The Gift Of God
If you wanted to give someone a gift, what different ways would you use to deliver that gift if you couldn’t take it to them yourself? Would you use FedEx? Would you send it regular mail? Would you send it by special courier? What if the gift was extremely precious and valuable and you wanted to be sure that the gift was properly delivered? How would you insure yourself and the recipient that the gift would get there?
Many of us have come to realize that God sent us a very precious gift. Many of us recognize that gift as being His son, Jesus. However, without diminishing the value of Christ as the gift, I want to give us something to look at from a very different angle.
God indeed sent us a gift. I know that one of our first thoughts is that God sent the gift of His son. But what if the gift was God? What if the gospel was the package the gift came in? What if Jesus was the delivery service? We most often acknowledge that God sent us Jesus, but what if we also paid attention to the fact that Jesus brought us God. Christ not only provided us with a way to God, he delivered to us the gift of His Father.
In the Bible, in the book of Romans, Chapter 1 and Verse 16, Paul says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes,” (Romans 1:16 NASU). First of all, Paul stated he was not ashamed of the gospel. That could be carried further by saying that he was not ashamed of God.
What is the gospel? Matthew 4:23-25 says, “Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people. The news about Him spread throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, those suffering with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them. Large crowds followed Him from Galilee and the Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond the Jordan.” ( NASU).
Paul also said the gospel was the power of God for salvation. I must conclude that the evidence of the power of the gospel as demonstrated by Jesus and later Paul personifies God. Where God’s power is, God is also.
Jesus first proclaimed this gospel. Simply put it was good news. Good news about the Kingdom of Heaven, a proclamation and introduction to the Kingdom of God, and a declaration that God was delivering Himself to mankind in the package of the gospel and through the conduit or mediator now known to us as Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God. There could be no better news for man than this. God closed the gap created by sin with the gospel and re-bridged the human race to himself through His very own son, Jesus. The cross was not only necessary to bring us back to God, it was also required to destroy the power of what kept us from God…sin!
This knowledge, this revelation if you please, provides a lot of fresh energy and anointing in the area of preaching the gospel. Whether we admit it or not the church and many people in it have become very tired and weary of their responsibility of preaching and proclaiming the gospel. How can we tell if this is an accurate statement or not…by looking at the results of our endeavors. If the gospel is the power of God for salvation then we must look closer at ourselves and ask where is the power or the salvation? Were we to be honest, particularly in the church in America, we see far more interest in “things” than we see in the “things of God” or for that matter in “God Himself”. If God is not at the center of our message then sadly we have followed another gospel. There has been way too much emphasis on the purpose and pleasure of man within the gospel message and way too little attention to the gift of God Himself. Sure, we’ve all been taught to appreciate that God loved us so much that He was willing to pay the price to redeem us back with the cost of His own son. Of this there is very little doubt. However, was that price (the price of His son), only valuable because we needed to get back to God or did that worth extend to God’s desire to get back to us?
If our relationship with God is man-centered then it will always be about what we can get out of the relationship. If we truly want to experience the fullness of the “gift of God,” then we should consider a God-centered relationship, seeing that it was so important to God to return to relationship with us that no price was too expensive.
Now before we think that Jesus should be treated like no more than a mere delivery boy, let’s look at a key statement declared by Jesus in Matthew 11:25-27. At that time Jesus answered and said, "I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. (NKJV).
Do you understand that verse, "Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him." Not only is it impossible for us to know the Father without the Son, the Son has to “will to reveal Him” to us. This world is desperate to get to God! However, most of it is equally desperate not to have to go through Jesus to get there. We as true believers, regardless of the pressure of religious and political correctness being thrown at us from every corner of the world must settle our issue with Jesus once and for all.
For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; (1 Timothy 2:5 KJV). There is no other way! There can be no other way! If there is another way then Jesus is a liar and if he is a liar then he is not the Son of God and our faith is in vain. For a Christian to accept any other fact than this convicts himself of the irrelevance of his faith and disqualifies his testimony as a Christian. There can be no compromise with the world on any level with this issue and truth. Jesus said, in John 14:6-7, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. If you had known who I am, then you would have known who my Father is. From now on you know him and have seen him!" (NLT).
