What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
We began life with a minus balance in our spiritual checkbook.
It got worse.
When we threw that tiny tantrum; when we refused to eat our carrots; when we screamed in defiance as our mother tried to give us a bath, the negative numbers increased.
Grownups may have considered our rebellious acts to be cute because we were so small. But that’s like calling the spot of melanoma on our skin a beauty mark. These were deadly signs.
When we grew older, our ability to disobey and strike out in anger or jealousy also grew.
So did the debit column in our spiritual account.
The Bible reveals that those debits are sins. The debt we owe is to the ruler of life and death. He demands payment in full by the time our life on earth is ended.
Sinfulness needs to be covered by the payment of righteousness.
There is no time-payment plan. We cannot work off our debt. We are warned that the penalty for failure to pay is terror-filled imprisonment in hell for time without end.
How can we get out of this mess? There is no bribing this judge. He accepts no excuses. What will we use to pay him off? We are spiritually bankrupt.
When we pull out receipts from our memory to show we did some things right during our life, he rejects our claims. What we accomplished was worthless—worse than worthless!
Isaiah, the inspired prophet, explains it to us. “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6).
If the best that we can do, if our so-called righteous deeds stink to high heaven, what hope do we have?
Maybe—just maybe—someone else can pay off our debt. But who and how?
Money won’t do it. The demand is for payment by righteousness. Who has enough righteousness to spare?
Our grandfather, who never missed a church service in his life, can’t do it for us. His best still falls far short.
Then who and how?
Abraham learned the answer when the Savior-God ordered him to kill his own son, Isaac.
It was a test. Did aged Abraham love his son more than he loved his Creator-God?
The Lord had promised Abraham that among his countless descendants would be the One who would pay the price to cover the debt of everyone. But how could that happen if the heir of the promise would be killed while a youth? Would Abraham trust the Lord God enough to kill Isaac, his beloved son?
The answer is “Yes!”
We learn, “By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice…even though God had said to him, ‘It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.’”
Scripture explains, “Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead” (Hebrews 11:17-19).
That’s faith! That’s saving faith. That grabs a glimpse of Easter morning.
He passed the test.
The boy’s life was spared. God provided a substitute, a ram caught in a thicket.
Now we understand the significance of the words “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
Now we see that God was willing to accept a substitute payment for our debt.
Now we know that God the Father had his own Son die so we could live.
Our account is stamped PAID IN FULL!
It is signed with blood. Holy blood.
We better believe it.
Prayer: Lord, give us such a faith as this, and then, whate’er may come, we’ll taste e’en now the hallowed bliss of an eternal home. Amen. (Christian Worship 93 405:6)
Points to ponder:
- Why is it so hard to believe that our debt to God is so great?
- Why is it so hard to believe that our debt to God is paid in full?
- Why don’t our hearts daily overflow with joy, knowing that death will not defeat us?
Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.