In this sermon, Pastor Neil talks about receiving the Word– the gift of salvation. It is a beautiful gift and Pastor Neil admonishes not to reject it. Here are some excerpts:
… Suppose there is an expensive gift under your Christmas tree. The tag says it’s for you. You know what is in the box. It is really expensive. You know it represents the extravagant love of the gift-giver. And it is for you. You know all of that. But until you open it, until you “receive” it and unwrap it, of what use is it to you? It’s not really yours in the fullest sense. It is of no benefit to you.
For many people, and perhaps for some of you listening to this message, the gift of salvation in Christ is like an unopened gift. It is for everyone who will receive it, accept it, and open it by faith. But if you refuse to receive it, it will never be yours. If you refuse to receive Him, you will never be His. And that would be a tragedy.
Evgeni Onegin is the title character in a novel by a 19th-century Russian writer named Alexander Pushkin. In the novel, Onegin, a jaded aristocrat, meets an innocent young girl named Tatyana. After their meeting, Tatyana writes him a letter, offering him her love, but he does not reply. When they meet again, he turns her down. Her letter was touching, he says, but he would soon grow bored of marriage to her. Years later, Onegin attends a party in St. Petersburg where he sees a stunningly beautiful woman. It is Tatyana. But she is now married. Onegin falls in love with her and tries desperately to win her back. But she refuses him. Once, the door was open; she had offered him her love. But now the door is shut.
The world is full of people like Onegin. Instead of Tatyana, it is the love of Jesus that so many reject. Like Tatyana’s letter to Onegin, Jesus’ offer is touching. But we believe we will be happier without a commitment to Him. We may worry that He will cramp our style, that He will take away our freedom. So we leave Him behind and move on with life.
One day, the Bible says, we will see Jesus in all His glory. His majesty will be plainly and painfully visible to our eyes. We will know in that moment, as Rebecca McLaughlin says, that all our greatest treasures in life are nothing compared with Him. And we will bitterly regret our decision to go our own way. But Jesus’ rejection of us will be no more unfair than Tatyana’s rejection of Onegin. If we receive Jesus now, we will live with Him forever in a fullness of life we cannot begin to imagine. But if we reject Him, He will one day reject us, and we will be cut off from Him forever. (Rebecca McLaughlin, Confronting Christianity: 12 Hard Questions for the World’s Largest Religion, 219.)
Pastor Neil has a lot more to say about this topic. Please click on the link below to hear the sermon in its entirety.