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Real Answers™
tf75
Copyright: © 2010 Tom Flannery
850 words

THE GREATEST GIFT OF ALL

By: Tom Flannery

Christmas is, appropriately, the gift-giving season, for it is a celebration of the greatest gift ever given — that of eternal life.

 

Contrary to what most the world believes, eternal life cannot be attained through good deeds, pious practices, traditions or religious affiliation.  Salvation is a gift, and like any other gift it can only be accepted or rejected.  We don’t deserve it and we can’t earn or merit it.

 

Because only God is perfectly holy, He alone is good.  In all of human history, only Jesus Christ (God the Son) lived a perfectly holy life in thought, word and deed.  Everyone else has fallen short of that mark.

 

Romans 3:23 tells us that “all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory.”  God’s Word says here that all of us “have sinned” (our past) and we all “fall short” (the continual present tense, which means we always continue falling short of God’s standard to some degree).  Therefore, according to Psalm 53, God looks at all mankind and declares:  “Every one of them has turned aside;  they have all together become corrupt.  There is none who does good;  no, not even one” (emphasis mine).

 

Since, as Romans 3:23 says, we have all sinned throughout our past and continue sinning (and therefore falling short of God’s standard for holiness) in our present, we cannot make this up to God.  We cannot ever do enough good works to make up for the fact that we are sinners standing before a perfectly holy God who cannot tolerate sin (Habakkuk 1:13).  He can only punish sin.

 

This is why Christ came into the world, to do for us what we could not do for ourselves.  He paid a debt He didn’t owe, because we owed a debt we couldn’t pay.  The Bible teaches that Christ literally became our sin on the cross, and God the Father poured out all of His wrath for all of our past, present and future sins upon Him there, where He died “once for all” (Romans 6:10; Hebrews 7:27, 10:10; 1 Peter 3:18).

 

In so doing, He wiped away forever the sin record of every person who will believe in Christ for salvation (which the Bible defines as trusting in Him alone and fully for everlasting life).  It’s as simple as that.  John 3:36 states:  “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life;  and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

 

Thus, Titus 3:5 tells us:  “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to God’s mercy He saves us.”

Ephesians 2:8-9 declares:  “For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves;  it is the gift of God;  not of works, lest anyone should boast.”  This means we can only be saved by GRACE — God's Riches At Christ's Expense.  Indeed, Ephesians 2:8-9 is a six-fold declaration of this truth, for it tells us 1) by grace alone we're saved, 2) through faith in Christ's completed work on the cross, 3) it is not of ourselves, not based upon any worthiness in us, 4) it is a free gift, 5) so it is not of works, and 6) therefore no Christian has anything to boast of regarding salvation.

 

Contrary to the lies of the Christ-hating cynics, true Christians are not “holier than thou.”  Quite the opposite, all true Christians understand that they are sinners saved purely and entirely by God’s grace.

 

God expresses His grace through Christ’s redemptive work on the cross.  This was God’s plan of salvation from the start, as He revealed centuries in advance.  Some 800 years before Christ’s incarnation, the prophet Isaiah was given a vision of His execution on the cross and wrote:  “He was wounded for our transgressions and He was bruised for our iniquities.  The punishment for our sin was placed upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.  All we, like sheep, have gone astray;  we have turned, every one, to his own way.  And the Lord [God the Father] has laid upon Him [God the Son] the iniquity of us all.”

 

In other words, Christ’s death was a substitutional sacrifice — He died in your place and in mine on the cross.  And in so doing He paid for salvation in full through His completed work there, where He cried out triumphantly:  “It is finished!”  Nothing need more be added, nor can it be, for what does sinful, fallen man have to add to the perfect work of the holy Son of God?

 

Indeed, anyone who tries to add works of any kind (good deeds, sacraments, etc.) cancels out grace, for Romans 11:6 explains:  “Otherwise grace is no longer grace.”  Grace means unmerited, undeserved favor, which God lavishes upon us through Christ's perfect, final, finished sacrifice.

 

This is the gospel, which literally means “good news,” and you won’t find any better news in this world — at Christmas or any other time of the year.

"Real Answers™" furnished courtesy of The Amy Foundation Internet Syndicate. To contact the author or The Amy Foundation, write or E-mail to: P. O. Box 16091, Lansing, MI 48901-6091; amyfoundtn@aol.com

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