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Christmas 2004 Sermon

Robert Smith


I want to speak this morning on the subject: “The Gifts that God has given to us”: and, in order to do that I need to give some introductory material. 

We all have heard the story of the birth of Jesus in Matthew chapter 2 and Luke chapter 2.  But today, I want to look at other gifts that God has given to us.  This is not to lessen the importance of the Christmas story, but I hope to show you even more gifts that God has given to you, so your appreciation of the Christmas story will deepen.

In pursuing this theme, we will be looking mainly in the book of Romans. 

Now, Paul wrote to the Roman church for several purposes:

  1. to inform them of his desire to visit them as he purposed to go to Spain in order to give the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those people in the western part of the Roman Empire.  Paul and the other Apostles had already succeeded in giving the Gospel message in all of the then known major cities of the world. 
  2. to prepare the Roman Church to give support to his missionary effort
  3. to present the systematic development of the Gospel of Christ and its implications
  4. to exhort the Gentile and Jewish believers in the church to peace and unity

I want to dwell on the 3rd point today, and look at all the wonderful gifts that God gives to those who trust in Jesus as their Savior.  (Restate point 3).

You exchanged gifts yesterday.  They were very nice and greatly appreciated.  Those gifts, you received from people, and you greatly appreciated those gifts.  With the season of giving in our minds, I want to dwell on the many gifts that God has for each of us.  Yes, God has many gifts to give to you.  They are much more important than those gifts you received yesterday.

So, when we look in the book of Romans for a few of these gifts from God, we need to look at the whole book and follow its logical flow.  Every book has an organized train of thought.  God knows how to communicate to us with logical flowing statements.  We do not have to go in to any book of the Bible and extract verses.  We should read the entire book in unity.

Remember that we will be looking at the systematic development of the Gospel of Christ. 

In the first 3 chapters of the book of Romans, we see that God will hold all people, on earth, responsible for what they know and see.

  1. God looks at the Pagan, who has never heard about the Law, about Jesus, or about the True God.  The book of Romans concludes that the Pagan will not have an excuse when he comes before God, because he has nature itself proclaiming “I have a creator”. 
  2. God looks at the moralist.  The moralist rejects God’s Laws and replaces them with his own laws.  The very laws that the moralist lives by will be used to judge him.  The moralist says “no capital punishment” and “abortion is okay”.  The moralist is the one who makes moral laws and then breaks them.  The moralist is the one who will not submit to God’s laws, but makes his own.  The moralist believes in governing society, so that there is order and peace.  The moralist, although refusing to be under God’s laws; makes an ordered society in which people are forced to live under his laws.  In this way, the moralist is demonstrating that his basic nature is still reflecting God’s design.  The book of Romans concludes that God will use the moralists own laws to judge him. 
  3. Then there is the religious person.  The religious person is the one who denies the true God, and makes a god for himself.  The religious person has a set of rules to live by, but cannot live by them.  The religious person cannot live by his own set of rules, but refuses to acknowledge that.  Some religions have the 10 commandments or similar laws.  The religious cannot keep God’s law nor their man-made laws: and in breaking just one, they condemn themselves.  The book of Romans concludes that the religious person is condemned because he lives by works and not by faith.

Yes, the book of Romans concludes that all of mankind is condemned before God.  God states in Romans 3:10-12:

Romans 3:10-12 (NASB95)
10 as it is written, “There is none righteous, not even one; 11 There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; 12 All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one.”

And just so no one gets the idea that good works means anything to a holy God, Paul says

Romans 3:23 (NASB95)
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

So here we are.  Paul has driven the final nail into our coffin.  He has shown that the whole world had gone away from God, their creator, and made their own gods, made their own rules.  No one can claim to be able to do anything to please God.  God does not look down here and say “Oh my, that person sure has some good rules, or good works: I just have to get him up here into My presence so I can benefit from him”.  Mankind can do nothing to earn God’s respect, or God’s love.

That is our back drop.  It is a dark world, in which we live.  This is now where we will find the gifts from God.  Out of this dark world comes gifts from God, shining in the darkness. 

First of all: (point to the single gift) God has one gift for all.

Look at John 3:16 “for God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes (trusts) in Jesus, should not perish (judgment) but have everlasting life”. 

Also in John 3:36 “He that has the Son has life, but he who does not have the Son does not have life, but the wrath of God rests on that person”. This is the Gospel, the good news.  This is the one gift that is offered to all men and women on this earth.

(pointing to the single gift) 

The good news: every person who trusts in Jesus’ substitutionary death for their sins has eternal life. 

The bad news: every person who does not trust in Jesus’ substitutionary death is still under God’s wrath and judgment.

Now when we trust in Jesus, as being the sacrifice that He claimed to be, we are given, first of all, the gift of eternal life (the one gift): but, if that were not enough, God bestows more gifts upon us (the many gifts).   It is like looking from the narrow side of a funnel.  The narrow inlet is the door by which you enter in by trusting Jesus as your Savior.  The wide part is the many blessings, or gifts, that God gives you after you trust in Jesus as your Savior.

