A City Set On a Hill
Surviving the Seventieth Week by Reforming Fundamentalism and Establishing Cities of Refuge
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Holy Spirit Filling Through Thanksgiving
Copyright 2010 by Raul E. Lopez, MD, MDiv

The second positive way to be filled with the Holy Spirit addresses primarily the mind. It is the action of thanksgiving. Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; (Ephesians 5:20). One of the first steps into paganism is unthankfulness. Paul says of the heathen "because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened" (Romans. 1:21). Thanksgiving is the response to God's role as the rewarder. It is based on the realization of three important attributes of God. The first is the Love of God. If God loves us, he will want to do what is most beneficial for us. Love is that which causes a person to give himself for the benefit of others. John says that "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son" (John 3:16). We know that God loves us very much because God gave us the most precious thing that He had, His son. Paul says "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:32). Secondly, it is based on the realization of the omniscience of God. Not only does God want to give of himself for our benefit, He knows what is best for us. Thirdly, He is omnipotent, so He is able to carry out His wishes. The goodness, wisdom, and power of God gives Him the right to demand our obedience. This faith in the ability of God to reward us and meet our needs is the foundation of all faith. The writer of Hebrews said "but without faith it is impossible to please Him, for He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6). It is this faith that is the source of all good works and service. Paul praised the Thessalonians for "your work of faith" (I Thessalonians 1:3). This doctrine of God as the rewarder is similar to the Reformed doctrine of the sovereignty of God.

We should be thankful not only for what God will do for us, such as allow us to enter the blessings of the millennium and eternity, but also for what He has done for us. The ten commandments are prefaced by the assertion: "I [am] the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me." (Exodus 20:2-3). God based His demands on the fact that He had rescued the children of Israel out of the slavery of Egypt.

There are two broad areas for which we should be thankful. The first of these is God's supply of our earthly needs. God sends us both prosperity and tribulation. In order to increase our thankfulness it is important to grow in our understanding of God's will "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." (Romans 12:2). The apostle Paul in this passage says "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." (Ephesians 5:18). Prayer is the most important tool for developing an understanding of God's will and for receiving a greater appreciation for God's supply of our need and guidance in our life. Jesus said "most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it" (John 14:12-14 nkjv). The name of God is the collection of the revealed attributes of God. God revealed His name to Moses "Then the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed 'The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children to the third and fourth generation" (Exodus 34:5-7). Therefore, we are to pray, keeping in mind God's role as the Rewarder and thanking Him for that which He will or will not do.

However, the most important gift for which we must be thankful is our salvation. God delivered us from the slavery of a spiritual Egypt. Christ told the seventy disciples which he sent out to preach, "Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven" (Luke 10:20 nkjv). Habbakuk said "Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation" (Habakkuk 3:17-18 nkjv). It is important to thank God for His provision of salvation through His Son Jesus Christ. This the provision of salvation is something which God did for the world. Jesus said "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

There is another gift that is at least as important as the provision of salvation. This gift is more personal, it shows God's love for the individual, for you and me personally. This is the gift of faith. Paul says "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9nkjv). Here we see that even the faith which leads to salvation is a gift. Salvation is the result of faith on man's part, but faith is based on nothing, except God's will. Just like God's original creation, it is a "creation ex nihilo," out of nothing.

John said "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become the children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:12-13 nkjv). Children never ask to be born. They are born whether they want to or not, it is the parents decision. If the parents will it the, gametes unite in life and a child is born, if they do not will it that night, the gametes are condemned to death and never produce human life. The basis of spiritual birth is similarly in the hand of our heavenly Father. God does not save those who choose Him or seek Him. Paul says "There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God" (Romans 3:12 nkjv). We are dragged kicking and screaming to our salvation. "Jesus answered and said to them, 'Do not murmur among yourselves. No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day'" (John 6:43-44 nkjv). The word 'to draw' is used to describe prisoners going unwillingly to prison. An understanding of God's pre-eminent role in salvation is a first step toward a deeper understanding of God's personal love. This leads to a greater attitude of thanks giving and produces a more complete filling of the Holy Spirit. Widespread Arminianism, which is the over-emphasis of man's role in salvation, is the first of three important doctrinal problems which weaken fundamentalism.

Until Christians realize the truth that the basis of our salvation is a direct, irresistible, personal call of God, and we begin to thank Him for being the recipients of that call we will never see an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in revival. These foundational Biblical doctrines of salvation were organized in a logical list by the followers and of John Calvin and have been called the five points of Calvinism. It is significant that the majority, and the greatest of the American revivals occurred in association with strong Calvinistic preaching. An example of this is the sermon "Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God" by Jonathan Edwards. This led to a revival after the first great awakening. Edwards himself studied the revival phenomenon and concluded that the greatest number of salvation followed preaching on God's right to send unrepentant sinners to eternal damnation.

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