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Bible verses about Indebtedness to Christ
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Matthew 18:23-24

"The kingdom of heaven" represents God's government, including His church, so God deals with church members as this king with his servants. The debt of the king's servant was an enormous sum. A talent was a denomination of money, or weight of silver or gold, equaling three thousand shekels. By Roman calculation, if this talent were of silver, then ten thousand talents would be equivalent to several million of today's dollars. By Jewish calculation, ten thousand talents would equal three times more, probably over ten million dollars. If this talent were of gold, ten thousand talents would amount to about fifty times more than the silver talent! Nevertheless, Jesus uses this amount to show that the debt—sin—was immense and humanly unpayable. To us, and those we touch, the impact of our sins is immeasurable, but Jesus' sacrifice is greater, covering all sins.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Unforgiving Servant


 

Luke 7:37-38

The woman's entrance is not as rude as it may seem to us, as it was customary for an uninvited guest to join a gathering in a house as an observer. Her silence reveals her appropriate behavior; she came to learn from Jesus and receive forgiveness rather than to talk or eat. Knowing she was a sinner, she wept in repentance, washed Jesus' feet with her tears, and dried them with her hair. "Began to wash" in Luke 7:38 means "to water with a shower," and "kissed" implies kissing repeatedly. The "fragrant oil" of verse 46 was a mixture of various aromatic substances, far more costly and precious than the "oil" commonly used for anointing the head.

Her conduct, compared with Simon's, is dramatically different. While he shows comparatively "little" love, she shows "much" (see I John 2:10). She expresses abundant appreciation for the forgiveness Jesus offers and openly displays her love for Him. What a contrast to Simon's disregard of extending the common courtesies to Jesus!

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Two Debtors


 

Luke 7:42

Jesus draws a direct correlation between acts of love directed toward Him and the recognition of the enormity of the forgiven sins, as contrasted to the payment made to remove our indebtedness.

We are obligated to love Him, and if the recognition is strong, we are virtually driven to do so due to grasping the enormity of what we have been saved from in contrast to the tremendous value of what we are now free to pursue. Could we, like the Ephesian church in Revelation 2:1-7, have left our first love because we no longer make an effort to remember these things?

John W. Ritenbaugh
An Unpayable Debt and Obligation


 

Luke 7:47

One who knows he has been forgiven much feels more obliged to the payer of his debt than the one who thinks his indebtedness small. He feels obliged to live the way the payer of his debt tells him he should. Those most conscious of forgiveness will bear the most fruit in godly love.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Passover, Obligation, and Love


 

Luke 7:47

The person who knows he has been forgiven much feels more strongly obliged to the one who paid his debt than one who thinks his indebtedness and forgiveness are of little consequence. The one forgiven much feels obligated to live the way his Redeemer tells him he should.

Jesus is telling us that those most conscious of forgiveness will be the most fruitful of love. The depth, fervor, and growth of our Christianity depends perhaps more largely on the clarity of our consciousness of this contrast than upon anything else.

One can be very gifted yet not grow as much as one less gifted but more aware of his obligation to Christ. The latter will simply be more motivated. On the other hand, some come along like the apostle Paul, who was both greatly gifted and constantly conscious of his obligation to Christ.

John W. Ritenbaugh
An Unpayable Debt and Obligation


 

Luke 7:49

Simon's guests are surprised to hear Jesus taking on the divine prerogative to forgive sin (see Luke 5:20-25). He says that it is her faith that brought forgiveness—not her tears, kisses, or ointment. His last comment to her is "Go in peace" or "Go into peace." She receives Christ's command to enjoy that peace and live in the full realization of the peace that passes all understanding.

We are all debtors in the sight of our just Creditor. All have sinned, so none of us has a way to discharge our debt on our own (Romans 3:23). Christ can forgive all who truly repent of their sins and turn to Him in faith (Acts 13:38-41). Through His willingness to take our debt and blot it out with His own blood, we receive the remission of our sins. Once freed from sin's oppressive debt, we must show our gratitude to Him by living in holiness and loving service to others, glorifying Him in a life of righteousness (II Peter 1:2-4).

