24 Unchangeable Things to Be Thankful For

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Joshua Arnold | The Washington Stand.

Events of the past few months have reminded us that much of what we take for granted is not guaranteed — at least, not in this life. Yet there are things we can rely on, which are guaranteed, and which cannot be changed by our circumstances. They cannot be modified or imperiled by war, politics, the stock market, or even a cranky relative. While we thank God for his gifts, let’s be sure to include the unchangeable ones.

Scripture describes how Christians enjoy an overflowing bounty of special gifts God has given to us. These gifts come through Jesus Christ, the most precious gift of all, and who “bestow[s] his riches on all who call on him” (Romans 10:12). In passages like Ephesians 1 or Romans 8, Scripture sets forth many gifts and how they overlap and fit together. For instance, the Golden Chain from Romans 8 lists five gifts together:

“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified” (Romans 8:29-30).

I have endeavored to compile these gifts in a logical sequence, as difficult as that is. This list is by no means exhaustive — if that were even possible (1 Corinthians 2:9) — and it excluded some overarching gifts (Jesus Christ, his substitutionary atonement, God’s love, grace, and mercy) to focus on more particular ones. I pray that this list will be a helpful starting point to help you bask in the riches of God’s unchangeable gifts to us in Jesus Christ our Lord.

With that, here is a list of 24 things we can be thankful for, which are found in Christ and unaffected by the circumstances of life:

1. Election

God “has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,” wrote Paul, “even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him” (Ephesians 1:3-4). God has chosen those who believe in Christ. Without God’s choosing, we would still be in our sins, along with the folly, blindness, and wretchedness that accompanied them. God’s choosing is evident when Christians believe the gospel not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction” (1 Thessalonians 1:4-5).

2. Calling

“Those whom he predestined he also called” (Romans 8:30). Scripture describes God calling people “to belong to Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:6). This call comes from God, through the proclamation of the gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:13), “in the grace of Christ” (Galatians 1:6). While not everyone who hears the gospel will believe it, everyone who is “called” in this sense will believe; God’s calling is effectual because it is “according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). All whom God calls in this way are “called into the fellowship of his Son” and there kept by God’s faithfulness (1 Corinthians 1:9). They are “vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory — even us whom he has called” (Romans 9:23-24).

3. The Gospel

The gospel is God’s message of salvation in Christ, through which he calls the elect to salvation. Mankind deserved death for our universal rebellion against God’s holy law, but God in love sent his Son, Jesus Christ, who lived as a man. He lived a perfectly righteous life, satisfying all the requirements of God’s law, but he was mistreated and killed, taking our place as a sacrifice for sins. Then he rose from the grave and ascended to heaven, where he intercedes on behalf of those who believe in him, so that God would count Christ’s righteousness to them and so that their sins would be washed away.

When people hear the gospel, understand the grace of God, and know about the hope laid up for them in heaven, this message bears fruit in their lives — sanctification, holiness, and love for God and others (Colossians 1:3-6). This message “is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes,” and “in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith” (Romans 1:16-17).

4. Repentance

Repentance is the response of someone who is convicted by the message of the gospel. It involves turning away from sin and turning to God. When the hearers of Peter’s first sermon “were cut to the heart” at his gospel proclamation, he instructed them to “repent and be baptized” (Acts 2:37-38).

Some readers may be surprised by repentance’s appearance in a list of God’s gifts because it is something we are commanded to do. But the truth is, this too is a gift granted by God; we could never achieve real repentance — which involves a change in the posture of our hearts — apart from God’s grace. Thus, later in Acts, believers in Jerusalem respond to the Holy Spirit coming upon Gentiles, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life” (Acts 11:18).

5. Justification

How can a man’s sins be forgiven before a holy God? God is “the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:26). This refers to God’s legal declaration, as Judge of the world, that a person is “not guilty.” This declaration of righteousness is not through a man’s sinlessness, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), but rather “through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe” (Romans 3:22).

All who believe “are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith” (Romans 3:24-25). Our sins were transferred to Jesus’s account, and he paid the full penalty, so that God would extract no further penalty from us; his righteousness was transferred to our account so that we might stand before God without fear.

6. Redemption

This is the heart of the gospel, so it’s worth examining multiple facets of this matchless jewel. In addition to securing our justification, Jesus Christ also secured our redemption. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13). While justification is a legal term, redemption is an economic term meaning to buy something back. We had sold ourselves in slavery to sin, but Jesus bought us back, and the price he paid was his own blood. “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,” wrote Paul (Ephesians 1:7).

We no longer belong to sin but to Christ, “who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14). Jesus’s single purchase is enough to pay the price for every sin we have committed or will ever commit. After he ascended to heaven, Jesus Christ “entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:11-12).

7. New Life

God justified us, he redeemed us, and he also gave us new life. The Bible describes our sinful state, before salvation, as a kind of death. “You, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him [Jesus Christ]” (Colossians 2:13). This new life is “not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works,” but “because of the great love with which he loved us” (Ephesians 2:4, 8-9). Paul described the new life, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

8. New Identity

This new life brings with it a new identity. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Christians have become “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his [God’s] own possession” — everything Israel was supposed to be and failed to be. This new identity also gives us a new purpose, “that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). This new identity gives us citizenship in (Philippians 3:20) and unites us with all the other “members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19).

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9. Adoption

Speaking of the household of God, we now get to be a member through “adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:5) — a consequence of both election and redemption (Galatians 4:5). This reality reframes our hardships in a wholly new perspective.

“And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? ‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.’ It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons” (Hebrews 12:5-7).

The Lord disciplines not out of anger but out of love, to drive out our sins and prepare us for heaven.

