"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

The Greatest Gifts Are Those I Receive from God


Merry Christmas! 

As we open our Christmas presents, we would do well to pause and consider that the Bible teaches the greatest gifts we'll ever receive are the gifts given to us from God. A general meditation on these unique gifts will bring some real Christmas cheer.

1. "Thanks be to God for His inexpressible gift!" (II Corinthians 9:15).

This inexpressible gift from God is His Son Jesus Christ. Understanding when God gave us His Son ("while we were still sinners" - Romans 5:8), how God gave us His Son ("freely and graciously" - Romans 8:32), and why God gave us His Son ("for God so loved the world that He gave us His only begotten Son" - John 3:16) becomes our incentive to love freely and give generously to someone unworthy. Until I find my soul's satisfaction in God's inexpressible gift, I'll never never be able to give my soul to someone else in unconditional love. Talking about this inexpressible gift on Facebook is not the evidence I have it, for it is inexpressible.  Jesus gives us the evidence we truly have received Him as a gift when He said,  "By this will all men know that you are My disciples, when you love one another as I have loved you" (John 13:34).

2. "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23).

When is the last time we've heard a sermon on "life eternal," or immortality? Some of the best Hollywood movies are about man's search for immortality, but for whatever reason, Christians wrongly assume that all men are inherently immortal. Not so, according to the Bible. Immortality is a gift. As Martin Luther put it, "We shall sleep, until He comes and knocks on the little grave and says, "Doctor Martin, get up! Then I shall rise in a moment and be with Him forever." (The Christian Hope, 1594, p. 37). Immortality is a gift to those with faith in Christ. The wicked will be raised, judged for their sins, and then handed over to "the second death" (Revelation 2:11; Revelation 20:14). "Only one life, twill soon be past, only what's done for Christ will last." (C.T. Studd). Thinking about my life for eternity puts into perspective some of my low points in history.

3. "For by grace have you been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8).

R.C. Sproul tells the story of walking the streets of Philadelphia and being stopped by a young man who asked, "Sir, tell me, are you saved?" Sproul, realizing the young man was a Christian street evangelist, asked him "Saved from what?" The young evangelist stammered and stuttered, not quite sure how to answer. Let's be clear about it.  God told His people in Leviticus 26:27-28 - "But if you walk contrary to Me, then I will walk contrary to you in fury." Let's be very clear. We all need deliverance from God's righteous fury against our selfish sins. We have it. It's a gift. Deliverance from God's righteous fury for walking contrary to God's will in this world is a gift of grace through faith in Christ's work, not my own works. The greatest evidence that I have received this gift is that I continually give this same grace of forgiveness to others who walk contrary to me (Matthew 6:15).

4. "...you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38).

The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit of God is indeed a great gift. At salvation, God grants His Spirit to abide in me, for I become "the Temple of the Holy Spirit" (I Corinthians 6:19). The Spirit's indwelling presence in me brings forth "the fruit of the Spirit," which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Notice, this gift of the Spirit brings the "fruit" (singular) of the Spirit. I can't be good without love; I can't be gentle without self-control, I can't be patient without kindness. In other words, I can't pick and choose among "nine fruits," for it is but one "fruit of the Spirit." The fruit becomes my character. The evidence I've received this great gift is in the fruit-pudding (pardon the pun).

5. "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows" (James 1:17). 

All the good things in my life come from God. The difference between good and perfect is important. Good means "that which is benevolent in its character." Perfect means "something which is complete, or whole." Here is the remarkable thing "good and perfect gifts" in my life. Some things that come my way that are not good. They are evil and painful, not good and comforting. Yet, my Father is able "to work all things for my good" (Romans 8:28), In times of seemingly awful problems and unbearable pain, I need to remember that the complete story of my life has not yet been written by my Father. Everything that comes my way (even the evil that does not originate from Him),  God perfectly orchestrates (that's the Greek word for "works" in Romans 8:28) for my ultimate good.

These five gifts from God are the greatest gifts I'll ever receive. 

And they make for a Merry Christmas indeed.

16 comments:

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

You scoundrel; the first think I’m going to do when we meet is hug your neck if I can reach that high.

Once again you quote the great Martin Luther as if he was the Lord himself in saying we will stay in our graves until Jesus returns.

Paul was left for dead in Acts 14:19.

While he was unconscious, do you think (2 Corinthians 12:2-5 NLT) occurred?

