“This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe….for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Rom 3:22-24).

I am thankful this Thanksgiving, aren’t you? For good reason. 

There is much good in this world. There is nothing good of it. Follow the trail to the heart of all that is truly good in men and you will find the Holy Spirit at work. Observe long and carefully enough and see this work to be self-evident in God’s children—the body of Christ. Oh sure, there are vestiges of goodness—reflections of what was supposed to be—found even among the sorts of men who reject Christ as Savior. Yet, even there, these virtuous qualities reflect God’s innate goodness, not man’s. “There is no one righteous; not even one” reads Romans 3:10. And thus no man apart from God can claim it authentically.

And it is this authentic good, manifested here on Earth through the Holy Spirit—what theologians have called the restraining influence of God—that explains why Christ-rejecting men of this world have not yet annihilated one another. Without this authentic good, the world would be full mayhem and tatters. Nevertheless, Where is this restraining influence? Show me! the scoffers demand, sure of themselves that it is a figment, for they have scales on their eyes. 

But God’s children have no such things. We’re the first to see authentic goodness and to know it when we see it. We’re the ones in position to point out the real thing to those who choose to run but can’t hide from what we already know, experientially, to be true: Jesus is the source of good, and the maker of life, and He loves everyone, even scaly-eyed scoffers (there’s an image). If only they knew, or cared to know, how much He desires to take up residence by way of the Holy Spirit in every person who says “Yes, please do;” and how much He desires, through said residency, to teach them to be authentically good and not just acting good; and how much He desires to take them back to paradise with Him when the time comes (Mt 25:46; Jn 14:2; Rev 22:1-5; et al.). 

Does this all sound too good to be true? Not on Christ’s life, it’s not! For the gift of Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection merged the authentic good with the forever true so that we might live eternally and happy and well. The better question is: Is it too good to be deserved? Undoubtedly. It is a gift by the grace of God (Rom 3:20-26). And that is something to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving, and every day from now on.

I hope this encourages you to thank God for everything good today.

Kevin Murray

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