When the idea of gifts is pondered, one commonly would consider the act of “giving.” Truly one cannot receive a gift except it first be given by someone. Giving is indeed at the very heart of the Biblical Message (cf. John 3:16; 15:13-14; Romans 8:32). It is to the verse from John 3 that this article would bring the reader’s attention.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). “God so loved the world,” Our Heavenly Father loved man, whom He created in His own image, to such an extent that He did a certain thing, that thing was to “give!” What precipitated such giving? The answer is found in Genesis 3.
Adam and Eve had transgressed the law of God, thereby sinning (Genesis 3:6; cf. I John 3:4). The punishment prescribed for their sin was death, “thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:17). Adam and his wife stood condemned before their Creator and were powerless to redeem themselves or to justify themselves in the sight of God. Action now had to be taken to save these two precious souls from everlasting destruction (I Thessalonians 1:7-9). Who took action?
God, as was exemplified in the inquiry by God of (Genesis 3:8-9); so God was the One to move first. He put into place His eternal plan to save men from their sins, “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (II Timothy 1:9; cf. Ephesians 3:11; Titus 1:2; Revelation 13:8). It is/was the eternal plan or purpose of God to save man by the sacrifice of His Son upon the Cross.
What (or more precisely: who) then was “given”? The very Son of God. “That he gave his only begotten Son.” The Son was “given,” but who is the Son? “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1; cf. 10: 30; Philippians 2:6). Jesus is God—He is Deity. The Lord told Philip, “he that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” What is the implication of these facts? That God gave Himself! What could be more sublime or majestic than this Heavenly ideal—God gave Himself for us; for our sakes.
We who were sinners (Romans 5:8) and enemies of God (Romans 5:10) received this unfathomable gift! The One that had been scorned and despised and disregarded; was the very One that took away the scorner’s reproach. The concept of such great love as has been demonstrated by God toward us requires spiritual maturity to grasp and the end of its depths shall never be found by the minds of men.
However, when one does lay hold of this great example, many passages of Scripture open with greater meaning and depth, such as:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are my ways higher than your ways, And my thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9).
What has been the great example of this? God gave Himself for us. And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them (Genesis 1:26-27).
What is the greatest means by which God has shown us how to be like Him? God gave Himself for us. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:12-13). How has God loved us? God gave Himself for us.
Finally: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).
Why is it our “reasonable service” to “give” our entire beings (Matthew 22:37-40) unto God in service and subjection? Because God gave Himself for us! Oh, how unsearchable are the riches of God (Romans 11:33; Ephesians 3:8)!