Christmas: Have you received the greatest gift?
I suppose many who read this will already know exactly what this is. But why is it that so many people don’t see it as a gift? The Bible clearly tells us salvation is not something earned. It truly is a gift provided without charge.
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. [Emphasis added]
If you ask how a person can get to spend eternity in Heaven, most people will begin to cite what they think of as deeds that earn or somehow qualify them for it. If you doubt that’s true, just ask some people privately and personally why they think God should let them into Heaven. You’ll then hear them tell you exactly what they believe about it. Rarely will you hear someone speak of it as a gift of God that is freely provided. Then if you tell them that it IS a gift that comes by grace through faith alone with no works at all, many will express some disagreement with you. Many will even quote some Scripture for you. Here are two of the most common ones.
37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent [METANOEO = change one’s mind], and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. [Emphasis added]
When people read the word repent, they tend to think of feeling sorry about sins and/or giving up sins. What it really means is to have a change of mind, to go from unbelief to belief.
20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? [Emphasis added]
What these people fail to realize is that while ALL Scripture is FOR us it is not all TO us or ABOUT us. They know little or nothing about the meaning of what is called rightly dividing the Scriptures.
2 Timothy 2:15
15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. [Emphasis added]
Most people have no idea what this means. In fact, most people have never even read this verse. This is partly because the principle is not taught or not correctly taught in most churches. The heart of the problem stems from not understanding that God provided the revelation of His will for us today through the writings of the apostle Paul. What you will find in his writings are many things that differ from what went before. I have numerous articles about all this on our website at—4Us2UsMinistries.com. Here are the titles of a few of them I would encourage you to read.
4Us2Us: What does this mean?
Bible: What are The Two Programs?
Bible: Where should a person begin studying?
Heaven: How can a person qualify?
Paul: What is special about his teaching?
Salvation: Does it have to be earned by good works?
Works: What about Scripture that demands them for salvation?
All these articles address various aspects of this. Just type a key word or two in the search box on the website and it will take you there.
The message in the Bible containing the means to salvation is called the gospel. The Greek word from which this comes is EUANGELION. This is a compound Greek noun meaning good news. And that’s exactly what it is—good news! The good news is what God did through Jesus Christ to provide each of us with the way of salvation. All the work that needed to be done for it was accomplished through His death, burial, and resurrection. It is by faith in this one work of Christ that we gain everlasting salvation. The apostle Paul explains it to us.
I Corinthians 15:1-4
1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: [Emphasis added]
Although salvation is free to us, Jesus Christ paid a dear price to provide it.
2 Corinthians 5:18-21
18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
That’s right! Your sins, mine, and those of the entire world were placed on Christ and He paid the penalty for them all. This is the wonderful message we’ve been given to believe and share with others.
20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ [His personal representatives], as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.
21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. [Emphasis added]
Contrary to popular opinion, salvation isn’t about being forgiven of our sins. This is because God provided forgiveness for all through Christ’s death on the cross. His death did accomplish something wonderful, whether people believe it or not. However, salvation only occurs when someone believes in what He did as the sole basis for it. The need for believing Christ died for one’s sins is an inherent part of the gospel message. One must believe that to get saved. It was at the cross of Christ that the justice of God was completely satisfied with His payment for the sins of the world. Again, salvation only occurs when someone accepts what He did for them. It is when that is believed that the righteousness of God, HIS goodness, is credited to the one believing this message.
1 John 2:2
2 And he is the propitiation [the One satisfying God’s just demands] for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. [Emphasis added]
When we place our faith in HIS work, it is then that God credits us with His perfect righteousness. In Scripture this is called justification by faith. Absolutely no works on our part, or the works prescribed by the Mosaic Law or any other kind of works, have anything to do with it. It is this that makes salvation a gift.
28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. [Emphasis added]
This “law” he speaks of is the Law God provided through the prophet Moses which was a system of works by which the people of Israel expressed their faith. We are not under that system today. Many other passages speak of this work of Christ that provides the way of salvation for us now.
16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ [speaking of His accomplishment], and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. [Emphasis added]
Yes, it is because of God’s work in Christ that salvation is offered freely as a gift that comes to us only by faith.
I clearly remember how exciting it was as a child to get gifts at Christmas time. But weren’t we told that we needed to be “good” to get those gifts? Christmas gifts were in a way used by parents as a form of leverage for obedience. But is this what God does in providing so wonderful a gift as salvation? Absolutely not! No good deeds are demanded of us at all for this. Salvation is declared to be a gift. Notice again what Scripture says about how this gift is provided.
23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: [Emphasis added]
I hate to be repetitious about this, but so many people refuse to accept what the writings of the apostle Paul tell us so plainly.
16 And not as it was by one that sinned [speaking of Adam in the Garden of Eden], so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.
17 For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.
18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one [Jesus Christ] the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. [Emphasis added]
God lovingly sent a Savior to provide a way for each of us to obtain this gift of salvation. How is this word gift formally defined? The Merriam-Webster dictionary says it is something voluntarily transferred by one person to another WITHOUT compensation. Then how is this word defined when it is used in the Bible? Answer: The exact same way! No form of compensation is provided to gain something. As with any gift, someone must pay for it. In this case it was through the payment Christ made through His death, burial, and resurrection.
A question that was posed to me many years ago was a great help to me in understanding all this. I was asked how many of my sins were in the future when Christ died to pay the penalty for them. Of course, the answer is ALL of them. That was true for me then even as it is now. This means God knew completely what sins I’d commit. Therefore, the penalty for them had to be paid. In my case and in the case of all, the price was paid centuries before I was born. God in His omniscience [being all-knowing] knew about every one of them. And right there on that cross Christ paid the penalty for them all. Such is just as true for you as it is me. But to be saved and to gain everlasting life one must believe it. Have you done that? If you haven’t, there’s not one good reason for you not to do that right now. This gift of salvation will become yours immediately. It was to make this possible for us that Christ died for us. What a wonderful expression of His love that was for all of us!
8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled [by faith in Him], we shall be saved by his life. [Emphasis added]
Numerous passages speak of this work He did for us.
13 Christ hath redeemed us [Christ having paid the price demanded] from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: [Emphasis added]
Because He did this work for all, He makes it clear that He desires for all to be saved.
I Timothy 2:3-6
3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. [Emphasis added]
Furthermore, it is made clear that once this gift of salvation is received it can never be lost. Your salvation is made perfectly secure forever. Just as you didn’t do anything to gain it, you cannot do anything to lose it. Again, your salvation is made perfectly secure forever.
38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. [Emphasis added]
We are even told that our salvation was sealed at that point.
30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. [Emphasis added]
If you’ve not already received this wonderful gift by faith, why not do that now and let this be your best Christmas season ever? I’m praying right now as I write this that there will be many who will, including you.