The Perfect Gift
This article was to be posted on Good Friday, but circumstances changed the timing. Please read to the end to see why God had a different schedule.
The Perfect Gift
On Good Friday, Christians reflect on the death of Jesus Christ, a death that atoned for our sins. For Christians, it is indeed, marvelous in our eyes (Psalm 118:22-23). Peter, the apostle, links Psalm 118:22 to Jesus crucifixion in Acts 4:10-11. He then makes this proclamation:
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).
I have read Acts 4:12 many times and my attention has always been drawn to the fact that no one comes to the Father except through Jesus (John 14:6). Today, perhaps for the first time, I also see how this verse proclaims the greatest gift ever given to mankind.
We read in John 3:16 that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Sounds like a great gift to me.
Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us that salvation by grace through faith is a gift from God. We never earn it.
The Gift of Faith
Many of us, in our observance of Good Friday, will read Luke 22:20 and Matthew 26:28:
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”
This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
In these passages, Jesus is referring to the New Covenant promised to Israel in the Old Testament.
“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.
It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,”
declares the Lord.
“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord.
“I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God, and they will be my people. Jeremiah 31:31-33
John Piper writes:
What was promised in the new covenant? It was not just an offer of salvation for those who would produce faith on their own, but rather the very gift of faith was purchased. The transformation that made faith a reality was secured in the atonement for the beneficiaries of the new covenant. In other words, a new heart was purchased for God’s people in the atonement. This is more than the purchase of a possibility. This is more than the purchase of an offer of salvation. This is the real purchase for God’s people of God’s sovereign work to take out the heart of stone and put in the new, believing heart of flesh. Nobody would believe if that hadn’t been bought for them.1
I stopped at this point on Good Friday, took a break and headed off to a store. I planned on finishing the article when I returned. But, on the way home I made a poor decision. I pulled out into traffic, but stopped when I realized I didn’t have an unobstructed view around a turning truck. Just then a Chevy Suburban passed in front of me at around 35 mph. Had I stopped a split second later, I probably would not have survived the impact. I was shaken and decided finishing the article was not the right thing to do that day. I felt that my foolish impatience temporarily disqualified me.
That evening we attended the Good Friday service at our church, a service that did not offer a separate program for kids. We were late to church and had to sit where we couldn’t see the stage much at all. A little later, my nine-year-old son saw some seats at the front and we moved forward. About half way through the service which included a sermon, he placed his head on my shoulder. I thought he was resting, but later during a song with words imploring us to let our hearts be awake and be alive, he began to cry and hold me tight. I knew something special was happening, so I began to pray for him.
This continued for around twenty minutes with my son, singing through tear-stained eyes, still clinging to me. After the service I asked him why he was crying. He asked me, “Why did Jesus do that?” I knew he already knew that it was for our sins. I told him it was because Jesus loved him and others so much. We talked about sin and Jesus’ saving work. I asked him if he wanted me to lead him in a prayer of repentance and faith. He said no, he wanted to pray himself. It was beautiful.
He had seen Jesus in a way he had never seen him. The Holy Spirit took out his heart of stone and put in a new believing heart of flesh. His faith came together with both and he was born again.
Afterwards he said,”I feel good!” Later that evening he said he wasn’t afraid to die anymore. He asked me if a person could be unsaved. I assured him, that, no, he was safely in God’s hand and no one could snatch him away.
I had the privilege of baptizing my son this past Sunday. A person coming to faith in Jesus Christ is always beautiful, but when a parent sees his child come to faith, it is a gift that he can truly describe as perfect.
- John Piper, “Isn’t Unlimited Atonement More Glorious Than Limited Atonement?,” https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/isn-t-unlimited-atonement-more-glorious-than-limited-atonement