Christmas is a time for giving…
…and who doesn’t love receiving gifts?
One of the things that make gifts so special is that they are an expression of love. Yet at Christmas time children are often warned that unless they are well behaved they might not get any gifts at all. However, by definition, gifts cannot be earned; otherwise they would be counted as wages. Imagine if your loved ones only gave you Christmas gifts based upon how well you’d behaved throughout the year!
The Bible tells us that ‘the free gift of God is eternal life’, or in other words heaven (Romans 6:23). But don’t we have to be good to go to heaven? Or maybe, because ‘God is love’, He’ll just let everyone in regardless. Do you consider yourself to be a good person? Most of us do but are you good enough to go to heaven?
What are God’s standards?
Have you ever told a lie? Of course you have, we all have, but that doesn’t make it less serious to a holy God. When we lie, even if it’s a ‘white lie’ or a ‘half truth’ we contradict the very character of God, who Himself is Truth (John 14:6). Have you ever taken anything that didn’t belong to you? Even if it was something small you still became a thief according to God’s perfect standard. We know that it is wrong to murder, but Jesus said that even if we hate someone we have committed murder in our hearts (Matthew 5:21-22). The Bible tells us that when we take God’s name in vain, using it in the place of a swear word, we commit blasphemy; instead of using a four-letter filth word to express disgust, we use the name of the God who gave us life, dragging it through the mud! Have you ever used God’s name in this way? If you have done these things then God sees you as a lying, thieving, blaspheming, murderer at heart (and that’s only four of the Ten Commandments!). If on Judgement Day God judges you using His standard would you be innocent or guilty of breaking His laws? Would He have to send you to Heaven or Hell? Because God is holy, righteous and just He must punish our wrong doing (sin), and if we got what we deserved then we’d all be going to Hell.
The Good news…
However, the good news is that God is also loving and gracious towards you, ‘not wishing that any should perish’ (2 Peter 3:9). In fact God has made a way for you to be totally forgiven of your sins, washed clean and made right with Him. God the Father sent the gift of His own Son Jesus (God in the flesh), to be born of a virgin, live a perfect life and be put to death on a cross (widely acknowledged to be the cruellest method of execution known to man). Jesus’ death on the cross was a sacrifice made on your behalf – you broke God’s law, but Jesus paid your fine by taking your punishment on Himself, shedding His own blood and dying in your place so that you can go free. And to prove that He is God and has the power to defeat sin and destroy death, Jesus rose victoriously from the dead on the third day.
‘For God so loved the world, that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life’ (John 3:16). This is the true meaning of Christmas, that Jesus Christ, the greatest gift the world has ever seen, entered this world so that we could be made right with God.
But have you received this amazing free gift?
Sadly, the reality is that for many people God’s Christmas gift to them remains unclaimed and unopened.
The Bible says ‘but to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God’ (John 1:12). If you are to receive Jesus you must repent of your sins and put your trust completely in Him and what he has done for you. To repent literally means to change your mind. It’s far more than simply feeling sorry for your sins or resolving to turn over a new leaf, it’s about acknowledging that there is nothing you can do by yourself to get right with God or earn heaven; Jesus Christ has done it all for you and is now calling you to turn away from your sins, to stop living for yourself, and to follow Him. You don’t know when you will die but you can get right with God right now. Repent and believe the good news about Jesus and you will be saved.
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