Featured in the November, 2008 Issue of the Ashburn Baptist News
During the 1700’s the typical Western European family lived in a hovel, had very little furniture, no change of clothes, and had to toil long hours just to get enough food to eat. There was no electricity, plumbing, water or sewer services.
My wife’s family, living on a succession of farms in southern Minnesota, did not have
electricity or indoor plumbing until my wife Ruth left for college. Imagine your life without electricity.
In the 1950’s, the family in England with a washing machine was an exception. Today the majority of the people in the world live without the basics that we take for granted. The “poor” in the United States would easily be upper middle class in most countries of the world if there were a middle class in that country.
Not only do we enjoy material abundance with the highest standard of living known in the history of the world, but also we enjoy freedom that billions of people will never live to see.
We who live in the United States have more reason to be thankful than any other people on the earth.
The apostle Paul, after a two-week fierce Mediterranean storm that was to destroy ship and cargo, held some bread in his hand and in the presence of 200 pagans, “gave thanks to God in front of them all” (Acts 27:35). If in the midst of such devastation and destitution he could be grateful, then we ought to be shamelessly thankful in our present situation. Even common courtesy would require us to be “always giving thanks to God” (Ephesians 5:20). In fact, what we have materially and could have spiritually should lead us to be “overflowing with thankfulness” (Colossians 2:7).
When the apostle Paul says, “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:15), what is he talking about? He refers to God’s gift of salvation to every repentant sinner.
This is the uniqueness of Christianity. Every religion on earth, including some that claim to be Christian, offer salvation by self-effort. A person is to earn heaven by giving to the poor, saying prayers, receiving religious ceremonies. Only historic, Biblical Christianity declares that you are saved “Not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
If you could earn heaven by anything you did, then why did Christ come and die on the cross? His sacrifice and death would be the greatest mistake in the history of mankind if you could take care of your salvation yourself. Of course, we cannot save ourselves. Only the proud think they deserve heaven. Truly, our only hope is trusting in Jesus Christ for salvation.
We should be thankful that we are not left to ourselves in some futile attempt to gain heaven, but thankful that salvation is free because Christ has already paid the awesome price for our redemption. Thankful because, “The gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).