"The Unspeakable Gift"
II Corinthians 9:15
Approximately one month seperate the holidays of Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. There is a very definite relationship between the two as pointed out by the Apostle Paul in our text: "Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift."
Thanksgiving Day is a time when we are reminded anew to give thanks unto God for all our blessings. Christmas Day is a time of exchanging gifts, but more than that it is a the day we celebrate the giving of the greatest Gift the world will ever know--- God's gift of His Son to be the Saviour of the world! This is the Gift Paul is giving thanks for, and the Gift that the world must ever give thanks for--- Jesus Christ!
God sent His angels to the shepherds to first announce His Gift: "And the angel said unto them, Fear not; for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:10-11).
In our traditional exchange of gifts, let us not forget that the greatest Gift ever offered was the Gift of salvation in Jesus Christ. The celebration of His birthday should be a time of thanksgiving for this great and unspeakable Gift.
Why should God make such a gift to us? Do we deserve this great Gift? Was God indebted to us? Did mankind have some claim on God that would make Him have to give us His Son? The answer is "no" for God did not have to make mankind this gift. In fact man does not deserve this gift of salvation in Christ. We have rebelled against God, broken His law, forgotten His Word, and sinned against Him. The penalty for sin is death. The Bible says, "The wages of sin is death." Since all are sinners (Romans 3:23) all of us deserve death. Thus, God's gift is not based on our worthiness or our merit, but on His grace.
He have because He loved us. "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16). We are the recipients of His love and grace in spite of our unloveliness and unworthiness.
This gift cannot be earned. Our good works can never build up enough merit to where God is obligated to give it to us. "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works." (Ephesians 2:8-9). Real gifts are never made out of obligation, but out of love. God gives us His Son because He loves us and wants us to be redeemed from our sins. Before Jesus was born an angel revealed to the perplexed young Joseph, "And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins."
God the Father sent His Son to redeem mankind from their sins. He sent Jesus to bear the cross of death in our place. Because God loved us and didn't want us to die for our sins He let His Son die for our sins.
How do you receive this greatest of all gifts? God's Word teaches us that it is by faith. We realize that we are a sinner needing salvation from the death penalty of sin. We repent of our sins and ask for forgiveness, believing that Jesus can and will save us. In that moment we receive Christ by faith, we are saved and thus the greatest of all possible gifts is bestowed on us.
Have you received this greatest of all gifts? Millions haven't. Can you imagine how you would feel if you gave someone the greatest possible gift available and that person turned their back on you and refused to accept that gift? This is in some measure, how God feels this Christmas season. God's gift is refused and we continue in our sins (no room in the inn). Possibly some of you reading this [newspaper] have never accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour. Will you at this moment repent of your sins and receive Christ as your Saviour, and receive the greatest gift of all this Christmas season? God offers this gift to all. "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Romans 10:13).
God offers this gift to all, but He does not force anyone to receive it. The receiving of the gift is up to you. God wants you to have it but He'll not force it upon you against your will. If somone offered you a gift of a milliion dollars you would take it. God is offering you countless more than a million dollars, He is offering you eternal life in Christ. Accept this "unspeakable gift" today and join the Apostle Paul in giving thanks to God the Donor.
"If Christ a thousand times in Bethlehem be born, until He's born in me, my soul is all forlorn."
By Rev. Harvey Neal (while pastor of First Baptist Church).