13 And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses, 14 erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it.
English scholar, T. W. Manson (d. 1938), used to say, “Christianity is either unique or superfluous.” Manson was surely right, Christianity is unique, there is nothing like it!
All religions agree that we fall short and are alienated from the deity (singular or plural). But the problem for all religions is in how we can be forgiven and reconciled to God. All other religions teach that it is only through something we do that we are forgiven and reconciled to God. Christianity teaches that we are forgiven and reconciled only through what Christ has accomplished for us on the cross.
Today’s text puts the emphasis upon what God has done for us through the cross of Christ. It is not what we have done, but what God has done for us. It is God who is the subject of all the verbs in our text. It is God who made us spiritually alive together with Christ “when he forgave us all our trespasses.” It is God who forgave us by “erasing the record that stood against us.”
Our English text uses six words “the record that stood against us” to translate the one Greek word, cheirographon, which literally meant “a certificate of indebtedness.” The word cheirographon was used outside the New Testament for the posting of a public debt. It was a handwritten IOU, a signed admission of liability. The Gospel is bold to declare that it is God himself who erased the record of our debts to him; it is God himself who “set this aside, nailing it to the cross.”
Here again Paul is drawing upon language and custom familiar to his readers. At a crucifixion the Roman authorities would nail on the cross the indictment or charges against the criminal being crucified. That was the debt owed to the state that must be paid.
It was on the cross that God took up all the debt against us, nailed it to the cross, and in the cross cancelled our debt to him. Through the cross we are forgiven all our sin, past, present, and future. Let us join our hearts and voices today in praise “5 To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, 6 and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (Revelation 1:5-6).
We rejoice today in what God has done for us and thankfully confess with the old hymn, “Rock of Ages:” ‘Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to the cross I cling.’
Soaking in Scripture…
Today’s Andy Moments…