Scripture and You

Thanksgiving: The Result of Growing on a Firm Foundation

By Dr. Paul M. Elliott
Growing on a firm spiritual foundation results in gratitude for Christ and for the truth.

From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase

Growing on a firm spiritual foundation results in gratitude for Christ and for the truth. Conversely, unthankfulness is Satan's device to lead us away from Christ and His truth and into doctrinal deviancy and spiritual poverty.

As I write this, Thanksgiving Day is about to be observed in the United States. Similar observances have recently taken place in other countries such as Canada, Germany and Liberia. Typically at such times Christians are inclined to focus on God's material blessings upon us. But today, let me urge a different focus: Let us remember to be thankful for Christ and for the truth of Scripture. In Colossians 2:6-7 the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul commands this of us:

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.

Growing on a firm spiritual foundation results in abundant gratitude for Christ and for the truth.  Conversely, unthankfulness is Satan's device to lead us away from Christ and His truth and into doctrinal deviancy and spiritual poverty. Unthankfulness and ingratitude for Christ and for the truth is the common failing of those who lead the church into apostasy, and it is the common failing of those who follow them. It is the basic reason why individual Christians, and entire churches, succumb to Satan's triple threats which Paul describes in Colossians chapter 2 - worldly philosophy, legalism, and man-made doctrines.

What are the key characteristics of this unthankfulness? Unthankfulness has its roots in pride. It has its roots, first of all, in an attitude that says, "I know better than God." This was the sin of Satan himself in his fall, as we find it recorded in the book of Isaiah chapter 14, and in the book of Ezekiel chapter 28. "I will exalt my throne above the stars of God," Satan said. "I will be like the Most High." "I am a god," he said, "I sit in the seat of the gods." The unthankfulness that leads to doctrinal deviancy has its roots in the same kind of pride. "I know better than God."

It also has its roots, secondly, in an attitude that says, "I know better than God's Word." This was the sin into which Satan led Eve in the Garden of Eden. "Has God indeed said...?" That is Satan's destructive question in all ages. The implication behind it is that God didn't really say what He meant, and God didn't really mean what He said. Satan convinced Eve that God was withholding something wonderful from her, because, the serpent said, He knows that if you partake of it, "your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God." This thing is going to make you wise, Eve. So eat of it, partake of it.

And so Satan planted not only the seeds of pride but also the seeds of unthankfulness and ingratitude in the heart of Eve, and likewise in the heart of Adam who sinned with her. The fall of man and the fall of the creation resulted immediately from that one sin - a sin rooted in pride and in unthankfulness for the gracious gifts of God. Our first parents were thus spiritually defeated by the Devil and his deceptions. Their sin let loose all of the havoc that has plagued mankind and the created order for over six thousand years.

How vital it is to put up and keep up a solid battle front against the wiles of the Devil. That involves thankfulness. How great a ruin can result from one seemingly insignificant sin of pride and unthankfulness. How great a catastrophe can result when individual Christians, or the church as a body, decide not to submit to Christ as the Head when we say, in effect, "We know better than Christ." How great is the spiritual ruin that can come to the individual believer, and to the church, when in an attitude of unthankfulness we refuse to recognize God's Word as the sole authority, and we say, in effect, "We know better than God's Word," and we let down our guard, allowing worldly philosophy, or legalism, or man-made doctrines to gain a foothold. It is the great sin of unthankfulness that leads a church into error, and keeps a church trapped in error.

This is the great sin of Roman Catholicism. The Pope and the leaders of that false church array themselves in elaborate and expensive vestments, and parade before the people. Rather than acknowledging, with thankfulness, that Jesus Christ has paid the full price for sin once for all on the cross, they crucify Christ afresh every time they celebrate the Mass. Can anything be more unthankful?

This is also the great sin of the cults. The Jehovah's Witnesses, for example, say that God's Word must be submitted to the judgment of man's reason - we know better than God. Mormonism goes even further and says that man becomes a god. The so-called word of faith preachers on television today will tell you that you are a god. These men and women strut across a stage in an attitude of open and sinful pride, an attitude of unthankfulness for the gracious gifts of God in Christ, and they tell you that you have a right to material wealth in the here and now, planting the seeds of ungratefulness, and they tell you that you can demand health and wealth of God.

Dear friends, let us be humbly thankful for the gracious gifts of God not only at special seasons of the year, but every day. Chief among those gifts are Christ and His Word:

Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Colossians 3:16-17)

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:15)

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