Today's Broadcast

Giving Thanks!

A Message by R.C. Sproul

At Thanksgiving and the beginning of the Christmas season there is something that so many of us neglect. How much thanks have you giving this year? In this special Thanksgiving message, Dr. Sproul gleans from Luke seventeen as he teaches us about the lack of thanks given in the parable of the Ten Lepers.

From the series: Thanksgiving

Get The Prince's Poison Cup Book + Audiobook for a Gift of Any Amount

Further Study On This Topic

  1. devotional

    Giving Thanks

  2. article


  3. devotional

    The Face of Blessing

Giving Thanks

Along with our failure to honor God, Romans 1:21 says our lack of gratitude to Him is the other primal sin that motivates all of the various forms of wickedness that are on display in human conduct. Like the error we commit in dishonoring God, it is also easy to see how ingratitude motivates a host of other evils. For instance, if we are not grateful to God for all of the blessings that He has given us, we will quickly begin to feel as if we have been cheated somehow. This will blossom into covetousness as we envy others whom we perceive to be more blessed than we are, and we might even go further into theft or adultery, wherein we take things that are not rightfully ours.

Biblical ethics have gratitude at their core, for it is always thankfulness to the Lord that is to motivate our obedience. This is evident from the structures of the biblical narrative itself. When God speaks to His people after the fall, He always reminds us of how much He has done for them before He delivers His laws. The Ten Commandments were not given to the ancient Israelites until after the Lord rescued them from slavery in Egypt (Ex. 20:1–17). In their epistles, Peter, Paul, and the other apostles generally lay out the great truths of redemption before they make application of those truths in practical, ethical matters. From first to last, thankfulness is one of the major animating impulses of a true Christian ethic.

According to the Word of God, gratitude is not simply something that we feel but something that we must demonstrate to others. When interpreters look at the account of the cleansing of the ten lepers in Luke 17:11–19, they often draw the distinction between one leper who was thankful and nine who were ungrateful. Yet this is not exactly what we see in the passage. We have no reason to believe that the nine who did not immediately thank Jesus for their healing felt no gratitude, for who among us would not be tempted to run home immediately and share the good news if we should be healed of some terrible ailment? This can be done even as we are feeling thankful in our hearts toward the healer. No, the real difference between the one who went back to Jesus and the nine who did not is that the one who returned displayed His gratitude while the others kept it to themselves. Christian thankfulness will always display itself in good deeds and verbal expressions of gratitude.


John Tweeddale

The Bible is a blessed book. It begins with blessing. It ends with blessing. It’s about blessing. Even more, it is a blessing. But all of this begs a question: what exactly do we mean by the word blessing?

Count Your Blessings

In everyday parlance, the word blessing reflects a range of meanings. We can count them one by one. So, for example, we might speak of bumping into a long-lost friend as an "unexpected blessing" or (depending on the friend) even as a "mixed blessing." Here the word more or less conveys the idea of personal gain and good fortune. But the term can also carry with it a sense of granting approval, as when a love-smitten lad asks for the "blessing" of a would-be father-in-law for his daughter’s hand in marriage.

Still further, we often think of blessing as connoting divine favor and protection; hence, nearly every presidential speech ends with those grandiose words: "God bless America."

I would suggest, however, that none of these uses of the term get to the bottom of blessing. Sure, the Bible likewise speaks of it in a multiplicity of ways. We thus read of blessing as the reward of a birthright (Gen. 27); the goodwill of one person to another (Gen. 33:11); the endowment of fatherly favor (Gen. 49:28); the privilege of serving God (Ex. 32:29); the receiving of an inheritance (Josh. 15:19); the benefit of a healthy crop (Lev. 25:21; Heb. 6:7–8); the bounty of creation (Ps. 65:9–13); and so on.

But even these blessed experiences need to be read against the wider backdrop of the Bible’s teaching on blessing.

From Whom All Blessings Flow

The word for blessing comes from a Hebrew noun (berakah) that is most often used to communicate the conferring of God’s covenant favor and goodness. Similarly, the verb form, "to bless" (barak), means, at root, "to kneel," but it is frequently used to describe the reverent worship of God’s covenant people, both in terms of prayer and praise.

