As you think about Christmas, gifts, presents, giving and receiving—why not check and be sure that you have received the most important of all gifts.
Only if we have received Him, Jesus who came to save us from sin, do we really have anything in our possession that matters. Every other possession and gift can be stripped away from us by death, disease, or disaster. Only Jesus will never leave us or be lost; only He can save and keep us forever.
Have you received the one and only gift that you (and everyone else) really needs?
THE GIFT OF FORGIVENESS—CRITICAL NEED #1
Because of our sin—we are all debtors to God’s Righteousness; so we need forgiveness.
So Christmas is all about Jesus coming to live and then die the substitutionary death to take the hopeless debt we owe to God and pay with His own life our eternal death sin has caused us to be responsible to pay--that’s forgiveness. A Sinner stands before God as a debtor and that debt is forgotten by His payment.
Psalm 32:1-2 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity,
And in whose spirit there is no deceit. NKJV
Ephesians 1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace NKJV
Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. NKJV
Forgiveness means that we can offer people the “remission of sins” in Jesus’ name (Luke 24:47) which brings “life through His name” (John 20:31). We can then come asking our Father for help in Jesus’ name as we pray (John 14:13–14; 15:16; 16:23–26). Because we’ve been forgiven, when we ask the Father “in the name of Jesus Christ,” it is as though Jesus Himself were asking it. If we remember this, it will help to keep us from asking for things unworthy of His name.
Have you experienced the relief of knowing that all your sins, everyone of them—past, present, and future, are GONE? Your sins are paid for, and your eternal life is purchased—and you have the receipt in your hand, written in the very blood of the One who paid the price. Christ's record of that payment is forever settled in this book the Bible!
That is the first part of the only gift everyone really needs this Christmas.
THE GIFT OF JUSTIFICATION—CRITICAL NEED #2
Because of our sin—we are all guilty convicts in God’s sight; so we need justification.
In the last few weeks the newspapers of the world have been examining the problem we have in America of not knowing what to do with all of our restless, convicted lawbreaking inhabitants that live in our borders. We have the dubious recognition of being the most incarcerated peoples of the world. Here are some headlines from Britain.
A. U.S. has the most prisoners in the world
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Tough sentencing laws, record numbers of drug offenders and high crime rates have contributed to the United States having the largest prison population and the highest rate of incarceration in the world, according to criminal justice experts.
A U.S. Justice Department report released on November 30 showed that a record 7 million people -- or one in every 32 American adults -- were behind bars, on probation or on parole at the end of last year. Of the total, 2.2 million were in prison or jail.
According to the International Centre for Prison Studies at King's College in London, more people are behind bars in the United States than in any other country. China ranks second with 1.5 million prisoners, followed by Russia with 870,000.
But the reality is actually vastly greater than one in 32—it is actually ALL of the inhabitants of the USA are convicts in God’s sight; and so are all of the other people alive around the world this moment.
So Christ died to take guilty convicts and destroy any record that that ever committed a crime and takes their place in the punishment—that’s justification! A Sinner stands before God as accused and is declared righteous by His imputed righteousness.
Psalm 51:3-4 For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me. 4 Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight—That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge. NKJV
Isaiah 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. NKJV
Romans 5:1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, NKJV
But justification is only for those who confess their crimes (sins) to the judge (God) and ask for His pardon and forgiveness. All of those who refuse to believe they are a guilty, hopelessly sinful convict in Christ's eyes are denied any relief from the penalty of their sins—both now and forever.
Have you experienced the peace of justification, all guilt removed, all punishment forever taken away from God’s sight?
That is the second part of the only gift everyone really needs this Christmas.
THE GIFT OF REGENERATION—CRITICAL NEED #3
Because of our sin—we are all dead in our trespasses and sin; so we need regeneration.
So Christ died to take dead and rotting spiritual corpses and make them vibrant, full of endless life and brand new—that’s regeneration!
Ephesians 2:1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, NKJV
John 10:10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. NKJV
Hebrews 7:16b …but according to the power of an endless life. NKJV;
Have you experienced the power of an endless life, and every day partaking of the powerful presence within of the very Lord God Almighty?
That is the third part of the only gift everyone really needs this Christmas.
THE GIFT OF RECONCILIATION—CRITICAL NEED #4
Because of our sin—we are all enemies of God; so we need reconciliation.
So Christ died to take enemies and make them friends—that’s reconciliation! A Sinner stands before God as an enemy and is made a friend by His peace.
Romans 8:7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. NKJV
Romans 5:10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. NKJV; John 15:14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. NKJV
Have you experienced the wonder of friendship with God?
That is the fourth part of the only gift everyone really needs this Christmas.
THE GIFT OF ADOPTION—CRITICAL NEED #5
Because of our sin—we are all strangers to God; so we need adoption.
So Christ died to take strangers and make them part of the family—that’s adoption! A Sinner stands before God as a stranger and is called a Son by His choice.
Ephesians 2:12 remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. NASB
Galatians 4:4-6 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” NKJV
Adoption is not our entrance into God’s family, the way a homeless child would enter an adoptive family in our society. Rather, our only hope of getting into God’s family is by regeneration or “the new birth” (John 3:3). In New Testament language, the word used by God for adoption means “placed into a family as an adult son.” This denotes our standing in God’s family of God: we enter God’s family not as little children but we enter as adult sons with all the privileges. Entrance into God’s family is by regeneration, but enjoyment of God’s family is through adoption.
Have you experienced the joy of being adopted into Christ's family?
That is the fifth part of the only gift everyone really needs this Christmas.
THE GIFT OF REDEMPTION—CRITICAL NEED #6
Because of our sin—we are all slaves to unrighteousness; so we need redemption.
So Christ died to take slaves and make them freed forever—that’s redemption! A Sinner stands before God as a slave and is granted freedom by His ransom.
John 8:34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. NASB
John 8:36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. NKJV
Have you experienced the thrill of being liberated, set free, rescued by God forever?
That is the sixth part of the only gift everyone really needs this Christmas.
THE GIFT OF SANCTIFICATION—CRITICAL NEED #7
Because of our sin—we are all defiled; so we need sanctification.
So Christ died to take our soiled and spotted lives that always get wasted and make them clean, focused and fruitful—that’s sanctification!
Just before we read Romans 6:13b, may I again remind you of the two sides of the coin of salvation. To best understand what God has done, let me contrast and explain justification and sanctification. Because we are saved (justified) this is how we should live (sanctified).
• Justification is what Christ did for me on the cross--sanctification is what Christ is doing in me because of the cross.
• Justification is immediate and was completely finished in me the instant I was saved—sanctification is an ongoing process never completed on earth until I meet Jesus face to face at death or His coming.
• Justification is activated the moment I trust in the Person of Christ Jesus and His finished sacrifice of the cross—sanctification grows with each obedient choice I make empowered by the Holy Spirit.
• Justification is my position declared right in God’s sight—sanctification is my practice made right by becoming more conformed to His image.
That is the final part of the only gift everyone really needs this Christmas.