Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Gift


It really is an old, old story and everyone I know has heard it. Many of those I know are good at telling it over and over again. Both of those concepts bring hymns to mind:

I heard an old, old story,
How a Savior came from glory,
How He gave His life on Calvary
To save a wretch like me;
I heard about His groaning,
Of His precious blood's atoning,
Then I repented of my sins
And won the victory.

I love the melody and the lyrics to that hymn – but the last line leaves a desire for explanation – which comes in the chorus:
O victory in Jesus,
My Savior, forever.
He sought me and bought me
With His redeeming blood;
He loved me ere I knew Him
And all my love is due Him,
He plunged me to victory,
Beneath the cleansing flood.

Yes, I can sing them over and over:
The victory isn’t mine as an achievement – it is mine as a gift that cannot be earned. The Bible told me that, clearly:

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:4-10 KJV)

Never, ever, boast of achieving a home in heaven. Just remember that we are His workmanship  and that we were created in Christ Jesus to do good works.

The victory achieved is over death. That is the consistent theme of Christianity. Thirty verses in the New Testament speak of eternal life, available for all, but not to be enjoyed by all. That is just as consistent. I like the way John explains it:

And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.  (1 John 5:11-13 KJV)

It’s not that simple, is it. There are strong temptations to keep anyone from believing. Jesus used some in a parable:

But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. (Matthew 13:20-22 KJV)

What keeps people from believing – stones that keep God’s word from taking root or thorns of the deceitfulness that chokes the fruits of the spirit? How are our roots?

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