Every sales transaction requires both a buyer and a seller, whether buying a home, an automobile, or any other item. In any such transaction, both the buyer and the seller must agree on the price. What the seller asks reveals how much he estimates its worth to be. What the buyer is willing to pay reveals their appraisal of its worth. It is this idea of buying and selling that Peter has in mind concerning God (1 Pet. 1:18-21). The Lord’s plan was to purchase humanity for Himself, and the price He is willing to pay shows the value of humanity to Him. What can we know about His thoughts on us?
First, He knows us. “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it” (Ecc. 12:7). “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth” (Ps. 139:14-15). He also knows we have sold ourselves to another in the form of sin. Paul described it exactly correctly when he said that people could be servants of sin and unrighteousness (Rom. 6:18-22).
It is in light of God’s knowledge of us and our situation, and His desire to have us for Himself, that Peter speaks of buying us back from sin and death. The idea of a ransom is to “buy back.” This gives us the idea of redemption, or being redeemed. Consequently, 1 Peter 1:18 is the price God will pay – “ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain manner of life received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ.” The fact of this purchase price is what leads the apostle Paul to say, “You are not your own; you have been brought with a price” (1 Cor. 6:20).
If we stop to reflect upon what has prompted God to make this purchase, this ransom, it should tell us how important each person is and help us appreciate the value of the human soul. This also ought to bolster a flagging sense of self-esteem. I may not be the smartest, the handsomest, or the most eloquent, but God wants me! You may not feel that you stand out in any particular way. Possibly you have wrestled since childhood with the fact that you live in others’ shadows. We appear to be caught in a world which operates looking for the standouts. How vivifying, how refreshing to realize that God wants you! No one can replace you, either to the people who know and love you, or to the Lord who loves you. Maybe we have been the recipients of what we know as “put-downs” – the insults that hurt and belittle us. Such put-downs are terrible and powerful if we do not think rightly and overcome them. I may need to make some changes to bring out the best that is possible, to reach my potential, but it is possible in Christ. We can be everything we need to be in Christ. All is possible. And along the way, God loves me, you, all people.
Just because God is ready to buy us, to own our souls, does not mean we are ready to sell to Him. We will sell our souls and our futures for something, but perhaps we will not get a good deal. Your soul, your destiny is the most valuable commodity you possess. You can replace your car, you can replace your home or job. But you and I each only have one chance at eternity, only one soul. For what would we sell it?
History is replete with examples of people who sold precious items for paltry sums. In 1626, the island of Manhattan was purchased from the Indians who lived there for bright cloth, beads, and other trinkets worth about $24. In 1803, to finance war in Europe, Napoleon sold the “Louisiana Purchase” territory to the United States for a total of $27 million. That may sound like a large sum, until you consider that the land was five times as large as France, and the price was only 4 cents per acre. Spiritual history is replete with examples of people who sold their souls and life’s purposes for pittance. Esau was called a vulgar man because of the cheap sale of his birthright (Heb. 12:16). Achan disobeyed God for some pretty clothes and money (Josh. 6, 7). The rich, young ruler walked away (Matt. 19:16-22). Felix and Drusilla heard Paul, but apparently never obeyed the Gospel (Acts 24:24-27). Demas was a faithful Christian and coworker with Paul (Col. 4:14), but he went back to the world because he loved it (2 Tim. 4:10).
What price will you demand for your soul? Will it be a garage sale? A bargain basement sale? Or will you receive Jesus’ and God’s gracious offer? Some have sold to others: a spouse, a family member, a friend. We know the phrase, caveat emptor, “buyer beware,” but we also need to heed the principle, “seller beware.” Those who sell out will have a day of remorse – seller’s remorse. They will be weeping for wrong choices made. But those who belong to God will never be disappointed. Whom will you allow to own and direct you? God is ready to purchase and redeem you. The offer is on the table by means of the blood of Jesus. “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:35-37).