Sat 17 Oct 2009
Do you remember that age-old birthday party activity called ‘Pass-the-Parcel’?
After seating the children in a circle, the music begins. The CD player is presided over by an adult, who judiciously stops the music in such a way that every child has a turn at unwrapping and receiving a gift. To the children, the anticipation of the ‘random’ stopping of the music whilst the parcel passes through their hands generates great excitement. Predictably, some in the group hold the parcel for a few seconds longer than necessary. And once chosen, their faces light with joy as they open their very own gift, small as it is.
I still recall the magic of the game from my childhood, and a generation later, when as a parent it was my own turn to carefully wrap one gift over another, until multiple layers of gifts were wrapped into one.
We have a generous and loving God, who delights in giving His children good gifts. You are loved and chosen by God, and He has paid the price in full through Jesus’ death on the cross, to give you a priceless, multi-layered gift. And you get to receive, enjoy, and use everything that’s inside. But the choice is yours as to whether you will unwrap each layer, receive all of the gifts He has given to you, and pass them on.
1. The Greatest Gift of All: Jesus & His Salvation
The first gift that the New Testament reveals to us is Jesus Himself, God’s Son. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
When you believe in and receive Jesus, and give your life to Him, you become a child of God, a member of His family. With that transaction, you receive the gift of salvation: ‘whoever believes in him shall… have eternal life.’
“How much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!” (Rom 5:15).
The Greek word translated gift in this verse is dorea, meaning a free gift, emphasising that it is unearned and unwarranted. There is nothing you have done or can do to earn this gift—the price has been fully paid by God Himself.
Once we have received God’s free gift of salvation—freedom from the penalties of sin and eternal life in relationship with God, we discover another layer of His gift-package still awaits us.
2. The Gift Of The Holy Spirit
“Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off-for all whom the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2:38-39).
The second gift you may choose to receive is the gift of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit resides in us from the moment of our salvation. However, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is an experience that is separate and distinct to that of our new birth in Christ, during which we receive the empowering of the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit is outpoured from the throne of God to give us power to live a supernatural Christian life and be effective witnesses of Jesus to others (Acts 1:8, Luke 24:49). Again, the word used is dorea—a free gift, available to all who have received God’s gift of salvation through Christ. And again, there is nothing we need do to deserve this gift, for Jesus has paid the price in full. All we need to do, as Christians committed and submitted to Jesus Christ, is simply believe, ask and receive.
3. Spiritual Gifts
“Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us” (Rom 12:4-6).
As we unwrap the free gift of our salvation, we realise that God has called us—in turn—to be His gift to the world. After His death and resurrection, Jesus said to His disciples, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:21-22).
We discover that God has not only saved us for eternity, He has a unique place and destiny for us as we live out our lives here on earth. The desire to be a history-maker, to achieve something lasting for God, is ingrained into our spiritual DNA. In Ephesians 2:10, the Apostle Paul states, ‘For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.’ He calls us to do something for Him that is God-sized.
Not only has God called us; He also enables us. And He does this by giving us special gifts to help us serve Him. These gifts are unique to us, and eminently suited to the life mission and ministry pathway that He has prepared for us.
The word used for a spiritual gift in the New Testament is ‘charisma,’ meaning a gift of grace . The emphasis here is upon the favour and kindness of God, His graciousness in bestowing the gift.
We have a saying, ‘Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?’ Whilst God has already laid our destiny out in advance, it doesn’t come with a map or set of guidelines, for He has called us to ‘live by faith, not by sight’ (2 Cor 5:7). Whilst the call of God does come clearly and sovereignly on occasion, it usually unfolds slowly. We receive clues to our arena of service by examining the unique gifts, passion and personality that He has given to us.
“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10-11).
No one has been left out. No gift is inferior to another; there are no little people or little places in God. And you have been given your own unique gifts and your own arena of service, to love people, bring them closer to Jesus, and help grow His church. You are irreplaceable.
© Helen Calder Enliven Publishing