The Gift Of God’s Grace
The custom of giving gifts to family and friends at the time of the year that is called Christmas is found worldwide. Expensive gifts were given to Jesus at His birth. These were given by a group of men that we call “Wise men.” We do not know how many men there were that brought these gifts. I assume that most people think that there were three wise men because there were three gifts that were given to the Christ. “When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:9-11) Christmas giving seems to have started in Germany. Children were given gifts like fruit, nuts, coins, schoolbooks, writing material and Christian books. The Christmas tree also began in Germany as a place to keep the gifts until they were given. God has given many gifts to mankind. These gifts are given often throughout every day.
God has given us the gift of His grace. Of all the gifts ever given none compares with God’s gift to us that makes salvation possible. Paul wrote to the Galatians, “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain. He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.” (Galatians 3:1-9) God made it possible for Gentiles to be saved by faith; the faith that saves is like that of Abraham. The promise of salvation to all men was made to Abraham long before the Jew’s religion came into force. God’s promise of salvation was not only to the Jews, but He promised blessings for the Gentiles as well. Of course this promise that God made is a promise of Christ and of salvation through Him; this is the greatest gift anyone has received or could receive, Christ and salvation through Him! This is the marvelous gift of God’s grace.
The gift of God’s grace should cause us to trust in Him. What does it mean to trust God? God used Abraham to help us understand what it means to trust God and rely upon His grace. God promised to bless all nations through Abraham. “And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3) In what way did Abraham trust God? Abraham took God at His word. He trusted God completely and did what He commanded. He surrendered himself and his will in great acts of faith before God. The sons of Abraham are not those who are his fleshly descendents; rather they are those, in every generation, who manifest the same faith that Abraham demonstrated. How are we to understand Abraham’s trust in God? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” (Romans 4:3) But, what do the Scriptures mean when they say “Abraham believed God.” Scriptures mean that Abraham had a heart that was obedient to God. “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.” (Hebrews 11:8) Scripture says that Abraham believed God; that means that he had a willing heart to obey, even the difficult commands given by the Almighty. “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son.” (Hebrews 11:17) James made it very clear what the Scriptures meant when they said “Abraham believed God.” “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.” (James 2:21-23)
The gift of God’s grace brought people into Christ. The Law of Moses made the Jews aware of the problem of sin. That Law brought those Jews to Christ. (Galatians 3:23-29) The gift of God’s grace causes us to understand that a person enters into Christ at baptism. The first Christians understood that baptism was the final step in producing a union with Christ. Bible baptism is not for infants and small children! Converts are united with Christ and they enter into Christ when they are baptized. (Romans 6:3, Colossians 2:12) Baptism was not just an outward form or ceremony of something that had already taken place within a person. Baptism is the time when a person comes into Christ. Paul said it this way in his discussion of the faith of Abraham; at baptism a person puts on Christ. A person clothes himself with Christ at the time of baptism. There is no distinction between Jew, Greek, slave, free, male or female when we have been baptized into Christ. When we are in Christ the very obvious separations and divisions between men are eliminated. We are debtors to God’s grace for the opportunity to be in Christ and to be one with other Christians.
Please open your heart and obey the gospel of Jesus Christ. If you will obey the gospel, you can have your sins forgiven. A faithful Christian life must follow our baptism into Christ. You can live in hope and peace by the grace of God. “To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you.” (1 Peter 1:4) As Christians we must be committed to walking in the light and making sure that our sins are forgiven. Maintaining a right relationship with God is a most important part of our spiritual journey. “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1 John 1:6-10)
By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, 306 Walnut Street, Greenville, Alabama 36037