“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” - James 1:17
Undoubtedly, the greatest gift any of us will ever receive is Jesus, the gift of God’s own Son who came to dwell among us. The many aspects of this gift are mind-boggling--the fact that Jesus was willing to lay aside His deity to take on the form of a man, or that this precious gift to mankind was planned from the foundation of the world1--so it is no wonder that many of us struggle to fully grasp everything this gift means for our lives.
There is not enough space in one article to consider all the implications of what we’ve been given, but there are a few key points I’d like to offer as encouragement to you.
The Gift of Relationship
One thing that is especially clear is God never intended for us to be alone. In the beginning God walked and talked with Adam in the cool of the day in the Garden. Man enjoyed perfect fellowship and communion with God and was not separated in any way from the majesty and holiness of God.
This purity of communion was lost, and separation came when man fell into sin, making a Redeemer necessary to reunite God and mankind. Now we find salvation and eternal life through God’s gift of Jesus Christ.2 And further, Jesus’ first coming also released gifts which are meant to comfort, edify, and strengthen us as He dwells among men.
Ultimately, God will dwell with us in that holy city—New Jerusalem.3 We see His plan to live among us from beginning to end.
The Gift of the Holy Spirit
And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby), that He may remain with you forever— (John 14:16, AMP)
Jesus told His sorrowful and perplexed disciples that He could not remain with them forever. But He also explained it would actually be better for them that He depart, for if He did not go away, the Helper would not come to them (see John 16:5-15).
How hard this must have been for them to comprehend! From our vantage point, we can see that, in the Old Testament, the Spirit would come upon certain individuals at certain times, while under the new covenant, He comes to indwell every believer.4
They had yet to discover that the risen Jesus would bestow on them a measure of the Holy Spirit. And after His ascension, as promised, He sent the full baptism of the Holy Spirit, accompanied by new tongues and increased levels of power.5
Have you received the baptism of the Holy Spirit? I had been taught there was no additional measure of the Holy Spirit apart from salvation, and as a believer, I lived without this precious gift for thirty-some years! It would take volumes to attempt to convey the profound richness this encounter brought to my life—words leapt off the pages of my Bible and I knew certain truths I had yet to be taught. My world became brighter, richer, and fuller after experiencing this gift. This added dimension of His presence quite literally transformed my life, and it can transform yours too!
The Holy Spirit dwelling in us—what a precious gift, indeed!
The Gift of God Revealed to Us and Through Us
But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore He says: "When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.” (Eph. 4:7, 8)
Under the old covenant, the primary way God spoke to His people was through the prophets. In these last days of the new covenant, He speaks to us through His Son.6 Of course, Jesus only physically walked on this earth for thirty-three years, so how does He accomplish this today?
An important and foundational way He speaks is through the written word.7 Another significant way is by the gift of the Holy Spirit. Jesus comforted His disciples by explaining to them that the Holy Spirit would come to teach them and bring to remembrance all the things He had said (see John 14:26).
Ephesians 4:7-16 reveals that another gift Jesus Himself gave as a result of His first coming was that of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. Since Jesus would no longer physically walk the earth, He divided up His ministry qualities and gifts and distributed them among people.
The gift of Jesus’ attributes is meant to equip, mature, and edify His children to completely come into the fullness of Christ. We can sometimes grow critical, cynical or mistrustful of those with five-fold ministry gifts, yet God Himself chose this method to dwell with us.
The common thread running through all these gifts is God’s desire to be with us--through relationship, through the presence of His Spirit, through His characteristics imparted to us so we can share His heart with each other. As you give and receive gifts this season, let your heart also be filled with the knowledge of a generous God who gives Himself lavishly to you.
Have you recently hugged your pastor? Thanked a prophet for bringing a life-giving word? Prayed for or encouraged an apostle, evangelist or teacher? Perhaps in this season of giving gifts, God would have you give of the gift of yourself, for you are also His gift.
If you would like to further study some of the concepts presented in this article, these Scriptures are a good starting place:
Phil. 2:6-9; Rev. 13:8
1 Sam. 16:13; 1 Cor. 3:16
Luke 24:49; Acts 2:1-4; 2:38
Heb. 1:1, 2
2 Tim. 3:16, 17