Christ, God’s Greatest Gift

Adoration of the Shepherds by Gerard van Honthorst (1590-1656)

Adoration of the Shepherds by Gerard van Honthorst (1590-1656)

At this season of the year, people who do not regularly attend church show up for Christmas programs, those who seldom pray recite elaborate blessings over family dinners, and people who are at best nominal Christians pay homage to God for the birth of Jesus Christ.

John 3:16 begins, “God so loved the world that He gave his only-begotten Son . . . .” It is true that the birth of Christ was a great expression of God’s love for his creation. Unfortunately, most public rhetoric reduces the meaning of Christmas to “God showing He loves us by giving us a present.”

However, the coming of Christ goes far beyond his simply being born. Christ’s birth was just the beginning of his great work. God was giving much more than a child, but no less than the Savior of the world for all ages. John 3:16 goes on to say, “. . . that whoever believes in him might not perish, but might have eternal life.”

Christ Showed Us the Way to Salvation

True service to God is not in following arbitrary rules and regulations but in loving God with all your heart, soul, and might, and loving your neighbor like yourself (Mark 12:29-31). You are required to “sell out” completely to God (Mark 10:21, Luke 12:33) and “deny yourself” (Matthew 16:24), but in doing so you inherit the “free gift” of eternal salvation (Romans 4:16, Ephesians 2:8).

Christ Paid for Our Sins for All Time

While the sacrifices of Moses’ Law had to be made over and over, Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was “once for all” (Hebrews 10:10-13). Christ is willing to bear the sins of anyone who will simply believe in him and entrust their sins to his great sacrifice (Hebrews 9:28).

Christ Ascended to God’s Right Hand

When He left the earth, Christ received his just reward for his perfect obedience to God’s plan: He ascended to God’s throne and took his seat at God’s right hand. As God’s literal “right-hand man,” Christ has been granted all the power of God in order to serve and empower his Church (John 3:35, Ephesians 1:22).

Christ Continues to Save and Grant Gifts to His Church

Christ is “head” to his “body,” the Church. Those who enter into his Church become a part of him, figuratively and spiritually. As part of Christ, Christians are nourished and cared for as parts of his body (Ephesians 4:15-16). Those who are “in Christ” remain covered by the blood of his sacrifice and enter into eternal salvation with him (Romans 8:1-3).

More than that, Christ wields all the power of God in behalf of his Church. He dispenses spiritual gifts through the Holy Spirit to aid the operation of the Church (1 Corinthians 14:2-5) and to enable Christians to preach the gospel with divine power (1 Corinthians 2:4-5, 1 Thessalonians 1:5). By extension, those who are “gifted” for leadership are also considered gifts to the Church (1 Corinthians 12:28, Ephesians 4:11-12). Thus Jesus Christ rules and reigns over his Church from his seat in God’s throne.

God’s gift of Christ was much more than simply showing us He loves us by sending a baby to be born. God sent his one and only Son to live, die, triumph over sin, and reign over us. Jesus Christ was more than just a good man, a moral teacher, a well-meaning man who tried to save the world but lost his own life.

Christ was the one for whom this world was made in the first place (Colossians 1:16-19). The world as a whole has not yet been forcibly put under his rule (Hebrews 2:8). In this Age of Grace, Christ does not force submission on us. But ultimately, in God’s time, all things will be put in subjection to Christ (1 Corinthians 15:28, Revelation 19:15).

This Christmas, celebrate Christ as more than just a child in a manger. Celebrate him for all that He is: Savior, Lord of the Church, ultimate Lord of the earth. If you let him, He can be your personal Savior and Lord, as well, and the greatest friend you will ever find.

© 1996 Paul A. Hughes. Originally published in the Polk County Enterprise.

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