Giving Thanks Unto the Father
We must not allow life’s trouble and sorrow to harden our souls or to make us forget our Father’s mercies. Seek the heart of our Lord Jesus on that last night. He had Satan to fight the next day, to yield himself into the power of death and hell, and to drink the cup of his Father’s wrath against sin – but he knelt down and washed the disciples’ feet, taught them of the Father’s love, and prepared them for the great gift of the Holy Spirit. Overwhelmed with the terror facing him, he kept his eye on the prize set before him.
In the same way and by his resurrection power, we remember what our Father has done for us. “Giving thanks unto the Father, who has made us.” What a healthy morsel for our faith! God is not the big guy upstairs, the angry judge, or the distant and disinterested governor of the world. He is our Father, and we must thank him as our Father, for he is filled with tender thoughts toward us and would have us respond to him in kind – trusting and loving and rejoicing in him.
But in particular, we must give thanks that he has “made us fit to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.” However bleak a day begins, heaven is already ours! Our Father has made us fit, already sufficient for heaven. This is his work, his sovereign grace, his almighty power. Not for works of righteousness that we have done, but according to his mercy he has saved us. He has called us into the fellowship of his Son. He has raised us from the dead and given us a new heart. He is able to do what for us is impossible. Wait – today, God has made me fit for heaven, his child, able to obtain heaven, worthy to take my place with the saints in Christ’s presence? Yes.
But I have so many sins. Each broken-hearted sinner claims “chief of sinners” for himself. Sin never kept anyone out of heaven – unbelief and impenitency keeps sinners out of heaven. But I am not righteous enough. This is true, but our Father has made abundant provision for our lack. He gives us the righteousness that we need to stand with boldness on the Day of Judgment (1 John 4:17). Boldness with hell gaping and sparking and hissing? Boldness when Scripture says that before the wrath of the Lamb men will beg for the earth to swallow and the rocks to fall upon them? Yes, boldness even then.
This is not the boldness of arrogance but of faith, the courage that God gives us when he imputes to us the righteousness of his Son. This little word impute is vital to the gospel, to your salvation, and to your thankfulness. It means that God credits his Son’s perfect obedience to us, and then treats us as righteousness for his sake. There is nothing lacking to this righteousness. It is the key to heaven’s front gate. And when he preaches the gospel to us, he places this key in our hand. Take it! Take it! Believe upon the name of Jesus Christ! Cling to his righteousness – and trust in his blood.
Here is the other side of this two-edged master key to heaven, which matches the two-edged sword of the gospel. We need cleansing to enter heaven. Nothing impure can enter there. But all I am is impure; yes, but the precious blood of Jesus Christ washes away all our sins. He has been “set forth to be propitiation through faith in his blood” (Rom. 3:25). God laid upon his Son the filth and curse and hell of all his children. He held his Son accountable for our sins. Substitutionary atonement is the beating, bleeding heart of the gospel. Christ our Lord has born our judgment. He stood in our place and was condemned. By his blood shed in our place, by his blood suffering our curse, by his blood becoming sin for us, we are cleansed. Through faith in him, we are without spot or blemish.
For what has our Father made us fit? “The inheritance of the saints in light.” It was not sufficient for God simply to save us from hell, but he must also give us heaven. “Inheritance” suggests a legal title to eternal life, that by believing on the name of Jesus we can never be defrauded from our right to enter heaven and take our place there with the saints. The kingdom and glory were merited by our Savior’s sufferings, secured by his resurrection, and made effectual in our lives through his intercession. He gives all the wealth and joy of his kingdom to us. He shares his mediatorial throne with us, the Husband with his wife, the Head with his body, the Lord with his disciples. O, how he loves us!
All shall give the same testimony on that day of full inheritance that will begin with the resurrection from the dead. No testimony to man’s goodness, or how smart we were, or how strong we were. All shall confess that Christ Jesus has made us holy by being united to him, holy in life by his Holy Spirit, and holy in heaven forever by his faithfulness and omnipotence. True saints would die before they draw any attention to themselves or want men on earth to celebrate them. Like the angels – “And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See you do not: I am your fellow servant, and of your brothers that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God” (Rev. 19:10).
I have unfolded this a little more than is usual, but having a thankful spirit that sustains through the trials and sorrows of our earthly pilgrimage requires meat on the bones. Many times we hear, “Be thankful,” but often our thoughts go to all the reasons we think we have to be unthankful, what people are doing to us, how unfair life is. This negativity denies our Father’s goodness and questions his wise government of our lives. It is combatted with the solid food of his word, the personal food of what he has done for us.
We struggle now, but a great inheritance is secured and waiting. We cry now, but cloudless glory is promised to us. We must give thanks to our Father for these great things he has done for us and promised to us. We must keep our minds fixed upon them. We must sing his mighty works, trust his faithfulness to bring us to our inheritance, and live thankfully. Give him daily, child of God, your most heartfelt and joyful “Thank you, blessed Father, loving Father, the God and Father of my Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you for my inheritance – you are my inheritance – life with you forever. I cannot wait to be with you. Thank you. You are wonderful. I will love you. Save and secure me for yourself forever. Strengthen me for the battles here that I may live for your glory.”
“Giving thanks” require living thankfully – not complaining, doubtful of God, suspicious toward others, no one ever measuring up to our expectations, frustrated at life’s inconveniences, hard on everyone, never settled with yourself. Look at what God has done for you, promised to you. Eternity with the saints in light approaches – no darkness of sin and doubt, the trumpet blare and sweat and screams of the battlefield silent, the angels singing, the face of Jesus beaming at you. Come in, come in, the Father will say. Here is the kingdom I have prepared for you, the joys I want to share with you, the peace that is now yours forever. All that I have is yours. Let us give thanks.