Inflation and Free Gifts

Scripture: Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 6:23, John 3:16
In an age of inflation and increasing prices in the cost of living, the Bible teaches us the greatest thing we could ever own is the free gift of salvation. We cannot earn this gift, we can only, by faith, receive it. Though free, it was the costliest thing in the Universe.
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Authorities tell us that it now costs $118.30 to buy the same bag of groceries that we could buy 4 years ago for only $100.00. Every month the price of groceries, clothing, shoes, rent, and automobiles edges up just a little bit. By the end of the year it has taken a huge bite out of the family income. Every effort to stop inflation, every effort to turn it in the other direction has failed. Nothing has actually prevented the gradual escalation of living costs in almost every category. Economic committees are still trying to come to grips with the inflation monster. The result: millions of people in the United States living below the government-prescribed subsistence level.

But listen friends, I have some good news for you. I know something that is free, and it is worth more than groceries, or automobiles, or houses; and you will agree with me when I tell you what it is.

There is nothing clearer in the Bible, and it is described in Ephesians 2:8, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God." There it is, friends. Salvation is a "gift of God." You can't buy it. You can't earn it. If you get it, you must take it free as God gives it to you in Christ His Son.

Suppose, now, for a moment, that you could work your way to heaven, or that you could pay your way in like you buy a ticket to a baseball game. We would have a heaven full of "boasters." One man would say, "I worked harder to get here than you did." And another man would chime in, "I worked harder to get here than either one of you." A rich man would brag, "I paid a million dollars cold cash for my citizenship." Well, depend on it, friends, God is not going to have that kind of heaven. The Bible says, "Not of works, lest any man should boast." Ephesians 2:9. There will be no boasters and no braggarts in God's Paradise. We all get there on the same basis. We take salvation as a free gift in Christ Jesus, or we don't take it at all.

Listen to Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." You can earn "death," but you can't earn salvation. Salvation is the "gift of God through Jesus Christ." There is nothing so wonderful, there is nothing so desirable, and it is free, no work, no pay.

I know you will remember John 3:16. You have probably memorized it sometime. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." It is "believe and be saved," or failing that, to be lost. Please notice how specific the Bible is about this eternal life: "And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son." Again, we see that eternal life is a free gift from God, and we see further that it is in His Son. Jesus said when He was here: "I am the way, the truth and the life."

John tells us again, "He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." And it is just like that, friends. You have Christ, the Son, and you have life, eternal life. But if you don't have the Son, you don't have life. It is just that simple. Either you do or you don't. Either you have accepted Christ, or you haven't. Either you have been "born again" or you haven't. Life is in Christ, accept Him and you have it. When do you have it? Let Jesus answer that: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life." That is "present tense," friends. When you receive Jesus Christ as your Saviour, you have eternal life.

Let me illustrate. Suppose I hold a genuine dollar bill in my hand. I say to you, "If you'll take this dollar bill, I'll give it to you." You hesitate a moment, but convinced that I am sincere, you take it. All right, now, when did the dollar bill become yours? "When you gave it to me," you say. No, when you took it. As long as the dollar was in my hand, it was mine. But the moment you took it, it became yours. That is exactly the way it is with your salvation. God offers you free salvation in His Son, Jesus Christ. When you take Christ, like you took the dollar bill, you have eternal life. How is that? You have the Author of eternal life, you have Christ, so you have eternal life.

The reason we must have a Saviour is that we are all sinners. Romans 3:10, 23 tells us that very thing: "There is none righteous, no, not one....For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." You can search the nations, you can go up and down in the world and from East to West in it, and you will find nothing but sinners. Yes, I know, that is a sorry commentary on the human race, but it is true. That is the reason Jesus came. He came to seek and to save that which was lost.

So you see, friends, the plan of salvation is not incomprehensible or even difficult. You neither work for it or buy it with little or much. It is a "free gift." You simply take it out of God's hand as you took the dollar bill out of mine. Salvation is free to every sinner, but because it is free, does that mean that it costs nothing? You can accept this as a certainty. Your salvation is the most costly thing in the universe of God, not to you, but to God. It cost God His Son, the Prince of heaven. The Father "laid on him the iniquity of us all." He made Christ to be "sin for us."

The most devastating thing that ever came to the human race was Adam's sin in which he plunged mankind into the abyss of sin. The most amazing, the most astonishing, the most phenomenal thing that ever came to the world was the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on Calvary. Angels of God looked over the ramparts of heaven, with hushed song, as their beloved Commander paid the supreme penalty for sin. Inhabitants of other worlds gazed upon the scene in wonderment, almost unbelief. This was without precedent. When, in time, had man's Creator died to become his Redeemer?

