“Every good gift and every perfect present is from above, coming down from the Father of the celestial lights.” (James 1:17) That scripture, of course, refers to the generosity of our heavenly Father, Jehovah God. Yet, of the many gifts that God has given mankind, there is one that is greater than all the rest. What is it? Jesus’ well-known words, recorded at John 3:16, tell us: “God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.”
The gift of God’s only-begotten Son—that would certainly be the greatest gift that any one of us could ever receive, for thereby we can be freed from the bondage to sin, old age, and death. (Psalm 51:5; John 8:34) Try as we may, on our own there is nothing we can do to be released from that bondage. However, in his great love, God provided what is needed to bring about that release. By giving his only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, as the ransom, Jehovah God gave obedient mankind the prospect of life everlasting. But what exactly is the ransom? Why is it necessary? And how can we benefit from it?
A ransom is a price paid to buy back something forfeited or to bring about release from bondage. The Bible explains that our first parents, Adam and Eve, were created sinless, with the prospect of enjoying life forever on a paradise earth along with the offspring they would later produce. (Genesis 1:26-28) Sadly, they forfeited all of that by choosing to disobey God—thus becoming sinners. What was the result? The Bible answers: “Through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because they had all sinned.” (Romans 5:12) Instead of passing on perfect life to his offspring, Adam passed on sin and its consequence, death.
In the case of a ransom, what is paid must be equal to what was lost. When Adam deliberately disobeyed God, he sinned, and the result was the loss of a perfect human life—Adam’s life. According to the Bible, that caused Adam’s offspring to become enslaved to sin and death. Hence, it took the surrendering of another perfect human life—Jesus’ life—given as a sacrifice to make release from bondage possible. (Romans 5:19; Ephesians 1:7) It is only because God lovingly paid this ransom that mankind has the prospect of enjoying what Adam and Eve lost—life forever on a paradise earth.—Revelation 21:3-5.
In view of what it accomplishes, there is no doubt that God’s gift of the ransom, which makes everlasting life possible, is the greatest gift of all. To appreciate what a “perfect present” it is, let us see how, in surpassing ways, it satisfies the factors that help us to make gifts worthwhile, as discussed in the preceding article.
Satisfies our desire. We humans have a strong innate desire to keep on living. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) Although on our own we are unable to satisfy that desire, the ransom makes it possible for us to do so. The Bible says: “For the wages sin pays is death, but the gift God gives is everlasting life by Christ Jesus our Lord.”—Romans 6:23.
Fills our need. Humans could not provide the ransom. The Bible explains: “The ransom price for their life is so precious that it is always beyond their reach.” (Psalm 49:8) Therefore, we were in desperate need of divine assistance in order to be released from bondage to sin and death. But “through the release by the ransom paid by Christ Jesus,” God has provided just what is needed.—Romans 3:23, 24.
Is perfectly timed. The Bible tells us: “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) Because it was given “while we were yet sinners,” the ransom provides assurance of the depth of God’s love for us despite our sinful state. And it gives us much to look forward to, even though we have to endure the consequences of sin.
Reveals a motive noble and selfless. The Bible points out what moved God to offer his Son as the ransom: “By this the love of God was revealed in our case, that God sent his only-begotten Son into the world so that we might gain life through him. The love is in this respect, not that we have loved God, but that he loved us.”—1 John 4:9, 10.
How can you show that you appreciate the greatest gift of all? Recall that Jesus’ words at John 3:16 point out that only those “exercising faith” in him will be saved. Faith, according to the Bible, is “the assured expectation of what is hoped for.” (Hebrews 11:1) To have that assurance, accurate knowledge is essential. For this reason, we urge you to take time to learn about Jehovah God, the Giver of this “perfect present,” and to find out what you must do to enjoy the everlasting life that Jesus’ ransom sacrifice has made possible for you.
You can learn all of this by examining the Scriptural information available online at www.jw.org. Jehovah’s Witnesses are happy to help you. We are confident that as you learn about and benefit from this greatest gift, you will be moved to exclaim: “Thanks to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”—Romans 7:25.