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The Father’s gift: His people are of inestimable value

While all gifts are special, there are some we absolutely treasure. This greater attachment might be due to the occasion, the thoughtfulness, or the giver of the gift. I remember receiving a digital keyboard from my parents for one of my birthdays, and it wasn’t a cheap little thing. I had demonstrated an affinity for playing music on the home organ or piano, and they wanted to encourage me with this special gift. I still have it and my children use it to this day.

A precious gift

There is, of course, no better gift-giver than our heavenly Father, and when we think about our heavenly Father’s best gift, we think of Christ who was God’s gift to us. There is no bigger gift!

However, in this article, I want to explore another precious gift the Father has given, this one to his Son. And that gift is you!

When we consider the Father’s great love for us, we need to pause a moment. Why does God love us? I am inclined to say, “because Christ died for us,” but isn’t that backward? Consider John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son.” God’s love for us is what caused Him to send his Son.

Or consider Romans 8:5: “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Because He loves us, He sent Christ to die for us. Christ’s suffering, Christ’s death is the ultimate expression of God’s love for us. We are very precious in the sight of our Father. We are a great treasure to Him. But He will not let us remain miserable and stained by sin – He loves us too much for that! That is why He sent his Son.

When He was on earth, the Lord Jesus understood his mission and purpose. The Father had a people whom He loved from before the foundation of the earth, but they had become wretched sinners. In order for these beloved people of the Father to be declared holy, righteous, and acceptable in his sight, the Father needed them to be washed. And this was accomplished through the blood of Christ.

From Father to Son

But the Father gifted his treasured possession to his Son. Let’s consider John 6. In this chapter, Christ has fed approximately 5,000 people with only five loaves of bread and two fish. It was a miracle. He then teaches those who followed Him across the sea, that He was the greater bread from heaven. Using metaphor and analogy, the people would not understand what Christ was saying when He told them that they had to eat of his flesh, etc. Now, consider what He says in verse 37: “All that the Father gives me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me I will never cast out.” Jesus makes it clear that He receives those whom the Father gives to Him.

He says it again in verse 39: “And this is the will of Him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that He has given me, but raise it up on the last day.” Christ understands his purpose. What He is doing on earth has everlasting consequences – even the resurrection of the dead!

Let’s also consider John 17: 1-2, the opening words of Christ’s high priestly prayer:

“Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given Him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given Him.“

Christ has come to earth as God’s gift to his beloved, and to receive the Father’s gift of those very same people. Christ came to save, redeem, and receive specific persons: the ones whom the Father loved and gave to his Son. John 17:9-10 reads:

“I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.”

Both Gift and Gift-receiver

And finally in John 17:24:

“Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.”

Christ delights in being the gift of the Father and receiving us as gift from the Father. All true believers need to consider the significance of this truth. The Father loves us so much that He sent his Son, to humble Himself, taking on the form of man and suffering on the cross.

And the Son does this because He loves his Father, and He loves us! He died for us, while we were still sinners, while we were still unclean and unworthy. It is only by his death that we have been made worthy, made alive to live in that loving fellowship with God! Christ is not the only gift of the Father. Yes, Christ is the greatest gift, together with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, but you and I also are gifts from the Father; gifts sent from the Father to his Son. That’s how precious you are!

It is my hope that we truly understand how precious we are in the sight of our Triune God. For the Spirit loves us too, and causes us to love God rightly. In Romans 15:30 we read, “I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit…” More of the working of the Spirit could be written, but my point here has been to focus on the precious place we have in the relationship between the Father and the Son.

If we struggle with a sense of worthlessness, or a sense of insignificance, we must call to mind that in the sight of God we are precious and of inestimable value. If that weren’t the case, why would the Father have sent his Son? Indeed, our value is not rooted in who we are, but in Whose we are! That makes all the difference! I hope we can be encouraged by this great truth that the Father loved us so much that He sent his Son to suffer and die for us, and He shared his very treasured possession (you) with his Son. Let’s live a life excelling in thanksgiving!

Dr. Chris deBoer is host of the Focal Point podcast.

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“Whose am I?”

