Every Friday on the Dave Ramsey Show guests scream, “We’re debt free!” to celebrate paying off all creditors. It is inspiring to hear them tell their story and the sacrifices they made to accomplish this goal. Every time I listen to these people, I am reminded of how much I hate debt and wonder what it would feel like to be in their position.
There is a debt that is much worse than financial. It is the debt we owe God due to our sin. I hate this debt most of all. I cannot work extra and save up enough money to pay it off. Every time I try to remedy it myself, I am always in default. There is good news. Through Jesus Christ, God is willing to pay the debt in full. We sing a hymn that reminds us of God’s goodness in paying off this spiritual lien standing against us. Consider the words of this song.
“I owed a debt I could not pay.” Over the centuries religious leaders have tried to come up with different ways to deal with the debt of sin. It usually fluctuates from one extreme to another. It is suggested we follow certain tenets given by the church and all will be forgiven. At one time, “indulgences” were available to purchase from the Catholic church to secure forgiveness. Others have contended that forgiveness comes from faith alone. Just say a prayer and the debt is paid. Unfortunately, none of these things settle the debt of sin.
“He paid a debt he did not owe.” When Christ came to earth, he gave up his heavenly privileges to die for humanity (Phil. 2:6-8). Sin’s payment is death (Rom. 6:23). It was a price set by God himself (Gen. 2:17). Through Jesus’ vicarious sacrifice on Calvary’s cross, he did for each of us what we could not do for ourselves. He retired sin’s debt. It no longer demands payment from us. Thus, we sing a brand new song, “Amazing Grace!”
“One day he’s coming back for me to live with him eternally.” The prospect of Jesus’ return can be both comforting and terrifying. If you’re a Christian, it is comforting because the debt has been paid and eternal salvation is secure. If not, you’re liable for the debt of sin and eternal punishment is the result. The key is meeting God on his terms. His plan of salvation hasn’t changed, and it offers eternal salvation through Christ.
Those who have been washed by the blood of Christ can also scream, “We’re debt free!” Jesus paid it all, and all to him I owe.
Recently, one mantra that became quite popular was, “I am living my own truth.” It contends each person lives by their own standards of truth for his or her life. One celebrity tried to use it to escape criminal charges declaring she was not guilty because according to her truth she did what was right. This is one example that demonstrates the pluralistic nature of our culture.
This principle is especially evident in religious matters. God is whoever or whatever you desire him to be. There is no objective instruction to guide people in their pursuit of faith. Of course, this is an issue because the Bible makes many claims to be the only objective truth that leads to faith and to a relationship with God (cf. Rom. 10:17; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:3; Ps. 119:105, et. al). Consider one of the most well-known passages in John’s gospel, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’” (John 14:6). This passage is exclusive and runs perpendicular to our world’s pluralistic worldview. If you’re going to approach God it must be through Jesus Christ.
You must approach God through Jesus because he is the way to God. In Jesus’ approximately 30 year earthly life, he showed the world how God desires each of us to live. Thus, a disciple must live as Jesus did and submit to his commandments (1 Pet. 2:25; 1 John 2:5-6). In addition, Jesus’ death and resurrection provided a new covenant that gave the entire world access to God without the Law of Moses (1 John 2:1). We can now behold God with “unveiled face” (2 Cor. 3:18).
You must approach God through Jesus because he is the truth. Jesus is the embodiment of truth. John stated that Christ was full of “grace and truth” (John 1:14, 18). He made God known to us in human terms, and his word must govern our lives (John 14:21).
You must approach God through Jesus because he is the life. Jesus is the originator of life (John 1:4). Jesus’ life provided eternal life for all of humanity (John 3:16). He paid sin’s death penalty, and you now have the free gift of eternal life (Rom. 6:23).
In matters of faith, we’re expected to follow God’s objective truth. There is only one way to approach him. It is through Jesus Christ.
Annually, August brings excitement and anticipation as our school year begins. New classrooms, grades, and opportunities for students to learn and grow await on the horizon. A school year also offers the church open doors to serve the community and potentially reach the lost. It behooves us to take advantage of these opportunities to make a difference in our corner of the world. What are some ways the church can serve in our community this school year?