Jesus presented himself as the deliverer sent by God in the following parable. Mark 12:1-12; Then Jesus began telling them stories: "A man planted a vineyard, built a wall around it, dug a pit for pressing out the grape juice, and built a lookout tower. Then he leased the vineyard to tenant farmers and moved to another country. At grape-picking time he sent one of his servants to collect his share of the crop. But the farmers grabbed the servant, beat him up, and sent him back empty-handed.
"The owner then sent another servant, but they beat him over the head and treated him shamefully. The next servant he sent was killed. Others who were sent were either beaten or killed, until there was only one left — his son whom he loved dearly. The owner finally sent him, thinking, 'Surely they will respect my son.'
"But the farmers said to one another, 'Here comes the heir to this estate. Let's kill him and get the estate for ourselves!' So they grabbed him and murdered him and threw his body out of the vineyard.
"What do you suppose the owner of the vineyard will do?" Jesus asked. "I'll tell you — he will come and kill them all and lease the vineyard to others. Didn't you ever read this in the Scriptures? 'The stone rejected by the builders has now become the cornerstone. This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous to see.' "
The Jewish leaders wanted to arrest him for using this illustration because they realized he was pointing at them — they were the wicked farmers in his story. But they were afraid to touch him because of the crowds. So they left him and went away. (NLT).
This was not your typical parable given to the common folks of that day. This parable was delivered to Jewish religious leaders. These Jewish leaders knew that he was referring to them because they were knowledgeable in the scriptures and were aware that Jesus had taken some of the very same wording from the book of Isaiah to tell this parable.
Isaiah 5:1-7 Parable of the Vineyard
Let me sing now for my well-beloved A song of my beloved concerning His vineyard. My well-beloved had a vineyard on a fertile hill. He dug it all around, removed its stones, and planted it with the choicest vine. And He built a tower in the middle of it and also hewed out a wine vat in it; then He expected it to produce good grapes, but it produced only worthless ones.
And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, Judge between Me and My vineyard. What more was there to do for My vineyard that I have not done in it? Why, when I expected it to produce good grapes did it produce worthless ones? So now let Me tell you what I am going to do to My vineyard: I will remove its hedge and it will be consumed; I will break down its wall and it will become trampled ground. I will lay it waste; it will not be pruned or hoed, but briars and thorns will come up. I will also charge the clouds to rain no rain on it. For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel And the men of Judah His delightful plant. Thus He looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; For righteousness, but behold, a cry of distress. (NASU).
The point of all this is quite simple. If we are to experience God, the Gospel and Christ in a deeper and more powerful way in our culture and time, then we are going to have to cultivate a more God centered lifestyle because, our man-centered lifestyle has left us powerless and inept to have any influence on ourselves, our families, our friends or our communities. Think of how bored we are with the very thought of sharing Christ with someone. The thought of passing out a track, preaching the word or even inviting someone to church generates a lot of lip service among the church folks, but based on the actual amount of execution, demonstrates very little appeal.
More and more we are hearing comments across our land from a wide variety of people that are saying church is boring. It doesn’t matter if it is a TV show, a game, a sporting event, a concert, or church and a sermon. If it's boring, people are going to turn it off. If we remain powerless, irrelevant and self-centered, how can we blame folks if they turn off to us and our religious practices.
If we return to God-centered living, rediscover the great gift we have been given, and simply begin again, or for the first time, sharing the gift of God Himself to the world around us, we might find that we and the world alike would once again have a renewed interest in the message of the gospel.
Jesus said in John 14:12, "The truth is, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. (NLT).
This being the case, it is now time for us to be the delivery source or the deliverer if you please, of the great gift of “God” to our world. Most of us love to give gifts! Go ahead, start using the gospel to give God’s greatest gift of all...Himself.