“Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.”—2 Corinthians 9:15
Though he was a gifted writer, and an eloquent communicator of the gospel, there came a time when the apostle Paul could only pause his pen and say in a profound doxology of gratitude,
“Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift” (2 Cor 9:6-15).
Some think that by this unspeakable gift Paul means the gift of grace bestowed on the churches, in making them able and willing to supply the necessities of the saints. Helping others would have been attended with unspeakable benefit both to the givers and receivers. Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Matthew Henry believes, and I think he is correct, that Paul means Jesus Christ, who is indeed the unspeakable gift of God unto this world, a gift we have all reason to be very thankful for. Jesus is declared to be an unspeakable gift of God because of who He is. Jesus is the Son of the Living God, and beyond that, He is the fullness of the Godhead expressed bodily. What an astonishing thought. For the person who wonders what God is like, the need is to look no farther than Jesus. Though Jesus was clothed in humility and humanity, He never ceased being divine.
In AD 381 Gregory of Nazianzus noted that Jesus began His ministry by being hungry, yet He is the Bread of Life.
Jesus ended His earthly ministry by being thirsty, yet He is the Living Water. Jesus was weary, yet He is our rest. Jesus paid tribute, yet He is the King. Jesus was accused of having a demon, yet He cast out demons. Jesus wept, yet He wipes away our tears. Jesus was sold for thirty pieces of silver, yet He redeemed the world. Jesus was brought as a lamb to the slaughter, yet He is the Good Shepherd. Jesus died, yet by His death He destroyed the power of death.
Is it any wonder that Charles Spurgeon said what he did when the Metropolitan Tabernacle, in London, England, was first dedicated? Said Mr. Spurgeon, “I would propose that the subject of the ministry of this house, as long as this platform shall stand, and as long as this house shall be frequented by worshipers, shall be the person of Jesus Christ. I am never ashamed to avow myself a Calvinist; I do not hesitate to take the name of Baptist; but if I am asked what is my creed, I reply, ‘It is Jesus Christ.’ My venerated predecessor, Dr. Gill, has left a [theological heritage] admirable and excellent in its way. But the [legacy] to which I would pin and bind myself forever, God helping me,…is Jesus Christ, who is the arm and substance of the gospel, who is in Himself all theology, the incarnation of every precious truth.” Jesus is declared to be an unspeakable gift of God because of the effect He can produce in the lives of others.
The name of Jesus is so precious, and so powerful, that people bow before it. There is something about that name.
“Jesus, Jesus, Jesus;
There’s just something about that name!
Master, Saviour, Jesus,
Like the fragrance after the rain;
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,
Let all heaven and earth proclaim;
Kings and kingdoms will all pass away,
But there’s something about that name!”
The reason why people bow before the name of Jesus, is because they believe He is not a lunatic martyr who went about doing good, nor a liar who made claims without evidence. People bow before the name of Jesus, because He claimed to be the Son of God, and rose again from the dead on the third day, as He said He would. Individuals listen to His teachings, and realize in Christ is wisdom incarnate.
If His teachings were universally followed, and seriously implemented, swords could be beaten into plowshares, jails could be emptied, and the weakest members of society could feel wanted and loved. Neighbors would love one another and share their resources, not through taxation or government compulsion, but out of a tender heart. Jesus never sent anyone away from His presence hungry. He found a way to feed the multitudes, clothe the naked, comfort the broken hearted, set captives in sin free, while extending forgiveness to all who asked.
Jesus is declared to be an unspeakable gift of God because of the great work of redemption He accomplished.
Of all the monumental historical moments in the annals of time not one is more significant than the six hours Jesus was on the cross of Calvary making atonement for the sins of the world. Unfortunately many do not comprehend why Jesus came to die and so Christ and His life are reduced in significance to being a grand moral example.