Are you your job? Does your gender define who you are? Your ethnicity? Your feelings? Or is your identify found in a truth far more substantial and stable…and controversial?  ***** Crazy, out-dated, offensive– these are a few of the words we could expect to hear if, in the midst of our culture’s identity debates, we offered up this answer: “I am not my own…” This is the first line of the very first answer in the Heidelberg Catechism and it’ll seem all the more absurd when we share the question that prompts it: “What is your only comfort in life and in death?”It’s common enough for people to struggle with their purpose in life, and to want to know what happens after death, so the world can appreciate a question like this one. But the answer? That’ll strike most as incredibly out of line with 21stCentury thinking! I couldn’t agree more. A stumbling block… The first question and answer in the Heidelberg Catechism is more relevant and more revolutionary today than when it was first penned. Here is Lord’s Day 1 in full: What is your only comfort in life and in death? That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation. Therefore, by his Holy Spirit he also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for him. The confession that “I belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ” may be a stumbling block for many. My body is not my own? My life is not my own to do with as I please? What do you mean, “Christ has fully paid for all my sins…?” He bought you and He set you free? How does that work? Doesn’t His purchase of you, make you His? If you are His, are you really free? Isn’t it hyperbole to suggest that “without the will of your heavenly Father not a hair can fall from your head?” Why would God care about such minute details? If God controls all these things, are you experiencing true freedom? These are real objections that people utter when they consider what it means to become a Christian. They find the instruction of Christ in Luke 9: 23- 24 too much: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” While Christians understand that their identity is in Christ, others cannot fathom giving up their autonomy, denying themselves, or submitting their entire being to Him. They would rather create their own sense of identity, and they might even consider adding a slice of religion to their life…but only a slice. Christians confess Christ as Lord of their whole life but the world says, “I am my own god. They put self at the center, and rank everything else by how relevant it is to the all-important me. Whether it is my job, my sexual orientation, my race, my religion or lack thereof, my children, my spouse, etc., these are just aspects that contribute to my self-made identity. When we are Christ’s it changes everything When we die to sin and self, and have Christ as Lord of our life, it’s then that we find our true identity. As a result, it is not my job, my spouse, my children, or my race that give me my meaning. It is belonging to Christ, living by the power of the Holy Spirit, and being a child of the Father, that sets me free! The implications of this are profound! This changes how I view my wife, a fellow believer and saint belonging to Christ. She is not simply a spouse; she is a sister-in-Christ, with whom I have a very special relationship. She is a gift of God and I must treat her as Christ treats the church. I must do all that I can to husband her and to cause her to flourish. This has implications for me as a dad. I do not just have children; I have covenant children. My wife and I must work in harmony with God’s Word and Spirit, together, to train and instruct our children in the way that they should go. When they grow older, this training will not leave them (Prov. 22:6). I need to disciple my children and care for them as a representative of the Father’s perfect love for us. It impacts my work. I am not simply a teacher – I am a teacher of God’struth, and I need to work hard to ensure that this is what students receive. I am a teacher of God’s covenant children and need to assist parents in training the youth of the church in godliness, training them to fulfill the calling they have as children of God. This also has implications for how I treat my physical self. My body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, the living God! My body, heart, soul, and mind belong to him! I need to be intentional in what I let my body and my mind ingest. I have to treat my body as God so desires and that means being faithful to my wife, even prior to marriage. I have to be careful with my heart, fighting against covetousness and discontent. That means waking up every day with an attitude of gratitude – this day provides me another opportunity to serve Him; may all my efforts be directed rightly! Conclusion The list could go on and on, couldn’t it? There is not a single corner of my life that is not under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The way I spend money, time, and other resources, the kinds of friends I keep, the movies I watch, the attention I give to my Winnipeg Jets – all of this is under the Lordship of Jesus Christ! This is truly a marvel: I am not my own, I belong to Jesus Christ; He paid for me and He set me free! He set me free to serve Him, to find my identity in Him. My life, my entire life is hidden in Christ! I am free indeed! If this freedom eludes you, reach out to those you know who have this joy. It is not frivolous, meaningless, or constant. This joy ebbs and flows with the challenges of every day life. But it is deeply rooted and gives true meaning and purpose to life. This joy and freedom lets us live in joy under our King, Jesus Christ. I am not my own, I belong to my faithful Saviour, Jesus Christ. To Him alone belongs all glory! Chris deBoer is the Executive Director of the Reformed Perspective Foundation and host of the Focal Point podcast....