Faith Column: Why giving thanks matters
December 4, 2015
1 Peter 1:3 (ESV), "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."
Thanksgiving has always been my favorite of the holidays. The reasons for this are that first of all I have always sort of felt sorry for Thanksgiving. It sort of gets ignored in between the weirdness of Halloween and the consumptionpalooza that has become Christmas in our culture. The second reason is because I love football and there is always plenty of football to watch on Thanksgiving Day. The third reason is because I love to eat. But the most important reason that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday is because I have so much to be thankful for. What I am most thankful for though is not the material blessings that most of us as Americans enjoy; it is that God in His mercy chose to save me from an eternity in hell separated from Him.
1 Peter 1:3 is one of my favorite verses in all of Scripture because it so clearly elucidates for us the reasons for our salvation and thus the reason to be thankful. In this short verse we get a very clear understanding of what we have to be thankful for. First of all we see the source of salvation, which is "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." Peter who is the author of this letter begins verse three by calling on us to bless "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." Peter adored God and he is imploring us to do the same. God is blessed when we love Him.
Then we see the motive for our thankfulness when Peter writes, "According to His great mercy." God's "great mercy" is the motive behind God's granting believers eternal life- the sharing of the very life of the Father, Son and Spirit. Ephesians 2:4-5 says, "But God being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved…"
The word "mercy" focuses us on our miserable, pitiful condition as sinners. The gospel is prompted by God's compassion toward those (all of us) who were dead in their trespasses and sins. If you have never repented of your sins and believed in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior then right now you are dead, spiritually dead because of your sin. All believers were once in this wretched, helpless condition, which was compounded by a deceitful heart (Jeremiah 17:9 says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick"), a corrupt mind (1 Corinthians 2:14 says, "The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned"), and because of our wicked desires (Ephesians 5:8 says, "for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light"). All of this made us slaves to sin, which means that we were headed for our just punishment in hell. Therefore we need and needed God's "mercy," in order to show us compassion because we were and are desperate, in a completely lost condition, and the only remedy for it is God's mercy.
How do we get this salvation? Well "we" can't. Peter continues here in verse 3, "He has caused us to be born again to a living hope…" You and I on our own cannot change our sin nature. In Jeremiah 13:23 the prophet asked the rhetorical question: "Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots?" We cannot change our nature but the central fact remains that our nature needs changing. In order for us to experience salvation and enjoy the guarantee or "inheritance" of eternal life as Peter calls it in 1 Peter 1:4, we must experience a spiritual transformation, a new birth and the only way that is possible is through God's action. This is why it says, "He has caused us to be born again."
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We live in a day and age of precious little hope, but in Christ Jesus we have it says here "a living hope." But that "living hope" that salvation only comes through Christ. It does not come through ritual, it does not come through baptism, it does not come through communion… it only comes "through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." Ephesians 2:8-9 says, "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not the result of works, so that no one may boast."
Jesus said in John 14:6, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." If you believe in a religious system that tells you that salvation comes through anything other than the shed blood of Jesus Christ you are as of today completely separated from God. No priest, no religious system, no ritual can save us from an eternity in hell other than Jesus Christ who was fully God and fully man and died on the cross to pay the price for our sins, but was raised to new life so that we can have new life in Him. This my dear friends is what Thanksgiving is truly about. What a rich blessing it is to know that God loved you enough that He chose to save you. If you have never repented of your sins and believed in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior I implore you to do so today.
If you have any questions about what this means please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or you may call me at 970-824-5222 or at 970-761-0589. God bless you and Happy Thanksgiving.
Tim Adams is the pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Craig.Tim Adams is the pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Craig.Tim Adams is the pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Craig.