A. For many of us, Christmas time is a time of giving and receiving gifts.
B. I like the story told of the uncle who gave his nephew, Chris, an electric guitar for Christmas.
1. The first time Chris saw his uncle after Christmas he said, “Thanks for the electric guitar you gave me for Christmas, it’s the best present I ever got.”
2. “That's great,” said his uncle. “Have you learned how to play it?”
3. “Oh, I don't play it,” the young fellow said. “My mom gives me a dollar a day not to play it during the day and my dad gives me five dollars a week not to play it at night.”
C. All of us have probably received, or maybe even given a gift that was not highly appreciated.
1. So, what is it that makes a gift a good gift?
2. For some people it has to do with the quality or the cost of the gift.
3. Others judge it a good gift if it meets the particular need of the recipient.
4. Still others measure the gift by the motive in the heart of the giver.
D. What do people do with gifts that they don’t like or appreciate?
1. Some put in it a closet and later sell it at a garage sale.
2. Some return it to the store and exchange it for something else.
3. Others wrap it up and gift it to someone else – I think that’s what happens with fruitcakes.
E. Today I want to talk with you about the all-time best gift that has ever been given.
1. It is a gift that each of us must receive. If we don’t receive this gift, then we will be missing the most important gift ever given.
2. In 2 Cor. 9:15, the apostle Paul makes a statement that is so powerful, even though it is only 8 words long.
3. Paul says, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.”
4. Have you ever received an indescribable gift?
5. What kind of gift would it have to be to be called “indescribable?”
F. Several years ago on “Good Morning America,” Joan Lunden featured some gift ideas that might be considered indescribable – they are extraordinary gifts that are not likely to find their way on to your Christmas list.
1. One of them was the Jaguar 220.
a. It goes 0 to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds.
b. It retailed for a cool $587,000.
c. The Jaguar 220 is a limited addition model, and was only built from 1991 to 1996 only 280 were built.
d. It sounds like a nice appreciation gift for a preacher, don’t you think?
2. If you were to purchase one of those cars, you might want to get the specialized car wax. It retails for $3,400 for an 8 ounce can.
3. A third item, Joan Lunden mentioned was a $300,000 gold and silver toilet seat inlaid with precious stones. How’s that for pampering oneself?
4. If those gifts are a little too pricey for you, you might consider the $18,000 frisbee, the $12,000 mousetrap, or the $57,000 pair of sunglasses.
5. And for the proud grandparents, how about a $28,000 pacifier for the new grandbaby?
6. Such gifts stagger our imagination, don’t they? Nevertheless, such gifts are not indescribable.
7. Even though we may not be able to find words to describe them, I assure you that the manufacturers can, and they spend lots of money describing them in TV and newspaper ads.
G. Now, let’s get back to the Scripture I mentioned from 2 Corinthians 9.
1. In that chapter, Paul had first been discussing human gift giving.
2. The church in Corinth was taking up offerings to send to the poor Christians in Jerusalem.
3. Paul commended them for their eagerness to help, and reminded them that those who sow sparingly will also reap sparingly.
4. But then Paul shifted his attention from human gift giving to God’s gift of Jesus that he sent to earth for us.
5. But Paul could not find words to describe that gift, so he simply said, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.”
H. At this time of year we often give our attention to the wonder of God’s gift of Jesus.
1. Most of us realize that Christmas is not a Biblically commanded holiday, and that no one knows the exact day that Jesus was born.
2. Although the Bible records the birth narratives of Jesus, the Bible does not command that we celebrate Jesus’ birthday, nor does it tell us that the early church did anything to celebrate the birth of Christ.
3. The Bible does show the early church remembering the death of Jesus on the cross in the weekly communion, and showed that they acknowledged the resurrection of Jesus from the dead by worshipping on the 1st day of the week, the day of the resurrection.
