Free Gift, No Purchase Required.
8/1/2017 12:17:10 AM
Love, Life Eternal through Jesus
Free gift, no purchase required! (Holy Spirit: Who or What? #8)
Point-of-sale items are placed near the check-out stands because they snag people like me. 'Gift with purchase' often attracts me to department-store cosmetic counters. And 'free gift, no purchase required'? Well, that makes me ponder, and look a little more closely. God is the greatest gift giver. Over the next three briefings--which I am writing with a certain someone in mind--I should like to substantiate that claim.
First and foremost, God is the greatest gift giver because he spared nothing and gave us his best, Jesus Christ. Immediately after the first man and woman chose to disobey God-choosing to believe the serpent's claim that 'in the moment they partook of the one tree of which God said 'no', they would be like God'1, [i.e., appealing to their pride]-God began to make a way for relationship with the crown of his creation, mankind. Adam and Eve had a monumental choice: obey God, love him first, and be free forever, OR disobey in one thing, put self first, and be encumbered by sin forever. As we know, the second choice was made, separating man from God by a wide chasm of sin. Until the Perfect Lamb became flesh, man made sacrifices to God to atone for sin-a pure, spotless lamb. Ever since, man has been trying to cover, recover and atone for sin. Enter Jesus.
Why do we need Jesus? To the western mind, the problem is one of relativism. I have had actual conversations like this: 'What do you mean I need to be saved from sin? Why, compared to most folks, I am hardly a sinner! I don't cheat, kill or lie... well, hardly ever anyway; I am a good person-really I am.' To which I say, 'Ma'am, I am sure you are; maybe even compared to me, you are a better person. But since we are looking at matters of sin, only One can judge: an all-holy God. Now, compared to him, compared to God, I ask you, Ma'am, are you a sinner? Oh, and if it comes down to being a 'good' person-how good do you have to be? I mean, what is the percentage...like, what if you are 68 percent good?
And so it goes. But the fact is, God is eternally just, all holy, and a perfect being, therefore only perfection can be in his presence; no percentages of goodness are sufficient. Our human condition brings us up short. And so mankind tries. Why? Because we are keenly aware of our incompleteness. Still, within ourselves, we know our attempts are rather lame. I suppose religion helps, and through rituals and practices, offers us a role to play. Hinduism and Buddhism recognize the problem is self, and through meditation attempts to eliminate selfish desires and ways, in an effort to become nothing. But there is no assurance or real hope to be had. Judaism and Islam are religions of law, with elaborate rituals and codes to uphold.2 Pray five times a day. Pack up and go to Mecca. Sacrifice a lamb or a goat. Wear a long beard. Keep kosher. In the end, there is only hope ... no loving relationship with God, and certainly no assurance of heaven with him. Leaves a longing within.
Christianity alone says that to enter God's kingdom, perfection is required; being good is not good enough. Like the Hindus and Buddhists, Christians recognize that the self must be extinguished, but admits powerlessness in making that happen. Christianity also admits that humanity will not be able to perfectly uphold God's laws or commands. And so God ...
God came to us. We can stop our striving, and grapple with grace instead. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this is not from yourselves.
It is the gift of God- salvation is not our gift ... God is!
not by works, so that no one can boast.3
God gave us himself. Stop trying to be good enough ... Stop S t r I v I n g. Reach out and accept his free gift of life and love eternal. What do you have to lose, Friend? Believe in the complete work of Jesus Christ, and you will be saved ... really... starting right now! Saved from sin, into life eternal, knowing God's presence and love forever. You and I will never be given a greater gift than that. So...
Our part? Receive. Talk to God, invite him into your life,
and God the Holy Spirit will reside in you forever.4
His part? Done. He gave his all. Better than any other offer that will come your way!
Free gift, no purchase required.
1 - Genesis 3.5; 2 - What's so Great About Christianity? Dinesh D'Souza, "Jesus among other Gods: the Uniqueness of Christianity
3 - Ephesians 2.8-9; 4 - John 14.16-17