Many years ago a man named D.M. Stearns was preaching in Philadelphia. At the close of the service a stranger came up to him and said, “I don’t like the way you spoke about the cross. I think that instead of emphasizing the death of Christ, it would be far better to preach Jesus, the teacher and example.” Mr. Stearns replied, “If I presented Christ in that way, would you be willing to follow Him?” “I certainly would,” said the stranger without hesitation. “All right then,” said the preacher, “let’s take the first step. He did no sin. Can you claim that for yourself?” The man looked confused and somewhat surprised. “Why, no,” he said. “I acknowledge that I do sin.” Stearns replied, “Then your greatest need is to have a Savior, not an example!”
The world has many moral examples to admire in the persons of Joan of Arc, Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King, Jr. But what the world needs is a Savior, not an example. Jesus said that He came to seek and to save that which is lost (Luke 19:10). Jesus is declared to be an unspeakable gift of God because He can bestow salvation and change not only lives, but also the course of human history. In biblical language, salvation refers to being rescued from the penalty, power and pollution of sin, by believing in Jesus Christ as personal savior. Salvation comes to the heart that repents of sin and calls upon the name of the Lord. Singing the song of a child, the soul can say,
“Thank you Lord for saving my soul.
Thank you Lord for making me whole.
Thank you Lord for giving to me
thy great salvation so rich and free.”
The change that Jesus brings to a life through the process of salvation is called conversion. Conversion comes by confessing the name of the Lord.
The Bible says,
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Rom. 10:9-10)
Praying in their own words many people have prayed a simple prayer in sincerity saying,
“Father, I admit that I have sinned and fallen short of your glory. I am sorry. But I thank You ,that in Your love for me gave Your only begotten Son who came and took the blame for my sins upon Himself, and in my place suffered the punishment that I deserved for them. Dear Jesus, I want to turn from my sins, and I ask You to come into my life to be my Lord and Savior. You gave your life for me, and now I give my life to You. Thank You for the good things that You have for me in this life and in the life to come. In Jesus’ name I pray to be saved. Amen.”
The apostle John said, “I write this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God (Jesus Christ) so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). John 1:12 says, “But as many as received Him (Jesus Christ), to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12).
The person that Jesus saves, the heart that is converted and turns from self to God and from sin to the Savior, might change the world.
On a plaque marking Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace near Hodgenville, Kentucky, is recorded this scrap of conversation: “Any news down’t the village, Ezry?” “Well, Squire McLain’s gone t’ Washington t’ see Madison swore in, and ol’ Spellman tells me this Bonaparte fella has captured most o’ Spain. What’s new out here, neighbor?” “Nuthin’ nuthin’ a’tall, ‘cept fer a new baby born t’ Tom Lincoln’s. Nothin’ ever happens out here.”
Some events, whether birthdays in Hodgenville, or Bethlehem or a spiritual rebirth in a person’s life, may not create much earthly splash, but those of lasting importance will be known to God and will do much good for others. Only this much is certain. Those who are converted will change many events, not only for time but also for eternity. Jesus is declared to be an unspeakable gift of God because of what He will yet do.
At the Last Supper just prior to His arrest Jesus commanded His disciples to remember His death until His return. In Acts 1:11 the disciples were told that Jesus would come again in the same manner in which He went away. Said the angels, “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”
The author of Hebrews said that Christ will come “the second time” for all who believe (Heb. 9:28). For more than 2,000 years the church has kept her eyes on the heavens, believing that one day Jesus Christ will come the second time, in power and glory. The King is coming. When Jesus comes the second time in glory the skies will suddenly be filled with the most amazing sight.
A multitude of individuals, whom no man can number, will be seen moving from heaven to earth, accompanied by a loud noise sounding like a trumpet. The earth will quake. Graves will open. Bodies long ago buried and forgotten will live again, and walk again on the earth. Jesus will make the resurrection happen. Those on earth will realize that something has happened to their bodies for there will be a change, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye the universe will be fundamentally and forever changed.
Because of Christ a glorious future awaits the universe and those who have loved the Lord and His appearance. Because Christ is such a wonderful unspeakable gift praise and thanksgiving should be given to God as an expression of appreciation and worship.