"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of truth." — (Psalm 60:4)
"Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them." — (Isaiah 13:2)
Devoted To The Defense Of The Church Against All Errors And Innovations
Vol.V No.IV Pg.11
November 1942

I Am A Debtor

Charles Hugo Mccord

"I am the debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise." (Romans 1:14) Of what kind of debt was Paul speaking? He had not signed somebody's note at the bank, nor did he owe a large amount of money "current with the merchant." But, contended Paul, "Necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!" (I Corinthians 9:16) "Before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious, but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief." (I Timothy 1:13) Ever afterward he felt he owed a monstrous obligation to all mankind, civilized and uncivilized, educated and illiterate.

It is profitable to consider some of the persons to whom Paul as well as every one of us is indebted.

(1) To God. Paul nor we had anything to do with the making of our wonderful world, nor with our coming into this life. Somebody was good to us, somebody thought of us before we were, and that somebody was the I am. "Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture." (Psalms 100:3) "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of Lights." (James 1:17)

(2) To Parents. Somebody took care of Paul when he could not feed and bathe himself. Somebody saw to it that he could leave home, Tarsus of Cilicia, and go to Jerusalem to school. To mother and father, owed by all of us, is a debt unpaid and unpayable.

(3) To Christ. "I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father." (John 10:17-18) "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich." (II Corinthians 8:9)

(4) To First Century Christians. We are indebted to thousands of good people who gave their lives rather than deny Christianity. A Stephen dying so publicly, a Paul battling beasts at Ephesus, a John in exile, them we know. Of others, in Rome's arena, in provinces' prisons, we have read, but their names are "known but to God." We know not what the world would have been had these been convictionless timeservers, but as it is we are vastly their debtors.

(5) To preservers of Scriptures. When Diocletian and other Roman emperors made it against the law to have a Bible; when soldiers without warrants invaded homes searching for criminal evidence, a Bible; when Catholic domination exerted itself to keeping the Bible from the common man; when all those things happened, there were giant souls who loved the Word of God more than their lives, and hid copies of the Book. To them our debt is unpaid.

(6) To John Gutenberg. Before Gutenbergs printing press only the wealthiest could own a Bible. Carefully copied by hand, carved into papyrus or antelope skin, a book of the Bible was a painfully wrought work, the cost prohibitive to commoners. Now any dime store displays a testament for a coin. Are you glad you live when you do?

(7) To Bible translators. To put the Sacred Oracles in our mother tongue required more than scholarship. It required courage to stand against the exalted wealth and devouring power of the papacy. Luther, Wycliffe, others had to do their work in secrecy. Catholics, red in hate, unable to murder Wycliffe, in 1428 exhumed his bones, burned them and cast ashes on Avon River. Tyndale, for translating Bible, was strangled and burned, 1536. Even if you had a copy of the original Greek and Hebrew, could you read it? Do you owe a debt to the Bible translators?

(8) To Lord Baltimore, Others. To meet publicly in open daylight to worship as it is written is no little privilege. Catholics, by the Inquisition, forced all men to worship their way. Protestants, by the Thirty Years' War, through blood, plague, and famine, won some measure of religious freedom. Then, in their own turn, were just as intolerant of Catholics and others. Puritans and Pilgrims fled to American shores to escape religious domination, only to dominate all within their power: Roger Williams was forced into a wilderness in dead of winter. You and I owe an unpayable debt to Lord Baltimore of Maryland Colony, and to the revolutionary fathers, for our freedom of worship. Politics and religion, state and church, must be kept separate according to the Constitution of the United States of America. We are debtors even to have citizenship or a haven in the States. Gospel preachers would be jailed in Germany. Christians would have to meet in a cave or cellar to break the bread in Russia. Everything in our power, short of killing, we should do to keep the Stars and Stripes flying.

If 2,000 years back Paul was debtor to Greeks and the Barbarians, to the wise and the unwise, what is true of us?