This article first appeared in the November 15, 1970 issue of the Standard Bearer (Vol.47, #4) and was written by Rev. Marinus Schipper.
Grace Abounding Through Thanksgiving
"For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God." II Corinthians 4:15
All things are for your sakes!
That the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God!
No need is there to limit this expression merely to the immediate context, but we may understand it in the unlimited sense. All things are the things in heaven and on earth. All creatures, men, angels, and devils. Also all inanimate things. All things are your, and for your sake. The tornado as well as the gentle zephyr, the humble worm as well as the king of beasts, the devil as well Gabriel, war as well as peace, adversity as well as prosperity, sickness as well as health, death as well as life—all are yours. They were intended for your sake. But that is not all.
Not only all things as they exist are yours, but all these things in their operation and working are also yours. Gabriel, when he brings his good tidings; the devil and his angels, when they beset you with temptations; the world, when it wars and riots; the worm, not only when it turns the soil, but when, after a rainy night crawls on the sidewalk, and when it becomes the instrument whereby you slip and break your leg; cancer, when it lays you low and saps your life—O, there is no end to the things that are yours, and are for your sakes.
For you, church of God!
For the body of Christ in the world!
All things are for your sake so long as the church is in the world. All things must serve you, they are in your behalf, in order to work for your good. They are intended to work together for your final and glorious salvation. Not against you, but for your everlasting good all things must work.
God willed it so, and therefore it cannot be otherwise!
Since you were precious in His sight, from everlasting He willed to create and govern all things so that they might work to realize His eternal purpose in you. In eternal wisdom He has decreed that all things must serve to your salvation and glory in the day of Christ. And therefore according to the immediate context, the apostle informs you that also the death and resurrection of Christ were necessary that He with the church may be presented to God. So all things are yours, and ye are Christ's and Christ is God's.
Indeed, because of you and for your sake all things are and take place. So minute is this purpose of God with respect to all things and in relation to you that not a hair can fall from your head without His will.
But take special notice, beloved reader, that the text while it emphatically declares all things are for our sakes, also emphatically points up the truth that we are not an end in ourselves. All things, though they were divinely intended to serve us, are nevertheless so intended that we may serve our God. Never was it God's intention that the things should end in us, but through us they were intended to end in the praise of our God. In fact, even we, the church, have been formed for God's praise.
This people have I formed for Myself!
They shall show forth My praise!
Because of this all things are for our sakes in order that out of the mouths of many thanksgiving should be lifted up to God. The Church of Christ, which is His body, is one, yet composed of many members, and therefore possesses many mouths out of which thanksgiving must arise.
And thanksgiving cannot mean that we simply rejoice in the abundance of things. This the world also is able to do. Also this the rich fool did, who was not rich toward God. Nor does thanksgiving mean that since we have received many good things, we are now going to give God a tithe of what He has given to us. So that as the Pharisee we can prate to others of how much we have given to God and the things of His kingdom. Nor does thanksgiving mean that we distinguish the good things from the evil things we receive, and now express our gratitude only for the good, while we murmur over the bad to the point of rebellion.
Nay, but it is our calling to praise God in all His works!
Thanksgiving means that you have been graced in Christ Jesus, and therefore rejoice in the favor of God Who makes all things work together for good; it means that while you stand in the midst of all things you know you are the object of God's mercy, and you have the assurance in your heart and express it with your lips that the Lord is blessing you; it means that in all things you see by faith the glory of God, and with joy you, give expression to it. In one word, standing in the midst of all things which are yours, you say from the heart: Praise the Lord, for He is good! His loving kindness is from everlasting! He has blessed us in Christ Jesus, and in Him He gives us all things. He blesses us in health and sickness, in prosperity and adversity, in fruitful and barren years, in war and peace, in life and death. We rejoice because He is our God, and we thank Him for all things and praise Him for His perfect wisdom we behold in all the works of His hands.
God's goodness is infinitely great!