But what else does God give to the believer in Jesus Christ?  We have to go to Romans chapter 4.

The Gifts:

(one gift on one side of pulpit and many gifts on the other side of pulpit)

After the first 3 chapters in Romans, we find that there is no person who is in right standings with God.  But how can anyone please God?  This is answered in chapter 4 of Romans.

Let’s read Romans 4:1-5

Romans 4:1-5 (NASB95)
1 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. 5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness,

Abraham believed what God told him, and Abraham’s faith or belief in what God told him was credited to him for righteousness.  The term “credited” is a banking term.  It means that righteousness was given to Abraham on the credit side of his account with God.  You see, all the people presented in Chapters 1-3 were debited in their account with God.  Verse 4, chapter 4, tells us that anyone who works for his salvation is debited in his account with God.  (read Verse 4-5).

After the condemnation of mankind in Chapters 1-3, Chapter 4 echos the phrase “by faith” in verses 5, 9, 11, 13 and 16.  It is not by works, not by naturally being good, not by maintaining religion; but by faith, by believing, or trusting, in God’ promise.  Believe on, have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.  It is the same faith that Abraham had: it is the only faith that will please God.

Chapter 4, of Romans, tells us that Abraham’s faith was recorded 400 years before Moses was given the law from God, the 10 commandments.  The Law, the 10 commandments, cannot and does not supersede Abraham’s faith.  People have always been saved believing in what God tells them.  The Law was given to Moses, strictly to convict the world of sin, and its sinful state: the law was given to intensify sin, to condemn the sinner.  The law was given to condemn, never to save.  The law, the 10 commandments, was given to bring us to Christ.  

So let’s see what Romans 4 tells us about gifts that God gives the one who lives by faith.

Romans 4:16-21 (NASB95)
16 For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17 (as it is written, “A father of many nations have I made you”) in the presence of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist. 18 In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” 19 Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; 20 yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.

  1. God gives life to the dead (in 4:17).  God calls into being that which does not exits. 

We were dead in our sins.  No life.  That is what we were.  But God gave us life; that is, to those who believe in His Gospel.  Life from that which did not exist.  Sounds like the creation story doesn’t it.  From creation, we find out that God created matter from nothing.  That is what God did for each of us who trust in Jesus Christ.  God makes a new creation, a new creature.  New life out of nothing.  God does not take our good works, our personality, our talents, and then add to them or enhance them to make us better.  God takes “Nothing” and brings it to life.  God gives you life from death.

The old is passed away, behold all things are new.  You are given life.  You were dead, but now you are alive.  You are born again.  You become a new person by creation.  God creates within you a new heart, a new nature, a new person.  That is why you are different.  That is why people around you, who are not born-again, do not understand you.  That is why they say that there is something different about you.  It is not something you do on your own; it is the new creature that God has made you.

You were once dead: no power to stop sinning, dead to God.  Jesus Christ was only a cuss word.

You are now given life: power not to sin, alive to God. 

So we see another gift: life to the dead.

  1. In verse 16, the life you receive is guaranteed (verse 16 - that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants..).  It is guaranteed to all who are of the faith of Abraham.  Just like Abraham, you receive God’s gift by believing He is able to do what He promised.  The promise is guaranteed.  When we have a guarantee, it is important who is behind the guarantee.  God does the guarantee.  Just like with Abraham; the guarantee to Abraham was a promise.  It was a contract based on the words of one, not both parties.  So that, there is no requirement put on the second person, to have conditions placed upon the guarantee.  There are no extras placed on this guarantee.  If you believe what God promised, your new life is guaranteed.  There is nothing here that suggests any condition placed upon us.  God does the guaranteeing.  It is based on God’s Word, His character.  God says “if you believe what I say, and trust in my salvation plan, you are guaranteed life.  It is a one time transaction.

This is not just a life time guarantee, but an “eternal life” guarantee.

Let’ continue:

Romans 4:22-25 (NASB95)
22 Therefore it was also credited to him as righteousness. 23 Now not for his sake only was it written that it was credited to him, 24 but for our sake also, to whom it (righteousness) will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.

So now, we have another gift: guaranteed life.

  1. declared righteous (verse 24): you are declared “right” in the eyes of God.  You were credited with righteousness.  Before you trusted in Christ, you were under God’s wrath.  Now, after you trusted Jesus as your complete and only Savior, you are credited with being righteous.  God puts “righteousness” into your account.  It goes into your credit column.  No more debits are entered.  Look at verse 25 again:

  1. Jesus was raised, that is resurrection power, so you can be declared justified (verse 25): Justified means “my sins placed on Jesus; His righteousness placed on me”.

