By Armando Yzaguirre, Jr.
Among, Romans 3:21-26 we find an often-quoted, very well-known verse. We all have read, in verse 23, that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Despite knowing this truth, we also are confident in knowing there is one means by which one can be redeemed from that sinful state—the grace gift of Jesus Christ. Jesus was publicly put forth as the satisfaction of God’s wrath for us. By His sacrifice on our behalf, we are declared righteous even though we are reminded in this passage that we are sinners. Although we rightfully deserve God’s wrath, Jesus took the cup of God’s wrath and swallowed it whole, on our behalf.
Local church pastor, you have most likely shared this truth with your people hundreds of times. This is not new, fresh, or flashy. Let’s liken it to something you’re familiar with. Every year, specifically around December, your people shop for the latest and greatest, seeking to keep up with the hottest trends of the season. Year after year, they buy the same items for their friends, families, and co-workers, but with a fresher coat of paint or the slightest update. This is a continual, never-ending process. You see, there is something different between this gift in Romans 3 and the fresh gift your people are seeking this month. Your people do not need a freshly, rebranded Gospel message. They simply need to be reminded of the Good News that doesn’t fade. They need to be reminded of the ultimate gift that Jesus freely gave to them. Actually, they need to be reminded of what a gift truly is.
Simply put, a gift is something that we do not deserve. A gift costs the giver but is given freely to the recipient. In a world that teaches children that only the “good” or “well-behaved” receive a free gift from Santa Claus, we must remind our flock that gifts are never earned, especially this gift. Pastors, your people need to be reminded that God’s love is not transactional. We do not give Him anything that earns us our salvation. We receive by faith the free gift He has given us in His Son—Jesus. Gifts are received, not earned. No one opens an extravagant gift on Christmas morning and immediately exclaims, “This gift is what I earned this year!”
True gifts remind us of the love of the Giver. True gifts lead the recipient to thank and praise the Giver. Pastors, your people must be reminded of the extravagance of the Giver and the Gift. This will lead them to love Him truly. This will lead them to glorify Him rightly.
This brief is part of a month-long Advent series designed for local church pastors, made possible through a partnership between Fellowship Church of Immokalee, Fla., and the Conservative Baptist Network.