Not out of one or two, but many mouths He has ordained praise. Though the church is one, yet she is many, thousands, yea, millions, a host no man can number. Out of many mouths therefore praise must ascend unto God Who is worthy to receive it.
That the abundant grace might redound to the glory of God!
Not our thanksgiving is it that praises God. Not our praise makes Him great. Not our rejoicing in Him is the cause of the glory of His Name.
Nay, we cannot bring anything to Him. Never can we give Him anything that is not already His own. Never are we the fountain out of which anything flows to God.
Thanksgiving is never of us, but it is the grace of God in us. We are by nature unthankful. By grace we received in the midst of all things which are ours also the grace of thanksgiving. So that when we give thanks to God, we must thank Him first of all that we can thank Him.
Indeed, abundant grace is multiplied in many hearts and through the grace of thanksgiving as it dwells in all the members of Christ's body rises over the lips of many thanksgivings to God.
Not our work, but God's work alone in us can be pleasing to Him!
Only so, does He will to be glorified!
Indeed, not our thanksgiving, but only God's grace in us as it is expressed in thanksgiving in our hearts and over our lips can serve to His glory!
To the glory of God!
O, indeed, He is in Himself the all glorious God! He is full of infinite perfections. He is incomparably beautiful. The brightness of His glory is so terrible that the very angels must cover their faces with their wings when they stand in His presence. In this sense of the word nothing can be added unto Him that will enhance His glory.
But He has also revealed to us His glory. And this glory is the radiation of all His perfections to us. He manifested this glory in the highest sense in Christ. He is the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person. He is also centrally the One Who brings glory to God. "I have glorified thee on the earth;" so He declared in human nature on the earth. "And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son." And John tells us, "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth." And the perfections of God we behold also in all the things which are ours; and they are for our sakes, in order that in them we might see the love and mercy, grace and truth, righteousness and holiness strength and wisdom, of God.
All things must serve to His glory. Nothing excluded. Heaven and earth, light and darkness, good and evil, righteous and wicked, all must glorify Him. All must ascribe honor and glory to Him, and acknowledge Him as all glorious, tell His praises.
And here is the wonder of it all, that God, the all glorious, has purposed through the church; the body of Christ with its many members, in whom He has poured out of His abundant grace, that that church should be the mouthpiece through whom praise shall ascend to Him that enumerates His perfections and thus glorifies Him. O, indeed, also the wicked shall bend the knee and acknowledge that He is God, but they cannot thank Him. But unto us has this grace been given.
Abundant grace makes the thanksgiving to abound!
The one grace of God is multiplied in myriads of reflections in the church chosen in Christ!
This grace overflows and comes out of many mouths through thanksgiving!
To the praise of God's glory!
Thus God glorifies Himself!
What an unspeakably precious gift that He will glorify Himself through us, and that He through the wonder of grace will draw from us His own praise in such a way that we consciously extol His praises with thanksgiving to Him!
This is true thanksgiving!
May we remember this when on Thanksgiving Day we enter His courts!
Now, of course, we realize this only with a small beginning of new obedience.
Presently, however, we shall stand in that vast multitude of redeemed that shall see Him face to face. Then unto all eternity shall ascend as a sweet incense to the Most High the praise and thanksgiving which is His due in heavenly perfection.
Rev. Marinus Schipper was born in Holland, MI on February 8, 1906. He graduated from the Protestant Reformed Seminary and was ordained and installed into the ministry at the Grand Haven, MI Protestant Reformed Church in January, 1937. From there, he went to Second (now: Southwest) Protestant Reformed Church of Grand Rapids, MI. in 1939. In 1945 he accepted a call to the South Holland, IL Protestant Reformed Church. From there, he returned to Southwest (formerly: Second) Protestant Reformed Church in 1954. Finally, he went to the Southeast Protestant Reformed Church of Grand Rapids, MI in 1962. He retired from the active ministry in 1978.
Rev.M.Schipper was taken into glory on January 2, 1985.