John 3.16 is more than a verse, it is the essence of God. 1 John 4 says that God is love. And the Bible is replete with examples of God giving. So, God is loving and God is giving. These two ideas are perfectly compatible with one another.
But when we say God is giving, we can break that into multiple parts because, after all, God is multiple Persons – Father, Son, and Spirit. As we gather today, we are merely two days before we officially celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Son of God. And we know that God gave us Jesus and Jesus gave His life. But is that all? After all, it is more than we could have expected and certainly more than we deserve, but the reality is that each Person of the Godhead is giving because the fullness of God is giving.
Now, some may question how one Being can be three distinct Persons. It is a fair question, and honestly, the concept is impossible for our minds to understand. Any attempt at explanation is futile because even though God has made Himself available as a person, in His totality, He is beyond explanation. But, let us take a few moments to explore the idea that God is really Three in One. I have included a few below that contain all three persons of God within a single verse. The picture above provides a bit of visualization of the relationship with each Person and their relationship with one another. Again, no representation is perfect, but, some are wrong. This one may be incomplete, but it is at least accurate in what it does share.
Here are a few verses that mention all three members of the Trinity in the one verse.
- Matthew 28.19
- Luke 3.22
- Romans 8.9
- 2 Corinthians 13.14
- Galatians 4.6
- Ephesians 2.18
- Hebrews 9.14
- Isaiah 48.6 (For good measure, here is a verse from the Old Testament)
The point of this is to show that God is, indeed, three distinct persons and yet is a single God. As such, when we say God is giving (which is the basic premise of this sermon series), we should consider which Person of God is doing the giving. Ultimately, what we must realize is that God has given us Himself. But if God gave us Himself, and God is multiple persons, let us consider, during this Christmas season what gifts each Person of God has given.
God the Father
- The Father gave us purpose. (Isaiah 64.8)
- The Father gives us spiritual blessings. (Ephesians 1.3)
- The Father gives good and perfect gifts. (James 1.17)
- The Father gives us new life. (1 Peter 1.3)
- The Father gives us compassion. (Psalm 103.13)
- The Father gave us the Son. (1 John 4.14).
God the Son
- The Son gives us salvation. (Acts 4.12)
- The Son gave us Creation. (John 1.3)
- The Son gives us understanding. (1 John 5.20)
- The Son gives us eternal life. (John 11.25)
- The Son gives us access to the Father. (John 14.6)
- The Son gives us the Spirit. (John 14.26; 15.26)
God the Spirit
- The Spirit gives us the ability to talk to God. (Romans 8.26)
- The Spirit gives us hope. (Romans 15.13)
- The Spirit gives us fruit. (Galatians 5.22-23)
- The Spirit gives us assurance. (Ephesians 1.13-14, 4.30)
- The Spirit gives us teaching. (John 14.26)
- The Spirit gives us witness about Jesus. (John 15.26)
The verses shown here may not represent traditional verses for a blog post at Christmas. But if Christmas is about Christ, then it is about giving. And if Christmas is about giving, then it is about God. And if giving is about God, then we need to know what God has given – not generally, but specifically.
Over the previous three weeks, the posts have more generically covered the gifts God has given. He has given us life. He has given us time, treasure, and talent. And He has given us relationships – those we call family, those who are friends, and those who are others. So, today, we get specific on which Person of God gives certain aspects to us. But, in the remaining few minutes I want to talk about the gift that the Gift gave us. That is, God the Father gave the gift of the Son, but the Son has given us a gift that we must not overlook. Because the Son’s gift to us is even better than the jelly of the month club. You know that club is “the gift that keeps on giving the whole year” – as we are reminded by cousin Eddie (Johnson), in the movie Christmas Vacation. See, the gift from Jesus is not only His sacrifice, but a part of God Himself in the Person of the Holy Spirit. Below are two verses mentioned above. They are mention in both the section on God the Son and God the Spirit (and could be included in the Father’s section as well.
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. – John 14.26
But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. – John 15.26
God gave us Himself. He gave of Himself as the Father. He gave Himself fully as the Son. And He is still giving to us Himself as the Spirit. And the Spirit is a gift from Jesus to you – not just on the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus, but all day, every day, until you are with Jesus again. Think about this! Nothing you receive this Christmas, or at any other time of the year, is greater than the gifts that God has provided. But the danger of Christmas is leaving Jesus as a baby in manger. Yes, Jesus had to come as a baby because that is how humans come into the world. And Jesus was fully human. But, if we only see Jesus as a baby, we miss the point of why He really came – to be our Redeemer, our Savior. And, if we leave Him on the cross, then we miss the point that He not only came to die; rather, He came to live and that required Him to rise again.
And that is the true gift of Jesus. He gave us life. But not just life beyond this life. He gave us the opportunity to truly live now. But for us to truly live, He had to remain with us in some way. See, we say Jesus is in our hearts, but truly it is the Spirit who is with us. Jesus is fully God, but He is also fully man, and thus is limited in where He can be. But the Bible says God is Spirit (John 4.24) and the Spirit can be, and is, everywhere. Thus, it is the Spirit that Jesus promised to send as a gift when He, the Son, departed this earth.
What does the Spirit do? He helps us know God. He bears witness about Jesus. Without the Spirit we would know little; we would understand even less. Jesus promised His disciples the Spirit would teach them all things and He is still teaching us today. Furthermore, it is the Spirit who helps us prepare for our life beyond this life by changing us to be people of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and to live with self-control. It is the Spirit who allows us to truly live our life on this earth and make true the statement – “on earth as it is in heaven.”
The Son of God came in form of a baby only to become a man who would die because of His love for us. But the Holy Spirit is God’s continual gift to us – so that we might live now, and not just wait until eternity. For those who receive the gift of the Son, Jesus includes the gift of the Spirit for the entirety of our lives. The Son came and we celebrate His birth, and while we celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day we call Pentecost, we must understand that the Spirit is ultimately Jesus’ gift to us. So, as you celebrate this week, as you exchange gifts this week, or even if you find this week to be the most painful of weeks, remember that, if nothing else, the coming of Jesus was the Father’s gift to you, and the going of Jesus, was necessary to allow His gift to come to you in the Person of the Holy Spirit.
The whole point of this message – and this series – is to show that our God is a God who gives. The Bible says that we are created in the image of God, so while we are not perfect, and do not love or give perfectly, any expression of our love towards others and our giving to others is a reflection of the loving and giving nature of God – as Father, as Son, and as Spirit. But, as we prepare to celebrate the birth of the Messiah (Christ) this week, it is only fitting that...
The JOURNEY letter for this week is: J – JESUS.
Jesus is the Gift. And Jesus has given us gifts. We may not perfectly understand it, but our lack of understanding does not make it true. I don’t understand a lot of things – like cows eating grass and making milk or how putting on plastic glasses on allows me to see movies in 3D or how I can talk or text on a phone without any wires and the right person hears or sees my message. I could list countless other aspects of life that I use that I don’t understand, but they are real. And so is the love of Jesus. And so is His gift to you. But the question is what will you do with His gift to you?
PRINCIPLE: God is a giving God – in the present tense. Therefore, Jesus has not just given us something in the past (salvation); rather, He is still giving us something in the present (the Spirit) for us to know and serve God better.
QUESTION: What will I do with the gift(s) that Jesus has given to me?
NEXT STEP(S): LEAD: Jesus’ gifts are for us, but not for us alone. We are to take what we have received and share it with others. That is, we are to make disciples, we are to lead others. He has gifted us so that we can extend His gift to others. So, let us be both receivers and givers of the gifts God has given, both this week and in all our years to come.