[Column] The Greatest Gift

Everyone loves gift. What is the greatest gift you have ever received? It is the gift of salvation and eternal life. Here eternal life means to experience divine life for eternity in the. Man can live everlasting life even in Hell. What good are prestige and wealth here on earth if Hell awaits after death? There is only one condition for salvation, faith. You do not go to Heaven because your parents are believers. You are not saved because you are wealthy, learned, pretty, or kindhearted. We are granted the gift of salvation only through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). What do you believe? You believe that you must repent as a sinner; Jesus Christ, the Son of God, redeemed all your sins through His blood; He is the Savior.

When we repent, it must be with sincerity, not half-heartedness. After the Second World War, a German man came to church for the sacrament of penance. “Bless me Father for I have sinned. During the war, I hid a Jewish young man in the attic of my house.” The priest replied, “My son, that is not a sin.” The man went on, “But I charged him everyday for room and board.” “Hmm. That was not very wise but still does not constitute a sin,” the priest responded. “Thank you Father. What a relief. One more thing.” “Go on,” said the priest. “Should I tell him that the war is over?” This is intended as a joke but is a helpful reminder that repentance must be carried out completely not just superficially. The spirit of man [is] the candle of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly (Proverbs 20:27): “I the LORD search the heart, [I] try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, [and] according to the fruit of his doings” (Jeremiah 17:10). We have to confess the sin of our darkness and come forward to God, the True Light.

An Anglican priest and hymnist, John Newton was born in England in 1725. His devout mother who had wanted him to pursue a clerical vocation died of tuberculosis when he was six. Soon his father remarried and he started to go astray. He frequently engaged in evil deeds and never stopped using foul language. Then there came God’s time. When he was a slave trader, he encountered a sever storm on his way back home from Africa. In his brush with shipwreck and imminent death, he called out to God, “Lord have mercy.”

Confronting his imminent death, he feared for his eternal fate and came down with the guilt of his past evil deeds. Surprisingly, his prayer was answered and the storm subsided. This incident taught him living Divine Grace that forgives all sinners regardless of their sins. After truly receiving Jesus Christ as Savior, he became the preacher of God’s grace and love. He said, “My memory is nearly gone; but I remember two things; That I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Saviour.” How true this is. The greatest gift in the world is God’s redemption and salvation. Let us not be boastful but be humble and thankful to God who gave us this greatest gift and share His grace with others.

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