What’s the best gift you’ve ever been given? Think about it for a second…
I’ll bet two things just happened: one, I hope you thought of a pretty awesome gift; and two, you thought of the person who gave it to you. I think this is because the giver of a gift determines much of its value. Things are merely tangible expressions of the value already experienced through relationship. In a sense, we remember the giver because it honors them. It praises them by showing everyone that they knew what we needed most; what only true love would know.
Now let’s say the Creator of the Universe deeply loves you. And, by the way, He does. Knowing every hair on your head, and every word on your tongue… He would know exactly what you needed most. Any gift He decided to give would reflect that. And that’s exactly what we see Him do in Ephesians 2:8; He gives us the three gifts in one:
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.
The Gift of Salvation
Why do we need this gift? Why do we need to be saved? Now this seems like a good question, but the reality is we already know we need to be saved. We’re all desperately trying to be saved. We’re trying to save ourselves from loneliness through relationships. We’re trying to save ourselves from insecurity through conformity. We’re trying to save ourselves from pain through anger. We are masters at trying to save ourselves.
But how’s it working?
God gives us the gift of salvation because His people need to be saved, and we’re all running around trying to save ourselves. He knows what we need most.
The Gift of Grace
Why do we need this gift? Why do we have to be saved by grace? Here’s where we really get to see the beauty of God’s gift. Think about gifts… Flip open a dictionary and you’ll see this: something acquired without any particular effort or without its being earned. The nature of a gift is that the recipient did nothing to deserve it. You get gifts on your birthday, but how much did you have to do with being born?
Shai Linne artistically addressed this concept in one of his songs. He talks about our notion of ourselves as lost, drowning bodies in the ocean, flailing our arms reaching for God. We then like to picture God responding to our calling out to Him by saving us out of the waters. Shai ends that verse by essentially saying that our situation is much worse than that: “The reality is we were dead at the bottom of the sea."
The salvation that we desire has to be offered by grace because on our own we can’t obtain it. Apart from grace, we are utterly unable to move toward God. The first two verses of Ephesians chapter 2 lay it out clearly – “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked” It has to be by grace – acquired without any effort or being earned – because our spiritually dead souls aren’t earning anything. He knows what we need most.
The Gift of Faith
This is where it all comes together. Remember how gifts are a tangible expression of the value already expressed in relationship? Well, the Father gave such an expression; a manifestation of the value he sees in you. And this gift was His Son, Jesus Christ. God became man to be the real-life, nitty-gritty, touch-and-feel gift that expresses all the love He has for you. And He lived a perfect life, and died on a cross, that whoever would have faith in Him would have eternal life. His gift is life everlasting offered to spiritually dead, rotting souls. He knows what we need most.
So how are we to respond to such a life-saving, life-bringing, life-giving gift? 3 suggestions:
- God gives the gift of salvation; stop putting your faith in small, measly gods who can’t save you. Accept it freely.
- God gives the gift of grace; stop trying to work your way to God. You can’t. He’s already finished the work. Enjoy it freely.
- God gives the gift of faith; and it’s only through His Son Jesus. Trust him freely.