His Presents, His Presence
Christians bear witness to their personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the exalted King of glory (Ps 24). Christ’s beloved bride, His church, is made up of many members around the world and across history. It is right to call the church “betrothed” because she is still being readied for the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev 19:9).
Christians also bear witness to the fact that this world is not our home (Rom 12:2). We are sojourners, pilgrims passing through to the celestial city of heavenly Zion, the city of our God, New Jerusalem (Rev 21–22). Having received the Word of our salvation — the gift of God — our hope is not here below (Eph 2:8–9; Col 1:27).
The reality of transformation is manifest in the gifted present of His indwelling presence (Rom 8:9, 11). It is the gift of the Holy Spirit that illumines the gift of God’s Word, which reveals the gift of salvation. Stated another way, the Christian is made aware of God saving him or her. There are no decisions to be made nor choices to consider. Acceptance or rejection is not requested nor required. Simply put, He saved us (Titus 3:5), then He let us know He saved us.
The knowledge of salvation is the revelation of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit makes Christ known and Jesus Christ makes the Father known. Knowing Christ is knowing God and knowing God is knowing who God is and what He has done for His elect, redeemed, regenerated saints.
Believers in Jesus have heard the Word of Christ (Rom 10:17). They have received the Spirit of Christ who teaches them about so great a salvation. There is no leap of faith in Christianity. Christ is made known in Word but also by experience. The Spirit is active, ever working in those baptized by Him (Mt 3:11).
The Spirit is baptizing, adopting, guiding, helping, gifting, comforting, teaching, and producing spiritual fruit within the indwelt child of God. The heir is made aware by this gracious gift of the Spirit’s permanent presence (2 Cor 4:6). Once he or she is born again of the Spirit and baptized into the church (1 Cor 12:13; 1 Pet 1:3), the new life of Christ living in the heir of salvation is the token of eternal life in all its fullness (2 Cor 5:5).
Eternal life is God’s gift to those He has appointed to eternal life (Acts 13:48), in His predetermined plan that includes His predestination of His elect to adoption as sons from before the foundation of the world (Acts 2:23; Rom 8:30; Eph 1:4–5). God the Father has gifted these to His only begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ (Jn 6:37; 17:2, 6, 24). Christ died for those whom the Father gave Him (Jn 10:11, 15; Rom 5:8; Eph 5:25; 1 Pet 2:24).
What has Jesus Christ done with these presents from the Father? He has given Himself up to death in the substitutionary sacrifice that allows us into the presence of God. He is the one Mediator between God and man (1 Tim 2:5).
The wrath of God against sinners is just judgment against them (Rom 1:18; 1 Pet 3:18; Rev 19:11). Salvation transfers the unjust into the place of the just. This right standing in the presence of God is the righteousness of Christ (1 Cor 1:30; Phil 3:9). Christ is right before God, but sinners are not right. They must be re-positioned into Christ (Rom 11:17; Col 1:13).
In addition to receiving the gifted presents of the Word and the Spirit, the recipient of this grace is now seated in the presence of Christ, who sits in the heavenlies at the right hand of majesty (Heb 1:3; 8:1). Seated with Christ, that is, in His presence, is His present to us (Eph 2:6).
Now the giver of every good and perfect gift is God the Father (Jas 1:17). He has given gifts to men (Eph 4:8), that is, Christ who has ascended and sent His Spirit (Jn 14:26; 15:26), who Himself gifts those things expedient for the building up of the body of Christ (Eph 4:12, 16). In learning that our Triune God gives and gives and gives, we must examine ourselves and our gratitude at all times. If you are in the presence of a man who has just bought you dinner or a new car, would you not express yourself with thanksgiving. Indeed, you would.
Practicing the presence of Christ is vital to our giving thanks to God without ceasing (1 Thess 5:17–18). When we neglect His presence, we are prone to forgo our giving thanks for all things. The Holy Spirit is the gift that keeps on giving to us throughout our Christian lives.
Finally, if we pass the test of preferring His presence to His presents, we have ordered things aright. The best presents God has given us are Himself in the Persons of His Son (Word) and the Holy Spirit. Everything else is a measured gift, according to the wisdom of His will (ie. Rom 12:3). These portions are decreed so that we do not forget God and deny Him the glory He deserves in every providential working of His good pleasure (Ps 57:2; 115:3; 135:6; 138:8; Phil 2:13).
Christian, our Father, who loves us is worthy of our praise and thanks all day, every day. His grace, however that may manifest, is sufficient for us (2 Cor 12:9). It abounds toward us more than we know (Eph 3:20). For all the spiritual blessings He bestows belong to us, as we are found in Christ Jesus (Eph 1:3).
As we remember to give thanks to God for His indescribable gift, Jesus Christ (2 Cor 9:15), we do because of the permanent presence of His Spirit within us (Ezek 36:27). If you sense that this area of your Christian walk is lacking, then pray and ask for a more vibrant Christian life.
A heightened awareness to the working of the Spirit throughout your day will increase your desire to be in the presence of Christ and His people. With this presence will come the acknowledgement of His innumerable presents gifted to you throughout the day. Others will surely know you are one who has walked with Jesus, by His Spirit.
Spokane Valley, Washington
September 20, 2021