27 November 2008

That On Which All Thanksgiving Depends

Plenty of Food
“In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory” (Eph 1:11-12).

“God from all eternity did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass” (Westminster Confession 3.1).

Sometimes modern Christian custom gives opportunity to elucidate apostolic Christian doctrine. At least since the first Passover in Exodus 12, God’s people have seized on the practicality of using customs and traditions to teach and exhort the next generation.

Thanksgiving Day affords us a timely opportunity to reflect on what the Scriptures have to say about the divine decree and providence. Thanksgiving Day is pure nonsense, without the teaching that God is working everything--yes, everything--according to plan and that nothing--no, really, nothing--fails to contribute to the grand culmination of his purpose. If those sayings were not true, then all the good gifts we enjoy came to us by impersonal fate or chance. They do not really provide us with a reason to be particularly grateful. In addition, all the good gifts we enjoy become meaningless if they are simply the ephemeral elation of endorphins.

To say it positively, Thanksgiving Day is meaningful and profound when observed on the Christian worldview. The day reminds us that the gifts we enjoy have a personal loving author. These gifts are intended as reminder to approach God in worship through Jesus, as Paul told the Lyconians:

God “has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy” (Acts 14:17).

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