euphoria. Someone actually did a poll on this where out of 33 people, 67% stated they like giving gifts more than getting.
It's not difficult to understand the joy that comes through gift giving. But what about God? Do you think that God enjoys giving gifts? Okay, I probably shouldn't get into this area of "feelings" when it comes to God because I really don't have anything to support that; and that's not really where I want to focus on right now. However, God does seem to put a great deal of emphasis on gifts. On one side, Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers give us a few instances where gifts were given as part of the sacrifices to the Lord. And on the other, Ecclesiastes tells us how we should enjoy the good of our labor because it's the gift of God.
So you see an exchange of gifts between us and God. But do you honestly believe that we have anything on God when it comes to this area of giving gifts? Even though we don't always look at tithes as gifts, there's an instance where God gives us a challenge. In Malachi 3:10, God says, "'Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this,' Says the LORD of hosts, 'If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.'"
That's quite the challenge, isn't it? Is it possible to outgive God? Of course not! But Jesus even goes further than that. In teaching about our relationships with God and others, Jesus shows how God the Father even goes beyond the substance of the gifts. In Matthew 7:11, Jesus says, "If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" In Luke 11:13, Jesus is quoted with an even greater emphasis on the gift Himself, "If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Do you see that? God is giving Himself. But that's not all! Look at John 3:16, "For 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." God gave his Son!
Wow. If that doesn't grab your attention, I don't know what will. But for John 3:16 to make any sense to you, you have to know why God had to give His one and only Son...and how. The why can be answered by looking at our text:
Death Through Adam, Life Through Christ
12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—
13 To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. 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 is a pattern of the one to come.
15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!
18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
20 The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
"But the gift is not like the trespass." In the gift that came by Jesus we see the answer to the question, "why?" It was because of the trespass. Because of sin, death reigned. Death had a stronghold over man because of the trespass of the one man, Adam. By God's design, He demonstrated a pattern by which grace and eternal life would come to man. Much in the same way that sin and death entered the picture through Adam, grace and life would come to man through Jesus Christ. Beyond what can be mentioned here, the simple answer to the why is that God had to demonstrate His justice and righteousness while at the same time offering hope and life. The only way to do this was to send His Son Jesus to live as fully man and fully God and offer Him up as a sacrifice on the cross at Calvary as the sacrificial lamb of God. Jesus would pay the full just penalty due for our sins. But on the other end of the cross, Jesus rose again from the grave and defeated sin, death, hell, and Satan all in one fell swoop. And through His resurrection, Jesus offers those who place their faith in Him everlasting life. That's the how.
Despite this pattern, there's much to contrast between what occurred with Adam and Jesus. First, Romans 6:23 tells us that the "wages of sin is death." Death is the result of something we deserved. That came as the result of Adam's trespass. John Piper has a good way of describing this.
...here the parallel between the two masters (sin and God) utterly breaks down. Sin will have absolutely no say and no hand in the gift of eternal life. But God will have total say and a sovereign hand in the wage of eternal death. Here is another great tragedy about sin's slaves. They keep thinking he is a true master because he seems to reward them with things they like. In fact, he is no true master at all, but a pretender to the throne. And in the end he simply disappears and leaves his slaves before the judgment of God. That's the real meaning of death, the judgment of God.
Hell is the wage that sin pays in the same way that a prostitute's venereal disease and prison sentence is the wage that a pimp pays. They don't really pay it. They just lure and deceive and lie and drain and ruin, and then disappear, and leave their slaves sick and guilty before the courts – before the judgment of God.
Contrast that with the second part of that verse, "but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Eternal life is a gift, not something we earned. We had nothing to do with it. It was all the result of what Jesus did. Again, look at how John Piper writes on this.
But all the slaves of God go into eternity with God as their Giver. That's what eternal life means. God remains the giver forever and ever. There will never be a time when God is not giving more new joys to his people. God will never run out of gifts and cease to be Giver. He will never cease to be God.
Ephesians 2:7 is one of the most amazing promises in this regard. Paul says that God raised us up with Christ, "so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus." Do you see what this means? It means that eternal life is what it will take for God to exhaust the riches of his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. The gifts he has for us in himself are infinite in number and perfection. Therefore it will take eternity to give them to us for our enjoyment. There will be a never-ending display of new and wonderful things about God and from God for us to enjoy.
There will be no boredom in the age to come. His mercies will be new every morning. Therefore the reservoir of blessings to prompt the pleasures of gratitude will grow larger and larger. And the river of blessings still flowing from the future will never decrease, because the source is infinite. And you remember the definition of infinite: something is infinite if it can give away forever and never get smaller. Infinite gives and gives and gives and never becomes less. Eternal life will be the never-ending giving of God to make us ever-increasingly happy in all that he is for us in Jesus.
The contrast in Romans 6:23 reinforces what the text is telling us in verse 15, "But the gift is not like the trespass." Paul tells us that many died because of the trespass of Adam. But tells us that God's grace and the gift (which is life) overflowed more to the many. Paul even goes on to say that God's gift cannot even be compared to the result of man's sin. He says this because judgment followed one sin. On the other hand, the gift followed many trespasses. The one brings condemnation, the other brings justification.
The best part of all of this? That God, through His infinite wisdom brought in the law after the trespass. It sounds like a bad thing, but on the contrary it's the best thing that could have happened. Verse 20 tells us that the law actually increased the significance of the trespass. By doing so, it had the indirect result of making grace that much more significant. Paul says, "where sin increased, grace increased all the more." As a result of this? "Sin reigned in death...grace reigned through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Praise God! We have hope and it's all because of Jesus!