God's Unspeakable Gift
Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable Gift'
(2 Cor. 9. 15).
MANY of us have thought a great deal about gifts during
the last few weeks. Some of us have experienced much joy in giving, others have
found a measure of delight, but not nearly so much as we possibly expected,
through receiving gifts. It is still true that "It is more blessed to give than
to receive," and I dare say the happiest people are not those who have received
the most, but those who have given the most. Particularly is this true if your
gifts have been largely to those in less comfortable circumstances than
yourself, and if you have sought to minister to the needs, to brighten the
homes of those in poverty, to bring a happy smile to the children's faces, and
to cheer weary and distressed mothers and fathers. It is a very blessed and
beautiful thing to make gifts in this way.
This is one of the by-products of Christianity. It is because our Lord Jesus Christ has Himself taught us the lesson that "It is more blessed to give than to receive," that we delight to make gifts in His Name. Even the world itself has caught the blessed infection, and unconverted people find a great deal of joy in sharing with others. And so as we think of gifts, our minds naturally go to the Supreme Gift which God in His marvellous grace has lavished upon a guilty world. "Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift."
There are four things about which I would like to speak.
First, I want to occupy you with the Giver;
second, with the excellency of the gift;
third, with the reception of the gift; and then a word of warning against refusing the gift.
I. THE GIVER
"WHO IS THE GIVER?" You remember when addressing the poor woman at the well, our Lord Jesus Christ said, "If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, give me to drink; thou wouldst have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water" (John 4. 10). God is the Giver. I wish we could get that clearly in our minds.
A great many people think of God as a merchantman; they think that He has something to sell; that He is going about offering His salvation to people if they are rich enough to purchase it. Thank God, He is too rich to sell His salvation. But if He were to put it up for sale; if He were to set a price on it in any sense commensurate with its value, neither you nor I could ever purchase it.
The parable in the thirteenth chapter of Matthew is one that is generally turned upside down. A merchantman came seeking goodly pearls, and "when he found one pearl of great price, he went and sold all he had and bought it." Almost invariably people make the merchantman the poor sinner, and the pearl God's salvation. But God's salvation is a free gift, and the pearl had to be purchased, so that interpretation is contrary to fact. We have nothing with which to buy God's salvation.
The real meaning of that parable surely is that our Lord Jesus Christ came from Heaven as the Merchantman with infinite riches at His disposal, and here in this poor dark world He found one pearl of great price, that vast company of men and women who were sunk in sin and iniquity, but who are to be made into the Body and Bride of the Lamb; and having fixed His love upon that pearl, He went and sold all that He had and bought it. Where did He make that great exchange? At Calvary's Cross. There on the Cross He sold all that He had and He shed His own most precious Blood, laid down His life in order that He might purchase the pearl which is to adorn His crown for eternity.
GOD IS A GIVER; He is not selling to people. Take all the great blessings that we enjoy. We get them freely from God; we cannot buy them. You cannot buy the fresh air that you breathe; you cannot buy the water from the rippling brook. Yes, men can bottle and sell it, but God gives it freely. All the blessings that He lavishes upon men are "without money and without price," and the great gift spoken of here is the expression of His infinite love.
The Minister' s Story
My wife's father was a minister of the Gospel. Singularly enough, though I learned to know him fairly well in the days I was pestering him in order to get his daughter, I had the privilege of hearing him preach only three times, but I remember those occasions quite clearly. I have never forgotten an illustration he used of a poor woman who had a very sick daughter. This poor mother went out to work as a char-woman. She had to earn a living for herself, and this child. By and by her daughter became convalescent, and was crying continually for some grapes, though it was winter. The poor mother could not think of purchasing them, for they could be gotten only at an exorbitant price, and yet always when she came home, the child would say, "Did you get me any grapes today?" She offered her other things that were within her means, but nothing satisfied. One day she had been called to work in a different district, a place where she had not been before, and passing a magnificent garden, she saw a great hot-house. Looking over the wall she could see luscious clusters of grapes hanging and ripening. She tried the gate, and finding it open, went in. Hurrying along the pathway she met the gardener who said, "What are you doing here? you have no business here. Don't you know that these are the king' s gardens?"
"Oh, sir," she said, "my daughter is sick at home, and she has been crying for grapes, and as I passed I saw the grapes in the hot-house. I have worked hard day after day and have just a shilling, but I will give it all for one bunch of those grapes."
"Get out of here, you have no business in here. I may lose my job for letting you in," and so he drove her out.
She thought, "I suppose he was angry with me because I offered only a shilling for a bunch of grapes. I will try and earn more money, and maybe he will respect my wishes then." And so she toiled on, and was able to save another shilling, and then forced her way again inside the gate, and once more met the gardener who said, "Didn't I tell you you must not come in here?"
"But look," she said, "I had only a shilling then; I have two now, and I want a bunch of those grapes for my poor sick daughter. Won't you sell me a bunch?" He started to tell her to get out, when a beautiful young lady came up, and said, "What is it, my good woman?"
"0 Ma'am, if you can do anything for me, won't you, please? My daughter is sick, and is crying continually for grapes, and I saw the beautiful clusters in the hot-house, and wanted to purchase some, but he won't sell them to me.
Look, I have two shillings, may I have just one bunch?"
"Oh, " said the young lady, "come with me," and she led the woman into the beautiful conservatory, and said, "Hold your apron." She snipped off one bunch and another and another, until the poor woman cried, "No more! I have only two shillings, don't give me any more."
"But I want your daughter to have all she needs; there is life and health in these grapes," and she snipped off more.
The woman finally said, "I am so grateful to you, here are the two shillings."
"Keep your money; my father is not a merchantman, he is the king, and he does not want your money. Take the grapes and tell your daughter they are sent by the princess herself, and are a gift from the king's conserva-tory.
"But I will be so glad to give you the two shillings. You are welcome to them."
"Oh, no! A king does not sell; a king delights to give."
I have never forgotten that simple illustration for it tells how the heart of God goes out to needy sinners. That was in the apostle's mind when he wrote, "Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift." God has nothing to sell to lost men; and again I repeat, if He were selling His salvation, you would be too poor to buy it, but because it is a gift you may have it for nothing, and may have it now.
II. THE EXCELLENCY OF THE GIFT
I do not know whether you have ever noticed it, but three times in the New Testament in our Authorised Version you have this adjective, "unspeakable." Here we read, "Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift." In the twelfth chapter of this book, the apostle tells us how he was caught up into Paradise, into the third Heaven, and he says he "heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter." And over in the Epistle of Peter, we read of "joy unspeakable and full of glory." The word is the same in each instance in our English Translation, but different in every case in the Greek where each term has a very distinct meaning.
When we read of "joy unspeakable and full of glory," the original word literally means, "unutterable," joy unutterable. When you are very very happy, can you find language to tell what it is like? Here is a young bride; she has just come down the aisle from the marriage altar, and her face is radiant. At her side is her proud young bridegroom. I won't ask the bride, but will ask the groom, "How do you feel now?"
He looks at me and says, "Bully!"
"What do you mean by that? That doesn't tell me anything."
"Well, " he says, "I feel great.
End of first Excerpt.
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