Gifts are given freely to the recipient. A gift costs the one that receives it nothing. That is the nature of a gift. If there are conditions or strings attached to the gift, then it really isn't a gift at all. However, the one that gives the gift incurs a cost to himself.
God says in his word, that he gives eternal life as a free gift. Romans 6:23 says, "the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
First let's talk about the issue of sin. Sin is anything that is contrary to the will and nature of God. In Romans 3:23 we find that "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." If we are honest we would have to admit that we have not always done things the way God would want them done. The wage that sin pays is death. Not only physical death but eternal separation from God in the Lake of Fire, as well. (Revelation 20:14-15)
Many people have worked and struggled to be religious because they were told by someone that they had to do something to cancel out their sin and earn eternal life.
The problem with that idea is that we have such a debt of sin that a lifetime of good works and church going could never erase it. God says in Romans 4:4 "now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace but of debt." Our effort to please God can never cancel our debt. We find that God isn't interested in our religion. We stand guilty before a completely righteous God who doesn't judge on a relativistic scale but according to absolute justice. If we are really honest with ourselves we would have to acknowledge that we all have a problem. We are hopeless by God's righteous standard.
That is the bad news. The good news is that God has provided a remedy to this situation. God is not only a God of justice; He is also a God of love. He looks at the hopeless condition of mankind and provides a solution to the problem of sin. That solution was the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christ came to Earth and went to the cross. God punished Christ for our sin. On the cross Christ paid the debt of sin that we owed to God. He paid the debt completely and totally. He did not leave one sin unpaid for. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says that Christ was made sin for us so that we could be made the righteousness of God in Christ.
The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Christ has done all the work needed for us to obtain eternal life. Now God is giving eternal life as a gift to those people who will stop trusting in what they can to do to please Him and trust in what Christ did.
How about you? Are you trying to earn eternal life? Are you certain that you have eternal life? If not, put your faith in the work of Christ on the cross and God will give you eternal life as a free gift.
Many people struggle to understand the Bible. There is a simple key that can unlock your understanding of the Bible. That key is to realize that God dealt with different people, in different ways, at different times. He dealt with the nation Israel under the law in the Old Testament. Today he deals with the church, which he refers to as "Body of Christ" (a separate group of people from Israel) under Grace.
To really understand this we must recognize that the ministry of Paul the apostle was a totally separate ministry from that of the twelve apostles that were a part of the earthly ministry of Christ. The ministry of Paul was a completely new thing, not the continuation of what the 12 earthly apostles started.
In 1 Corinthians 9:17 Paul says that a "dispensation of the gospel is committed unto him." The word dispensation means a specific arrangement or system by which something is dealt out. From God's point of view it is a dispensing out of something. From man's point of view it is received and we are made stewards of the thing that God is dispensing. God committed to Paul the responsibility of dispensing the gospel. The gospel that Paul dispensed was the gospel of the Grace of God, which sometimes Paul called "my gospel."
Ephesians 3:2 "If ye have heard of the dispensation of the Grace of God which is given me to you-ward: how that by revelation he made known unto me." Paul says that to him was committed the specific arrangement or system of this present age.
God has had different household laws or dispensations at different times. We live in the dispensation of the Grace of God. Our instructions for the time that we live in are found in the epistles of Paul, not in the Gospels that deal with the Earthly ministry of Christ.
In Ephesians 3: 3 Paul says that by a revelation God made known unto him the mystery ... which in other ages was not made known.
There was information that God had not revealed in any other age until he revealed it to Paul for this present age. That means that Christ didn't speak of these things during his earthly ministry. Peter did not speak of them in the early chapters of the book of Acts. It was not until the salvation of Paul and the ministry committed to him that this information begins to be revealed.
When people understand this, the Bible opens up in a most wonderful way. Many things that seemed to contradict now make perfect sense.
One Simple example to study yourself are God's instructions through time as to what men were allowed to eat:
1) Genesis 1:29
2) Genesis 9:3-4
3) Deuteronomy 14
4) Roman 14:14
Have you ever wondered why you are here? Why are any of us here? Why is there an earth? Why is there a seemingly empty universe that we can gaze into at night?
Many people think there are no answers to any of these questions. But you may be surprised to find out that there is a compilation of 66 books and letters written over 4000 years by 40 different authors that tell a consistent story that answers these questions and many more. That compilation of books is commonly called The Bible. Within it you can find the will of God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth.
First Timothy 2:3-4 says, "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." It is God's will that all would be saved (in the context, from the debt and penalty of their sin) and to come to a knowledge of the truth. That truth can be found in the scripture.
Ephesians 2:8-10 explains that God has a plan for the heaven and earth and he has made it known to man. "Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:"
Is the earth currently in a state of peace? Is there any evil in the world? Currently Christ is not ruling as king over this world. But their is another "prince of this world", Satan who has dominion over the world. It is through the nation Israel and ultimately Jesus Christ, an Israelite, that God will take dominion of the earth back.
Is the heaven currently in a state of peace? How could we know? Well, the Bible is clear that Satan and many angels rebelled against God's plan and dominion, but have not yet been cast out of heaven. That event will take place in the future as recorded in the book of the Revelations. But God had a plan to redeem the heavenly places that was not previously revealed until he revealed it to the apostle Paul. A separate apostle, "the apostle of the Gentiles (Romans 11:13). Where will you go when you die? If you have trusted Christ as your Saviour I'm sure you have been taught you will go to heaven when you die. But why heaven? Because it is believers today that will replace those rebellious angels. As the people of Israel will redeem the earth back to God, so will believers of today ( both Jew and Gentile) redeem the heavenly places back to God.
That, as Ephesians 1:9-10 states, "Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:"
Are you prepared to "reign with him" (2 Timothy 2:12) in the heavenly places?