Jesus walked the path of obedience. He did not fail or become discouraged. Even when His friends deserted Him and fled, He persevered. In apparent defeat He was wonderfully victorious. Now He is willing, waiting, to share His victory of the cross with you. He will take your sins and give you His righteousness. And listen out there: If you are a bargain hunter, if you like to get the most for your money, try and beat that at the grocery store, or Ford, or General Motors dealer.

What did your salvation cost? To you, the recipient of this wonderful boon, nothing. What did it cost Christ? "He trod the winepress alone." He was deserted, forsaken in that hour. He was separated from His Father and in anguish cried out: "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" What did it cost the Father? What would it cost you fathers and mothers if your only, well-beloved son or daughter lay dying, and did die? Well, that is what it cost the heavenly Father.

We have seen what the sinner's salvation cost the Father and the Son. What, now, is the sinner's part? It is to cooperate in your own salvation. It is to give Jesus the supreme lordship of your life. It is to enthrone Him in your heart as Lord and Master. And, believe me, that is what it will take. God can accept nothing less than that, and in view of Calvary, can we give less than that? Jesus made the supreme sacrifice for us, for sinners, for those who hated Him. Is it asking too much for sinners to step completely over the line, to turn their lives over to Him without reserve? Paul is one man who did just that. "I am crucified with Christ," He declared. Previously, Paul had gone all the way in opposition to Christ, persecuting and killing the saints. But after the Damascus Road encounter, it was a different story, it was the other way around. He said: "For me to live is Christ."

And, friends, for any of us to live is Christ. That is to say, "There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." Acts 4:12. Despite the assertions of some preachers, there are not many roads to heaven. The Father has not provided many Saviours, only one. But listen to me now. That one is completely adequate. "He is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." Hebrews 7:25.

The transformed sinner, the redeemed saint must grant Jesus the Lordship over his life. Is this to his advantage? Oh, definitely. Yes, there is present advantage. God wants the very best things to happen to you, but more than that He has an eye upon your eternal welfare. He wants you to live on and on through endless time. In other words, He wants you to have what Jesus paid for on the cross.

"Come unto me," Jesus invites, "all ye that labor and are heavy laden." Have you wondered why there is so much unrest in the world at present? Men and women, the world around, do not have Jesus. They labor, they are heavy laden, but only as they come to Jesus will they have rest. "Take my yoke upon you," the Lord urges. And please listen: You will find no rest unless you do, but you will find rest when you do. You see, it is like this: When you take Jesus' yoke, then He yokes up with you and helps you with the load. Wonderful, isn't it? Now, don't get the idea that this won't work. This is actual. It is real. Jesus will do just that.

Jesus spoke about "denying self," about taking up your cross daily and following Him. He talked about keeping the commandments. You may not like to "deny yourself." You may not like to take up your cross every day. You may not like to obey. But friends, listen to me real carefully. Would your Creator, your Redeemer, Jesus, ask you to do anything that was not for your best present and eternal good? You know that you can trust the hand that was nailed to the cross, you can trust the Son of God who loved you and gave Himself for you.

I have just a little time before I leave you for today, but before I go, let me recapitulate: Your salvation is free to you. It doesn't cost you a penny or a minute at hard labor. In truth, you cannot buy it and you cannot earn it. You must accept it as a gift through Jesus Christ, or do without it. That is the basis upon which God offers His heaven and His eternity. This precludes all boasting.

It is the sick who need a physician, it is the sinner who needs a Saviour. All in the world are sinners, but the merits of the crucified One will suffice to save every person who repents, who turns away from his wrong doing, to righteousness. But because salvation is free, don't imagine that it cost nothing. It cost the best heaven had, God's Son, the Crown Prince of the universe.

You don't work to get your salvation, but you work after you have it. God has a work and witnessing program that will delight and engross you as long as you live. Did not Jesus say: "If ye love me, keep my commandments." John 14:15.

Remember how you loved your mother at ten. You delighted to bring her the largest tomato out of the garden, the prettiest peach, the nicest apple. Why? Because you loved her, that is why. And that is exactly the way it is with the Lord Jesus. You love Him, He died for you, He is supreme in your life, so you delight to obey Him. And it is never a hardship. It is a pleasure.

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