I can't back this claim up with scientific data, but I have a feeling that most of us do not appreciate the massive place that thankfulness is supposed to play in daily Christian living. The Bible sees thankfulness as both the right reason for Christian living (Deut 6:4-12, where the reason for the Law's centrality in the home is God's past gracious work) and part of the necessary means of pleasing God (Col. 1:9-14, where "giving thanks" in v. 12 is an adverbial participle of means, subordinate to the call to "walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him" in v. 10). Indeed, says the Apostle, "abounding in thanksgiving" is part and parcel of "walking in Christ Jesus" (Col. 2:6-7).
The paramount object of truly Christian thankfulness is our salvation in Christ. Inherent in this is the recognition that salvation is God's work, not ours. We are saved by grace and faith alone, and since this was totally by God's own doing, we are uniquely thankful to Him.
Further, thankfulness is one of the main ingredients in a life that is truly centered on the glory of God. What is thaknfulness to God if it is not the praise of His goodness and His greatness as seen in His work? The very nature of this is a God-centered attitude, which of course should be primary for us.
With that in mind, I have come up with what I hope is a helpful if not exhaustive list of some of the aspects of the salvation that God has worked for us that deserve our thanks. There are more passages that could go with each aspect, but I picked the ones that came most easily to mind. Here is the list:
- Eternal Life - Jn. 3:16
- Knowledge of God - Jn. 17:3; Jer. 31:31-34/Heb. 8:8-12
- Access to God - Heb. 4:14-16
- New Creation - 2 Cor. 5:17
- A New, Fleshly Heart - Ez. 36:26-27
- Incorporation into Christ - Rom. 6:4-11; Eph. 2:4-7
- Election by God from Before the Foundation of the World - Eph. 1:4
- Forgiveness of Sin - Eph. 1:7
- Peace with God - Rom. 5:1
- Peace with Every Other Christian, Regardless of Usual Human Separations - Eph. 2:11-22
- Justification Before God - Rom. 3:24
- Propitation for Sin - (i.e. Jesus Receives the Wrath of God in our Place) - Rom. 3:25
- Freedom from Slavery to Sin - Rom. 6:17-18
- Membership in God's Kingdom - Col. 1:13
- Victory Over Satan and Demons - Col. 2:15
- Adoption into God's Family, so that God is Truly our Father - Rom. 8:15; Eph. 1:5
- The Indwelling Holy Spirit - Jn. 16:7, 13
- Being Filled with the Fullness of God in Christ - Col. 1:9-10
- Hope & Future Glory - Col. 1:5; 1 Thess. 1:9-10; Rom. 8:18-25
- Joy - Phil. 4:4
- Reception of God's Love - Rom. 5:8; 8:37-39; Eph. 2:4; 3:18-19
- The Ability to Praise God's Glory - Rom. 11:33-36; Eph. 3:20-21; Phil. 1:9-11
I can think of no more appropriate way to end this post than by quoting Eph. 3:20-21: "Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen."