A lot of Christian songs have a theme of redemption and being redeemed. Yet, we continue to feel guilty about the sins of our past. Do we really understand the power of God’s redemptive love?
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What Is Redemption?
The Bible tells us all have sinned and fallen short of the grace of God (Romans 3:23) and that the penalty for sin is death (Romans 6:23). Yet we’re still here. We haven’t been struck by lightning or simply had our breath taken and returned to God.
That’s the power of redemption.
Even though God knew humanity would sin against Him, He created us anyway and put a plan in place to redeem us. Redemption, in a nutshell, is God buying us back from death. It is the act and process of saving us from our sins and the penalty of sin.
What is God’s Redemptive Love?
Since we know sin carries a death penalty, only a blood price would have been enough to save us from death. That’s where Jesus and God’s redemptive love comes in. God gave His sinless, innocent son for the death of sinful, guilty humanity.
Jesus gave us His life in our place because He knew there was no other way for us to be saved. We couldn’t save ourselves and the blood of animals wasn’t enough.
The Difference Between Redemption And Forgiveness?
We know that when we confess our sins God hears and forgives. But there’s a difference between redemption and forgiveness.
Forgiveness is choosing to show us grace and mercy for the offenses–sin–we commit against Him. Redemption is saving us from sin and the penalty of sin.
Just think of it this way: God is our Heavenly Father and so when we do something wrong, He allows us to repent and turn away from it. He doesn’t hold our sins against us.
But because sin carries a penalty, He pays it in our stead so we don’t have to.
Three Benefits of God’s Redemptive Love
Despite what we may feel, God’s redemptive love is not based on our actions. It means there isn’t anything we can do or say to change it. The only thing we can do then is to bask in the power of His redemptive love. But how do we do that? One of the best ways is to focus on the benefits of redemptive love. In case you’re stumped for reasons here are three benefits of God’s love:
1. Our sins don’t lessen it. God loves us. He has loved us since the beginning of time and He loves us now (Ephesians 1:4). Too many times the enemy convinces us that we’re not lovable or that our sins are unforgivable. He makes us think our actions in some way affect our redemption or God’s love for us. It doesn’t.
2. No one can take it away. We are used to competition. As Westerners, we are taught that there is a limited supply of everything, including love. But the beauty of God’s redemptive love is that there’s enough for everyone. No one is going to take your share because God has reserved it just for you.God's redemptive love is that there's enough for everyone. No one is going to take your share because God has reserved it just for you. #hebrews12endurance #Godislove Click To Tweet
And, it’s not going to run out before you get there. It is God’s desire for all of humanity to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4). But here’s the thing: even if Christ returns before someone took advantage of God’s redemptive love, it didn’t mean it wasn’t available or was given to someone else. If you have not yet accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, don’t delay, the time to do it is now.
3. It makes us into a new person. God’s love is powerful! It changes the old person we were in sin and makes us over into a new person. It’s the perfect makeover because it happens from the inside out. We become new in Him (2 Corinthians 5:17).
The Wedding Dress Christmas Review
“In the glow of the town’s newly strung Christmas lights, all her fears seemed to fade.” Those words were our introduction to the main female character Jo Castle. For some reason, Jo is convinced her family lives under a curse that seems to become active only at Christmas.
Jo has woven a few bad Christmases into a momentous thing she can’t seem to get over. Still, she’s happy to work with her cousin Haley in the wedding dress shop helping brides find the perfect wedding dress. At least until Buck came to town.
Buck is the handsome cowboy turned country and western star who is home visiting his family. The two had been best friends growing up and had spent hours talking about their dreams, fears, and everything in between.
Within the first few minutes of being told Jo is back in town, Buck is claiming she’s the girl he’s always loved but a few days later he’s not sure. He thinks he loves her. Still, I give him credit for trying because Jo blew hot and cold so much I almost expected a hurricane.
I get that she had strong reasons for being afraid but I couldn’t get behind the fact that the guy told her he loved her three times and she didn’t say anything. So what if he said, “think”?
The general vein was that he loved her and had loved her for a long time. As she had loved him. Yet, she blamed him for loving her and not saying anything when she did the very same thing.
I struggled to like Jo and never really got to a point where I thought she was the right girl for Buck. Maybe if the story had been longer I would have been better able to get into their relationship but as if was there was not enough contact within the timeframe of the story. They had a couple of conversations each of which ended on a sour note because Jo put up these huge blockades in the way.
