Our pursuit of thankfulness is under constant attack. This fallen world works in tandem with our fallen natures to continually sow seeds of discontent in our lives.
It’s hard to celebrate when others succeed where we have failed. It’s hard to be satisfied when our neighbor lives in a bigger house and drives a better car. It’s hard to be joyous when life’s trials inevitably come. It’s hard to stay thankful in a world that always seems to conspire against us.
But true Christian gratitude is never rooted in temporal circumstances. Our thankfulness must rest in eternal realities. That’s why John MacArthur chose to focus on the glorious truths of salvation in his Thanksgiving sermon “Giving Thanks for Salvation.” We should never stop meditating on the glorious truths of redemption. The gospel is a message for believers as well as unbelievers—it calls sinners to repentance and saints to remembrance.
Of all the things that we are thankful for, that for which we are most thankful is the salvation that was provided for us in the death of Christ. He died on the cross under the wrath of God, bearing the punishment for our sin, the sins of all who would ever believe, and providing for them eternal life. We could never have a true Thanksgiving evening together if we didn’t end it at the Lord’s Table and end it at the cross.
“Giving Thanks for Salvation” points us to the preeminent reason why all Christians should be thankful. But John also reminds us of our rightfully relegated place in God’s redemptive purposes.
The reality is that salvation is not ultimately for us. It is for us, but not ultimately. Ultimately, it is for God. In fact, ultimately, everything is for God. Everything that happens, happens for God’s glory.
Salvation begins with God who has chosen us for His glory, who has justified us for His glory, who is sanctifying us for His glory, and who will one day raise us to heaven for His glory. Everything is for God’s glory, and that’s why Romans 11 ends with a doxology that says, “For of Him and from Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.”
How wonderful to be the unworthy beneficiaries of God’s plan to bring glory to Himself through redeeming sinful people for Himself. Grasping that reality should cause all dissatisfaction and disappointment to fade into insignificance. The counsel found in Helen Lemmel’s well-known hymn rings true for all of us weighed down with worldly concerns:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace.
We never outgrow our need to be continually reminded of so great a salvation. “Giving Thanks for Salvation” is a soul-stirring reminder of where our gratitude must always be anchored.