Our God is a gift-giving God. We remember this at Christmas, when we celebrate the gift of God’s Son, Jesus. It is right to talk about Christmas at Easter and Easter at Christmas because God’s gift of salvation would be incomplete if Jesus hadn’t risen from the dead.
The Bible records instances of God’s gift-giving nature since ancient times. When in the Early Bronze Age He called Abraham out of the city of Ur in Mesopotamia, the Bible states that during Abraham’s journey, the Lord appeared to him and said, “This is My covenant with you: I will make you the father of a multitude of nations… And I will give the entire land of Canaan, where you now live as a foreigner, to you and your descendants” (Genesis 17:3-4,8).
Jesus personified God’s gift-giving nature. “Come to Me and I will give you rest,” He promises. Jesus taught us to pray to God to “Give us this day our daily bread.” John, one of Jesus’ dearest followers, heard Him say, “Ask for anything in My name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father” (John 14:13). And John gives us the triumphant truth that, “For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
In his letters to early churches, Paul announced the bad news that “The wages of sin is death” and the good news that “The gift of God is eternal life.”
FORGIVENESS is one gift this good news offers. It is a basic need and longing of every human heart. If God were to hold our sins against us—and we all have sinned—then there is no hope of anything else from God. The foundation for every other blessing is that God will not hold our sins against us. Everything hinges on forgiveness!
How is the Resurrection of Jesus Christ connected to forgiveness? “He was handed over to die because of our sins, and He was raised to life to make us right with God” (Romans 4:25).
If Jesus had not been raised from the dead after dying, His death would not have justified us before God. In raising Him from the dead, God could look upon Him and see us through this perfect sacrifice.
Jesus paid the debt of sin each of us carries, a debt we could never repay ourselves. Such cleansing from sin through God’s forgiveness answers the most basic longings of the heart.
Each of us also longs to find someone to count on, no matter what. Someone totally trustworthy. Someone who will never disappoint you or let you down. Someone who will always be there. We look for this because we are made for it. God put the first man and woman in the Garden of Eden so they could glorify Him by trusting Him for everything they needed.
Christ’s victory over death shows Him to be a most trustworthy, dependable, ever-present Savior. In dying for us, He proved His love for us. His Resurrection proves that He has the power over every enemy of life and over every spirit of darkness and despair. We have a Savior who will never let us down. He is absolutely trustworthy. We can rejoice that “Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).”
In this complicated world of ours where knowledge and opinions abound, many conclude that there is no absolute truth—that something can be true all the time and everywhere whether or not people know it or like it. Jesus came to say “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life,”(John 14:6). And then He rose from the dead to prove His claim. Jesus can tell us what is absolutely true because in the Resurrection God proved Him to be absolutely true.
By defeating the ultimate roadblock to human freedom and possibility, He proved Himself to be, in His Words, the “Alpha and Omega,” the Beginning and the End. His is an eternal perspective, with which He can see all, know all, and decree that which is absolutely true and real and beautiful.
In this complicated
world of ours, many
THERE IS NO
Each of us wants our lives to count for something, to be well spent, to have a purpose. We don’t want to come to the end of our days and say it was all in vain, empty, pointless, useless, pitiful. Does the Christian life really provide such purpose and significance?
If our hope in Christ is only for this life, and we hope in vain for life after death, we are not only to be pitied but considered insane and driven by hallucinations. But Jesus has been raised and is alive and reigns as King of kings and Lord of lords forever and ever. All our obedience, our love, our self-denial is not to be pitied, but is positively enviable. As Paul puts it, “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (1 Corinthians 4:17 NKJV).
“Let my life not be in vain!” That’s the longing of our lives. “O Lord, let it not be misspent. Let me not come to my grave and say, ‘I’ve wasted it!’”
Since our life in Christ gives us purpose, we also have a mission. Every headstone has two dates: Born and Died. In between is a dash. The dash is the most important. It’s what you do between the two dates for Christ that counts.
Paul ends his discussion of the Resurrections by saying “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor in not in vain in the Lord” (15:58 NKJV).
Because Christ is raised those who have fallen asleep in Him, those who have died in the faith, have not perished. Hallelujah!
They are alive. They will live forever. They have received the gift of eternal life. They live the way Christ lives. As He said, “There is more than enough room in My Father’s home… When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with Me where I am” (John 14:2). God’s gift grants us entrance into the joy of the Master.
The greatest news in all the world is that “He was raised on the third day.”
Alleluiah! Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed!
“Thanks be to God for His
indescribable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15).
Commissioner David Jeffrey is National Commander of The Salvation Army in the United States.