Grow in appreciation of the greatest gift

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Lincoln Forlong writes The Pastor's Pen

I wish to encourage you to grow in appreciation of the greatest gift.

While the giving of presents in the world is common, there is no earthly gift to be compared with the gift of eternal life in Christ. Typically, we value little the things which cost us little. This is certainly true in the self-centered, consumer driven society in which we live. However, this is NOT true of the child of God!

The apostle Paul pointed out to the Ephesian Church that at the foundation of a believer’s relationship with God is the unmerited and humanly unattainable attribute of faith. So God, of His own initiative, gifted the required faith thus equipping us to respond; “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).

God is not only a Saviour by nature but a gift giver also. While salvation in and of itself cost us nothing, it did however cost someone everything. Obviously, I’m referring to Christ; “For if, because of one man’s (Adam’s) trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:17).

Justice was not enough

It would have been sufficient if God had released us from the judicial consequences of our sin due to Christ’s substitutional death, but God did so much more. He didn’t simply neutralise His wrath toward we sinners, no; “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him (Christ) we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). The Father gave our sin, accompanied by His wrath, to Christ, while gifting us with Christ’s righteousness.

While it’s true that we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” it’s equally true that we sinners “are justified by his (God’s) grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23-24). This undeserved gift becomes even more spectacular as we grow in our appreciation of the redemption we have in Christ. To be redeemed is to be forgiven, made holy, set free, adopted into God’s family, and reconciled (Romans 5:17; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Galatians 3:13; 4:5; Colossians 1:18-20; Titus 2:14; 1 Peter 1:14-18). Such wonderful truths stretch our mortal comprehension to our finite limits, and simply leave us hanging in the awe of thankful faith. Praise God!

The most secure gift

As is so typical of the Lord, “the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Romans 11:29). His gifts are in perfect synchromesh with the purpose of His will; therefore, we are secure in His faithfulness as the supreme and merciful gift giver (cf. 2 Timothy 2:13).

While most gifts we receive in this life don’t require any special response, other than gratitude, God’s gift does demand a response. Our only reasonable response is explained well by the apostle Paul to the Corinthians. “For the love of Christ controls (Compels) us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).

Today, I encourage you to grow in appreciation of the greatest gift, and consciously surrender all that you are to the humble privilege of living for Christ instead of for self.

Together for Christ:   Lincoln Forlong                          www.bbf.net.nz

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