of their needs were met otherwise. But because of the subtlety of Satan, he tempted them. He caused them to question God. He asked them the question, "Has God said?" and then led them to seek something that they were, perhaps were, convinced was good, but not in the way God had told them. And so, they disobeyed God. That disobedience to God, in such a situation, was of infinite culpability. And this brought, not only Adam and Eve, but all of those in whose stead they were acting, into a state of condemnation. And as a result of this state of condemnation, a part of the punitive measures that God took was to also increase our corruption that we might know that we could not please God on our own. So, the redemption is necessary, absolutely necessary, because of our fallen state.

Answer by Dr. Thomas J. Nettles

Dr. Thomas Nettles, who is widely regarded as one of the foremost Baptist historians in America, is the Professor of Historical Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.