This Thanksgiving I’m thankful for many things, but certainly I’m thankful truth. No doubt, truth is on the slide given the prevailing philosophies of our day, which mock truth and those that hold to it. Today’s culture reportedly loves “spirituality” but hates truth. However, Jesus has clearly said that there is direct relation between freedom and truth. You see, there’s no freedom apart from truth. Jesus said it this way, You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free, (John 8:32). With truth comes freedom, and with freedom comes great joy. Therefore, we should rejoice in and celebrate truth. We should be eternally thankful for truth.
In Acts 17, Paul is in the city of Athens, Greece engaging people with the truth of the gospel. Eventually, this activity lands him in front of the Areopagus, which was basically a court of ideas. It was this very court that Socrates had stood before five centuries earlier. The council wanted to hear this “strange new teaching” from Paul, and he gladly obliged. In his monologue, he laid out for them five truths about God. In light of the approach of Thanksgiving, I pray that these fives truths will cause you to rejoice in thankfulness.
Truth 1: God is the maker and sustainer of everything
Paul says in Acts 17:24-25, The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things. This truth is incredibly unpopular today, but it’s one of the most basic premises to biblical truth, second only to the truth that God exists. That’s why the very first verse of the Bible says, In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1). And this truth is affirmed time and again throughout the Bible:
- Psalm 145:5-6, On the glorious splendor of Your majesty And on Your wonderful works, I will meditate. 6 Men shall speak of the power of Your awesome acts, And I will tell of Your greatness.
- Isaiah 40:28, Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable.
- Ephesians 3:9, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things
- Colossians 1:16, For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.
- Revelation 4:11, Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.
God created everything. While our creativity is a reflection of the image of God in us, our creation of things is not like God’s. We just rearrange stuff. God made stuff! That’s why God needs no earthly temple built with hands. He made the stuff that we’d build the temple with, and even if we tried, our building couldn’t contain Him.
But God’s not only Creator, He’s also Sustainer. Everything holds together and has life because God wills for it to. Colossians 1:17 says of Jesus, He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. That’s why God isn’t served by human hands. What can we do for Him that He cannot do for Himself?
One of the greatest truths of Scripture is that God doesn’t need us. Praise God that God wants us, but He doesn’t need us. Oh, some of us very well might think that we’re God’s gift to God, but He doesn’t need you; He doesn’t need me. He’s the God of universe, and I am a speck. The very fact that I even breathing right now is because He desires for me to. He doesn’t need us for anything, but we need Him for everything
Therefore, rejoice with thankfulness in your benevolent Maker and Sustainer!
Truth 2: God is sovereign over the nations and history
Paul continues in Acts 17:26, and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation. I’m sure that you all know well the song “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.” Isn’t it good to know that the all-knowing, all-powerful, all-present God rules over our world? Amen, it sure is!
However, those attributes of might don’t tell the whole goodness. In fact, those attributes would be terrible news if God was evil or hateful or stupid. An all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present deity that is evil, hateful, and stupid is an absolute nightmare. But praise God that our Ruler couples His power, knowledge, and presence with perfect wisdom, love, and righteousness. He always does what is best, most-loving, and right. He’s holy, holy, holy, and no darkness dwells in Him!
Therefore, we rejoice in His providence and oversight. He’s determined when the nations will rise and when the nations will fall. He’s determined the dates of our births and the dates of our deaths. He’s determined our travels and locations.
I don’t know about you, but I trust God of the Bible. I know that He has promised to work history for His glory and my good because I’m His child. Therefore, when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Iran rattle their sabers, when Kim Jong-il and North Korea throw out threats, when the Jihadists plot terror, we can rest knowing that God is still on the throne and that He will not abdicate, compromise, or suffer defeat. He’s got the whole world in His hands and reigns supreme.
Rejoice with thankfulness that God is sovereign over the nations and history!
Truth 3: God is the self-revelator
Paul tells us in Acts 17:27-29, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, “For we also are His children.” 29 Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man.
