As you get this letter today, I am praying for the anointing of the Holy Spirit to come upon you in a special way. I know God wants to touch you in a powerful way — and I’m praying for that divine touch to come to you right now in Jesus’ name!
Before I dive into my teaching this month, I feel the need to tell you about a development in our ministry.
On both sides of the world, our ministry is “bursting at the seams.” Denise and I are in awe of what the Lord is doing. The ministry in the former USSR continues to grow and increase in ways we could have never predicted. We are filming almost nonstop each weekday to produce quality TV programs, Home Group programs online, and a host of other programs for our Internet Good News Church in Moscow that air in the Russian language to a potential audience in the tens of millions. And now we are seeing a massive response from viewers in the English-speaking world too. Denise and I and our sons are nearly speechless at what the Lord is doing in our midst.
We know that God wants us to reach our arms around the globe with the Good News of the Gospel of Christ and with teaching from the Bible that people can trust. There are multitudes who are starving for teaching that will put a foundation underneath them, their families, and the people around them whom they love. And I know God has called us to shine the light of God’s Word into their lives! But our current equipment, TV studio, and U.S.-based offices are insufficient to keep up with the growth we are experiencing.
I RARELY ask for special giving from our friends and partners who already give so generously to support our vision of preaching the Gospel and making disciples of all nations. Our long-time partners know us and understand that we carefully steward all the funds we receive to stretch them as far as they can go to fulfill the vision He has given us.
But right now, we need your help.
We urgently need to expand our offices in Tulsa and Moscow because we are bursting at the seams with response from people who are reaching out to us. We are in desperate need of a larger studio in Moscow and a new building in Tulsa. In Moscow, we must construct a new studio while the weather is warm because once cold weather starts again in this part of the world, the building process will have to stop. We have already begun construction of a new TV studio in Moscow on property adjacent to our offices, and we absolutely know that God’s hand is on us, helping us! And in Tulsa, where we are reaching people who need our help with prayer, ministry, and resources, we desperately need a larger building — a new “ministry home” — to serve RENNER Ministries for years to come.
The total amount of space we need for both buildings in Moscow and Tulsa is approximately 50,000 square feet. If you are interested in knowing more details, I urge you to go to the home page of renner.org, where you can read more about this ministry expansion. If many people join hands with us to do this, it can be achieved quickly and victoriously. Again, I rarely ask for help with special financial projects, but today I am asking you to please consider giving into this urgent need in our ministry.
Because you are a partner, I felt you would want me to honestly tell you about this need. If you want to be a part of the giving to make this happen, please go to renner.org and click “Give” and then choose “Ministry Expansion Project.” You’ll see a short video in which I share more about how our ministry is growing and helping people.
Your current giving is what enables us to reach our arms around the world with the teaching of the Bible. But now we need extra gifts to help us with this extra push. If you are unable to sow beyond what you’re already giving, we are SO THANKFUL for what you are doing to make a difference in people’s lives! However, if you can give extra to help us right now, we’ll be so thankful — but if you cannot, please pray for us!
As I write this letter, I am sitting near Denise, and we were just talking about how thankful we are for our friends and partners who support our ministry with their prayers and finances. When we call people “partners,” we genuinely mean they are partners in the work God has entrusted to us. I often say that we can do the work, but our partners financially put fuel in the tank so we can get the message of God’s Word to those who are crying out for it. I want to take this opportunity to say THANK YOU AGAIN for all you do for this ministry and for the Kingdom of God.
This month, in which most of us will celebrate Easter — or have already celebrated this holiday — I believe the Holy Spirit wants me to talk to you about what it really means to be “redeemed” from the hands of the enemy. Let’s begin with First Corinthians 6:20 which says, “For ye are bought with a price….”
The New Testament words “bought” and “redeemed” come from the same Greek word. I’d like to take you into a Greek word study to help you really understand what the Bible means when it says you have been “bought” and “redeemed.”
The primary word translated “bought” and “redeemed” in the New Testament is the word agoradzo — a term that was used to describe the marketplace. But it was most frequently used to specifically describe the slave market — a dreadful and deplorable place that should have never been permitted. Human beings were paraded in front of potential buyers and then placed on the trading block where they were auctioned off like animals, old furniture, or even unwanted junk.
Before the nauseating process of buying, selling, and trading human beings began, potential buyers were allowed to check out the “merchandise.” The slaves’ heads were shoved up and backward; their mouths were forcibly jerked open; and their teeth were inspected to see if they were rotten or in fairly good shape.
As if this wasn’t inhumane and degrading enough, slave-buying customers were also encouraged to kick and hit the “merchandise” in order to determine the slave’s level of physical fitness. And to discover the slave’s temperament, buyers slapped them, cursed at them, and spat in their faces. If a slave could swallow his pride, grit his teeth, and hold his temper during such humiliating abuse, the buyer assumed he could be used to the point of abuse without giving his owner any kind of trouble.
