“Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15).
What can possibly make a gift indescribable? Since all human presents can be described, it is clear that the only thing that can make a gift indescribable is that it has to have something of God mixed with it.
The Nature of God’s Gift
When Paul speaks of Jesus as God’s “indescribable gift” it is evident that he is not merely toying with words or exaggerating. Why is the gift of God beyond description? There are several reasons, and the first is the nature of the gift itself. The gift is Christ. So in order to fully describe this gift, we must be able to fully describe who Jesus is and what He has done for our salvation. Think of the difficulties involved in unfolding just that first part: who Jesus is. Jesus described Himself as being one with God the Father, and the Scripture everywhere testifies to that fact. Even His name, Jesus, means “Jehovah saves.” Immanuel means “God with us.”
If Jesus is God, we cannot describe Him because God Himself is indescribable. Can we say what it means for God to be self-existent, having no origins and being beyond the full range of human discovery? Can we say what it means for Him to be self-sufficient, needing nobody? Can we understand what it means to be a spirit or to be “infinite, eternal, and unchangeable”? The nature and work of the Lord Jesus Christ are beyond our full understanding, and therefore also beyond our powers of description.
The Grace of God’s Gift
The gift of God is also indescribable because of the grace by which it is given. Most of our gifts have nothing to do with grace. We give because the recipients of our gifts have some claim upon us: they are members of our family, people who have helped us in some way, or individuals who gave to us last year. But the great gift of Christ is granted not to God’s friends, but to His enemies, to those who in their sins have risen up against God and declared war against the Almighty. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
The Effects of God’s Gift
The gift of God accomplishes all this and more in those who believe:
First, Jesus brings forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of God’s grace. This means removal of sin so far as God is concerned. The Bible tells us that God hurls “all their sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19). It says, “I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions” (Isaiah 44:22). David wrote, “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). The Bible says, “I will remember their sin no more” (Jeremiah 31:34; Hebrews 10:17).
Second, the believer in Christ is justified before the court of God’s justice. Forgiveness is a negative thing; it forgets the past. Justification is positive; it brings a new standing before God that we did not have before and could never have achieved for ourselves. The Bible speaks of it as being clothed with the righteousness of Christ, as with a new suit of clothes.
Third, we are adopted into God’s family. Before, we were “without Christ … having no hope, and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12). But now we marvel at the “love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God” (1 John 3:1).
Fourth, as God’s children we are God’s heirs. Paul writes, “If children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17). This means that we possess all things jointly with Christ. All things! That is clearly indescribable.
Fifth, we have the gift of the Holy Spirit who unites us to Christ forever. That makes our bodies temples of God, who dwells in us (1 Cor. 3:16).
Sixth, we have a divine peace that goes beyond circumstances. Paul calls it a peace “which passeth all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).
Seventh, we have a home in Heaven prepared for us by Christ. Just before His crucifixion, Jesus said to His disciples: “In My Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself” (John 14:2–3).
Giving Thanks for This Gift
Have you thanked God for His great gift of salvation? If that gift is as great as the Bible says it is and as wonderful as our hearts and minds acknowledge it to be, then we should literally cry out with Paul, “Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift!” Thanks be to God for Jesus!
And when we are crying out thanks, let us not forget that the best thanks are not in word alone. Thanks are expressed in deeds, too. What deeds? If you have never received the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, your first deed should be to receive Him and worship Him, as the shepherds, wise men, and others of the Christmas story did. That is, you should take the gift God gives you. Do not think of it in terms of your worthiness. You are not worthy and never will be worthy. Just take it.
You can also express your thanks by service. You have much, but there are others who have little. Reach out to them in Christ’s name. Let God’s gift be the pattern for your giving and His service be the pattern for your service.
Finally, we also have an obligation to speak to others. Notice that in the Christmas story nearly everyone spoke to others about God’s gift. The wise men said, “We have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him” (Matthew 2:2). The shepherds “made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this Child” (Luke 2:17). Simeon “blessed God” (Luke 2:28). Anna “spake of Him to all them that looked for redemption” (Luke 2:38).
—Condensed from The Christ of Christmas by James Montgomery Boice