For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

As it is now past Remembrance Day, Amy now fills the office with beautiful Christmas carols. Believe it or not, two Sundays from now is the first Sunday of Advent! As my thoughts turn to the Christmas season I think of gifts. I think of past gifts given and received, and ponder what may be a blessing to family and friends this year. In light of today’s devotional, have you ever been given a gift and not opened it? Seems pretty silly to even consider it, for what good to us is a gift not received and opened?

And yet that is what some do with the greatest gift, God’s gift of his Son. His gift meets our greatest need, the need of a reconciling sacrifice. To our greatest problem (sin and our separation from God), he brings us Christ; but this is a gift that demands a response.

“…Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel (Mark 1:15).’”  The Apostle Paul wrote of, “testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21).”

These two verses highlight two critical components of the response God requires to his gracious gospel: faith and repentance. Faith trusts in the works of Christ, his sinless life and sacrificial death, instead of our own. Every other religion rejects the notion that man may be right with a holy God by faith alone, trusting instead upon moral effort and good deeds – at least enough of them to balance out the bad. Christian faith is a confident, yet humble hope; knowing that his righteousness is exchanged for our unrighteousness.

Repentance is the process through which we recognize and renounce our sin. We turn away from it as we turn toward God, resolving by God’s strength to forsake it. Repentance is not an initiation rite to the faith, but the fruit of true faith. The righteous “live by faith (Rom. 1:17)”, and through that faith come to God continually with repentant hearts, knowing he is ever “faithful to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9)”!

Something to Apply:

This week highlights four key components to understanding the Christian gospel: God, Man, Christ, and Response. As we respond personally to the gospel, a desire grows in us to know Christ and make Christ known. How can we grow in “making him known”? The gospel is simple to state in its most basic sense: Christ died for our sins, yet limitless in its implications. What gospel implications does your friend or neighbour need to see? I have found the following simple question most helpful: “Why is the gospel good news to this neighbour?”