The Greatest Christmas Gift Ever

Many of you are looking forward to receiving Christmas gifts on Tuesday morning. However, God gave the greatest gift anyone could receive when He sent His son into the world 2000 years ago.

Ephesians 2:1-10

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Made Alive in Christ

2 And you [a]were dead [b]in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the [c]course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, [d]indulging the desires of the flesh and of the [e]mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead [f]in our transgressions, made us alive together [g]with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For byImage grace you have been saved through faith; and [h]that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Footnotes:

  1. Ephesians 2:1 Lit being
  2. Ephesians 2:1 Or by reason of
  3. Ephesians 2:2 Lit age
  4. Ephesians 2:3 Lit doing
  5. Ephesians 2:3 Lit thoughts
  6. Ephesians 2:5 Or by reason of
  7. Ephesians 2:5 Two early mss read in Christ
  8. Ephesians 2:8 I.e. that salvation

First of all, Christians are saved from sin. Relatively speaking we may not be as bad as the prisoner on death row or the gunman who ended 26 innocent lives a week ago Friday in Middletown, CT; but absolutely speaking we are all sinners who fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). The good news, however, is that Christians are saved by grace. When you receive a gift from a loved one, do you respond by asking where s/he bought the gift or how much it cost? I would not. The proper response is to say “thank you”–specifically saying this to God for His free gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23; 1 Thessalonians 5:18). Because God offers His salvation freely to us, it is something for which we cannot take credit. Our human nature implies that we want to take credit and boast about all the great things we have accomplished in our lifetimes. Salvation is nothing we can brag about by saying it was all due to our effort. Just as only one pitcher can take credit for the win in a baseball game, only One can take credit for our salvation. Associated with this is the tendency of some to work for our salvation–joining a church, reading our Bible, praying , giving money away, confessing our sins, promising to do something great for God if He saves us. On the contrary, Christians are saved for service. The word “workmanship” in verse 10 can also be translated “work of art”–the Greek word being where we get our English word “poem.”  Think of it–as a Christian your life is a work of art, a poem, a story waiting to be lived out. As I posted previously, the story God wants me to live out is to make disciples wherever He leads me (Acts 16:9).

As the word for “grace” in this passage comes from the Greek for “unmerited favor”, I want to end with this quote I found on http://www.sermoncentral.com recently:

WHAT GRACE MEANS

When a person works an eight-hour day and receives a fair day’s pay for his time, that is a wage. When a person competes with an opponent and receives a trophy for his performance, that is a prize. When a person receives appropriate recognition for his long service or high achievements, that is an award. 

But when a person is not capable of earning a wage, can win no prize, and deserves no award–yet receives such a gift anyway–that is a good picture of God’s unmerited favor. 

This is what we mean when we talk about the grace of God.

(From a sermon by Steve Shepherd, The Grace of God, 11/1/2011)

Disclaimer: for the Bible verses in this post and all other posts I share, I am using the search tools available at http://www.biblegateway.com

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