Two thousand years ago, God’s gift to man was delivered. It was a gift prepared in eternity past, anticipated before the foundation of the world, and announced since the beginning of the world.
Speaking of Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world, 1 Peter 1:20 says that Jesus is the One,
Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.
In reference to the lost, Revelation 13:8 mentions the preparation of God’s gift, saying,
And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
The Apostle Paul wrote in Titus 1:2-3 of the anticipation and revealing of God’s gift, saying,
In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began; But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour.
Luke 1:70 records the announcement of God’s gift, saying,
As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began.
Yes, the gift of God was already chosen and prepared long before He was revealed. And like a present purchased long before it would be opened, God made His payment. Like a gift carefully wrapped in precious paper because the gift inside was precious, God wrapped His Son in human flesh. And like a present promised not only to be given but to be greatly cherished, God proclaimed with promise that His gift to the entire world was indeed precious, needful, and to be desired. No greater gift has ever been given.
But unlike the ‘lay away’ plans for gifts that so many take advantage of for temporary material things, God paid for His gift in full before the foundation of the world. In other words, God is not still paying for His gift. Christ is not still suffering for sins. He died once for a one time payment in full, and it was done just like that! Jesus declared on the cross, It is finished!
Hebrews 9:26-28 declares,
For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: Nor yet that he should offer himself often , as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
Hebrews 10:12 adds finality to this by saying,
But this man [Jesus Christ], after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God.
He offered only one sacrifice because His sacrifice was a sacrifice of life, His life, an infinite life, a sufficient life for the eternal payment for sin. God’s gift to man is the most precious of gifts.
First, God’s gift had the most costly of all price tags. Second, it is truly the most valuable of all gifts. I am making this distinction on purpose because value does not always equal the cost. But in this case, the eternal price tag equaled the value of the eternal gift. That is to say, eternal death is the price for eternal life. And only God could deliver both. And He did.
What should be done with such a precious gift of indescribable cost and value? It should be received with indescribable gratitude … eternal gratitude … more gratitude than we are capable of comprehending or giving. It should be cherished every day for as long as it lasts, which in this case is eternity.
First Peter 1:9-16 tells us what more we should do, saying,
Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into. Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
But what do we do with God’s gift? What did we do two thousand years ago? Trashed it. Despised it. Cursed it. Oh, what ungrateful, unworthy, despicable worms we human beings are.
But we have a choice to not be ungrateful. We are not doomed to be ingrates. Peter is not speaking in vain when he admonishes us to be obedient children. We can be grateful, and to do less would be blasphemous.
So I leave you with an excerpt from a familiar poem written by Christina G. Rossetti as you think about gift giving during Christmas season. What can I give him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb; if I were a wise man, I would do my part. Yet what can I give him–give my heart.
Dr. Briney’s December 16, 2012, message at Mission Blvd. Baptist Church