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Gifts from God

The Foundation of His Relationship with Us

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Most relationships are based on real or perceived promises, commitments and expectations. For example, the marriage relationship is founded on promises of love, commitment, honor and respect. A friendship has expectations of understanding, trust, honesty and shared interests.

The primary basis for the relationship between God and us is simple: It is love . The Scriptures tell us that God’s nature, the primary motivation in all He does, is love—an unselfish concern for all humanity. This is expressed by the apostle John: “And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love , and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16 1 John 4:16And we have known and believed the love that God has to us. God is love; and he that dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him.
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). John adds, “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19 1 John 4:19We love him, because he first loved us.
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Love is often expressed through giving. Jesus advised: “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:38 Luke 6:38Give, and it shall be given to you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that you mete with it shall be measured to you again.
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). As Paul explained, “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7 2 Corinthians 9:7Every man according as he purposes in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loves a cheerful giver.
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Gifts can enhance relationships, and God is the greatest giver of all (James 1:17 James 1:17Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no ficklenss, neither shadow of turning.
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Paul tells us: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8 Ephesians 2:8For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
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Let’s now examine some important gifts from God. He intends that they all contribute to our receiving, as a gift from Him, eternal life.

What great gift most demonstrates God’s love for us?

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 John 3:16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
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God’s greatest gift of love is the redemptive sacrifice of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the penalty for our sins. Through Christ and His sacrifice, we can have direct access to God and His gift of salvation.

Does God offer another special gift?

“No man is able to come to me if he is not given the power to do so by the Father” (John 6:65 John 6:65And he said, Therefore said I to you, that no man can come to me, except it were given to him of my Father.
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, Bible in Basic English).

God’s calling is a special gift not yet offered to everyone. Jesus explained this to His disciples. When they asked Him why He spoke in parables, He responded: “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given” (Matthew 13:10-11 Matthew 13:10-11 10 And the disciples came, and said to him, Why speak you to them in parables? 11 He answered and said to them, Because it is given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
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Those who are being called to everlasting life in this age are called “firstfruits” (James 1:18 James 1:18Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.
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; Romans 8:22-23 Romans 8:22-23 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now. 23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
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; Hebrews 12:22-23 Hebrews 12:22-23 22 But you are come to mount Sion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
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). This common scriptural term applied to the first part of a harvest, a portion given to God. God’s human firstfruits are few in number (Luke 12:32 Luke 12:32Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
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). Their invitation to eternal life comes now. A beautiful part of God’s plan, however, is that, after the return of Jesus Christ, God’s calling—His invitation to enter into a personal relationship with Him—will extend to all of humanity. Many, many others will then be part of God’s much greater harvest.

When God extends to us the gift of His calling, He must offer us another special gift before we can respond to Him in this relationship.

What does God offer in conjunction with His calling?

“And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth” (2 Timothy 2:24-25 2 Timothy 2:24-25 24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle to all men, apt to teach, patient, 25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
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Repentance is a gift God grants to those who willingly accept His invitation or calling. In granting us repentance, God gives us the ability to see ourselves as He sees us—as we really are rather than how we perceive ourselves. Without this important spiritual insight, we remain spiritually blinded and cannot respond to God’s calling.

It is only when we come to see our shortcomings and our unimportance in comparison to God and in the light of His Word that we may genuinely repent. “But on this one will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word” (Isaiah 66:2 Isaiah 66:2For all those things has my hand made, and all those things have been, said the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at my word.
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When we realistically see our insignificance and helplessness compared with the greatness and power of God, we should be humbled. This humbling leads us to want to change, to repent.

When we repent God forgives us and covers our sins with the gift of forgiveness. Notice John’s explanation in his first epistle: “ If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9 1 John 1:8-9 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
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Notice that little word if . Some of God’s actions toward us are conditional, based on our behavior. He expects positive responses from us if our relationship with Him is to progress. Just as in human relationships, the more positively we respond to Him, the more He graciously responds to us. Thus our relationship with Him deepens and grows.

For example, when God forgives us He forgets our past sins. “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more” (Hebrews 8:12 Hebrews 8:12For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.
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; compare Psalms 103:11-13 Psalms 103:11-13 11 For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. 12 As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. 13 Like as a father pities his children, so the LORD pities them that fear him.
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What gift follows repentance and forgiveness?

“Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’ ” (Acts 2:38 Acts 2:38Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
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Jesus Christ promised the gift of God’s Spirit (Acts 10:45 Acts 10:45And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.
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) just before His crucifixion: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, . . . will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26 John 14:26But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatever I have said to you.
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). God provides this gift to aid and comfort Christ’s true disciples (John 14:16-17 John 14:16-17 16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it sees him not, neither knows him: but you know him; for he dwells with you, and shall be in you.
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God will give us His Spirit if we respond positively to His calling and repent. He also instructs us to be baptized that we may receive this gift.

This illustrates something we read earlier. Expectations exist within any relationship. God expects us to respond to His gift of repentance by committing ourselves to Him through water baptism.

The Bible shows that, after baptism, God gives His Spirit through the laying on of hands (Acts 8:14-19 Acts 8:14-19 14 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John: 15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: 16 (For as yet he was fallen on none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) 17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. 18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, 19 Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.
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). Paul encouraged Timothy, “stir up the gift of God [His Spirit] which is in you through the laying on of my hands” (2 Timothy 1:6-7 2 Timothy 1:6-7 6 Why I put you in remembrance that you stir up the gift of God, which is in you by the putting on of my hands. 7 For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
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). This laying on of hands normally should occur immediately after water baptism.

God said we become a part of His Church—the Body of Christ—through baptism. “For by one spirit we were all baptized into one body” (1 Corinthians 12:13 1 Corinthians 12:13For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
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God simply does not make His Spirit available to the unrepentant. Jesus Christ describes God’s Spirit as something “the world cannot receive” (John 14:17 John 14:17Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it sees him not, neither knows him: but you know him; for he dwells with you, and shall be in you.
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). God gives it only to those He calls and chooses. Those whom He is not now calling will have their opportunity later. (For a fuller understanding of repentance and baptism and God’s calling and choosing of His servants, please request our free booklet The Road to Eternal Life .)

Does God impose another condition for giving us His Spirit?

“And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit [which] God has given to those who obey Him” (Acts 5:32 Acts 5:32And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God has given to them that obey him.
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Again we read of responsibilities for those who enter a special relationship with God. He expects them to make every effort to obey Him.

Obedience to God’s ways leads to a positive fellowship with Him (1 John 1:3-7 1 John 1:3-7 3 That which we have seen and heard declare we to you, that you also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things write we to you, that your joy may be full. 5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleans us from all sin.
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). Having God’s Spirit will help us seek God’s will and follow His ways, developing His nature and character in us. Christ promised the Father would send a “Helper” (the Holy Spirit) that would assist His disciples in discerning between sin and righteousness and lead them into truth (John 14:16-26 John 14:16-26 16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it sees him not, neither knows him: but you know him; for he dwells with you, and shall be in you. 18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while, and the world sees me no more; but you see me: because I live, you shall live also. 20 At that day you shall know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 He that has my commandments, and keeps them, he it is that loves me: and he that loves me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. 22 Judas said to him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world? 23 Jesus answered and said to him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our stayed with him. 24 He that loves me not keeps not my sayings: and the word which you hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me. 25 These things have I spoken to you, being yet present with you. 26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatever I have said to you.
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; John 15:26 John 15:26But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceeds from the Father, he shall testify of me:
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; John 16:7 John 16:7Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send him to you.
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What important gift does God promise us if we are genuinely repentant and become converted?

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23 Romans 6:23For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
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Paul tells us God imparts eternal life as a gift. God looks forward to sharing this gift with us because He has planned this gift for mankind since the “foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34 Matthew 25:34Then shall the King say to them on his right hand, Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
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). Eternal life in God’s family is the hope of all those who follow God (1 John 3:1-3 1 John 3:1-3 1 Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knows us not, because it knew him not. 2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3 And every man that has this hope in him purifies himself, even as he is pure.
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; Titus 1:2 Titus 1:2In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;
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).

God has many gifts for us. They range from His calling to His priceless gift of eternal life. His gifts naturally follow one another as we begin to respond to Him and our relationship with Him grows (Romans 8:30 Romans 8:30Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
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Commitments and promises make up a major part of any edifying relationship. What commitments and promises does God offer us?

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