4. Nevertheless, for at least the last 1000 years many churches have given attention to Jesus’ birth in December.
5. And I see no good reason to miss such a wonderful opportunity to teach people about Jesus and his birth.
I. For centuries mankind has tried to express the inexpressible. We have tried to describe the indescribable.
1. And so musicians have composed some of their greatest music on the theme of Jesus’ birth – Handel’s “Messiah,” Bach’s “Christmas Oratorio, and the beautiful, classic hymns – “Joy to the World,” “Silent Night,” and “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”
2. Painters and sculptors have taken up the tools of their trade to pay tribute to Jesus, the gift of God’s love.
3. But all of our attempts to describe the indescribable fall short.
I. Why is the indescribable gift of Jesus so indescribable?
A. First of all, because of His Nature.
1. How do you describe Jesus? What words would you choose to describe a baby born of a virgin?
2. Isaiah said He would be called “Emanuel – God with us.” How do you explain that?
3. Listen to these words of Max Lucado as he discusses the incarnation, “That particular moment was like none other. For through that segment of time a spectacular thing occurred. God became man. While the creatures of earth walked unaware, divinity arrived. Heaven opened herself up and placed her most precious one in a human womb. The omnipotent, in one instant, made Himself breakable. He, who had been a spirit, now was pierce-able. He who was larger than the universe became an embryo. And He who sustains the world with a word, chose to be dependent upon the nourishment of a young girl. God as a fetus. Holiness sleeping in a womb. The creator of life being created. God was given eyebrows, two kidneys and a spleen. He stretched against the walls and floated in the amniotic fluids of His mother. God had come near.”
4. Try to explain or describe that and you find that words just aren’t adequate and our minds cannot really grasp the wonder of it.
B. Second, the gift is indescribable because of the grace by which Jesus was given.
1. Most, if not all, of the gifts we give not only at Christmas time but on other special occasions, are given because the recipient has some claim on our lives.
2. I buy gifts for my wife, because she is my wife and I love her. I don’t buy gifts for any of your wives.
3. I buy gifts for my children, because they are my children and I love them. I don’t buy gifts for your children.
4. So, we buy gifts for our family and friends, because they are our family and friends.
5. We usually exchange gifts with those who have exchanged gifts with us in the past, and so the cycle continues.
6. If any of us give gifts for the hungry or homeless, we do so because we feel a call from God to do so, or we recognize that we owe a debt to God and to humanity.
7. But for God, all of this is different and that’s what makes His gift so special.
8. God doesn’t owe any of us anything, yet in Romans 5:8, Paul wrote, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
9. God does not owe us a gift. He was not obligated to do what he did, but He did so, because of His incredible love.
10. God’s gift of Jesus was indeed a gift of grace. We certainly didn’t deserve the gift.
11. That’s why we thank God for this indescribable gift!
C. Third, the gift is indescribable because of the wonderful effect it brings.
1. When we open the gifts we receive from family and friends do they change our lives? Not usually.
2. However, when we receive God’s indescribable gift it changes us and keeps on changing us in three ways for the rest of our lives.
a. First, God’s indescribable gift brings us justification. Justification is the divine pronouncement that we are acquitted from sin’s penalty. Freed from the punishment that our sins deserve.
b. Second, God’s indescribable gift brings us reconciliation. Reconciliation is the process that brings us to a place of peace with God and peace with others.
c. Third, God’s indescribable gift brings us sanctification. Sanctification is the process that purifies and perfects us for service to God.
3. None of these three (Justification, Reconciliation, and Sanctification) are things that we can accomplish on our own - they are a gift from God.
II. How does a person receive the indescribable gift of God?
A. First of all, before the gift can be received, a person has to recognize how valuable it is and recognize their need for the indescribable gift.
1. There are three types of people who have a difficult time recognizing the value of God’s gift and their need for it.
2. The first of these types of people are the proud. They want to do it themselves. They feel there must be some way for them to earn their salvation. They refuse to humble themselves and admit their need.
3. The second kind of people who don’t recognize their need for God’s gift are the powerful. Like the proud they don’t need anyone’s help. They are self-sufficient and are successful.
