Gift to Christ - Me?|
Q. I heard you once say I'm a "gift" from God to Christ. I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around that one. My first response is, "Yeah…right." Then, I also know there are some Christians that have no problem believing they are God's gift to everyone and everything! So, now I'm curious. Is that in Scripture somewhere?
A Stinky Motley-Crew
It IS outlandish to think a motley-crew of stinky Christians could actually be a gift to Christ, isn't it? With our innate sense of justice and fairness we automatically "know" that most of us don't "cut it."
We understand that we fail to live up to God's standards and we are filled with envy, jealousy, strife, lacking gratitude and filled with many evil thoughts every day. Furthermore, we already know that those who think they are God's gift to everyone are hypocrites and liars anyway. We know that God hates pride!
So thank you for asking the question. What gives? How can we be a gift from God to Jesus?
Thankfully, God doesn't value us based on our thoughts, deeds and motives as we are right now. Instead, as "a demonstration of His perfect love for His Son, the Father made a pledge to the Son. And what was that pledge? He promised the Son a redeemed people - justified, sanctified, and glorified" (MacArthur 2009, 1).
When we accept Christ's sacrifice on the cross for our sins we become justified in the eyes of God. We are declared "not guilty." This is not because of anything you or I do on a daily basis. It is based solely on Jesus' offering of himself for the sins of mankind. When God looks at you or me he doesn't see the "real" us (thankfully). Instead, He chooses to see His beloved Son in our place. Christ is our intercessor:
"YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER
ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF
(This NASB passage is in capital letters because it signifies it is from the Greek Septuagint translation).
But, while we are justified now, the Holy Spirit is working to sanctify us throughout our entire lives. "God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth" (2 Thess 2:13). Every problem, every failure, every trial we face is an opportunity to become better people as we are slowly conformed into the image of God's Son (Ro 8:29).
Then, at some specific point in time in the near future all Christians will be instantly transformed with new bodies that will never die. This is our "glorification." The apostle Paul says these stunning, hopeful words to us:
…"let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye…those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die…" (1 Cor 15:51-55, NLT).
God redeemed a "family" for His beloved Son. This may sound strange to our ears. But, many of us know how painful it is to be alone in the world. We find terribly lonely men and women in rescue missions throughout our country.
Sadly, many homeless people have abused or neglected their own families to the point their own mothers, fathers, spouse or children will have nothing more to do with them. So they are alone.
We find Christian converts in Moslem countries rejected and left alone to die in poverty or to be killed in honor killings. Being without a family is one of the most painful emotions we experience.
So the redeemed church family is a gift from God the Father to his Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus says, "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out" (Jn 6:37).
For an eternity God's redeemed people will worship and glorify Christ - praising Him, serving Him and reigning with him over the entire universe (Rev 22:3-5). We are His "brethren" and family.
Our New Family
Not only are we a redeemed family for our precious Lord, we now serve as a family to one another, too. "So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God" (Eph 2:19, ESV).
Although we may not act like it at times, we are brothers and sisters to one another and to Christ. Our earthly families are only a temporary condition. Our forever-families are Christians (much as we'd like to disown them at times).
We are to become Christ Clones
God is in the process of making us a holy people - set apart and conformed into the image of His Son through the sanctification process. Then we will become Christ like and more appropriate family members to Christ and one another, too.
I once heard John MacArthur state, in effect, we are all becoming Christ "clones," or brothers and sisters who will be like and act like our dear Lord. Never mind that we may have to be dragged "kicking and screaming" through the sanctification process! We will be "conformed into the image of Christ" (Ro 8:29).
The Reverend Fuller notes that seven times in the Lord's Intercessory Prayer (found in John 17, verses 6, 7, 9, 11, 12, and 24), Jesus speaks to His Father of "those whom you have given me" (Fuller 2009, 5). The esteemed Charles Ryrie states, "Five times in this prayer the Lord refers to believers as a gift from the Father to Him (vv. 2, 6, 9, 14)" (Ryrie Study Bible 1996, 1714). Clearly, we, the church, have been given to Christ. We are a gift from the Father to the Son (John 17:2-24).
The Bride of Christ
We are His "Bride" (Matt 9:15) who is espoused to Christ, "for I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ" (2 Cor 11:2).
"Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has
and his Bride (the church) has made herself
It was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure -
For the fine linen is the righteous deeds of
(Rev 19:7-8, ESV).
Personal Names in Heaven
Each family member's name - yours and mine - are written in Heaven (Heb 12:23). Our entrance is by the new birth, by spiritual adoption through Jesus Christ (Jn 1:12, Gal 3:27, Eph 1:5) and by the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Jesus himself said,
"Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God" (Jn 3:5).
Paul affirms, "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body" (1 Cor 2:13).
Before Time Began
So, yes, in answer to your question we were called-out and saved before time began - to be a family - a gift from God to Jesus the Son.
"God saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began" (2 Tim 1:9, NKJV).
We are a Holy Temple
We are a collective body of called-out, redeemed people - from every tribe and people and tongue and nation (Rev 13:7) who will become a living temple for the Holy Spirit (Eph 2:21-22) who will become the "very dwelling-place of God" (MacArthur 2009, 1-2) and who are now the members of the "household of God" (Eph 2:19).
Therefore, in response to God's loving salvation of us - a redeemed people - let's begin to praise Him and love Him with everything we have, "making the most of our days" left to us on earth (Eph 5:16).
Fuller, Robert L. The church - Bride of Jesus Christ. Mt. Hermon Baptist Church. Available from:http://www.mthermonbaptistchurch.org/The%20Church_1_3_2.htm. (accessed 12/10/2009).
Lindsey, Duane. 1996. Can a saved person ever be lost? Christian Answers.Net. Available from:http://www.christiananswers.net/q-acb/acb-t006.html. (accessed 12/10/2009).
MacArthur, John. Why I love the church, Part 3. Grace to You Ministries. Available from: http://www.gty.org/Resources/Print/articles/9674. (accessed 12/10/2009).