A few Christmases ago, our family decided to do a “white elephant” gift exchange to cut back on the number of gifts we bought. This idea led to one of my favorite memories (which is strange, because the joke was on me). I am not a good shopper. I stand in the store paralyzed trying to decide what to buy, whether for me or for a gift. After wandering the store, I found myself in the luggage department where I discovered a cool duffle bag that folded up very small for convenience. Tired of shopping, I impulsively bought that duffle bag, took it home, and wrapped it up, thinking that anyone could use such a practical gift.
On Christmas Eve, my family gathered for our gift exchange, including my parents, my brother’s family, and our two daughters and their husbands. I must admit to feeling a bit nervous when our son-in-law, Jordan, picked my gift out of the pile, and my sneaking suspicions that the gift was a “dud” were confirmed by his response. By this time, he and Lindsey had been married long enough that he had dropped any filters around us. “A duffle bag?? I get a duffle bag??” This went on for some time. If you know Jordan, you can imagine. He is one of the funniest people I know. Of course, no one wanted to trade with him. We all laughed until our sides hurt. I’m not sure where that bag ended up but I’m pretty certain Jordan never used it!
We’ve all opened gifts we didn’t think we needed. Yesterday’s gift, the knowledge of sin, could fall into that category if we don’t have access to today’s gift – the gift of the gospel.
According to Romans 1:19, all people have some knowledge of God because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. Verse 20 goes on to explain that God’s invisible attributes, His eternal power, and His divine nature are clearly seen through the created world, leaving all of us without excuse. This knowledge that God exists and is Creator, called “general revelation,” combined with our inner awareness of sin makes every person accountable to God.
Romans 1 goes on to explain what happens to people when they reject the general revelation God gives them – they descend into moral and spiritual depravity, until their consciences are seared, and they reject God’s offer of salvation. In contrast, those who embrace this revelation and seek after God, are given more knowledge. But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul (Deuteronomy 4:29).
Just like God sent Peter to explain the gospel to Cornelius, I believe God sends His messengers (whether people or angels) to proclaim Jesus’ name to those who will believe. If you’re a Christ-follower, you opened the gift of the gospel when someone explained it to you. You heard and believed! How precious is this gift! How blessed are we to have full access to the gospel! It is humbling and beyond understanding why we got to hear the good news, and there are yet more than 2 billion people in the world who haven’t.
The gospel itself is a gift already given to the world…but hearing the gospel is a gift yet unopened by many.
Simply put, the gospel is the good news about Jesus. God created us for a relationship with Him, but Adam’s sin in the garden broke that relationship, and his spirit – the immaterial part of us that communicates with God, died, and his physical body began to die that die. All mankind inherited that broken, sinful nature that separates us from God. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23) and all have sinned (Romans 3:23). Jesus came to pay our sin debt, to take the wages of our sin on the cross. He was the sinless, perfect Son of God in human form, and God accepted His sacrifice by raising Him from the dead – defeating spiritual and physical death. We partake in the provision Jesus made for our sin by faith. It is a gift of grace we receive when we confess our sins and repent (turn away from them) and surrender our lives to follow Christ. God places our sin on Jesus’ (paid) account and gives us His righteousness on our account.
Have you opened the gift of the gospel? Praise God! Now go share that gift with everyone who has not heard. Did you open yesterday’s gift but don’t know what to do with it? I urge you, my friend…receive the gift of the gospel and believe!
Ephesians 2:8 – For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.