(From the sermon entitled, “Ang Pagkakautang at Matuwid na Pagbabayad ng Lingkod ukol Dito” for December 20, 2015)
A debt is a debt and we ought to pay our debts.
However, we are not talking about material or financial debts. Apostle Paul mentions, “Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh…” (Romans 8:12)
Servants of God are bought at a price (1 Corinthians 7:23), bought by the blood of Christ, which is very priceless. Apostle Peter writes, “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” (1 Peter 1:18-19)
However, not all people have been bought by the blood of Christ. Not all have been blessed to receive God’s forgiveness. Only those who come to Him, accept Him and believe in Him shall receive His mercy. From here, we should know that the formula consists of God’s mercy plus our effort to come near Him.
That formula was applied to the early Christians who were called by God into His church, which is the church of God. Saul, who belong to the Pharisee’s sect was called into this church. He was chosen to be God’s Apostle to the Gentile people (1 Corinthians 1:1-2). We can read the verse in Acts 20:28, “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.”
Take note, not all people were bought by the blood of Christ. Only those who were called into His church are bought.
Being bought by Christ’s blood means we now belong to Him. We are now His people and servants. We are a recipient of His mercy and forgiveness. Needless to say, we ought to pay something in return as a sign of gratitude to His unconditional compassion. How can we repay Him?
King David sings, “What shall I return to the Lord for all his goodness to me?” (Psalms 116:12) The same question should be asked by each and everyone of us who received His forgiveness.
Continuing, David says, “I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people” (Psalms 116:13-14). Like Apostle Paul said, we are obliged to pay our vows in the presence of God and in His people.
To be forgiven by God is a blessing that we can’t get for ourselves alone. It is a gift from God. The Bible tells us, ““Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them.” (Romans 4:7-8) If we think we are blessed enough to receive such mercy, then in gratitude, we should all repay Him with our vows. Each of us has a vow to fulfill in the presence of God and in His people, which is in the congregation of the Lord, the church of God (1 Timothy 3:15).
A vow, as we have learned, is a solemn promise to God. We should fulfill it because God doesn’t rejoice on those who do not honor their vows. He called them foolish. The Bible tells us, “When a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said.” (Numbers 30:2)
And our vows to the Lord are the following: (1) we should remain in His teachings just like the early Christians did (Acts 2:41-42), and (2) to drink the cup that Christ drunk on and be baptized with the baptism He received (Mark 10:38-39). This cup that Christ drunk on is a symbolism that whatever happens to us, we should all continue to trust the Lord and let His will reign over us. Christ exemplified the absolute obedience of following the will of God, until His death.
The same cup that He drunk of, we should all follow God’s will and commands because this is the very purpose of our calling (1 Peter 2:20-24).
The Bible tells us, “If you make a vow to the Lord your God, do not be slow to pay it, for the Lord your God will certainly demand it of you and you will be guilty of sin. Whatever your lips utter you must be sure to do, because you made your vow freely to the Lord your God with your own mouth.” (Deuteronomy 23:21,23)