The Apostle Paul is known for his spontaneous expressions of praise in his writing and the verse quoted above is one of them. God gave up his Son to save us—a gift too wonderful to describe—and as Paul thinks about this as he writes, he interjects his thanksgiving into the text. Paul is thankful for Jesus, sent by God to save his people. Without the gift of the Son, we would all remain under God's condemnation, and none of us could be saved.
This past Wednesday, Kim urged us to follow Paul's example in thanking God for people, and today I'm hoping we can learn from him to be thankful for Jesus, his work, and all the saving benefits that we receive through him.
Here's a list of some of the aspects of our salvation to give thanks for:
- election. I am saved only because God decided in eternity past to set his love on me. There was no foreseen good in me to call out his choice to save me. From the very beginning, my salvation was a gracious act of God—a gift! How can we not be thankful? (See 2 Thessalonians 2:13 for an example of Paul's thanksgiving for election.)
- calling. In our experience of salvation, it's God's calling that starts it all. God graciously calls us "into the fellowship of his Son (1 Corinthians 1:9)" and we come.
- regeneration. The new birth is a gift from God, too (Ephesians 2:5-7).
- faith. In Kim's previous post on being thankful for people, did you notice how many times Paul thanked God for the faith within the hearts of other believers? That's because the faith through which we are saved is also God's gift.
- justification. We are justified "are justified by [God's] grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." God imputed our sins to Christ and Christ's righteousness to us out of pure grace.
- redemption. I'd say Paul thanks God for redemption in Ephesians 1 when he says God's saving work, including "redemption through his blood" is "to the praise of his glorious grace."
- adoption. In Ephesians 1, Paul also says that "adoption as sons" is "to the praise of his glorious grace." (And adoption as sons includes women, because in Christ, women—not just men—receive an inheritance.)
- perseverance. It is "to the praise of [God's] glory that we were "sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it . . . ." (Ephesians 1:13-14). Or, to explain it using Peter's words, we are kept "by God's power" for our final salvation (1 Peter 1:5). In other words, we persevere because God keeps us persevering.
- deliverance from sin. This, too, is God's work: "Who." Paul asks, "will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Romans 7:24-25).
- victory over death. Those who are being saved will be raised to eternal life. This is the way God gives us victory over death. (1 Corinthians 15:54-57).