In short, slaves were deemed to have no real human value and were viewed to be no better than animals. According to the thinking of the day, they were just another kind of workhorse. Their only purpose in the world was to serve the demands that their current owners exacted of them.
With all this in mind, we can see that the Holy Spirit has told us something extremely important by using the Greek word agoradzo to describe “redemption.”
You see, the world Jesus came into had become an utterly deplorable place — it had become a global “slave market.” Satan had gripped the hearts of men and filled their natures with violence and destruction. With each successive generation after Adam, spiritual death drove people of all nations, tribes, and ethnic groups deeper and deeper into slavery and total depravity.
Thus, the world that Jesus Christ was born into more than 2,000 years ago was a world of complete captivity. Through Adam’s disobedience, this spiritual death had seized the nature of all mankind. As Paul said, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12).
Our bondage at that time was so complete that Paul states we were “sold under sin” (Romans 7:14). The word “sold” is from the Greek word piprasko, and it literally describes a transfer of property. By using this word, Paul clearly tells us that mankind — and that includes you and me — were in the hands of Satan’s total ownership before Jesus Christ came into our lives.
Like slaves in the slave market, we stood helpless before the devil as he slapped our lives around — hitting us, kicking us, spitting upon us, and abusing us in every way he possibly could. Our “slaveowner” tried to damage our self-image, kill our bodies with various kinds of sin and vices, and mar us emotionally. When he was finished using one form of bondage on us, he would place us back on the trading block to be auctioned off again. Soon another form of bondage would overtake us and begin to make its own destructive mark on our lives.
We were passed from one bondage to the next in a never-ending cycle of defeat. Each day we lived, whether we were aware of it or not, this hellish ownership took us further downward and ever deeper into the captivity of sin and total depravity — lock, stock, and barrel, from the inside out, from the beginning to the end, every inch from head to toe, backward and forward and up to the brim.
This is the very reason Paul repeatedly told us in Scripture that we were previously “the servants of sin” (Romans 6:17,20). The word “servant” is taken from the word doulos, which is the most abject term for a slave in the Greek language. One expositor has explained that the word doulos describes one whose will is completely swallowed up in the will of another.
This means that prior to our salvation experience, we were “swallowed up” in the will of Satan. We may have intellectually thought we were in charge of our own lives and that we were the ones calling the shots. But in reality, we were abject slaves to sin, and our destinies were being orchestrated by an unseen, diabolical spirit that wanted to destroy us.
Our prior slavery to the devil was so deep-seated that our nature became intrinsically meshed together with the seed of rebellion, which is at the very core of Satan’s nature. Rebellion against God ran deep in our blood and became ingrained in our human disposition. Eventually the gulf between God and us was so vast that Scripture declares we became “…alienated and enemies in [our] minds through wicked works” (Colossians 1:21).
In this verse, the Holy Spirit vividly portrays how destitute our spiritual condition was before we were born again. It was into this stinking, sinking, deteriorating, death-permeated, demonically energized world, where all of humankind was being auctioned off by the devil into various kinds of slavery and bondage, that Jesus Christ came some 2,000 years ago. God sent His Son into the enemy’s “slave market” with one purpose in mind — so Jesus could secure man’s deliverance from Satan’s bondage once and for all!
As I’ve stated, the words “bought” and “redeemed” are both from the Greek word agoradzo — and this tells us that Jesus came to redeem us from this miserable state of bondage. Jesus was the Buyer — and He paid the highest price ever paid for a slave when He paid the price of HIS BLOOD for you and me.
What Jesus did for us is so magnificent that when the 24 elders fall before the throne of God and begin to worship, they sing a song about Jesus’ work of redeeming us from Satan’s slave market. Revelation 5:9 says, “And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed [agoradzo] us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.”
It’s imperative for us to understand that the words “bought” and “redeemed” — from the word agoradzo — portray both our spiritually bankrupt condition in the “slave market” of the world before Jesus Christ set us free and Jesus’ redemptive work to remove us from that terrible place. No wonder the psalmist proclaimed, “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy!” (Psalm 107:2)
All of this is what Jesus did for you when He gave His blood on the cross of Calvary. He paid the highest price ever paid for a slave and purchased you out of Satan’s control. As Revelation 5:9 says, He redeemed you to God with His own blood!
Today I urge you to take a few minutes to stop and thank God for Jesus’ work of redemption in your life. Obey Psalm 107:2 and declare out loud:
I am the redeemed of the Lord…He has redeemed me out of the hand of the enemy!
Wow…that really is worth shouting about!
Thanks for letting me share this message with you today. Please let it sink deep into your heart and mind and let the Holy Spirit really give you a revelation of it. And remember, when you need prayer, we want to be included with those who pray for you. We feel a great spiritual responsibility for our partners. In fact, part of our God-given responsibility is to pray for our partner’s specific needs. So please…let us know how we can pray for you!
We love you and thank God for you!
We are your brother and sister, friends, and partners in Jesus Christ,
along with Paul, Philip, and Joel and their families