Christians Can Give Thanks That They Have Been Rescued, Redeemed and Adopted by Christ
Southern Evangelical Seminary President Dr. Richard Land Reflects on What Thanksgiving Means for Americans and for Christians
CHARLOTTE, N.C.—Americans this week from coast to coast will cease their workaday activities and gather with friends and loved ones for Thanksgiving. It is a time-honored ritual, observed by the overwhelming majority of the American population. But what should this holiday mean for Americans—and Christians—today?
That is the question explored by Dr. Richard Land, Evangelical leader and president of Southern Evangelical Seminary (SES), in his daily two-minute radio feature, “Bringing Every Thought Captive.”
“Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday,” Land said. “To me, it is the most American of holidays. One reason is that, for whatever reason, God has blessed us as a nation in unique and manifold ways. When we look at all the blessings God has poured out on America, it is hard not to be amazed at God’s goodness and His blessings. And blessings, by definition, are undeserved. That’s why they are called blessings. As Christians, we should all undertake a spiritual exercise this Thanksgiving. The Apostle Paul commanded us to ‘in everything gives thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you’ (1 Thess. 5:18).
“When we start giving thanks to God for the blessings in our lives, God will keep calling new blessings to mind, and we will find there are so many more things to be thankful for than we had ever thought of or imagined. As we are obedient in this apostolic commandment, God will create in us an even more grateful heart, and the grateful heart is the contented and the peaceful heart. I hope we all stop to remember that we have so much for which to be grateful in this land that God has blessed so richly.”
Land added that when we as Americans look at our nation’s history, we cannot help but come to the conclusion that more than fortuitous circumstances had been at work.
“No one can be that lucky,” Land said. “God has blessed us and protected us in unique ways. And Americans of religious faith should take the occasion to give thanks to God for His blessings and His bounty.
Land noted that a sermon he once heard comes to mind at Thanksgiving, and as the calendar pages turn to Christmas.
“Paul’s message to the Galatians should instill in all of us an attitude of gratitude, and it serves as a great transition from Thanksgiving to the greatest gift of all—the Savior’s birth at Christmas,” Land said. “Paul expresses wonders to the Galatians: How can you so easily have forgotten all that God did for you? What happened to your sense of Thanksgiving? In Galatians 4:15 he asks that question and reminds them of what Christ did for them—for each of us as Christians. He rescued us, justified us, was crucified for us, adopted us, gave us His spirit, was cursed for us, redeemed us from the curse of the law and gave us His righteousness.
“This is known as the great exchange,” he continued. “Jesus came and took all of our sins on the cross and gave us all of His righteousness. He became the Savior and the Lord, also the first born among many brethren. ‘To them that received Him, to them gave He the power to become children of God.’ We have a great deal to be thankful for as Christians. We experience the glory and the blessing of salvation. Our salvation commenced with our regeneration, being born again. We are growing in grace through sanctification, but we have not been completely saved yet. Our salvation is not finished. When we go home to be with the Lord, we will be joint heirs and will be like Him. What a glorious future available to all, ‘to them that believe on His name, to them gave He the power to become the children of God.’ May we all pause to give gratitude that we know all this to be true.”