Sunday, March 6, 2011

Giving Due Thanks for What We Are Receiving

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks, by which we offer to God an acceptable worship with reverence and awe; for indeed our God is a consuming fire.”

~Hebrews 12:28-29 (NRSV).

No Namby-pamby God here.

We’re receiving that which, in no human terms can be denied, is incomprehensible... indeed, to the fact that we’re only a fraction of one percent understanding of things here on earth. The scientist says, “So much for science!”

The idea of Creation is, to put it bluntly, overwhelmingly awesome—but it’s only a shadow of the Creator.

Grace is something that was never ‘conjured’ as it is extant eternally, but brought to actuality at the cost of Jesus’ life; no cheap grace! We will never understand this depth of love.

For what is to come, something irrefutable in its Presence and power, an eternal place and position, there is only “reverence and awe”; nothing else fits.

What a Believer is Receiving

The nature of what a believer is receiving is summarised in four ways by Arthur W. Pink:

1. They own the reality, and submit to the authority, of the Spirit’s doctrine, truth, and law (Romans 6:17).

2. They enjoy the privileges of righteousness, peace, and joy—these Spiritual benefits—by both light and grace (Romans 14:17).

3. They’re receiving it in faith—to all the dignities and securities enfolded of the Spirit (1 Peter 1:5).

4. They gain immediate and full access to God—to their measure of faith and maturity—but unlimited in scope. This “supernatural initiation into its spiritual mysteries” (1 Corinthians 4:20) is the palpable reality of inclusive rights to God—the covenant Father.

“Due Thanks” Commensurate With Receipt

For the wondrous reality we’re receiving, thanks is the appropriate measure of response. We’re hardly thankful enough.

How God is to be thanked is the real question—not so ‘how much.’

The Lord is to be offered an “acceptable worship”—which is how we live our lives, not how we sing on Sundays. The mood of our entire lives is to be “reverence and awe” for the size of life and eternity—its height, width, length and depth (Ephesians 3:18-19). Encapsulating life is unconscionable and the fact that God is a “consuming fire” should magnify our awe. The fire of God—which is an urgent purging of all wickedness—is completely just.

About this “consuming fire,” I cannot put it better than Pink himself:

“The twin graces of love and fear, fear and love, should be jointly active in the believer, and it is in preserving a balance between them that [their] spiritual health largely consists. So it is here: observe the remarkable conjunction: “our God,” in covenant relationship, our Father; and yet “a consuming fire,” to be trembled at!”

Thanks most of all are due to the definitiveness of all this.

We stand assured of the right and wrong way, and as our wills are chosen, we cling to blessing or cursing. To be able to see clearly and have the choice—to know that God loves us so much to give us that choice—is, both factors, due to cause through us the utterance of sincere, heartfelt thanks.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

General Reference: Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House Company, 2004), p. 1095-1104.

Graphic Credit: to the story of Arthur Stace.

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