It seemed more as if the love story sprung out of remembered affection than any real connection. I get that in the case of novellas one of the easiest ways to establish a love connection is for the characters to have a shared history but in this book, I just didn’t feel as if the connection was genuine.
Know God—I loved the image that putting on the wedding dress was like putting on the righteousness of God. It always fit the wearer and causes them to realize their sins have been washed away.
Salvation is individual and God’s righteousness was designed to cover all of us in just the right way. There were hints of faith in this book but they were woven in the story itself instead of being evident in the characters’ lives. Both Rachel and Jo experienced the power of God’s redemptive love when they put on the wedding dress.
They realized that they could be free from their past when they accepted God’s ability to redeem and leaned into His redemptive love.
Know yourself—Buck knew what he wanted and had set out on a path to achieve his dreams. I like the fact that he knew what he wanted and went after it—even when it was a marriage with a woman who didn’t seem to want him. I got the feeling that Jo didn’t really know herself.
Throughout the story, all the characters who knew her knew she wanted to travel the world and see new places but one bad experience—okay, a really bad one—and she stashed all her dreams away and flung herself into small-town life.
I never got the feeling that that was what she really wanted. It felt like she was settling. She didn’t fully understand the power of God’s redemptive love and was trying to pay penance for something bad that had been done to her.
Run your race—Sometimes life hands us things we wish it hadn’t, but we have to deal with them. We have to learn to move on with our lives and let go of the past if it’s holding us back. The past is important but not when it’s preventing us from living the life we were intended to live.
Yet Jo is like so many of us—so focused on our past we can’t see, accept, or enjoy the redemption God offers us. We can’t step into a life made new and become the new creature made over in the image of God.
The Wedding Dress Christmas is a story of the redemptive power of God and the power of the Holy Spirit in washing away the sins of our past. I received an advanced readers copy as part of the Celebrate Lit tour; a positive review was not required.Sometimes life hands us things we wish it hadn’t, but we have to deal with them. We have to learn to...let go of the past if it’s holding us back. #hebrews12endurance #godsredemptivelove Click To Tweet
Bible Verses About Redemption
And are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Romans 3:24-26 ESV
He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name! Psalm 111:9 ESV
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. 1 Peter 1:18-19 ESV
I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you. Isaiah 44:22 ESV
You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. 1 Corinthians 7:23 ESVYou were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. 1 Corinthians 7:23 ESV #bibleverseoftheday #hebrews12endurance Click To Tweet
Who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.1 Timothy 2:6 ESV
But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. Isaiah 43:1-2 ESV
About The Wedding Dress Christmas
December covers quaint Heart’s Bend, Tennessee with a blanket of white and the glitter of Christmas lights.
For JoJo Castle there’s no place like home. It’s her safe place. Her one-time love of adventure ended when life in the big city shattered her hopes and dreams. Now that she’s returned to Hearts Bend, she never wants to leave again.
Buck Mathews, the biggest country singing sensation in decades, has the world on a string – his guitar strings, to be exact. However, when news of his mother’s illness sends him back to Hearts Bend for the holiday season, he remembers how good it can be to live among family and friends.
Working with her cousin Haley in The Wedding Shop, JoJo has no aspirations of love. Leaving home, surrendering her heart again, is just too risky.
When she runs into her friend and high school crush Buck Mathews, she discovers Love might have other plans for her.
Buck’s career is on the verge of a momentous leap. But seeing JoJo awakens feelings he’d buried long ago. Falling in love is easy, but winning her heart will take more than one of his melodic tunes and clever lyrics.
JoJo and Buck want opposite things for their lives, leaving no room for compromise. Can love, especially the kind that touches hearts at Christmastime, overcome her fears and his quest for greatness?
When a very special gown – the wedding dress – begins to make its presence known, JoJo and Buck’s hearts bend in a way neither ever thought possible.
About Rachel Hauck
Rachel Hauck is an award-winning, New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author.
Her book The Wedding Dress was named Inspirational Novel of the Year by Romantic Times Book Reviews. She is a double RITA finalist and a Christy and Carol Award Winner.
A member of the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers, she teaches workshops and leads worship at the annual conference. She is a past Mentor of The Year.
At home, she’s a wife, writer, worship leader, and works out at the gym semi-enthusiastically.
A graduate of Ohio State University (Go Bucks!) with a degree in Journalism, she’s a former sorority girl and a devoted Ohio State football fan. Her bucket list is to stand on the sidelines with Ryan Day.
She lives in sunny central Florida with her husband and ornery cat.
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