The Christmas Gift from God: Good News and Bad News

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Editor’s Note —The Joshua Code is dedicated to “those special and sacrificial pastors, their wives, and in most cases, their widows in Mission:Dignity who have given their lives to serving others so often in “out of the way places,” and who are now in their declining years. While in ministry they lived in church-owned homes and received smaller salaries, and now, in their retirement years, are in financial need. We are on a mission to bring them dignity, and it is an honor being Christ’s hand extended to them. All royalties from The Joshua Code, The James Code, The Jesus Code, and The Daniel Code go to support these sweet servants through Mission:Dignity.” (Learn more about Mission:Dignity at www.guidestone.org/missiondignity.)

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. — Romans 6:23

Modern culture has been replete with a series of good news/bad news jokes. For example, there is the one about the pastor who stood up on Sunday and declared, “The good news is we have enough money here this morning to pay off the church debt and to build our new building.” Then he added, “But the bad news is, it is still in your pockets!”

When we come to Romans 6:23, one of the most informative and inspirational verses in the Bible, we find some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that “the wages of sin is death.” But the good news is that “the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The Bad News

There is some bad news in this verse: “the wages of sin is death.” The Greek word for sin is best understood as “missing the mark.” The word picture describes an archer who shoots his arrow at the target and misses the bull’s-eye. We all find ourselves here as “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We have all missed the mark, and the bad news is that its cost, or wage, is death.

A wage is what we get for doing something. We work a certain number of hours, and our employer pays us an agreed-upon wage. It is something we have earned, some- thing we deserve. It is something we have coming to us. The Bible says, “the wages of sin is death.” It is strange how many men and women sin, thinking it is going to pay dividends of fun and pleasure. But Satan is a liar. Sin pays its wage all right, but its wage is death, which is separation from all that is good.

Payday is coming someday. That is the bad news. When we miss the mark, it costs us greatly.

The Good News

But the good news is this: “the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” It is a gift, a free gift that cannot be earned nor deserved.

We all remember the excitement of opening gifts as children around the Christmas tree. We did not have to pay for those gifts. We did nothing to earn them. We simply opened them and received them. A gift is the opposite of a wage. We earn and deserve our wages. We don’t earn or deserve a gift. If we did, it would be a reward and not a gift.

How is this all possible? We still have to deal with the bad news. Jesus made the way possible for us by dealing with the bad news Himself. Two thousand years ago on a Roman cross outside the city walls of Jerusalem, Jesus took the bad news and became sin for us. Yes, the wages of sin is death, and He died our death on the cross, paying the penalty for our sin. He paid the price, so now we can finish the verse with this good news, “but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” He made a way out of no way. Our part is to receive this God-provided and free gift by faith alone in Him.

What a difference there is in these two bits of news. The bad news is that sin is costly, and it has a wage attached to it. The good news is that eternal life is free. It is God’s gift to us. And that is no joke!

As you memorize this verse, meditate on the incredible price that Jesus paid for your sin. When we were so undeserving, He made a way for us to receive the greatest gift ever given, “eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Excerpted with permission from The Joshua Code by O. S. Hawkins, copyright Thomas Nelson.

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Your Turn

Jesus paid the cost of God’s Gift to us. Today we are looking at the potential cost of not accept His free gift for us. The good news is that, just like the gifts placed in our laps from family and friends on Christmas day, we have only to receive! Come share your thoughts on this good news today on our blog. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily

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Dr. O.S. Hawkins

For more than 20 years, O. S. Hawkins served pastorates at the First Baptist Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and in Dallas, Texas. He is president of GuideStone Financial Resources, which serves 200,000 pastors, church staff, missionaries, doctors, and other workers of various Christian organizations with their retirement needs. He is the author of more than 25 books and preaches regularly at Bible conferences, evangelism conferences, and churches across the nation.

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