The Gifts of God

“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.”
—James 1:17

FOR CENTURIES THE year’s end has been a season for the giving of gifts. It is a beautiful custom, the practice of which temporarily lifts the world out of its otherwise self-seeking course. It gives millions a taste of the revolutionary changes which will result in human relationships when, under the laws of Christ’s kingdom, the unselfish spirit of giving takes the place of the selfish spirit of grasping.


The spirit of giving is the Spirit of God, and he is the greatest of all givers. Giving manifests the spirit of love, and “God is love.” (I John 4:16) The love of God which prompts him to give is described by the Greek word agape, which in our Common English Version of the Bible is sometimes translated “charity.” The original and true meaning of charity is the act of giving to those in need, where there is no hope of repayment. This is truly the case with respect to the gifts of God, both to his people and to the world in general.

Nothing that any of God’s creatures can give to him would add to his riches, and regardless of what they might withhold, he would not be made poor. He gives because he loves, and the rejoicing of those who receive his gifts is his joy. This, we believe, is true even in the case of his human creation, and despite the present fallen and dying condition of man. Solomon expressed this thought, saying, “Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labour; this is the gift of God.”—Eccl. 5:19

This text describes the sheer joy of living here on the earth as a natural man. All the natural things which contribute to this joy are the gifts of God. We are reminded of this in the Genesis record of the creation of man, in which we are told of the garden which God prepared for his human creation “eastward in Eden.” In that garden, we are told God placed “every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food.” (Gen. 2:8,9) It was all designed for the joy of man. David wrote, “The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.”—Ps. 115:16

In bestowing the blessings which make for human happiness God has been impartial. Jesus assures us that his Heavenly Father causes the sun to shine and the rain to fall on the evil and the good, the just and the unjust. (Matt. 5:45) It is true, of course, that during the dark night of sin and death, when God has been permitting evil to reign, there is no assurance to any individual group of enjoying an adequate share of the natural earthly blessings. Today, seventy-five percent of the human race exists on scanty provisions of food and other necessities of life.

This is largely because of human selfishness, and the failure to provide adequate means of distribution prevents the bounties which the earth provides to be shared in measure by all. The Lord’s own people, living in various parts of the world, are subject to the conditions with which they are surrounded, sharing the common experiences of the world, whether they be lean or full. These have learned, as did the great Apostle Paul, to be content with whatever the Lord’s providence may permit, whether they “abound” or at times “suffer need.” (Phil. 4:11-13) They have learned that “godliness with contentment is great gain.”—I Tim. 6:6


In order to be a member of God’s family, and to sense the sweetness of the ‘blest tie that binds our hearts in Christian love,’ it was necessary to be a partaker of God’s gift of salvation. We say the ‘gift of salvation.’ We could have as well said the gift of God’s dear Son, or the gift of eternal life through the Son. (John 3:16; Rom. 6:23) “By grace are ye saved through faith;” wrote Paul, “and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.”—Eph. 2:8

This wonderful gift of salvation through Christ had to be preceded by another gift of God, the gift of discernment. When Peter said to Jesus, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,” Jesus replied to him, “Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 16:15-17) One cannot know and enjoy the Truth and its blessings by reason of his own ability to interpret the Scriptures. Human reasoning —‘flesh and blood’— is not able to discern the “mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.” This also is a gift of God.—Matt. 13:11

Psalm 119:144 reads, “The righteousness of thy testimonies is everlasting: give me understanding, and I shall live.” The ‘testimonies’ of the Lord are his declarations, promises, and laws which reveal his Divine plan of the ages. It is only those to whom he gives understanding that are able to grasp their meaning, and it is through their obedience to this God-given understanding that they receive everlasting life. To know the Truth alone does not put one in the way of life. It is through the Truth that we learn to know God, and it is when we know him, and yield ourselves in complete and hearty submission to his will, that his gift of life through Jesus becomes ours. In prayer to his Heavenly Father Jesus said, “This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”—John 17:3


Paul wrote, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32) This is a wonderful promise! It does not mean, of course, that the Lord gives his people all that they might desire of temporal blessings and advantages. The reference is to the spiritual needs of the consecrated people of God. These are all supplied, and abundantly so, in keeping with the riches of God’s grace through Christ Jesus.

In the context of the promise of ‘all things,’ Paul asks, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” (Rom. 8:35) The devil uses discouragement to do so. Paul continues, “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth?” (vss. 33,34) Certainly it is not God who condemns his people, for he has made provision through Christ Jesus for the forgiveness of their unwilling imperfections. From him we have received the gift of forgiveness.

