“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift…”
“Pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
2Co 9:15; 1Th 5:17–18
Jesus Christ is the gift of a loving heavenly Father to a sick and sinful world, hurtling toward judgment. We see the fullness of God’s grace in the gift giving, in that our freedom to accept or reject is not infringed in any way. The call to enter eternal life is predicated on a simple act of childlike faith, and the offer is universal in nature. This is because, on the cross, Jesus Christ bore the entire weight of the wrath of God against sin for every soul—past, present, and future. When our Lord screamed His victory cry, “It is finished!” (Joh 19:30), the debt was paid in full. He who never knew sin had become sin on our behalf (2Co 5:21), and accomplished His mission of reconciling the world to God (2Co 5:19). The rent veil in the temple (Mat 27:51) proclaimed that the way into the presence of God was open to all who would come. Now the full weight of bearing the image of God falls on mankind. For in that image is found the greatest power of all—the power of choice and self-determination. The question of eternal destiny—of heaven or hell—hangs on the just scales of personal decision. “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve” (Jos 24:15) becomes the line in the sand between rescue or wrath.
For those who respond to the divine invitation, “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Mat 11:28), grace is vindicated and life is received. As new creatures in Christ (2Co 5:17), we who believe begin to explore the vast galaxies of the grace of God. By constant and careful investigation into the revealed Word of God, life begins to take on an eternal significance in contrast to the fading and passing world around us. As we look around, we see a world on the brink of tribulation. But as we lift our gaze to the shining city seen only by the eye of faith, we sense an overwhelming gratitude mingled with a great burden of personal responsibility. The issues of heaven or hell begin in the everyday choices between the temporal and the eternal. By our daily lives, we give evidence of the reality of the invisible realm, and with our lips we bear testimony to the only hope of resurrection. Either our lives are “living epistles” (2Co 3:2) to the truth of God’s Word, or we have compromised our calling as ambassadors of Jesus Christ (2Co 5:20).
It is precisely at this point, where true gratitude for God’s “indescribable gift” of Jesus Christ so impacts our soul and transforms our sense of reality, that we begin to “give thanks in all things.” Biblical thanksgiving is not mere thankfulness for all the “good things” of life, as if faith in Christ is simply a spiritual pacifier. Rather, spiritual thanksgiving, being rooted in the reality of Christ’s sacrificial victory on our behalf, is the ability to be thankful for the difficult and the disappointing. Having seen what God has done through the cross of Christ and taking His crucifixion as our guiding star, we learn to give thanks in everything, knowing that a faithful God, who works resurrection out of death, will continue to work the same miracle out in our lives. It is only the Christian (furthermore, the spiritual Christian) who can give the highest thanks and praise to God. He alone can know the true meaning of Christ’s victory on the cross, and wills to see that same victory wrought in the sorrows and afflictions of his or her own life. Thus, like our Master, we give thanks “for the joy set before” us (Heb 12:2). And we are thankful on this Thanksgiving Day to a gracious and loving Father, regardless of conditions around us. For we conclude that God is at work in these very circumstances to perfect His own, and to convict our world of its hopeless condition apart from faith in Jesus Christ.
We thank God for each of you, and for what God is doing in your lives. We encourage you to stand firm in your faith, to rise above the prevailing gloom, and to “rejoice always” (1Th 5:16) in the perfection of His plan. May this Thanksgiving time be for each of you and yours a time filled with gratitude to God for His matchless gift through Jesus Christ.
His servants for you,
Gene and Nan