First, pray for our students as they return to school. Each year is filled with challenges, but this year even more so than usual. With the looming threat of infection from Covid, we must be prayerful for our children’s safety as they return to sharing classrooms and activities with their friends. Also, be prayerful they will have strong faith as they return to situations where temptations await. The best thing you can do for the youth of our congregation and community is to pray for them.
Second, pray for our teachers, administrators, and support staff. As our educators return to work, let us also be prayerful for them as well as they manage classrooms and deal with complications that Covid might bring. Furthermore, let us be prayerful for their influence in the school and community. Be prayerful their faith will remain strong and their example is Christlike.
Third, be involved with the church as we serve our community. This year our congregation has already made an impact on our teachers. Plates were made and delivered to the workers in all four schools. In addition to this, there will be opportunities to help feed sports teams and the band. These acts of kindness are a great encouragement and God is glorified.
We are fortunate to have administrators who allow us to be active in our school system. Let us resolve to take advantage of each opportunity they provide to serve. The fields are white for harvest and laborers are needed. Will you help us serve this year?
The value of the Bible cannot be overstated. The record found in the Scriptures is more than a compendium of historical events and people. It reveals God’s plan for his creation particularly human beings. Through the Bible, God equips us for service (2 Tim. 3:17) and gives us instruction for everything that pertains to life and godly living (2 Pet. 1:3). How does the Bible help strengthen our faith?
First, the Bible enlightens our eyes to God’s path of righteousness (Ps. 19:7-11). There are things you can learn about God from nature (Rom. 1:20). Notice the ways the Psalmist described the value of the Bible in Psalm 19.
It is perfect, reviving the soul (v. 7)
It is pure making the simple wise (v. 7).
It is right and causes rejoicing (v. 8).
It is pure and enlightens our eyes (v 8).
It is clean and enduring (v.9).
It is true and instructs us concerning righteousness (v. 9).
Thus, the Psalmist concludes, “Much more are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings from the honeycomb” (v. 10). Through keeping God’s word we are warned and will have a great reward.
Second, the Bible exposes sin and its consequences. In Hebrews 4:12-13, the Scriptures state God’s word unmasks the intentions of the heart. It also gives instruction to correct and strengthen us. You cannot hide from the probing word of God. It is a living, active tool from God to help us understand the consequences of sinful living.
Third, the Bible equips us for serving the Lord (2 Tim. 3:17). As mentioned earlier, God’s servants are “complete and thoroughly furnished” through the Bible (2 Tim. 3:17). It trains, teaches, rebukes, and corrects us (2 Tim 3:16). These ensure our lives are pointing in a God-ward direction.
The Bible is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. Give me the Bible for all issues of life. Through it, we know God’s will for our lives (Eph. 5:17). He has not left us without a witness for his desires for our life.
What is meant by the phrase “God’s word is “inspired”? The word “inspiration” carries many meanings in English. It can refer to being spurred on by something or to exert influence on a person. Is this what Paul meant in 2 Timothy 3:16? “Inspired” refers to communication that is directed by God. Some translations render it as “God-breathed” or “breathed out by God.” Simply put, God’s word finds its source in the mind of God. He guided human authors to produce his authoritative, inspired word.
What is involved in the process? 2 Peter 1:21 helps us understand how God accomplished this, “For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” The verb “carried along” means to guide, lead, or to direct. The Holy Spirit guided each biblical writer to produce every word of Scripture. It is not man’s opinion or perspective on life. Peter asserts this in 2 Peter 1:20 when he wrote, “No prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation.”
This biblical fact has implications for the Christian. Since the Bible finds its source in God, then it is fully authoritative. Paul wrote in Colossians 3:17, “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” The phrase “in the name of Jesus” refers to his authority. We must do only what he authorizes us to do, and he instructs us through biblical teaching. It offers correction and training for righteous living (2 Tim. 3:16). We are to be living embodiments of the Scripture.
Our world needs Christians who are willing to practice New Testament Christianity. God has equipped us through his inspired word for everyday Christian living (2 Pet. 1:3). Proverbs 4:13 says, “Keep hold of instruction; do not let go; guard her, for she is your life.” Baptist minister Charles Spurgeon stated, “I would recommend you either believe God up to the hilt, or else not to believe at all. Believe this Book of God, every letter of it, or else reject it. There is no logical standing place between the two.” Well said.