Those who experience their crucifixion, burial and resurrection by living out their “in Christ” position observe Thanksgiving in a more expansive way than we did before.
When Jesus instituted the Lords Supper, Matthew 26:27 quotes Him saying: “This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Later Jesus said to his disciples: “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth …” (John 16:12-13). Jesus knew that the Holy Spirit would reveal that He, Jesus, was the last Adam and would die and be raised to create a new race. It would be a race of people who were crucified, buried, and resurrected [Romans 5:12-6:13].
A Thankful Life
When we thank the Lord that Jesus died for our sins, we are in the will of God. However, we are also in the will of God when we, in addition, thank God that the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus were as “the last Adam” [1 Corinthians 15:22]. We thank Him that Jesus made the way for our spiritual crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. We thank God for the One Who made possible our victory over sins in our lives and over the sin nature [sinful world/flesh/Devil influence – Romans 7:17] that is the source of our sins.
Consider what Paul wrote to the church at Corinth. “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15). When he wrote this, Paul knew that God’s indescribable gift of sending Jesus was for more than the forgiveness of sins. In 2 Corinthians 2:15 Paul wrote: “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.” Notice the words in Christ in the verse above. As we live out our position in Christ, we will always be led by and empowered by God to serve in victory.
We have the experience of Hebrews 4:10: “For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.” We are saved from our own works. That is, we cease to attempt to serve God in our own wisdom and begin to make our lives available to God for Him to express Himself through us. Such a glorious change to victory in service prompts us to thank God.
2 Corinthians 4:15 is a statement about the spread of grace through suffering. The passage reads: “For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.” We thank God for the spread of grace whether it is through suffering or through living out our oneness with Christ. All of God’s children need to live by God’s grace rather than their own strength and wisdom.
Of all the statements in the Bible about thanksgiving, the one that seems to be the strangest is in Ephesians 5:20. It reads: “… giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ …” We are more familiar with the statement on thanking God for all things found in 1 Thessalonians 5:18. That verse says: “… in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” … Obeying that seems to be humanly impossible when we think of all the tough times we all go through. It is humanly possible.
The Spirit Filled Life
Giving thanks becomes possible when we place that statement in its context. Ephesians 5:18 is a command that we be filled with the Spirit. There follows that command a listing of three results in the life of one being filled with the Holy Spirit. Thanking God always for all things is one of them. The reason this fits in with our discussion of thanksgiving from our “in Christ” position is because we must live out our crucifixion, burial and resurrection to experience the filling of the Holy Spirit.
Galatians 5:17 explains why all Christians are not filled with the Holy Spirit. It is because “…the flesh lusts against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh … so that you do not do the things that you wish.” Something must be done about the flesh–our know-it-all attitude–in order to release the Holy Spirit to fill us. When that happens, He will guide and enable us to always thank God for all things.
We put the flesh out of power, releasing the Holy Spirit to fill us, by experiencing our crucifixion. When the flesh is out of power the Holy Spirit has free access to our lives. We experience the crucifixion of our flesh by obeying the five commands of Romans 6:11-13. As we continue to obey these commands and continue to keep the flesh out of power, we are filled with the Holy Spirit.
Philippians 4:6-7 explains the importance of our thanking God for all things: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” The passage says we can have peace of mind and heart by presenting our prayers and supplications to the Lord with thanksgiving. The peace does not come because God answers the prayers. The peace comes when our prayers and supplications are presented to the Lord with thanksgiving. This is a truth that blesses us all. We only have to believe that God is in control of our circumstances to pray with thanksgiving. The process to having the peace this passage speaks of begins with understanding and experiencing our oneness with Christ in crucifixion, burial and resurrection. With that understanding and experience we are filled with the Holy Spirit who will always guide us to thank God for all things.
May God give us all a wonderful Thanksgiving season as we fully express our gratitude to Him in a way that brings Him glory and will bring blessings to each of us and those around us. If you are a child of God and have not yet begun to experience your oneness with Christ, God wants you to do so. You are already in Christ. You only need to experience it.
From the In Christ newsletter, Vol. 8, #4. David Kuykendall Ministries. His online books are freely available at http://www.living-by-grace.org
Bracketed items and subheadings added. For terminology and related definitions GFI uses, see https://gracenotebook.com/definitions/