4. The third kind of people who don’t recognize their need for God’s gift are the pacified. This group is too comfortable to need a Savior. If you’re full, food doesn’t look very good to you. If you feel like you have everything you need, then God’s gift of love means very little.
5. Do any of these categories describe you, either in the past, or even today?
a. The proud need to realize that they are not as great as they think.
b. The powerful need to realize that they are not as powerful as they think.
c. And the pacified need to realize that they may be full and contented in many ways, but they are empty in a critical area – their souls.
6. And so, for starters, we have to recognize the value of God’s indescribable gift and our need for it before we can receive it. Once we have recognized these things, we are ready for the next step.
B. Second, we must realize that the gift cannot be earned or bought- it is a gift.
1. The indescribable gift cannot be earned.
a. No matter how many times we may hear that the gift of salvation is free, some of us continue to try to earn our way into heaven through good works.
b. Remember, if you have to earn something, then it’s not a gift; it s wage.
c. The Bible says that the only thing we can earn as a result of our efforts is death.
d. Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
2. So, the indescribable gift cannot be earned, neither can it be bought.
a. Salvation is not for sale, because the price has already been paid. Imagine taking a gift you received back to the store where it was purchased and trying to pay them for it again. They would think you are crazy!
b. Jesus already paid the price for us, it doesn’t need to be paid again.
c. And so, we have done nothing to deserve this gift, and if it could be bought it could never be afforded.
3. The indescribable gift is free, but it is not cheap. It cost Jesus everything, and it cost His Father the death of his one and only Son.
C. I read about a preacher who once tried to illustrate that God’s gift of salvation is free.
1. He stood in the pulpit one morning and pointed to a poinsettia plant on the table and said, “Whoever wants this beautiful plant may have it. All you have to do is come and take it.”
2. The people stared at him and he waited.
3. Finally a mother raised her hand and said, “I’ll take it.” “Great!” said the preacher, “It’s yours”
4. She nudged her son and said, “Go get it for me.” But the preacher said, “No, whoever wants this gift must come and get it personally. You can’t send a substitute.”
5. She shook her head, not wanting to come forward and risk embarrassment, and the preacher waited again.
6. This plant was gorgeous. It was unusually large, wrapped in red cellophane with a gold satin ribbon. Before he had made this offer, several had commented on how pretty it was.
7. Someone snickered, “What’s the catch?”
8. “No catch,” he replied. “It’s free.” But no one moved.
9. A college student asked, “Is it glued to the table?” Everyone laughed.
10. A teenage girl asked, “Can I take it after the service?” The preacher shook his head, “No you must come and get it now.”
11. Finally, a woman from the back strode quickly to the front and picked up the plant. “I’ll take it,” she said.
12. The preacher then went on to talk about Rom. 6:23 and that how the gift of God is eternal life.
13. When the service ended and most of the people had gone home, the woman who claimed the poinsettia came to the preacher and handed him a piece of crumpled paper. She walked away saying, “This flower is too pretty to just take home for free. I couldn’t do it with a clear conscience.”
14. The preacher looked at the crumpled piece of paper in his hand. It was a $10 bill.
D. Third, like the poinsettia plant, the gift of God really is free, but it must be personally received.
1. The NT explains by command and example that the indescribable gift is personally received when a person believes, repents, confesses their faith and is baptized.
2. Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” (Jn. 3:16)
3. Jesus said, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.” (Mark 16:16)
4. Peter preached, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit…Those who accepted his message were baptized and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” (Acts 2:38, 41)
A. I hope and pray that every one of us will recognize the value of God’s indescribable gift and realize our need for it.
1. I pray that you will believe in Jesus, God’s indescribable gift, and I pray that you will receive it today through repentance and baptism.
2. Once you receive God’s gift, then embrace it. Never let it go, and don’t neglect it.
3. But by all means, share God’s gift with others. Testify to the wonder and work of Jesus in your life.
4. And spend everyday thanking God for His indescribable gift.