Christmas gifts have been around for centuries. The practice of giving gifts at Christmas can be seen as early as the Middle Ages, where people gave gifts to commemorate the Wise Men giving gifts to Jesus. Today, for some, gift giving is an important part of Christmas (maybe the most important!) Christmas and gifts go together like … well … Christmas gifts!
The greatest Christmas gift ever is really the reason we have Christmas to begin with, and that gift is Christ. Have you ever thought that the very first Christmas present happened on the first Christmas? In fact, that gift started it all. That night, God gave His Son, Jesus, to this world. Later Jesus gave His life on the cross, and all of it was to give people the gift of eternal life.
The Bible has a word for this great gift. That word is “grace,” which means a free gift. What Christmas gifts have you ever worked to get? None – those are called bonuses. A gift is different. Gifts are given out of love, whereas a bonus is given as a token of appreciation for a job well done. When God gave this gift of grace, it was solely out of His love for us. In fact, the Bible tells us that is how God shows His love for us. (Romans 5:8)
There’s another important thing about grace. It is what gives us eternal life, and it is the only thing that can do it. Many people would like to believe that we choose our own way to heaven, but Jesus taught differently. He said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, NIV) The reason for this exclusivity is because of what the gift can do.
God’s gift of sending Jesus wasn’t cheap. It cost Jesus His life. And God’s gift wasn’t something to sit on the shelf doing nothing. It did something, and something nothing else could, which was to pay the price for sin. Sin carries a penalty, and that penalty is eternal separation from God. When Jesus died on the cross, He took that penalty for everyone. As Jesus takes our sin, we can have His righteousness. The Bible puts it like this:
“God made him [Jesus] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21, NIV)
The first Christmas gift was the greatest - God sending His only Son so we can be reconciled to Him!
Does this mean that everyone will go to heaven? No, because everyone needs to accept this gift God has offered. A guy could give his girlfriend the most expensive diamond ring he could afford, wrap it up in a neat present, but it would do no good unless she accepted it. The same is with God’s gift: He has offered the most precious thing imaginable to every person, but it still needs to be accepted to be had.
So how does a person receive such a gift? It isn’t tangible, like a ring, so we can’t just reach out and take it. It is something spiritual and can only be received spiritually. We receive it by believing God is giving it to us and asking God for it in prayer. This belief is having an absolute trust that God will forgive us because of what Jesus did, and asking God for it is confessing to the fact that we need it. The Bible puts in this way:
“That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10)
Even though that first Christmas gift happened 2000 years ago, it is still giving today. The gift He offered then is the same gift He offers now. If you haven’t received God’s gift of eternal life through Jesus, it is our hope that you will do so today. We hope that you have:
Realized that you are a sinner and need forgiveness,
Believed in your heart that Jesus died and rose for you,
Asked God for this gift by praying to Him, asking for eternal life.
If you need some help in understanding what the Bible says about these things, please let us know. We would feel honored to share the wonderful gift God has given us with you!
~Your Friends at Friends In Faith Baptist Church