“I was caught up to the third heaven 14 years ago. Whether I was in my body or out of my body, I don’t know—only God knows. Yes, only God knows whether I was in my body or outside my body. But I DO KNOW I WAS CAUGHT UP TO PARADISE and heard things so ASTOUNDING that they cannot be expressed in words, things no human is allowed to tell. That EXPERIENCE is worth boasting about, but I’m not going to do it. I will boast only about my weakness.”

Rex Ray said...

Merry Christmas!

Wade Burleson said...

Merry Christmas to you, too Rex!

And, my view differs from Luther just a tad in this way: When a saint closes his or her eyes in physical death, "immediately" (in the next instant), he or she experiences the "resurrection," for at death we move "outside of time" and into His time - eternity! :)

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

NO FAIR!

You avoided my question. Where was Paul if not in Paradise?

To imply Paul was “outside of time and into His time – eternity” does not hold water. And I’ll add a :)

My grandmother while dying said, “It’s so beautiful; I see Papa.”

The same as my 5 year-old cousin asking, “Mama, which one is our house?”

Victorious said...

You avoided my question. Where was Paul if not in Paradise?

To imply Paul was “outside of time and into His time – eternity” does not hold water.


Merry Christmas, Rex!

Have you ever had a supernatural vision? I have. It's impossible to define where you are and the time frame as well. The only thing you are certain of after the "vision" is that you saw what you saw what you saw..... It's difficult to convey such an experience as it is outside the realm we live in and are familiar with.

Christiane said...

Merry Christmas, all!

Hope everyone had a wonderful day with their families.

Rex Ray said...

Victorious,

Thanks for the reply. Yes, I believe other people can have visions besides (Acts 2:17) “…young men will see visions…”

I believe my grandmother and cousin “saw” what they saw.

But Paul did not mention a vision: “…heard things so astounding that they cannot be expressed in words, things no human is allowed to tell.”

Why was Paul not allowed to tell what he heard?

I believe Wade is trapped into believing the dead stay in the grave because he thinks heaven will be earth (…a new heaven and a new earth etc.)

Does Wade cut this scripture from the Bible?

“Then he said, “I tell you the truth, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth.” (John 1:51 NLT)

How can Jesus be the stairway between heaven and earth if earth is heaven?

Victorious said...

young men will see visions…”

Does that prophecy include women seeing visions?

Rex, heaven is a very big topic as I have found a reference to heaven over 600 times in the bible. Let me just say that my observations are that sometimes believers are so literal that we miss the message being conveyed. An off-topic example of what is known as "selective literalism" is Jesus saying that since He washed the disciples' feet, we should do the same (John 13:14. Or recognizing the meaning behind enemies being a footstool.

My personal belief is that human beings normally need a physical reference to understand certain truths and heaven is, for that reason, conveyed in terms of up, high above, etc. whereas it is in reality a "realm."



Wade Burleson said...

Rex,

Typology, symbolism, and metaphors are throughout the Bible.

Do you believe Jesus is a real stepladder? Do you believe God - the immortal, invisible, eternal God - has "a literal right hand" of power?

I do believe in the literal resurrection from the dead, which is "the hope of the Christian faith" and as the Apostle Paul stated, "without the resurrection our preaching is foolishness." I agree with Victorious that Paul had a vision of "the third heaven" but even if he actually "went to heaven" as you bellieve, I have no more problem with the concept that Paul "went to heaven," than I do "Moses and Elijah" came from heaven on the Mount of Transfiguration. In the Resurrection, we are all outside of time, and since time is a creation of God, it seems quite reasonable that angels, God, and resurrected Saints can move in and out of time as natural as we move in and out of a front door.

But "coming from heaven and to earth, or from earth to heaven" is only SYMBOLIZED in the ladder. It's more of a movement between dimensions, and as Albert Einstein so brilliantly pointed out, the God who made the universe created far many more dimensions than mankind will ever discover.

When Jesus said "The meek will inherit the earth" what was Jesus saying Rex? The entire gospel message is God is restoring creation through redemption, to bring it back to what it was intended to be from the beginning. And the meek will inherit the earth.

Blessings,

Wade

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

I want to apologize for some things I’d written before I read your last comment. I didn’t post that comment but will AFTER posting this one. One was indicating you’d “left the room”. I don’t know where you find the time to do all that you do.

