17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
18 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
3 Gifts God Gave Through Jesus Christ
Whenever we think of Christmas, we think about the gift God gave us — the Lord Jesus Christ. But what we often don’t think of are the many gifts that we are given through the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. This expression might be a little too glib, but He is truly a Gift that keeps on giving.
As our passage states, everything that is good and perfect comes down from our Heavenly Father. Life, health, strength, provisions — but most of all Jesus Christ. He does not give to us because we are deserving of it or because we worked for it, rather He gives to us “of his own will.” God sent Jesus, and all the gifts that followed in His wake, because He wanted to. You wouldn’t want someone to give you a Christmas gift because they felt obligated to or because they feel you are expecting one from them. You want them to give to you of their own free will. That is what God did when He sent Jesus.
Charles Spurgeon said, “Now mostly, men who are generous need to have their generosity excited. They will need to be waited upon; appeals must be laid before them; they must sometimes be pressed; an example must lead them on. But ‘of his own will’ God did to us all that has been done, without any incentive or prompting, moved only by himself, because he delighteth in mercy; because his name and his nature are love; because evermore, like the sun, it is natural to him to distribute the beams of his eternal grace.”
You might think of the gifts we have through Jesus Christ as a Russian nesting doll. You open one only to discover that there is another one inside, and when you open that one, you find yet another one. As we get further into Christ, we find that He is greater, more powerful, and more majestic than we could have ever imagined. Even though we are the recipients of these gifts, we do not always understand why we receive them, and we certainly don’t deserve them. But as William Tyndale said, “By grace I understand the favor of God, and also the gifts and working of his Spirit in us; such as love, kindness, patience, obedience, mercifulness, despising of worldly things, peace, concord, and such like.”
Obviously, we are given many gifts through Jesus Christ. It would take many sermons to adequately cover them all, and even then we might not be done. But, today, I want to focus on three of the greatest gifts.
The first gift that comes to us through Jesus Christ is salvation. This might seem obvious, but the beauty of the Christmas season — the cheery Christmas lights, the familiar Christmas carols, the constant streams of “Merry Christmases” from friends and strangers alike — sometimes causes us to forget that the baby in the manger had come on a divine rescue mission. God did not send His Son to give us a reason to celebrate each December. He sent His Son to save us.
Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” The story of Christmas cannot be told by itself, for Christmas is the introduction to Calvary. The sweet baby in the manger was destined to become our sin on the cross. He was born to pay our debt and to suffer our punishment so we could be saved.
Through our acceptance of this gift, we become what James calls the “firstfruits of God’s creatures.” By “firstfruits”, James is referring to his generation of believers — the first Christians. We are a part of that long lineage because we accepted the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.
The second gift that comes to us through Jesus Christ is the Holy Spirit. Just as Jesus Christ is called “Immanuel,” God with us, the Holy Spirit, the third person of the triune God, can be considered “Jesus with us.” Long before Jesus left His disciples, He promised to send them the gift of the Holy Spirit. He said, “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.”
The Holy Spirit is Jesus Christ abiding with us at all times — what a wonderful gift. The Holy Spirit is partly what sets Christianity apart from other religions — ours is a living faith. We do not follow a Savior who is, at worst, dead, or at best, distant from us. Rather, our Savior is here with us now, living inside of us in the form of the Holy Spirit. His force works among all believers throughout the world, assuring us of Christ’s presence in our lives.
Not only does the Holy Spirit abide with us, He enables us to carry out our lives in a Christlike manner. He enables us to serve God and others through the gifts of the Holy Spirit. In First Corinthians 12, Paul writes, “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant… Now there are diversities of gifts [many gifts], but the same Spirit… the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.” Paul goes on to list nine gifts that have been given to the church by the Holy Spirit: “For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.”
Every saved person has a gift from the Holy Spirit. The purpose of the gift is for us to use it in our service to God.
Finally, another gift that comes to us through Jesus Christ is prayer. Prayer is our means of communicating directly with God. During His time on this earth, Jesus set an example in prayer, He taught us how to pray, and, even now, He is praying for us in Heaven. Hebrews 7:25 says, “he ever liveth to make intercession for” those who are saved.
Of course, people have been praying to God since the beginning of time. However, there is a difference between pre-advent prayers and post-advent prayers. Old Testament people prayed with hope — they were looking forward to the future kingdom of God. When Jesus came, He brought the kingdom of God to earth and established it in the hearts and minds of those who followed Him. Therefore, we pray not only with hope, but with assurance. People in the Old Testament prayed with a hope that the Messiah and Mediator would come; we pray knowing that the Messiah and Mediator has already come and has reunited us with God.
If you accepted the gift of salvation, then you have also received numerous promises from God that He will hear and answer your prayers. Jesus said in John 15:16, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.” He also said, “Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”
God takes glory in answering the prayers of His children. I am afraid that we do not take advantage of this gift as often as we should. When we pray, we face resistance from the flesh and the devil. These act as thieves to rob us of the gift of prayer. May I encourage you not to let that happen. Remain faithful in prayer to God, it is one of the best gifts ever given to mankind.
This Christmas, I encourage you to meditate on the larger story of Christmas. Yes, we should celebrate the Baby in the manger. But Christmas is more than that. It is about God giving to us salvation, His Holy Spirit, and the privilege and power of prayer, for when we pray we must pray in the name of Jesus Christ. By the way, for those of you who would like to hear more about the gifts found in Jesus Christ — who knows, if the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, I may preach part 2 of this message next Christmas.
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If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, allow me to share with you briefly how you can be saved from your sins and be guaranteed a home in Heaven with God today.
First, please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Please understand that because of your sins, you deserve eternal punishment in hell. Romans 6:23 says “the wages of sin is death…This is both physical death and spiritual death in hell. That is the bad news.
But here is the good news. John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and today I choose to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Jesus Christ as my Savior and I choose to follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door.” Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.