This is a wonderful gift.  To have Jesus’ righteousness placed on me, in my account; and to have all of my sins, past, present and future placed on Jesus account.  Jesus paid the full payment for all my sins.  I no longer have to worry about paying for any sins.  I could not pay for the penalty of one sin anyway.  Jesus paid for my sins, by taking them into His own body on that cross, and suffering the eternal payment as only He could.  Then the Father raised Him from the dead, and writes into the account of anyone who accepts Jesus’ substitutionary death, “Paid in full”.

As I have accepted Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection as sufficient to pay for my sins, God the Father writes “Paid in full” in my account.  He no longer debits my account.  He only credits my account.  This transaction is based on God’s character.  It is based on a promise, that is one sided.  It has nothing to do with me.  I do not have to try to keep my salvation.  I cannot.  I do not have that power; but Jesus does.  Remember in John 10:27-28?

John 10:27-28 (NASB95)
27 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and ­no one will snatch them out of My hand.

So far, we have seen several gifts; eternal life, life from death, life guaranteed, declared righteous, declared justified.

Romans 5:1 (NASB95)
1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

  1. The fifth gift is peace with God.  We see that peace with God comes through Jesus Christ.  No one is at peace with God, who does not have Jesus Christ as Savior.  God declares “if we do not have Jesus Christ, we do not have peace with God”.

John 3:36 (NASB95)
36 “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”  There is no peace to those who reject Jesus.  If you do not have Jesus, God’s wrath, anger, is sitting on you.

John 5:24 (NASB95)
24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.  There is no death to those who trust Jesus.  You have been passed into life.  If you do not have Jesus, you are under God’s judgment.

Ask any religious person, about how they see God, and they are scared to death.  But not so with the Christian.  Ask a Christian how they see God, and they brighten up, begin smiling, and say “I can’t wait to see my Lord”.  “I can’t wait to see Jesus”. 

The world cries for peace, but they want it on their terms, and they will never have it.  You can only find peace through Jesus Christ. 

Let’s move on to the next gift:

Romans 5:2 (NASB95)
2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.

  1. Another gift: you have obtained an introduction into God’s grace, God’ unmerited favor.  You made it.  The verb, have obtained, is past tense, it is a done deal.  It is not something you have to work for; it is a gift that God gives to you.  You then begin to receive other gifts from God.  You begin your new life with gifts and continue to receive more gifts as you live here on earth.  This implies a doorway into your new walk, your new life.  You have now obtain an introduction, and then you continue in that grace.  It is like a funnel.  You enter the new life at the narrow end, through faith: then God bestows wonderful gifts upon you.  He lavishes your life; you are given abundant life.  He continues to give.  He gives grace upon grace.  He never stops giving.

Verse 2 also states that you stand in that grace.  The verb actually says that “you are made able to stand”.  You are made steady in your salvation, by God, Himself. You cannot fall away, nor be stripped away from God’s grace.  Reminds us of the promise by Jesus in

John 10:27-28 (NASB95)
27 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and ­no one will snatch them out of My hand.

Nothing is able to separate us from God’s love.  When He loves you, it is with an eternal love.  God’s promise to us is one sided: it is not based on anything we do, it is not conditional.  God does not say that He will give us eternal life if we do something, or if we are faithful to Him.  God gives us these gifts, because He loves us, and has promised to bless those who trust in His Son.  If He breaks His promise, He must sin: and God cannot sin. 

Romans 5:2 (NASB95)
2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; 

We stand, not by our power, our effort or our goodness; but because God secures us in His hands, and Jesus secures us in His hands, and the Holy Spirit is given to us to seal us.

  1. Another gift, mentioned at the end of  Romans 5:2, is that we can now exult (boast) in the hope of the glory of God.  We boast, we brag about our hope in seeing the glory of God, unlike those in Romans 3:23, who fall short of God’s glory.  We have hope: we have praise: we have a relationship with God.  We brag about God, not ourselves.  See the difference between a saved and unsaved person? 

Before we came to Christ, there is boasting in what we can do.  But there is judgment, there is darkness, there is no hope in the future.  Written on our lives is the expression “NO HOPE”. 

But after you come to Christ, by accepting Him as saving you from your sins, you have hope, you have life, you have rejoicing.  Now you brag about God.  You are humble in your attitude to God.  Written upon you new life is the expression “Abundant HOPE”.  You now boast in the cross of Christ.  He changed you.  He made you who you are today. 

  1. after you receive eternal life through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ

The following gifts are lavished upon you by your loving Heavenly Father:

  1. God gives life to the dead
  2. the life you receive is guaranteed for eternity
  3. you are declared righteous
  4. you are declared justified
  5. you have peace with God
  6. you have obtained an introduction into God’s grace
  7. you boast in the hope of the glory of God
  8. you boast in our tribulations
  9. God’s love is poured out in our hearts
  10. The Holy Spirit, who has been given to us

End with prayer

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