Failing to separate us from the love of Christ through discouragement based upon our sins, then other methods are tried—“tribulation,” “distress,” “persecution,” “or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword.” Paul, quoting from the Old Testament, says, “For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” In all these things we can be “conquerors through him that loved us.”—Rom. 8:35-37

We can be conquerors in ‘all these things,’ not in our own strength, but because God, through Christ, has freely given unto us all things needful in order to be overcomers. The difficult situations which the Lord’s people face in various parts of the world would, from the natural standpoint, be cause for fear and defeat. But, as Paul wrote to Timothy, the Lord has not given us the “spirit of fear.” Instead, he has given us the “spirit … of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”—II Tim. 1:7

The ‘spirit … of power’ is the Holy Spirit; one of its many functions in our lives as Christians is to give us strength for our every time of need. At times our needs seem very great. One trial follows another in quick succession. Many times the Lord permits us to be severely tested along several lines at the same time. The enemy often ‘comes in like a flood’ to overwhelm us. But, as David wrote, “The Lord sitteth upon the flood; yea, the Lord sitteth King for ever.” In other words, he is in full control of every situation, and as David further promised, “The Lord will give strength unto his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace.”—Ps. 29:10,11

“The Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” (Ps. 84:11) God will freely give us all things that are good for us as New Creatures in Christ Jesus. These are embodied in his gift of the Holy Spirit. Speaking to his disciples, and in anticipation of what his Heavenly Father would do for his consecrated people throughout the Gospel Age, beginning with Pentecost, Jesus said, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”—Luke 11:13


The Holy Spirit is the holy power of God by which he accomplishes all his works. The inspirational power of his promises, recorded in his Word under his direction, is one of the means by which he strengthens his people. The Scriptures, inspired by the Holy Spirit, were given in order that the man of God might be “throughly furnished unto all good works.” (II Tim. 3:16,17) In all things God has made provision for us through his Word, and thus we are thoroughly furnished.

God’s promise to give strength unto his people is a source of great inspiration and encouragement. To know that God is for us, to really believe that he is helping us in every time of need, serves to help us over many difficult places in the narrow way. (Matt. 7:14) We can press on because we know that greater is he who is for us than all they that are against us. The great battle may rage around us, but because the Lord has promised to strengthen and protect, we enjoy the peace of God that passeth human understanding.

We know that the promises of God are not empty words. We know he strengthens and protects his people, and some information is given us in his Word as to how he does this. We read, “He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.” (Ps. 91:11) What a precious gift this is to the people of God. We read again, “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.”—Ps. 34:7

We have never seen an angel, and our human minds cannot understand how these heavenly beings accomplish their work, but we know that they exist, that they are powerful, and that they are willing and ready always to do God’s bidding. Besides, they know the Heavenly Father’s will for his people. Jesus said, in this connection, that the angels always behold the face of his Father in heaven. (Matt. 18:10) They are in intimate contact with our God. They know his will for us and are prompt to do his bidding. His mighty power is exercised through them to deliver us.

One of the gifts of God to his people of the Gospel Age is, indeed, the privilege of suffering for, and with, Christ. Paul wrote, “Unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake.” (Phil. 1:29) It requires great faith to appreciate this gift. The privilege of suffering with Christ is, however, a very precious gift; for, if we are faithful in thus suffering, faithful even unto death, it will lead to association with him in glory—“If we suffer, we shall also reign with him.”—II Tim. 2:12


In Hebrews 2:10 we read that it was God’s plan “in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” The thought is that the ‘many sons’ are also brought to glory through a pathway of suffering. Thus, just as the Heavenly Father did not shield Jesus from suffering, there is no reason to suppose that he will do so for us. However, God did provide a compensating portion for the Master: it was the “joy that was set before him,” which, as the apostle explains, enabled him to endure “the cross, despising the shame.”—Heb. 12:2

These same joys are set before us, the greatest of which is the prospect of seeing our Heavenly Father and our Lord Jesus face-to-face, and of spending eternity with them as members of the Divine family. David wrote, “In thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Ps. 16:11) Jesus entered into this joy after his resurrection. The apostle affirms that he “is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”—Heb. 12:2

This glorious inheritance was first given to Jesus by promise. To be at the right hand of the throne of God meant the glorious privilege of carrying out the Father’s loving kingdom plan for the blessing of all the families of the earth. The promise was that the “pleasure of the Lord” would prosper in the hands of Jesus. (Isa. 53:10) By faith Jesus laid hold of these precious promises, and they served as a bulwark of strength while he was making his soul an offering for sin.

