The Greatest Gift

greatest gift

Whether we like to admit it or not. We all like gifts. The thing I like about children is that they are way more honest than most adults. Adults talk about the “true meaning” of Christmas and pretend that they don’t get excited about the presents they see wrapped up under the tree with their name on it. But, I have good news for us all, we can stop pretending. It’s okay to get excited about gifts, because God designed us that way. Not only did God design us to like gifts but he gave us the greatest gift of all, His own Son.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” -John 3:16

This verse is by far one of the most familiar verses in all of the Bible. Even people who don’t read their Bibles or don’t know anything about the Bible have heard this verse, and what a beautiful verse it is. I was speaking to a pastor friend of mine recently about this verse, and the gift of Jesus, and he made the point that he thinks sometimes people don’t understand why it is that Jesus is a gift.

To answer this question fully would take way more time than a single blog would allow, but I think the book of Romans helps us to shed some light on the question at hand. Romans 3:23 tells us that, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Every person reading these words right now has sinned against God. The Bible time and time again tells us that God is Holy. Since God is Holy, he cannot dwell in the presence of sin. Most of us would like to believe that God could just look past our sins or just “get over it.” But to do that would violate who He was as God. So, if we know and believe that God is indeed Holy, but we are sinful, and that God and sin cannot dwell together, then that creates an obvious problem.

But, here is the amazing thing. Romans 5:6, “…Christ died for the ungodly.” In Romans 5:8 the Apostle Paul said it like this, “…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

I can’t think of a more beautiful picture or a more wonderful thing to celebrate this Christmas than the fact that a Holy God would love sinners so much that He would give his only Son to the world. Many times when we read John 3:16 we think of God “giving” Jesus to the world simply in terms of his birth, or maybe even his life and ministry while on earth. And while the birth of Jesus, His incarnation and everything that flowed from that is an amazing thing, and something we should celebrate…God went even further than that.

Not only did God send His Son Jesus to be born into a world of sin and to live amongst sinners and to teach us about God and do all of the amazing miracles that He did. But God the Father actually sent His Son to earth to die for sinners. Christmas isn’t simply about the cute baby Jesus in a manger, but it is also about a Roman Cross and the death of our Savior for us. It is about Jesus coming to earth to take upon Himself the sins of His people.

God gave His Son to the world so that we might believe in Him and receive eternal life. Is there a greater gift than this?

Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

You and me, through our sin we earned death. But God has gifted us with His Son Jesus, and in Him Eternal life. In Matthew 7:11 Jesus says, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

Friend, the greatest gift God could give us is His Son Jesus. My question this Christmas season to you is, have you received this gift? Those of us who have children know, there are few joys greater than giving our children gifts. God feels the same way about his children, and if you are yet to ask him for this gift of eternal life that only comes through Jesus, I ask you today to come to Him and ask. It is a gift. There is nothing you can do to earn it, the gift is free…all you have to do is ask.

Is Calvinism in the bible?


If you are looking for the name Calvin, well…no, you won’t find  Calvinism. But Calvin didn’t invent anything new. In Calvin’s writings,  and teachings, he simply taught about a sovereign God who is in control  of every aspect of life and faith.Salvation is certainly a part of that.  This idea didn’t start with Calvin, it started with God, and you see  this idea throughout Scripture.

 I think the big question we have to ask  ourselves is this: Is God actively working out all things for the good  and the joy of his people for his own glory, OR is he up in heaven just  standing by, hoping that we are going to make the right choices? Is God  and his will the center of all things, or is it man and his will. This  doesn’t eliminate human responsibility: as clear as the Bible is about  God’s sovereignty it is equally clear about man’s need for repentance and need to turn to God. The big question there is, do we repent and  turn to God, then receive the Holy Spirit as the seal of our  salvation…OR…is this repentance a result of God actively changing our hearts in order to make us into new creatures, and into the likeness of Christ?

 So here are some things I think we should ask ourselves:

 Is man able to do anything in order to save himself apart from  God?(Total Depravity) I think Romans 3:11 and John 3:3(amongst many  others) are clear that man cannot save himself if God does not do  something to change his heart, because ultimately the issue isn’t our  deeds, but our heart.

 Is there anything within man, or any merit on the part of man that  causes God to save him, or is salvation completely of God’s  grace?(Unconditional Election) Romans 9:16 says no, salvation is all about grace…and not about anything that man does or can do. Also see  Romans 8:29,30 and Ephesians 1&2.

 Did Christ’s atonement cover the sins for all mankind, or did his  atoning blood only atone for the sins of the elect?(limited atonement)  I’m not saying anything about the sufficiency of Christ’s blood to atone(who can limit Christ?)…I’m simply asking, did Jesus’ blood cover  all of man, or only those whom the Father gave him? (John 6:37-39)  Didn’t Jesus himself say, ” Many are called, but few are chosen…”(Matthew 22:14) There is certainly an offer for salvation to all  men, but obviously all men are not saved. But Jesus clearly says in John 6 that “All that the Father gives me will come to me…”

 Are we saved because we cooperate with God? If God chooses to save  us, can we resist His will?(irresistible grace) Scripture says in  Ephesians 2 that we are spiritually dead apart from God and his grace. So my question is, what can a dead man do? Nothing. Did Lazarus do  anything to contribute to his resurrection, or to his being made alive,  or was it all a result of Jesus calling him forth from the grave? A dead  person can’t contribute anything to life…this is obviously true in the  physical world, it is no less true in the Spiritual. Again, as Jesus  said, “You must be born again”(John 3:3)…but where does this birth come  from? God of course…Does a newborn contribute to his being born? No, and  neither do we contribute to our new birth. But like a newborn, we will  breathe this new life we have in Christ. That is our human  responsibility.

 If God does save us, will any of those whom he has saved fall away?(perseverance of the saints) Does God grant salvation and then take  it away? Does God pour out his love then snatch it back? Romans 8:35  asks the question, “What can separate us from the love of Christ?” The  answer is NOTHING. Actually all of Romans 8 is a beautiful testament to  this fact…But what does Jesus also say? We talked about it earlier…John  6:37, “All that the Father gives to me WILL come to me, and whoever comes to me I will NEVER cast out.” What about John 10:28-29, “I give  them eternal life and they will NEVER perish, and NO ONE will snatch  them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater  than all, and NO ONE is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand….”

 All of this being said, I think the Bible indeed speaks of what  today, and has historically been called Calvinism. BUT, this should not  be a point of contention amongst brothers and sisters in Christ. Many  people who love God very much have rejected Calvinism. We need not  ascribe to Calvinism or any system of theology, but what we must do is  love God, love Jesus, and serve Him with all that we are. We don’t have  to agree on John Calvin, but all should be able to agree on the beauty  of who Jesus is…knowing we are all brothers and sisters in Christ, and  knowing that we all share the grace he has poured out on us, ought to  move us to love one another without throwing rocks, or arguing over  non-essentials.

 There is a place to talk about theology, which is what  I’ve done here…but whether anyone agrees or disagrees with my  understanding of the Scriptures does not determine or measure where we  are in our walks with Christ, or make any of us less a child of God. We all have equal footing at the cross…

For a much more eloquent defense of Calvinism, read Spurgeon’s ‘A Defense of Calvinism’.

Gospel Living

Gospel Living…

“…to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.”
(Titus 3:1-2 ESV)


For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. ”
(Titus 3:3-7 ESV)

And furthermore…

“The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.”
(Titus 3:8 ESV)