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Thanksgiving: The Mystery of Salvation

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade— kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that your faith— of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire— may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:3-9)

Material prosperity has a way of warping you through your sin nature.  You start to think that a certain standard of living is “your due”.  Commercials tell you that “you’ve earned it, you deserve it”, and we’ll take their word over God’s!   Family members, instead of reflecting on God’s goodness and thanksgiving for all we’ve received, are increasingly using the occasion of Thanksgiving vacation to shop on their phones for Black Friday sales!  “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.” (Romans 1:21)  Christians are easily at risk of succumbing to the same spirit of this age, when we’ve been given plentiful reasons to be forever thankful, from the 1 Peter 1 passage above, or Ephesians 2, for example.


John Winthrop, the Puritan leader who founded the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630, seeking religious freedom from England, wrote in his famous sermon, A Model of Christian Charity, “For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a by-word through the world.”

Indeed, the Lord uses occasions such as these to test our hearts to see whether we may be counted worthy of receiving eternal blessings: “The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Deuteronomy 13:3) 

Jesus spoke about those among us like this, “Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.” Now this is the kind of reception God is looking for: “But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.” (Luke 8:13-15)  Yes, God is describing the one kind of soil (heart) that will truly be saved, the kind that recognizes the treasure of the Gospel we’ve received!

 “Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.  We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God." (John 6:68-69)

True thanksgiving is given by those who sense that God’s gifts are even greater than what one currently knows, and therefore one must continue to plumb the depths of our riches in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3: 16-19, James 1:25)

True thanksgiving is demonstrated by our daily actions. (James 3:13)

True thanksgiving continues after the Gospel has been received. (James 1:25, 2 John 1:9)

True thanksgiving perseveres in times of trial, because you realize that the inheritance that you’ve been promised is far greater and lasting than anything this world can give. (James 1:12, Hebrews 10:34)

The fact that we are still alive, breathing and able to reflect into these deeper mysteries is proof enough that God has given us far more than we deserve.  Yet the greater response towards him may be like the ten lepers who were healed of leprosy by Jesus, yet only one returned to give Him thanks! (Luke 17:12-19)  For God’s people who receive the riches of His mercy, eternity itself is not long enough to sing His praises, for we receive none of what we deserve, and much of what we do not deserve.

The goal of all this waiting is to produce in us a gift towards God that Peter describes as being worth “more than gold” (see above), and that gift is Faith!  That faith will be a blessed offering to the Savior of our souls, and it will be richly rewarded (Hebrews 10:35-39) 

So trust in His Word for you, and use this as an occasion to exponentially increase your thanksgiving to Him! 

2 Corinthians 9:15, “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”


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