I had a friend once tell me that he was going to heaven because he obeyed the Ten Commandments. I replied, “Really! Jesus summed up the commandments in Mark 12:30-31. Let’s take a look at his summation and see how you are doing. After all your eternity is resting on how you are keeping those Ten Commandments.” Jesus summed up the Law by saying, “Love your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” I asked my friend, “How do you love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength?” The honest answer is, you can’t! Thus we learn that obedience to the law never reaches the level required for salvation.
What then is the purpose of the Ten Commandments? The purpose of the law is, “Through the law we become conscious of sin,” (Rom 3:20). It is through the law we realize that we fall short of what God expects of us. This is the whole point of God’s Law, and this should cause the non-Christian to be standing in despair with their arms hanging down crying out, “What must I do, for I am surely lost before God?”
The answer is, God has provided another way to come into a relationship with him than through the law. It is called grace. On Calvary’s Hill 2,000 years ago, God’s Law and God’s Grace met and God’s Salvation was offered.
It is hard for us to understand the strain of Paul’s ministry, for he did not have the comforts we have today. Every day Paul relied on God for his food, a place to clean up, a change of clothes, and a place to lay his head. He crossed seas during storms, walked over mountain ranges that were not yet free of snow, was jailed, beaten, left for dead, and chased from towns.
If Paul were here we would ask him, “Why the hurry, why the urgency, why the suffering?” And he would say, “I am a debtor,” (Rom 1:14 KJV).
I am a debtor are the words of every Christian Church. The Church is in debt to the world. Not that the world has given the Church anything, but Jesus has given the Church something for the world. Yes, it is true the world hates God, but it is truer that God loves the world. Yes it is true that the world will not have God, but it is truer that God wants the world. And for this reason God has given the world the Church. If the Church appropriates Christ’s Gospel, and sings her songs about it, thanks God in her worship for what He has done for her, and stops there, she is playing the harlot, she is prostituting her very nature to base uses. This is harsh language, but until the Church takes the Gospel and gives it to the world we are dishonest, for we, like Paul, are in debt.