What Is A Gift?

We are told of this great gift of God’s love in a very familiar passage from John’s Gospel: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten on, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”  (John 3:16).

The legal definition of a gift involves three necessary parts. These elements are as follows:

  1. Someone must offer it
  2. Someone must accept it
  3. The one who accepts it does not pay for it

A gift is something that has been freely offered and accepted without any thought of payment.

We Cannot Earn It

A gift is something that is freely offered. No payment can be involved or the “gift” becomes a “purchase” – something which has been bought. God’s gift of salvation was freely given. He doesn’t offer us something we have to buy -He offers us a gift.

The Apostle Paul reminds us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). But in the very next verse he gives us the Good News that all who accept God’s gift of salvation are “justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom 4:24).

Some don’t fully understand that God’s gift of salvation was freely given. They will try, therefore, to turn the gift into a purchase by trying to earn their way into God’s favor.

In Southeast Asia there is a group of people who have taken their efforts to a tragic extreme. They are called “flagellists”. On the Good Friday before Easter, they beat their backs bloody with whips. Some go so far as to have nails driven through their hands on a cross.

Why would people do such awful things in the name of Christianity? It is because they do not understand that their salvation is a gift. Eternal life is a gift from God!

There is nothing we can do to earn or work our way into God’s favor. We are saved by grace, not by “works” – or else we could boast in our efforts (Eph 2:8, 9).

Our salvation was “paid in full” at Calvary. When Jesus was dying on that cross He said, “It is finished.” Our faith, then, is totally in the finished work of Christ upon the cross.

Now these people in Southeast Asia are sincere. But they are ignorant. They do not know or understand the greatness of God’s salvation. They are seeking to be saved, but are going about it in their own way. They are indeed very zealous but zeal and sincerity will not save us. We can be sincere and wrong at the same time.

Paul refers to such religious zeal in his letter to the Romans: “For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.

“For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.