The Greatest Gift
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church “Toy Store” - Dec. 8, 2012
Note: The “Toy Store” provides toys and food to needy families in our community. It’s an outreach/charitable ministry of our church.
*My wife Mary and I are still pretty new around here. We had only been a part of Grayson Baptist for 3 months when we came to our first Toy Store last year. I was greatly impressed by the generosity of God’s people here. But Ms. Carmen and the people of this church would be the first to tell you that all of the glory goes to God.
*James 1:17 tells us that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights. . .”
-So every good gift we have ever received has ultimately come from God.
*But this morning the Lord has led me to speak to you about the greatest gift God has ever given the world. And His Word tells us about this gift in the most well-known verse of Scripture. It’s John 3:16, where Jesus said: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
1. The good news about God’s greatest gift has four parts: And the first part is God’s love.
*“For God so loved. . .” -- “For God so loved the world!” This great truth tells us that God’s love stretches farther, longer, wider and deeper than we can ever measure! And if God loves the world, that means He must also love me!
*We all can plug our name into that verse: “For God so loved” Rick and Mary and you -- “that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
*One of the most astounding truths in God’s Word is found in Romans 5:6, where Paul tells Christians this: “When we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.”
*Christ died for the ungodly, because God so loved the world. And we needed God’s merciful love as much as the worst sinner who has ever walked the earth.
-That’s because God’s standard is perfect righteousness.
*As Alan Perkins said: “It doesn’t matter if you’re a little better than someone else, or even a lot better than someone else. You’re still guilty of sin. You’re still condemned. The person who jumps halfway across the Grand Canyon winds up just as dead as the person who only jumps eight feet out from the cliff. They both fall a mile to the bottom.” (1)
*We all need God’s merciful love as much as the worst sinner who has ever walked the earth. And we can only make it to Heaven because God so loved the world. So God’s greatest gift comes from His love.
2. Then we see God’s loss.
*“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.”
-What a sacrifice! God the Father sent His one and only Son into the world to die on the cross for our sins. What a sacrifice! Jesus willingly took all of the suffering and shame that belonged to us. Jesus willingly took all of the punishment for all of our sins when He died on the cross for us.
*Jesus was the only person who could make that sacrifice for us, because He is the Son of God. And He did make that sacrifice for us, because He loves us.
*Jeffrey Ebert will always see a picture of that sacrificial love in his own mother. It happened many years ago when Jeffrey was 5, and they were in a horrible wreck. This was long before cars had seat belts and air bags.
*Jeffrey’s family was driving home that night on a two-lane country road. And Jeffrey was sitting on his mother's lap, when a drunk driver swerved into their lane and hit them head-on.
*Jeffrey said: “I don't have any memory of the collision. I do recall the fear and confusion I felt as I saw myself literally covered with blood from head to toe. Then I learned that the blood wasn't mine at all, but my mother's. In that split second when the two headlights glared into her eyes, she instinctively pulled me closer to her chest and curled her body around mine.
*It was her body that slammed against the dashboard, her head that shattered the windshield. She took the impact of the collision so that I wouldn't have to.
*It took extensive surgery for my mother to recover from her injuries. In a similar, but infinitely more significant way, Jesus Christ took the impact for our sin.” (2)
*No higher price was ever paid. No greater loss was ever felt. God’s greatest gift for us took His greatest loss. So in John 3:16, we see God’s greatest loss.
3. Then we see our leaning.
*We must lean on Jesus. We must believe in the Lord. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever BELIEVES in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
*We’ve all sinned so we all need a Savior. And Jesus will be your Savior, if you believe in Him. But that means a lot more than believing with your mind. It means believing with your heart, believing with your life.
-Believing in Jesus means trusting in the Lord. And you can trust Him completely because He proved His love on the cross.
-Believing in Jesus also means believing that the cross was not the end of the story, because 3 days later, Jesus rose again from the dead.
*Jesus is alive forevermore! -- So He is able to give us His eternal life, IF we will lean on the Lord. That means receiving Jesus into your heart, having a real relationship with Him, seeking to follow His ways, allowing Him to lead your life.
*Imagine for a moment that it’s Christmas, and I stop by for a visit. I love you very much and I also happen to be very rich. In my hand is a little wrapped-up box, and in the box is a key.
*Maybe it’s a key to a $50,000 NITRO Z-9 Bass Boat...
-Or a Ford F350 Super Duty Super Cab...
-Or an $80,000 BMW...
-Or a million dollar home.
*I tell you how much I love you. I tell you about the gift, and I leave the box on the table for you. The key is in the box, and it’s yours for the taking.
-But you never take the wrapping paper off.
-You never open the box.
-You never do what you are supposed to do with the gift.
-I really gave it to you, but did you really receive it? -- No.
*God’s gift of eternal life is something like that. Jesus Christ paid the highest price for your gift when He died on the cross for you. And now the Risen Savior freely offers the gift to you. But you have to receive it.
*In order to receive God’s gift of eternal life, you don’t open a box. You open your heart. And you don’t take something out. You let someone in.
-By faith, you let Jesus Christ into your heart.
-By faith, you receive Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord.
*He wants to come in. In Revelation 3:20, Jesus said: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”
*And speaking about Jesus, John 1:12 says: “As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.”
*Have you received Jesus?
-Have you leaned on the Lord for salvation? -- It’s the only way to go to Heaven.
*God’s greatest gift is received by believing in Jesus Christ.
4. Lean on the Lord Jesus Christ. Then you will have His life.
*And this life is a reality that becomes ours the moment we trust in Jesus Christ. Eternal life doesn’t start when you die. It starts when you believe! John 3:36 says: “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
*Eternal life doesn’t start when you die. It starts when you believe. And it lasts forever. So trust in the Lord and receive His gift of eternal life.
*You can do that right now, as we go to God in prayer.
1. Adapted from SermonCentral sermon “The Tax Collector and the Pharisee” by Alan Perkins - Luke 18:9-14
2. Jeffrey Ebert in Fresh Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching (Baker), from the editors of Leadership (Source: Bible Illustrator for windows - Topic: Atonement Index: 304-305 - Date: 71998.1145 / Title: Christ's Blood, Not Ours)