God has graciously revealed Himself to us. First, He’s done so through nature. Psalm 19:1 tell us, The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. A person can study nature and see intelligence and design to the cosmos. Nature screams that it was created. In fact, given the overwhelming natural witness to God, I believe that a person has to work very hard to be an atheist.
Nevertheless, while nature declares marvelously that God is, the Bible says that natural revelation is just enough knowledge to condemn us. It’s just enough to tell us that God is, but it’s not enough to tell us what this God demands of us. Therefore, those who have only the revelation of nature, as Paul says, grope about in blindness. Although God’s not far from them, they’ll never find Him. People everywhere worship, but that’s why many people worship wrongly. They worship the sun, the moon, and trees. That’s why idols of gold, silver, and stone abound throughout history. That’s why they jump into Islam and Scientology and all the other false religions. Because we have been created by God, we have an innate religious aspect to our lives, but left to ourselves and the light of nature, we’ll never find the true God or please Him.
Therefore, we should praise God that He has revealed more to us through Scripture. It’s there and there alone that we find out exactly who God is and what He requires of us. As Paul told us in 2 Timothy 3:16, All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness. We sorely need the Bible, which is the self-revelation of God.
Rejoice with thankfulness that God is the self-revelator!
Truth 4: God is the judge
Paul delivers some very important news to us in Acts 17:30-31, Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead. God has been patient and overlooked a lot of things through the ages, but that time of overlooking is coming to a close. The fullness of God’s revelation has come in the person of Jesus the Messiah/Christ, and God will soon come as judge over the earth.
For those who are in Christ, this news is a great cause for rejoicing. We in Christ are saved from the wrath of God that’s coming on the world. Our sins have been forgiven, and we’ve been set right with God. The world in which we now live will be transformed. The curse of Genesis 3 on the entire creation will be lifted, and paradise lost will become paradise restored and improved. Sin will no longer be a reality or even a possibility, and God will make His dwelling place with mankind. It will be sweet, to say the least.
But for those who are apart from Christ, this news of God as judge is a great cause for weeping. You stand upon the precipice of everlasting judgment in hell without a chance before God based upon what you have done. When you stand before God and hold your works up to Him as evidence that you should be let into heaven, you will be sorely disappointed. You see, even your righteous works are as filthy rags without Jesus Christ. Therefore, if you are apart from Christ, I beg you to weep and be sorrowful over your sin, and turn to Jesus so that you will be saved from the judgment to come.
Since God is a righteous judge, guilt and sin cannot go unpunished. Therefore, you have only two options: either you pay for your sins, or Jesus pays for your sins. Christ died so all who will believe on Him have their sins paid for by Him. Please believe on Christ because God the judge is coming.
We who are in the truth should rejoice with thankfulness that God is the judge.
Truth 5: God still saves those who love the spiritual but hate the truth
Athens and particularly the Areopagus were full of people who loved spiritual things but hated the truth. The same sort of people are around today in multitudes. But I want you to notice what happened to a few of them in Acts 17:32-34, Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, “We shall hear you again concerning this.” 33 So Paul went out of their midst. 34 But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them. Paul preached the gospel to these people, and God saved some of them, even Dionysius who was part of the Areopagus. Friends, God is still in the business of saving those who hate truth. I’m proof that! Therefore, don’t you ever give up sharing the gospel and sell somebody short. Don’t ever say, “They’re too hard. They’re too old. They’re too cold.” The regenerating power of the gospel is able to penetrate the deadest heart on the planet. I’ve seen it happen! Share the gospel, watch what God does, and be amazed at His grace and power.
Rejoice in thankfulness that God still saves those who love the spiritual but hate the truth.
May this Thanksgiving be a special one for you and your family. May it be filled with goodness, laughter, warmness, and fun. May it be founded on the eternal hope that you have in the truth of our great God revealed in Jesus Christ!
Happy Thanksgiving from me and my family to yours!