The Gospel is explained financially in Scripture by using words accounting terms. The best way to appreciate the beauty that takes place when believers put their faith in Christ is by understanding these words. Let’s take a look at each of them!
The Gospel Is Explained Financially: Sin Debt
Because of our sins, we have a huge amount of sin debt against God. When Jesus taught His disciples to pray in Matthew 6:12 He encouraged them to say, “Forgive us our debts.” In the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant, the man doesn’t have a huge criminal record, but he does have a huge amount of debt. The servant pleaded with the king for mercy. In Matthew 18:27 it says, “The master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.” The forgiveness of the man’s debt pictured the forgiveness of his sins.
The Gospel Is Explained Financially: Ransom and Redemption
A ransom is something paid to cancel or erase a person’s debt. In Matthew 20:28 Jesus said He “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Paul said, “Jesus gave Himself a ransom for all” (1 Tim 2:6).
When someone pays the ransom for another’s debt, it’s known as redemption. The individual who pays the ransom is known as a redeemer. Titus 2:14 says, “Jesus gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed.” Peter discussed what was required to cancel our sin debt and he said we “were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold…but with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Pet 1:18, 19).
The Gospel Is Explained Financially: Imputation of Sin and Righteousness
“Impute” is accounting term referring to moving assets from one side of a ledger to the other. The Greek word for impute is logizomai, and it occurs forty-one times in Scripture. Almost half of those times it occurs in Romans, and of those nineteen times, eleven times it occurs in chapter 4! Just like 1 Corinthians 13 is the Love Chapter, Romans 4 is the Imputation Chapter.
Romans 4:8 says “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.” In other words, blessed is the man whose sins are not put to his account. God is just though, and no sin can go unpunished or unaccounted for. If our sin is not imputed to our account, it has to be put to, or imputed to someone’s account. Jesus says, “You can put your sin to my account. Your sin can be imputed to Me!”
With our sin imputed to Christ’s account we can be considered innocent, but we’re not considered righteous. To be considered or accounted righteous, righteous behavior is required. But Isaiah 64:6 says, “Our righteousnesses are like filthy rags.” Even our very best isn’t considered righteous in God’s eyes. The only possibility is to have Christ’s righteousness imputed to our accounts.
The amazing reality is this:
- Just like God can impute unrighteousness to a righteous person, so too can God impute righteousness to an unrighteous person’s account.
- Just like God can impute our unrighteousness to Christ’s account, He can impute Christ’s righteousness to our account.
The Gospel Is Explained Financially: Double Imputation
Both aspects are required. If Christ’s righteousness was imputed to us without our unrighteousness being imputed to Him we’d be the righteous unrighteous. We’d have Christ’s righteousness and our own unrighteousness. It’s captured beautifully in 2 Corinthians 5:21 when Paul says, “God made Jesus who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Our unrighteousness moves from our side of the ledger to Christ’s, and His righteousness moves from His side of the ledger to ours.
The Gospel Is Explained Financially: The Spiritually Poor
Fittingly the Bible also uses a financial term to describe those who receive the Gospel, and that word is poor.
In Matthew 5:3 Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. In Luke 4:18 Jesus said He preaches the Gospel to the poor. The poor are the special category of people that receive the Gospel. There’s only one reason people have debt, and that’s because they’re poor.
The Greek word for poor is ptōchos and it means “reduced to beggary, lowly, afflicted…helpless, powerless…lacking in anything.” It’s not talking about being somewhat poor…it’s talking about people with absolutely nothing of value. There’s an example of this kind of poverty in the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus: Luke 16:20-21 There was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at [the rich man’s] gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 So it was that the beggar died. That’s POOR! This has to be one of the most pitiful descriptions of an individual in Scripture. Twice he’s called a beggar and the word for beggar is ptōchos. It’s the same word for poor in Luke 4:18 and Matthew 5:3.
The Gospel Is Explained Financially: We Are Beggars
Jesus isn’t talking about financial poverty in Matthew 5:3 or Luke 4:18. He’s talking about spiritual poverty. The way this beggar looked financially is the way we look spiritually. The Gospel is for people who recognize this reality. The Kingdom of Heaven is for people who know they have as much going for them spiritually as this man had going for him financially. Why are we so poor spiritually? For the same reason people are poor financially: an absence of anything valuable: Isaiah 64:6 says all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags. Filthy rags aren’t worth a whole lot.
According to Matthew 5:3 and Luke 4:18 the Gospel is for the poor for a very simple and beautiful reason: people who are poor know they have absolutely nothing with which they could purchase or obtain salvation. They know they’re sinners. As a result they recognize their spiritual and don’t trust in their own righteousness.
Isaiah 66:2 The LORD says, ‘On this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit.’ Why? Because these are people ready and willing to receive the Gospel knowing they can’t make it to heaven on their own. They know they have nothing with which they could redeem themselves or pay back their spiritual debts or ransom themselves; therefore, they’re thankful to have Jesus redeem them: Titus 2:14 Jesus gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed, and 1 Pet 1:18-19 you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold…but with the precious blood of Christ.