For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23—NKJV)

Who does not like a gift? Whether expected or unexpected, there is something special about receiving a gift. Gifts are celebratory and often full of meaning. God never gives a gift out of obligation and absolutely never out of coercion. May we never assume that the greatest of all gifts, the gift of His Son, was even remotely tainted with any such thought. Seeking to divine the totality, and firmly grasp the quality, of the gift given in saving a human soul is aptly described by Paul in 2 Corinthians 9:15: “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” It is a gift that is so enviable and lavish a one that no man is capable to narrate and declare it in full!

The “Roman’s Road” of salvation has four mile-markers. The first is “All Are Lost” (3:10–23, 5:12), the second is “It Is All of Grace” (5:8), the third is “It Is All a Gift” (6:23), and the final is “It Is All About Faith” (10:9–10, 13). Our topic is the third mile-marker—that salvation is All a Gift. As Romans 1:16–18 outlines, the gift of salvation is fully in accord with the righteousness of God so that it is a gift never to be rescinded, reneged, or reduced. God really is as good as His Word! (“You have magnified Your word above all Your Name” Psalm 138:2).

The gift of salvation is contrasted to a “wage” in Romans 6:23. A wage is an obligation. True to the fallen nature of men, we seek to find a way to make salvation some sort of award that we are due, as if God is obligated to grant us life. We constantly want to bargain with God, to inherit, to pay back, or outright earn this salvation—anything, but a true gift. The text makes the fact plain that the only thing any one of us is ever due is death, both physical and spiritual. As Paul previously stated in Romans 4:4, “Now to him who works, the wages are not counted in accordance with grace but in accordance with debt.” Death is obligated by sin; personal sin obliges you to death. No man works for a wage without expecting to collect the paycheck. When we are honest with God and with ourselves in accounting the seemingly limitless debt our sin places us under, the helplessness and hopelessness of our condition begins to dawn upon us. We are lost, undone, ruined, and perishing (Romans 2:5–11, Ephesians 2:12, John 3:16–21).

Our text calls salvation a gift of life exchanged for a debtor’s death. Most gifts we receive from others in life do have some sort of merit, award, occasion, or obligation attached to their meaning. Expense is not always the focus because the sentiment is often the treasure of the gift, but when sacrifice is evident, the true meaning of the gift is emphasized and the gift is remembered. The absolute best gifts you will ever receive in life are rare and complete; this is the kind of gift God gives in saving your soul.

God’s gift of salvation is truly the rarest kind of gift. Salvation is not commemorative, like a military medal. It is not expected, like a birthday gift. It is not predictable, like an engagement ring. It is not earned, like a thirty-year service pin. It is not appreciative, like a 10th anniversary gift. It is not customary, like a 25th or 50th anniversary gift. It is not spontaneous, like a memento of an event. It is not luck, like the winning of a lottery. What other kinds of gifts are left? The great majority (if not all) of the gifts you will ever receive in life will be one of this list.

The only gift that stands in a class of its own is God’s gracious gift of salvation (the text calls it a “free gift”). It is fully undeserved, absolutely unexpected, and it is immeasurably unlimited. It is unlimited because it is sacrificial, because it is eternal, because it is irrevocable, and because it is inexhaustible. Ephesians 2:8–10 states, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

God’s gift of salvation is truly a complete gift. His gift of salvation, which replaces our debt to sin of eternal death, is of eternal life. Longer life is not a gift if it has no meaning, purpose, significance, or benefit. His gift, earned and won for us by His Son’s sacrifice on the cross of Calvary, is “all-expense-paid,” never to be repented of, without expiration date, abundant, never-ending, and unceasingly unfolding into better things. Like Peter says in 1 Peter 1:3–5, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

Salvation is all a gift that must be all of grace, offered to people who are all sinners; do not try to make it anything else or it ceases to be the rare and complete gift that God offers. Out of grace God exchanges our sentence of a debtor’s eternal death with life! Trust and obey.