Yes, I believe in symbolism, etc. in the Bible.

You wrote, “When Jesus said “The meek will inherit the earth” what was Jesus saying Rex?”

Some say the meek will inherit 3 feet x 6 feet x 6 feet deep. :)

There is a BIG difference in the definition of “meek” by Wikipedia, and what the Bible teaches.
“Meek” is from the Greek term praus. It does not suggest weakness; rather, it denotes strength brought under control. The ancient Greeks employed the term to describe a wild horse tamed to the bridle. In the biblical sense, therefore, being meek describes one who has channeled his strengths into the service of God.”
What was Moses? “Now Moses was very humble—more humble than any other person on earth.” (Numbers 12:3 NLT)

Humility and meekness go together. Humility obeys what the person understands; meek uses self-restraint, and rejects its authority over others.

Jesus allowed people to blame and criticize him even though he had authority over them. Thus he was the meekest man on earth.

WHAT WILL THE MEEK INHERIT? “We have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.” (1 Peter 1:4 NLT)

You mention Moses and Elijah. I don’t mean do be sacrilegious in them going in and out of time, but did they have natural bodies in one time and dirt in the other?

“Jesus replied, “Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures…as to whether there will be a resurrection of the dead—haven’t you ever read about this in the Scriptures? Long after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had died, God said, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. SO HE IS THE GOD OF THE LIVING, NOT THE DEAD. When the crowds heard him, they were astonished.” (Matthew 22:29-33 NLT)

Rex Ray said...

Victorious

Again, thanks for the reply.

There’s nothing more frustrating than talking to someone that’s left the room.

First of all, I think a person is more believable if they admit when they’re wrong. Through all the years has Wade EVER done that? NO! Do you remember when he wrote that Jesus was a Southern Baptist? When I called him on it, many claimed he didn’t say it. When I told him my wife had a master’s degree in English and agreed he said it, the nearest he came to saying he was wrong was: “Sometimes words do not convey their true meaning.”

Victorious, you’re right about “selective literalism”. In (John 1:51) [seeing angels on Jesus who is stairway between heaven and earth], Jesus was probably thinking of Jacob in (Genesis 28:12 NLT): “…he dreamed of a stairway that reached from the earth to heaven. And he saw the angels of God going up and down the stairway.”

Jesus is often seen as the “bridge” between heaven and earth or the “bridge” between God and man, but I believe a ladder is a better picture.

King James translation uses the word “ladder”. It’s a proven fact that stairways are safer than ladders. So our journey to God will be the safest of all.

Anonymous said...

Wade,

I'm glad Trump will be President when we go to Israel. In the West Bank, I'd hate for 570,000 Jews to be mad at us.

Rex Ray

Christiane said...

"You wrote, “When Jesus said “The meek will inherit the earth” what was Jesus saying Rex?” "

I think the meaning has to do with meekness as the absence of smugness ...... that it's the one who takes the lower chair that shall be raised up, and the one who stops to help the fallen wounded traveler that is recognized, and the one who lowers his head in the temple and asks for mercy .... these are the ones upon whom God looks with approval and gives His blessing ....

"God descends to the humble as waters flow down from the hills into the valleys."
St. John of Kronstadt

Anonymous said...

Christiane,

I like your description of MEEK.

One source said: "Meek is from the Greek term praus. It does not suggest weakness, rather, it denotes strength brought under control. In the biblical sense, meek describes one who has channeled his strengths into the service of God."

Jesus is our example of being the meekest man on earth.

The question you quoted was from Wade. He asked what did Jesus mean about the meek will inherit the earth.

I believe as Jesus as our example the answer is (1 Peter 1:4): "We have a priceless inheritance--an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay."

Wade,
If you have kept up with all the deception Obama has done to America; and still doing these last few days, do you think he is trying to get impeached so some will think of him as a martyr? Or does that deception just comes natural for a Muslim?

Rex

Curious Thinker said...

Nicely written and I agree that Jesus was gift from God who died at the cross for all our sins. God Bless and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Anonymous said...

"The word meekness in Scripture pictures a warhorse at rest. It doesn't thrash around the paddock snorting and kicking to intimidate the other horses. It stands at the quiet, ready at its master's beck and call to be swift on the run and courageous in battle."

Excerpt from Wayne jacobsen's book "Finding Church" chapter 9 "Loved into Life" pg 91. A good read!

Wayne