Summary: When we accept the Father's gift of His Son, we accept life instead of death, justification instead of judgment, power instead of bondage, and righteousness instead of sin.

Matt Woodly, a father of four, talks about buying his children a swing set, about 15 years ago, as an early Christmas present. It was an extra long metal set with two swings, a two-seater swinging bench, a slide, monkey bars, and a series of hanging rings. He thought the time invested in putting it together would be a great way to show them his love. Besides, it was cheap, and it was made in Germany. He reasoned, “You can't beat German engineering!”

Well, after purchasing, hauling, dragging, and opening the 200-pound box, Matt was suddenly overwhelmed by the sheer number of parts and the complexity of the instructions. Based on his eye-popping assessment, he would have to assemble about 10,000 tiny screws, washers, nuts and bolts, wing-nuts, more washers, plastic pieces, metal bars, and metal chains. They provided an English translation of the instructions, but unfortunately there were no pictures or diagrams – just convoluted, technical instructions apparently written by scientists for experts in mechanical engineering.

Matt said, “It was too complicated for an ordinary, non-engineer like me.” So with help from some mechanically-inclined friends, Matt finally managed to assemble the whole thing, but he had a few dozen leftover parts. It is little wonder, then, that his 34 pound son made the entire swing set shake and wobble. (Matt Woodley, managing editor, www.Preaching

Often, that’s the way it is with man-made gifts. Like man-made systems and religions,

they are complicated, shaky and unreliable. Is that a description of your life these days - complicated, shaky and unreliable? Well, that’s not what our Heavenly Father intended for us.

Matt Woodly says, “God is infinitely more intricate and mysterious than anything in the universe (let alone a swing-set), and yet, God's glory and grace aren't reserved for an elite group of geniuses. At Christmas God became simple; the mysterious one became visible, small, and even vulnerable. Through Jesus' birth, God revealed himself to ordinary people. [And] God didn't send thousands of pieces; he sent one piece – a person, God-in-the-flesh, Jesus Christ.” (Matt Woodley, managing editor,

Would you like to simplify your life this Christmas and put it on a more solid foundation. Then I invite you to turn with me to Romans 5, Romans 5, where we learn more about this simple gift from our Heavenly Father.

Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned. (NIV)

Adam's gift was sin and death. By his one act of rebellion in the Garden of Eden, he brought ruin and devestation upon the entire human race. As a result, we all die because of Adam's sin. Adam's sin is the cause of all our deaths.

Romans 5:13 for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. (NIV)

God can't charge anyone with wrongdoing until He tells them what deeds are wrong. God can't punish people for sin until he defines what sin is.

Romans 5:14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come. (NIV)

Even though God couldn't charge anyone with wrongdoing, people still died. Before God gave the Law to Moses, there was still death. Why? Because it was Adam's sin that brought death to everyone! Adam's sin in some way poisoned his sperm, and all of us were affected.

You're not a sinner because you sin. You sin because you're a sinner. You inherited a sin nature from Adam. And as a result, YOU WILL DIE. In fact, you're in the process of dying right now!

Three monkeys once dining in a coconut tree were discussing some things they had heard to be true, “What do you think? Now listen you two, here, monkeys, is something that cannot be true, that humans descended from our pure race. Why, it's simply shocking – a terrible disgrace.

“Who ever heard of a monkey deserting his wife? Leave a baby starve and ruin its life? And have you ever known of a mother monk to leave her darling, with a stranger to bunk? Their babies are handed from one to another and scarce ever know the love of a mother.

“And I've never known a monkey so selfish to be as to build a big fence around the coconut tree so other monkeys can't get a wee taste, but would let all the coconuts here go to waste. Why, if I'd put a fence around this coconut tree, starvation would force you to steal from me.

“And here is another thing a monkey won't do, seek a bootlegger's shanty and get in a stew, carouse and go on a whoopee, disgracing his life, then reel madly home and beat up his wife. They call this all a pleasure and make a big fuss, they've descended from something, but not from us.” (Bible Illustrator #3340, 12/1986.2)

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