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Two Debtors


 

Luke 15:5-7

Just people need no repentance because they need no change of mind and purpose. Some people were reared in a godly and righteous family environment. Their parents obeyed and worshipped according to God's laws, statutes, and ordinances, and taught their children to do likewise. The Gentile Cornelius was one such man (Acts 10:1-2). Of course, no human being is completely just (Ecclesiastes 7:20), but he may be righteous in comparison to those who flagrantly sin, such as those succinctly described in Luke 15:1. A just person cannot repent of the idolatries of a pagan, which he has not practiced, nor of the larcenies of a tax collector, of which he has never been guilty. When comparing just people to flagrant sinners, we immediately see what Jesus means: These needed no repentance in comparison to the others, not being guilty of such gross sins.

There is more immediate joy over a sinner who repents and follows Christ than over those who are already repentant and safely within God's flock. The latter already have greater and more intimate happiness—eternal joy!—within the Family of God. Faithful members should be elated by the fact that their Shepherd loves and cares for them so intimately. And for the one who strayed, upon genuine repentance, there is hope of salvation.

Martin G. Collins
Parables of Luke 15 (Part One)


 

Romans 4:5-8

God simply accounts righteousness, the righteousness of Christ, where righteousness does not in reality exist. When we are justified, He looks upon us as though we were sinless like His Son. That is awesome! Do we deserve that? Have we earned it? It is incredible that He should deal with us as though we were righteous and without sin!

In "account," we are obviously dealing with an accounting term. The picture is as if a person were looking at a ledger, and every figure is in the debit column. He is hopelessly in debt; he cannot figure out how to bring things into balance. He could never earn enough because His income is not great enough. He has no real assets. Nothing can balance the account. In his despair, he cries out to God. Then he looks at his ledger, and suddenly a figure appears on the credit side that completely balances the account. The debt is gone!

Justification is not something that we can earn. God, for His own reasons, determines to favor us with it. As Paul puts it in Ephesians 2:8-9, it is by grace through faith, not of works.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Grace Upon Grace


 

1 Corinthians 6:9-11

The basis for our obligation to Christ could not be stated any clearer. He gives three reasons:

1. Verses 9-11 show what put us into indebtedness to make redemption necessary.

2. Verse 19 says that our body is now the temple of the Holy Spirit.

3. Verse 20 states that, because of redemption, we now belong to the One who redeemed us, and we must glorify Him in body and spirit.

Concerning our bodies being "the temple of the Holy Spirit," it is good to reflect on the Old Testament symbolism that God abode in the Holy of Holies within the Temple. Paul reminds us that God now lives in us (John 14:17, 23), and we are obligated to live with the utmost circumspection so that He in no way is defiled by our conduct. So it is with Christ: We are obligated to consider His demands in every area of life all the time and under every circumstance. What an honor!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Elements of Motivation (Part Four): Obligation


 

Ephesians 2:11-13

Paul here reminds us of our indebtedness to God. Earlier, he had laid the groundwork for a proper sense of obligation and commitment to Christ by stating a few undeniable facts: That we conducted our lives according to the course of this world, according to Satan's will (verse 2); that we fulfilled the desires of the flesh and the mind (verse 3); and because of disobedience we were as good as dead (verses 1, 5). Through no merit of our own but by God's grace alone, He through Jesus Christ rescues us from this.

In those who understand this deeply and personally, this creates an exquisite sense of indebtedness, devotion, and longing to honor Him. It accounts for the sorrow we feel each time we are aware of falling short of fully pleasing Him. This is not bad; it is good because it motivates those who have this in balance to intensify their devotion and redirect their efforts along the right path.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beatitudes, Part Three: Mourning


 

Philippians 3:6

Does this contradict Paul's poverty of spirit in I Timothy 1:12-15? No, before conversion Paul was a great deal like Simon the Pharisee in Luke 7. He was clothed in respectability, but he knew he was guilty of many deeds and attitudes for which Jesus denounced the Pharisees. In Philippians 3, he is instead looking back on what he thought of himself then. However, as God called him, he came to see himself through God's eyes as a man struggling with sin but rescued from it through Jesus Christ, which he describes in Romans 7. He then became a man whose faith was in God's grace, and he responded with zealous work largely out of a deep sense of grateful obligation.

Paul was full of wonder and gratitude when he remembered what Christ had done and continued to do through and for him. G.K. Chesterton, an atheist who converted to Catholicism, commented regarding this circumstance, "It is the highest and holiest of paradoxes that the man who really knows he cannot pay his debt will be forever paying it."

