“The Plan of Salvation”: Divine Birthday Party (Part 2)

Birthday Presents

One of the greatest joys of being a parent is throwing birthday parties for your kids. Nothing is better than watching your child have a blast with their friends on their special day. A party requires a lot of time, energy, and money. But nothing beats the feeling of contentment after a well-thrown party!

We’ve thrown about a dozen birthday parties for our children. I stay up late decorating and preparing activities. My wife stays up late baking and decorating the cake. For our Barbie party, she fitted the cake around a Barbie’s legs so it looked like a dress! It takes a lot of work, but it’s worth it to give our kids’ parties an extra special flair.

And who doesn’t love giving their kids presents? Whether it’s a birthday party, Christmas morning, or a special occasion, it’s wonderful seeing their faces light up as they open gifts you bought/made specifically for them.

God is the same way. He goes all out for our spiritual birthday. In accordance with His saving plan, He gives us new birth into His family. As a result, we put our faith in Jesus. Then He gives us “birthday presents” – the blessings of salvation. And He compels us to be baptized in order to celebrate with our new church family.

The Gift that Keeps on Giving
Part of having a birthday party is sending Thank You cards to those who attend. That is why a relative usually writes a list of all the presents received while the child opens them. In the same way, the Bible lists all the blessings we receive at conversion. God richly rewards us when we put our faith in Jesus. The blessings of salvation include:

  • Adoption. God adopts us into His family. He becomes our Father and grants us equal status with Jesus as His children. And He makes us heirs of the inheritance He has stored up for us. John exclaims, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1; cf. Romans 8:15-17; Galatians 4:5; Colossians 1:12; 1 Peter 1:4)
  • Reconciliation. God reconciles us to Himself. We were His enemies; our sin set us against Him. But He makes peace with us and restores our relationship with Him. Paul explains, “While we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son” (Romans 5:10; cf. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19; Colossians 1:21-22).
  • Justification. God justifies us. This is a legal term meaning to be pronounced “not guilty.” He grants us right standing before Him by imputing Jesus’ righteousness to us. Paul profoundly states, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21; cf. Romans 5:1).
  • Redemption. God redeems us from sin. “Redeem” means to set someone free by paying their ransom. We were slaves to sin, but God sets us free by paying the price for our ransom – Jesus’ death. Hebrews 9:12 says Jesus “entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption” (cf. Mark 10:45; 1 Peter 1:18-19).
  • Holy Spirit. God puts His Spirit in us. The Holy Spirit resides in us to bring God’s power and presence to our daily lives. He enables and helps us to live as we should. Paul declares, “When you believed, you were marked in Christ with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance” (Ephesians 1:13-14; cf. John 14:16-17; Acts 1:4-5, 8; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22; Galatians 5:16-18).

Conversion is the most joyful stage in the “plan of salvation.” It is when the benefits of Jesus’ death are first applied to us. We begin to walk in freedom and newness of life. With Paul, we experience what it’s like for “the Spirit who gives life to set us free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2).

This joy isn’t ours alone; it is God’s as well. Like a parent throwing their child a birthday party or giving their child presents, God delights in converting sinners and bestowing His gifts to them. Jesus tells three parables to illustrate God’s joy. He compares God to a shepherd finding his lost sheep, a woman finding her lost coin, and a father receiving his prodigal son.

Each parable ends the same: “In the same way, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents…There is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents…’Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found’” (Luke 15:7, 10, 23-24).

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