“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:16 – 18)
Our God is a God of love and grace. This God – the very Creator of all we see, and all there is – has a gift available to each one of us, a gift rooted in His love and grace. In John 4:10, Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at the well “If you knew the gift of God…” How often do we associate God with the giving of a gift? We often associate God with judgment and anger at our sin. We somehow feel that faith in God is about earning His approval. When we view ourselves in this light before God, one of two things will result: either we will pridefully think we can earn God’s approval through our good deeds, or we will despair of ever truly finding peace with God, keenly aware that we can never measure up to His standards.
The Apostle Paul made these liberating statements:
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23, NASB)
“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus…” (Romans 3:23, NASB)
And the Apostle John made this wonderful statement:
“If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for the testimony of God is this, that He has testified concerning His Son. The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son. And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:9 – 13, NASB)
God has given us eternal life as a free gift. Eternal life is just that – eternal, and consists of a personal relationship with God that begins when we believe in and receive Christ, and never ends – even when we die. After death, we simply go to be with Him, in heaven. We don’t have to earn it by striving to please God, nor can we earn it. Heaven is a free gift! We receive it by placing our trust in Jesus Christ. You see, all of us have sinned. We have all done things that are displeasing to God, and as such, deserve to be judged by Him. God is righteous, and cannot tolerate sin in the slightest degree (Habakkuk 1:13). His penalty for one who commits sin is death, which includes both physical death and spiritual death (including separation from God in eternal judgment). Since all of us are sinners (Romans 3:23), none of us can escape God’s death sentence upon us. Yet, God is also loving, and merciful. He has undertaken to deal with our sin Himself by becoming a man in the person of Jesus Christ and suffering the just penalty for sin (death) on our behalf. By dying on the cross, Jesus satisfied the just wrath of God on all sin – yours and mine! His resurrection from the dead testifies that what Christ has done for us all is fully sufficient to make possible forgiveness for any and all who would believe in Jesus. As one writer has noted, all that is required for us to escape God’s wrathful judgment of us, and enjoy heaven with Him, is to receive the free pardon of sin that He offers us through faith in His Son. This is the gift of God: that God has freely given us eternal life – life forever with Him – when in reality we deserve death, judgement, and hell. It’s a free gift, only to be received, not earned! We receive it through believing God’s testimony concerning His Son Jesus as recorded in the Bible. However, if we spurn the gift, and do not embrace the forgiveness God offers us, then we must suffer the eternal consequences of our sin, which is death and eternal separation from God. If you wish to receive this gift, and express to God your trust in Him, you can pray a prayer similar to the one below. It’s not a magic formula, but is simply meant to be a way of guiding you in expressing your faith and desire to God:
Dear heavenly Father, thank you for your free gift of eternal life, which you have given to us in your Son Jesus Christ, who is Lord. I acknowledge that I have sinned against you, but I also acknowledge that you are merciful towards sinners like me. Your Son died to pay the penalty for my sin, and I accept His sacrifice as the means by which my sin is paid for. Thank you Jesus for dying for me. I believe in you, and I believe that you were raised from the dead. Help me to live for you. Amen.
If you prayed that prayer, I encourage you to send us a note and let us know. We will assist you with what the next steps are, and help you get plugged in to a good Bible-believing church if you are not already. Let me leave you with these comforting words from our Lord Jesus:
“I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25 – 26, NASB).