John W. Ritenbaugh
An Unpayable Debt and Obligation


 

1 Timothy 1:12-15

This proves that late in his life as an apostle, Paul was still keenly aware of the enormity of what he had been forgiven. He probably purposely kept this memory alive so as not to take any chance of losing his sense of responsibility. He understood human nature well, not wanting to risk losing the proper perspective that Christ had given him at the beginning. Rather than carry it about as a burdensome load of guilt, he used it as a realistic recognition of his indebtedness to Christ for what he had been forgiven and what had been accomplished since that time.

John W. Ritenbaugh
An Unpayable Debt and Obligation


 

2 Timothy 3:2

"Thanksgiving" means virtually the same thing in Hebrew, Greek, and English: a heartfelt and cheerful acknowledgment of favors bestowed on us by others. This is especially interesting because it involves consciously thinking about a circumstance that makes one feel a sense of obligation. The English "thank" comes from the same root as "think." Its Indo-European root is tong, whose basic meaning is "to know or form in the mind, regard or consider; to determine by reflecting." Thanking involves thinking. Spiritually, it is consciously looking for the good with God in view.

Some say that ingratitude is the most common of sins. II Timothy 3:2 shows that it is a hallmark of the end-time generations not to consider, or reflect deeply upon God's part in our peace, prosperity, and liberties. This is a practice that we must develop by exercising it on a daily basis.

The Greek word translated unthankful, means "to refuse to recognize debts; to feel one has the right to services and be without obligation." The American attitude is not disregard of God, but rather failing to remember the good He has done. We have become indifferent in relating blessings to God, and He calls upon us to reverse this in our lives. This right worship of Him requires a true knowledge of Him, keeping His commandments and steady communication with Him in prayer and study so we really come to know Him. Then we can be truly thankful on a daily basis.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Thanksgiving or Self-Indulgence?


 

Hebrews 8:6

Many hold the mistaken belief that the New Covenant transforms living by faith and glorifying God into a far easier task than under the Old Covenant. “Easier” is an erroneous descriptor. Even though a convert is forgiven of past sins and receives wonderful gifts from God, including the Holy Spirit, the New Covenant also requires him or her to become a living sacrifice. Sacrificing one's life in humble submission to God is not easy, as the New Testament attests. Jesus lists some requirements in Luke 14:25-27:

Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”

Almost all who call themselves Christian today hold the opinion that, through the New Covenant, God has made salvation much easier to obtain. The central pillar in their belief seems to be that since Jesus kept the laws perfectly, and since He paid for the forgiveness of our sins through His sacrifice, when one accepts Him as Savior, the convert's obligation to meet the New Covenant's demands is somehow magically reduced or even eliminated. People carelessly say, “Jesus did it all for me.”

In plain language, a high percentage of professing Christians accept as true that God's law is essentially done away. They believe that Jesus kept it for us. While that idea contains truth, it has been twisted into a misleading concept: that we need not be as concerned about keeping it as those who lived under the Old Covenant. Nothing could be further from the truth! Why? Our willing, devoted, and careful participation in keeping His law is absolutely necessary to be created in God's image!

The reality is that the New Covenant establishes what we might call graduate-level requirements of keeping God's law. However, God compensates for our weaknesses by providing the spiritual tools to reach those levels. Jesus did keep the commandments for our benefit, in that God is mercifully willing to accept His righteous life and death to pay our debt to Him for our sins because we do not have sufficient righteousness to pay the cost to have the death penalty removed.

But something is missing in people's misunderstanding of this reality, so their trust in it is also skewed. What is missing is what radio broadcaster Paul Harvey called “the rest of the story”: the truth that godly character is not imposed but built, created, with the willing and dedicated assistance of the person being transformed. The world's flawed conclusion dismisses the fact that God's creation of each person into His image is only just beginning at the individual's forgiveness and baptism into the church and the Family of God.

Anyone thinking of baptism should consider—if we have little need to be concerned about sin—why Jesus is so solemn and stern in His admonition in Luke 14:25-27 about His disciples following such high standards. Not being discussed at this point is that, despite Christ's wonderful gift in sacrificing Himself to pay our indebtedness to God, the reality is that the wages of sin, death, remain because the existence of the laws continues.

What we find is that God not only forgives us, but in our calling He also gives us the spiritual tools to fight and win the spiritual battles we engage in to keep sin from re-enslaving us. The fight against sin continues. God provides the tools for us to go on to perfection (Hebrews 6:1-2) if we will believe in them and use them.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Why Hebrews Was Written (Part One)


 

 




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