Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Our attention, this time of year, turns to gifts. We make lists of people, ideas, and budgets. We try to meet everyone's expectations. I'm sure you will agree with me that meeting all those expectations is difficult. For a few minutes, take time to look at the Gift we celebrate at Christmas and think about the way salvation through Jesus Christ exceeds all our expectations.
The gift of salvation. So often we take it for granted. Yet this elegant, priceless gift is worthy of our constant consideration.
The Bible tells us that we were born with sinful natures. God judged us guilty of rebellion against Him. We stood under the sentence of death. Since the shedding of blood fulfills the death sentence, Jesus gave His life in our place – shed His blood in our place – so that we might be released from the sentence of death. No one else could make this sacrifice. No other person was born without a sinful nature. Jesus bought our freedom with His blood.
It was necessary to free us from the penalty of death, but Jesus accomplished much more than that. At the moment we asked for His forgiveness and accepted Jesus' death for our punishment, the Holy Spirit breathed new life into us. Until that moment, we were dead, spiritually. Jesus told Nicodemus that he had to be born of the Spirit before he could enter the kingdom of God. Jesus' death was a requirement for our freedom. His resurrection from the grave is the picture of our new life. He arose and returned to Heaven, sending the Holy Spirit to earth to bring new life to those who trust in Him. This new life is life by God's definition: eternal union with Him, always in His presence, ever praising Him.
We are free from sin's control – but not its existence. We live in God's presence – but experience it only dimly. We continue to exist in this sinful world. Sometimes the muck and mire sticks to us. Jesus' sacrifice provided for that as well. Remember when Jesus washed the disciples' feet at The Last Supper? Jesus told Peter that He had to wash his feet because they got dirty from walking, even though the rest of him was clean. John 19:34 relates that the piercing of Jesus' side while He was hanging on the cross, caused blood and water to come out. This water is for cleansing – Jesus faithfully cleanses us from all unrighteousness when we confess our sins to Him.
Only the cleansing from unrighteousness has a natural ending. As long as we live on earth, we will need Jesus to keep the spots of filth removed from our souls. However, when He returns to carry us away from this sin-filled earth, He will clothe us in garments of sparkling white, never to be soiled again.
Salvation always has a definite day of beginning, but it has no end. Today we are free to resist sin's desires. Today we live in the presence of God. Today we can be clean and spotless before Him. Salvation truly is the gift that keeps on giving – for all eternity.