Thanksgiving For Our Great Salvation
The daily Bible reading schedule I have followed for many years brings me to the book of Hebrews in the days just preceding our annual celebration of Thanksgiving. While we are all blessed in many ways, are there any blessings as great as the privilege of being in Christ and therefore God’s children?
This book (Hebrews) always emphasizes this to me in a very special way. As we read and ponder the great truths regarding our covenant with God, Christ’s role as both perfect sacrifice and living High Priest who continually provides for the removal of our sins, how could we not be filled will thanksgiving for so great a salvation? That is the question posed by the inspired author in Hebrews 2:1-4 – “Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?”
The greatness of our salvation may be described in many ways. This article will concentrate on two of those ways: 1) Our salvation is great because of the way it came to us, and 2) because of what our salvation does for us.
Our salvation began in the mind of God. In the Book of Ephesians, Paul states that: “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.” 1:4,5. It was God’s good pleasure to designate people for His adoption who would come to Him through Jesus Christ. We become His adopted children when we believe and obey the New Testament gospel. Believing the Good News about Jesus, we turn from sin and are baptized into Christ. It is in baptism that we put off the old man of sin, are united with Christ, and arise as a new person in Christ—read Romans 6:1-4 and Colossians 2:12 for a full description of the process.
Our salvation came to us through the preparatory work by God revealed in the Old Covenant. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph were patriarchs whose story establishes in our minds a God who selects a people, makes a covenant with them, and shows Himself as a covenant-keeping God who will bless them and keep every promise He makes. The giving of the old law by the hand of Moses was designed to guide His people until the coming of the Messiah. Old Testament prophets worked among God’s people. They rebuked every sin, admonished the Israelites—the laborer behind the plow to the king on his throne--to serve God in His revealed way. It seems to me that four great principles emerge from the Old Testament account that contribute so much to our salvation: 1) The exceeding sinfulness of sin is abundantly described, 2) Our need is for holiness in order to serve a Holy God, 3) God is The God and an idol is nothing, and 4) We are made for God’s purposes—there is no fulfillment for our longings except in God’s divine plan.
God’s salvation is so great because of what it does for us. Our lives in His will are transformed into lives filled with the purposes of God. The new life is described in many New Testament passages. The following quotations are a sample:
Ephesians 2:4-6 – “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”
Romans 6:22 – “But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.”
Romans 12:1,2 – “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
Ephesians 5:8-10 – “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.”
The salvation that comes through Christ fills our hearts with hope—the happy anticipation of blessings to come. Hope gives us great comfort. It “anchors our soul.” The Savior’s description of a home with Him in Heaven is recorded in John 14:1-3 – “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” Our hope includes a reward for faithful service. Revelation 2:10b – “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
Our new home and our new life are beautifully spoken of by John in Revelation 21:1-4 – “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.’ ”
How can any thoughtful person neglect “so great a salvation?” May our hearts be filled with thanksgiving for all of God’s gifts, both material/earthly blessings and especially for our great salvation through Christ.