I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
6 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. 8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. 11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
Jesus Paid It All1
Last week’s sermon was to establish the fundamental and central truth that we owe God a debt that is infinite in nature and that Jesus paid that debt for us. Jesus paid it all. He paid that debt at the cross by becoming a sacrifice and propitiation on our behalf. What does that mean for us? It means we are now reconciled to and redeemed for God. How does that debt get paid for me as an individual? Just like Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness and those who looked upon it were saved from physical death (Numbers 21:9), so also those who “look” at the Son of Man lifted up on the cross are saved from spiritual death (John 3:14-15).
All to Him I Owe
So now we turn to the idea “all to him I owe.” If Jesus paid what I owed to God, is it paid or did my debt simply get transferred to another debt holder? How should I live? Do I have debt or not—is it like a mortgage that can be bought and sold? The bottom line is that it is true that we owe all to Jesus, but we must never try to pay Him back. There are two elements to this phrase. The danger is that we live under the burden of paying Christ back for what he paid to God. The other element is the truth that we “owe” him faith. Jesus has truly paid it all is confirmed in that there is nothing for us to do but believe.
The Danger of “All to Him I Owe”
What does the false “all to him I owe” look like? It is an attempt to compensate Jesus for what he has done for me. It is characterized by a general sense that God is disappointed or angry with me. However, Galatians 2:21 says, “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.” My own deeds of righteousness or unrighteousness do not impact God’s grace towards me.
This danger can produce two destructive reactions. It can form self-righteous pride in victory over sin—the puffing up of oneself by believing that it is your own doing that conquered sin. This is like what the Pharisees did. The other reaction is hopeless depression and despair in your struggle with sin. His yoke seems hard and his burden seems heavy. Yet Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” The response of “all to him I owe” is neither self-promoting nor self-deflating.
The Truth of “All to Him I Owe”
So what does the real “all to him I owe” look like? First, it is free. We could say, “God is most glorified in us when we are most free in him.” Galatians 5:1 says, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
Second, it is worshipful. We love Jesus not to pay him back but because he is the most lovable. We commend Jesus to others not to do good works (like Jehovah’s Witnesses) but because he is the most commendable. Nothing in the universe is as beautiful as Jesus Christ. Second Corinthians 4:6, “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
Third, it is holy. I have heard people say, “Don’t take grace to far.” I think their fear is that some will use the gospel to justify sin. Well, certainly some do this (Romans 6:1), but this is not legitimate Christianity. We are free to follow Christ. By way of illustration, I had a lack of freedom around Theresa, my wife, when I didn’t know how she felt about me compared to the freedom I now have knowing that she is for me. Likewise, we have a freedom to be who we are knowing that Jesus if for us. Frederick Buechner wrote, “Lust is the craving for salt of a person who is dying of thirst” (Buechner, Wishful Thinking: A Seekers’ ABC). Having faith in Jesus is drinking from the Fountain of Living Water when we are dying of thirst, not yearning for salt, which does not satisfy. Kevin DeYoung wrote, “…the secret of the gospel is that we actually do more when we hear less about all we need to do for God and hear more about all that God has already done for us” (DeYoung, DeYoung, Restless and Reformed).
Look to Jesus
The answer is the same as justification, “Look!” Jesus is lifted up on the cross that we might look and believe on him and be saved from death and hell. Jesus has risen from the dead that we might look and believe on him and have eternal life. Jesus is reigning in heaven and has given us his Spirit that we might look and believe on him to pursue righteousness. Jesus is coming again that we might reign, dwell and worship him forever.
 Note: This text is not a full transcript but a summary of notes.