In prayer to his Father, Jesus said of his disciples, and those who would believe on him through their word, “The glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one.” And again, “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou has given me [by promise]: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:22,24) ‘The glory which thou gavest me I have given them.’ What a gift! It means that all the exceeding great and precious promises which inspired and encouraged Jesus belong also to us, and are among the means which the Lord is using to fortify us against the attacks of the world, the flesh, and the Devil.

One of the promises to Jesus was, “I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. (Ps. 2:8) In Psalm 111:6 we read, “He hath shewed his people the power of his works, that he may give them the heritage of the heathen.” “The works of his hands are verity and judgment;” the psalm continues, and “all his commandments are sure.” (vs.7) God has shown us the power of his works. He has opened the eyes of our understanding to see and appreciate his great plan of salvation—the redemption through Christ Jesus, his covenants, his promised kingdom, the “great salvation” of the church, and the “restitution of all things” for the world. (Acts 3:20-21) Through the outworking of this plan we see the mighty power of God in operation. That power gave strength to the Ancient Worthies, enabling them to endure while they were being prepared to occupy the earthly phase of the kingdom, to be the “princes in all the earth.” (Ps. 45:16) This mighty power of God comforted and strengthened Jesus, and raised him from the dead. By faith we see God’s power in operation in the first resurrection of the church, already in progress, and by faith we anticipate the manifestation of Divine power in the resurrection of all the dead.—John 5:28,29

Truly God has shown his people the power of his works ‘that he may give them the heritage of the heathen.’ (Ps. 111:6) God promised Jesus that he would be given the heathen for an inheritance, and throughout the age he has been helping the church to enter into his same inheritance, helping them by showing them the power of his works. Not only has it been given us to see and know the mysteries of the kingdom—all the glorious features of the Divine plan—but all of the Lord’s people have experienced the mighty power of God in their own lives as they are being prepared to enter into their future inheritance with the glorified Jesus.

How inspiring are the promises of God pertaining to the various aspects of our inheritance. Through the Prophet Isaiah the Lord said, “I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages; That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Shew yourselves.”—Isa. 49:8,9

Other aspects of our inheritance are promised by Jesus’ statement, “To him that overcometh will I give, … the crown of life, … the hidden manna, … power over the nations, … morning star, … white raiment, … make a pillar in the temple of my God, … to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and set down with my Father in his throne.” (Rev. 2:10-3:21) All these promises pertain to our prospect of reigning with Jesus in his kingdom. He knew that it was his Father’s will that his followers should share these honors and blessings with him, for had he not said while still with his disciples in the flesh, “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom”?—Luke 12:32


How many and manifold are the gifts of God to us! Truly they are more than can be numbered. In return he asks but one gift from us—“My son, give me thine heart.” (Prov. 23:26) To give our hearts to the Lord means to give him our all. It means that we will search his Word to determine his will for us at every step of the narrow way in which we walk. And in this also there is great joy, great peace of mind, for we are assured of being guided aright, and of hearing the voice of the Word of God saying, “This is the way, walk ye in it.”—Isa. 30:21

Without this infallible guide, the world strays aimlessly through life, burdened with its cares, and fearful of what each day’s experiences might bring. But how wonderful it is to have given our hearts to the Lord, and to let him be our guide, as we endeavor to do his will and work. It is in thus giving our hearts to the Lord that we receive one of the most precious of his present gifts. Jesus said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”—Matt. 11:28-30

How precious is this rest which the Lord has given to his people. It is enjoyed by all of his consecrated saints, wherever they may be, and regardless of their circumstances of life. The measure of this rest is in proportion to our faith in the Divine arrangements, faith in God’s dealings with us, faith in the provision he has made through the Redeemer, faith in his ability to fulfill his promises, and faith in all the means of grace which he has provided.

All the gifts of God’s grace need to be accepted by faith—a vital and living faith—in order that they may enrich our lives as New Creatures in Christ Jesus. As we look ahead, may it be with a “faith that will not shrink, though pressed by every foe; that will not tremble on the brink of any earthly woe.” We do not know what the future holds for us. We know that the church as a whole will soon finish her earthly course, but just when, we do not know. We do know that for many of us, as individuals, this may be the year. Let us live today as though tomorrow we would hear those welcome words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: … enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”—Matt. 25:21

Dawn Bible Students Association
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