“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
2 Corinthians 5:17
Jim Stovall’s story, The Ultimate Gift, describes the journey of the young, self-centered, irresponsible Jason Stevens, nephew of oil and gas tycoon, Red Stevens. Expecting to inherit a large portion of Red’s wealth after his death, Jason was disappointed to discover that he would get nothing unless he first completed twelve assignments his uncle planned for Jason before his death. These would be overseen by his old friend and attorney, Theodore Hamilton, to make sure each was completed as instructed.
You see, Red knew dumping material wealth into Jason’s lap would not bless him. He wanted him to get something better. He wanted his nephew to discover the ‘ultimate gift’, which the author describes as “life lived to its fullest”.
God’s gift of salvation is the real ‘ultimate gift’, but unlike Red Stevens, God does not require us to work for this gift. His ultimate gift is free, though paid for with a great price. It is the gift of eternal life for those who receive it, a gift fully realized after this life and at the Second Coming (another absolute truth). But is that all it is – a ticket to heaven?
Not according to Scripture. God’s gift is a gift that changes us the moment it is received. It’s what Jesus called the ‘abundant life’—life lived to its fullest in Red Steven’s words.
In other words, for the redeemed in Christ, the Gospel shapes everything we are and do. When once we were dead, in Christ we are made alive (Ephesians 2), in order that we might truly display His glory and grace in the here and now. This undeserved gift of eternal life produces a fundamental change (conversion) in us now.
Conversion is a word largely in disuse today, but it was once commonly employed to describe that process of the old being replaced by the new. Perhaps it is a word we ought to revive describing true followers of Christ as new creatures in Christ.
Salvation is not a free pass to heaven with no relevance to how we live our life now. Salvation is new birth in which our new hearts are unchained from the bondage of sin so we live to the praise of His glorious grace. It’s what Paul meant when he instructed us to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12). Let me ask you… would it be obvious to your grandchildren that God’s glory and grace is worked out in you?
Make the time to sit down with your grandchildren, regardless of their age, and share with them your journey of faith in Christ. They need to hear your story and how it has changed you. If you can’t share it with them in person, record it or write it out. God has made it clear that parents and grandparents are responsible to teach and tell the story of God’s grace and faithfulness. Your story is part of that grand story. Tell it!
Faith and works are like the light and heat of a candle; they cannot be separated.