Seth Udinski, FISM News
Thanksgiving day is a wonderful holiday. It is a day where families and friends gather together for one of the most time-honored traditions in human history – breaking bread and giving thanks for what we have. It is the unofficial start of the Christmas season and a day that is often filled with good food, laughs, football, and time spent with those we love most.
But there is more to Thanksgiving than just a vague feeling of goodwill. Goodwill and thankfulness, while virtuous, do not save sinners from hell. I am convinced based on the testimony of scripture that we will not have a genuine spirit of gratitude if we do not understand and internalize the eternal plight from which we who trust in Jesus Christ are saved.
So this Thanksgiving, let’s be encouraged in several ways that will help us orient our hearts around the God who delights to save sinners.
The first is this – You and I deserve nothing in this life but death and hell. The late Christian theologian and pastor R.C. Sproul once said this, summing up the condition of every single human being who have ever walked this earth as we stand guilty before a holy God:
Every human who has ever existed has either received grace or justice from God. No one has received injustice.
This not only speaks to the goodness of a God who never deals out injustice, but also to the innate internal plight of every human heart. All of us stand utterly guilty before God. Since this is our plight, it opens up a new position of gratitude when we consider our lives and our blessings. Whether you are a Christian or not, if you have breath in your lungs and food on your table and people you love, you are supremely more blessed than you deserve.
But Christians have all the more reason to be thankful, because our second core theological truth, which is this – God has brought sinners back to himself through the perfect work of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible is overwhelmingly clear on this – all who repent of their sin and believe on the name of the Lord Jesus will be saved. This is not a faint hope or even mere confidence that it will probably work out in the end. We are guaranteed to be freed from the power of sin in this life, and freed from the damnation we deserve in the next.
Our salvation is given to us by the Son and sealed by the Holy Spirit. Once we are saved, we are always and gloriously saved, because it is Christ who holds onto us, not the other way around.
Jesus encourages us in John 6:
And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
Sin and grace are at the core of the gospel. You and I are great sinners, and not “great” as in “good.” Our sinning is vast and immense, and we are horrifically good at it.
But the gospel is about Christ saving sinners who cannot save themselves. And if you are a Christian, you have this good news for which to be thankful, not just at Thanksgiving, but every day. The worst news we could ever hear is that we are sinners who deserve death and hell. The best news we could ever hear is that God delights in bringing His children whom He loves back to Himself, and He does it through Christ.
So this Thanksgiving, turn your heart to Christ on the cross, Christ victorious over death, and Christ who rules and reigns over all things today. He gives you and I all the reasons we need to be truly thankful.