By James W. Adams
Paul said, “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift” (2 Cor. 9:15). He made this remark in connection with fervent exhortations to the brethren at Corinth to be generous in their giving for the relief of the “poor from among the saints at Jerusalem.” A reminder of God’s “unspeakable gift” would provide strong incentive for such giving.
For a study of that which makes God’s gift “unspeakable,” there is no better source than the text often called “The golden text of the Bible”: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). The following facts make God’s gift “unspeakable:”
(1) The greatest Giver: GOD is the original and superlatively the greatest of all givers. Our text says, “God gave.” Here is the benefactor extraordinary of humankind. Paul said to the Athenian philosophers on Mars Hill, “For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring” (Acts 17:28). James said, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (Jas. 1:17). Paul also said, “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy . . .” (1 Tim. 6:17). All that we have, are, and every hope to be comes as a gracious gift from the storehouse of Jehovah. No giver is so great as He.
(2) The greatest motive: infinitely pure, Divine love. Our text says, “God so loved that he gave.” The scheme of human redemption embodying the greatest gift of the ages, the gift “unspeakable,” was (as Brother H. Leo Boles used to put it so beautifully) “born of the womb of God’s love for humanity.” Too, Brother Boles used to describe God’s working out of the scheme of redemption through the Patriarchal Age and the Mosiac Age as an expectant mother knitting the “swaddling clothes” or the “layette” for her developing, cherished offspring that lay beneath, yet so close, to her heart. No merit or worth in the creature laid upon God the compulsion or necessity to make his gift. It was the product of pure grace and love.
(3) The greatest number of objects: Our text says, “God so loved the world that he gave.” Every sinful son of Adam’s race, from the first to the last, was the object of God’s love and giving. There is no fact more clearly taught in the word of God than the truth that Christ died for all men. “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead.” (2 Cor 5:14). “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief” (1 Tim. 1:15). “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between man and God, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Tim. 2:3-6). As evidence of the universality of God’s gift note that Jesus, when he sent out the apostles with the “word of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:19), told them to: “Go teach all nations;” “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature;” “That repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations” (Mt. 28:19; Mk. 16:15; Lk. 24:46, 47). Our text says `Whosoever believeth . . might have everlasting life.”
(4) The greatest blessings: Our text says, ” . . . . might have everlasting life.” Earthly gifts from friends and benefactors are as perishable as time. Even God’s physical blessings are ours only until the “grave is our home.” But God’s gift “unspeakable” conveys to us blessings that transcend the realms of time. The “life” of God’s gift is “life everlasting.” Not only does it have “the promise of the life that now is, but also of that which is to come.”
(5) The greatest gift: The gift in its very nature is superlative. It is the gift of “God’s only begotten Son”-He who was God, the Eternal Word. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made …. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John l:l-3, 14). “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:5-9). The nature of the gift is enhanced when we consider the fact that Christ died for “sinners” and for those who were his “enemies.” Jesus once said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Jesus died, not simply for friends, but for enemies: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son; much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life” (Rom. 5:8-10).
It is small wonder then that Paul exclaimed: “Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift.”
Truth Magazine XIX: 47, p. 747
October 9, 1975