But how are these Hebrew words related? Think of the difference between a benediction and a doxology. Both involve a distinct aspect of blessing. In a benediction we receive a blessing (berakah) from God (Num. 6:22–27). But in a doxology we exalt or bless (barak) God for His blessing (Ps. 103:1–5). In short, benediction begets doxology (Eph. 1:3–14).

The bestowal of divine blessing, therefore, points to an intimate relationship between a benevolent benefactor and his unworthy recipients. The former gives and graces, and the latter receives and rejoices, with blessing as the bond between them. God richly blesses us, and we in turn bless Him for His blessing. So we gladly sing, "Praise God from whom all blessings flow."

This, however, is only the nutsand- bolt s a spect of blessing. Throughout Scripture, the word is inextricably linked to four other biblical principles: creation, covenant, cursing, and Christ. In this context, blessing takes on a much richer, and more specific, meaning.

Fount of Every Blessing

The Bible opens with a pronouncement of blessing. In Genesis 1 we learn that the first benediction was spoken directly by God: He blessed creation on the fifth day, humanity on the sixth day, and the Sabbath on the seventh day. Life in paradise was lived under the full blessing of God.

In Genesis 3, however, God’s benediction became a malediction due to Adam’s sin. Thus, He cursed the Serpent, the woman, and Adam for their rebellion. As a result, humanity no longer lives under the umbrella of divine favor but under the hand of divine judgment. Sadly, the blessing that was enjoyed in paradise was lost as a result of the fall.

The rest of the Bible tells the unexpected story of how God’s blessing from creation is rediscovered by means of God’s gracious covenant. Hints of how this would be accomplished were given to Adam (Gen. 3:15), Noah (Gen. 9:1), Abraham (Gen. 12:1–3), Moses (Deut. 27–30), David (2 Sam. 7:28–29), and Ezekiel (Ezek. 34:25–26), among others. But the fount of God’s blessing is ultimately revealed in the Son of God incarnate.

In the New Testament, we discover the good news that Jesus turned God’s cursing into a blessing by becoming Himself a curse on the cross (Gal. 3:10–14). Those who trust in Christ are therefore gloriously forgiven and blessed both now and in eternity (Rom. 4:7–8); blessing lost is now blessing regained by the Lamb of God (Rev. 22).

Tragically yet justly, those who reject Him remain under God’s judgment and are cursed forever (John 3:36).

What, then, is God’s blessing? The answer is simple: Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:3).

The Face of Blessing

We have been looking this month at some of the metaphors for God that are revealed in the Old Testament and how they are fulfilled in the New Testament. Having spent some time looking at these characteristics of our covenant Lord, we will now devote some time to examining what it means to live in a way that pleases Him. In other words, we are going to be looking at what it means to live coram Deo — before the face of God — in a way that is pleasing to Him and conscious of His sovereign glory.

The various writers of Scripture often describe God using anthropomorphic language — language that speaks of God, metaphorically, as possessing a physical body and so forth. This language is used in many different ways, and this is no less true when the Bible makes reference to the face of God. Many times, the Bible talks about the Lord setting His face against someone or something in a way that means He has determined to destroy or judge it (Lev. 20:6; Jer. 21:10). Yet that is not what we are talking about when we speak of living before the face of God. Instead, living before the face of God means knowing and living in gratitude for His blessing.

No one can hide from the Creator (Ps. 139:7–8); thus, we are always before the face of God in some sense. Still, the Bible speaks of a special way of being before His face that means He has set His approval upon us. It is a horrible thing for the Lord to hide His face, for that means His awesome wrath is about to fall upon the disobedient (Deut. 31:16–18). On the other hand, the blessing of God shining His face upon us is an indescribable benefit and guarantees that His Spirit is working among us (Ezek. 39:29). When we imagine the beaming face of the proudest parent, we get but the barest glimpse of what it means for the divine face of blessing to shine upon us.

Aaron’s blessing is one of the most important benedictions in Scripture, and the fact that God’s face would be on His people as pronounced in this blessing demonstrates how the ancient Israelites prized the blessing and favor of their covenant Lord (Num. 6:22–27). This face of blessing shines upon all those who are faithful to His covenant, and if we walk in His ways, we can be assured of His pleasure, even when things seem to be falling apart around us (Ps. 24).

Since the beginning,

our aim has been to help Christians know what they believe, why they believe it, how to share it, and how to live it…

More about Renewing Your Mind