Below is a summary of articles written by Elder Neil Phelan for the Malvern newspaper. They are numbered according to publication order. To see the complete article simply click the title. You can also jump to other newspaper article collections using the menu on the left or search for words in the Google search engine. Soon we will complete a topics page, to help you find articles by subject.
"THE GREATEST GIFT"
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Ephes. 2:8
Many valuable gifts have graced the halls of time. The queen of Sheba brought Solomon 120 talents of gold as well as precious stones. Empires have been given and even powers bestowed upon individuals as gifts. Yet, all of these, as wonderful as they may be, are subject to loss and decay. They are profitable for this life alone. There is a gift which supercedes all of these. A gift which imparts eternal life and blessings too wonderful for the mortal tongue to describe. A gift which can never be taken away. This is the gift of salvation.
There are many salvations found in the bible. Peter was saved from drowning as he walked on the water with Jesus and cried, "Lord, save me." Temporal deliverances are referred to as salvation and this is always a confusing subject for we tend to confuse God's hand of providence in our lives with Christ's completed work upon the cross. Peter's salvation on the water was a salvation from this world, from the fear of this world and from a lack of faith. Though sinners may falter in faith and fears, what Jesus has done can never be taken away(John 10:28).
I have heard it said that this gift is free, all the sinner has to do is reach out and take it. Surely, we are blind to grace if this is our thinking. Once again, man has exalted himself and forgotten that something is first needed before a reach can be made. Did we ask for our hand? We must be given us the arm, the hand and the fingers to reach out and grasp a natural gift. Spiritually speaking, one must first be given a spiritual will and desire before they will seek after God and His righteousness. This is grace.
This gift of salvation is "through faith". Is this the sinners faith? If it is then the sinner must buy or trade for his own gift. And he is in and out of it as his faith waxes and wanes. No, this faith is of one who sits upon the white horse, who is called "Faithful and True"(Rev 19:11). The gift of salvation is through the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ. He was faithful to come to earth as he laid aside His glory. He was faithful to His disciple, the apostles and prophets. He was faithful to live a spotless life that He might be a lamb without spot and blemish. He was faithful when He was questioned by Pilate and His accusers. He was faithful when they said, "If thou be the son of God, come down from the cross". He was faithful when our sins were placed upon Him and the sun did not give its light. He was faithful to return to glory and present our righteousness in Him. Jesus remains faithful to every heir of promise as He continues to make intercession for us before the Father. Let us preach the arm of the Lord and not the hand of man!
Most every gift involves a sacrifice. We must willing to part with something or do without something to give to another. This greatest gift required the greatest sacrifice. God paid the highest price for this salvation, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son."
Salvation is not a thing that can be touched with the natural senses. It can not be handled nor seen with the natural eye. It can not be carried about from place to place by man, by his strength or by his wisdom. It can neither be commanded to come or go as one pleases. It can not be purchased if one had every dollar in the universe and it can not be traded by anything the creature possesses. It is a spiritual blessing. Wrapped up in salvation are graces such as spiritual life, the fruits of the spirit, eternal life, spiritual gifts, the Lord's hand in our present life and the blessings of the world to come. How great is this gift!