10. Reconciliation

Another way to describe our new standing before God is reconciliation. We “once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds,” but Jesus “has now reconciled” us “in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him” (Colossians 1:21-22). We had been at war with God, with no right to expect anything from him except fearful judgment. But now we have a sound basis to come into his presence and claim his forgiveness and mercy.

Reconciliation with God will also transform our relationships with other people. In Christ, we are united to other believers, even those of different heritage, upbringing, and opinions (Ephesians 2:13-16). Regarding unbelievers, we are entrusted with “the message of reconciliation,” the gospel (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).

11. Access to the Father

Our changed relationship to the Father through adoption and reconciliation means that we now have access to the Father (Ephesians 2:18) — and not just any access, but “boldness and access with confidence” (Ephesians 3:12). We have the access of a beloved son, not that of a stranger and rebel.

In addition, Jesus now acts as our heavenly high priest, who can “sympathize with our weaknesses” (Hebrews 4:15). Therefore, “we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus” (Hebrews 10:19). He helps us to “draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:22). This is not a guess but a promise, and the one who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:23).

12. The Holy Spirit

In addition to all the changes in our standing before God, Christians receive a majorly transformative gift: God sends the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, to dwell in us (John 14:26). The Spirit “bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Romans 8:16) inwardly confirming our adoption (1 John 3:24). He regenerates us (Titus 3:5) — that is, he gives us new life. He acts as God seal on, a “guarantee of our inheritance” (Ephesians 1:13-14). More than that, he teaches us about God and his work (1 Corinthians 2:9-10), “helps us in our weakness,” and “intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26-27).

13. Freedom

“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17), in two senses. First, “if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law” (Galatians 5:18). No longer are we subject to a covenant of works by which we cannot be justified, therefore we must not “submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).

Second, Jesus Christ “has freed us from our sins by his blood” (Revelation 1:5). By God’s Spirit, we have power to successfully resist sin and even put our sinful nature to death. “For one who has died has been set free from sin” (Romans 6:7). This freedom from sin enables us to “become slaves of righteousness” (Romans 6:18), which means that we “do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13). This is true freedom, and it is only possible through the Spirit’s work in us, or sanctification.

14. Sanctification

Sanctification is the fruit of the freedom from sin we find in Christ (Romans 6:22). By the work of the indwelling Holy Spirit, we increasingly become “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4) — that is, we become holy like God is holy — which “is the will of God” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-7). The Spirit “train[s] us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age” (Titus 2:11-12). God sanctifies us to prepare us for the marriage supper of the Lamb, when Jesus will be forever united to his bride, the church, who has “made herself ready” and is clothed in “righteous deed” (Revelation 19:7-8).

In one sense, our sanctification requires effort on our part, so we must “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12) But, in another sense, “It is God who works in you” (Philippians 2:13), and “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). In other words, the Spirit of Jesus Christ is preparing his holy people for his own enjoyment. “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:24).

15. Protection

Jesus also protects his saints from falling back into sin. This occurs concurrently with the process of sanctification, which implies some indwelling sin still remains, although it does not characterize a believer. However, Scripture promises that he is “able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy” (Jude 24). Therefore, “Everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him” (1 John 5:18).

He also protects us from internal sin. “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). So, we can agree confidently with Paul, “The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom” (2 Timothy 4:18).

16. Hope of Glorified, Resurrected Bodies

Regarding that heavenly kingdom, Christians look forward to a bodily resurrection. Even “if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1). This hope is based on Christ’s resurrection. “Christ has been raised from the dead, … then at his coming those who belong to Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:20-23). When we rise, the Lord Jesus Christ will “transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:21). Our bodies will be imperishable, glorious, powerful, spiritual (1 Corinthians 15:42-44).

Paul’s insights into this mystery were so surpassingly glorious that he gladly “suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ … that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:8,11).

17. Hope in Christ’s Return

Resurrected bodies are only one of many reasons Christians look forward to “our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). Christ promised to come again, “not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him” (Hebrews 9:26-28). We are seeking “an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:10-11).

18. Salvation from God’s Wrath

At Christ’s second coming, God will judge all people and nations and pour out his wrath on those who have rebelled against him, but those who hope in Christ will be saved. “God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10), said Paul, appealing to our justification and reconciliation (Romans 5:9-10). He quoted the Old Testament promise, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame” (Romans 10:10-11). Thus, Jude characterized a Christian’s current state as “waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life” (Jude 20).

19. Hope of Eternal Life

In fact, eternal life is exactly what Christians are looking forward to at Christ’s return, for “this is the promise that he made to us — eternal life” (1 John 2:25). In contrast to the death we earned as wages for our sins, now that we are in Christ we will receive eternal life as a “free gift” (Romans 6:23). This is described in Revelation as eating from the tree of life (Revelation 2:7), a return to the Edenic paradise that existed before the Fall.

20. Future Glory

This eternal life will be characterized by glory. “When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:4). This is a result of God’s effectual calling, for the God of all grace “has called you to his eternal glory in Christ” (1 Peter 5:10). The glory is Christ’s, but it is so overpowering and comprehensive that we get wrapped up in it, too, simply by beholding him. “We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Yet in some measure, the glory is also a reward for the righteous (Romans 2:10). This glory — both God’s and ours — is infinitely weightier than present suffering. Indeed, Paul reasoned that “the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18-19), “for this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18). Praise the Lord!

21. Future Inheritance

Also in eternity, those who are found in Christ will obtain an inheritance, by virtue of their adoption (Galatians 3:29-4:7) and election (Ephesians 1:11). There are ways in which we can store up treasure in heaven (Matthew 6:20), but ultimately it is God the Father “who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light” (Colossians 1:12). This inheritance is variously described as “the city that is to come” (Hebrews 13:14), “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13) and the right to drink from “the spring of the water of life without payment” (Revelation 21:6).

Most importantly, this is the reward: “I will be his God and he will be my son” (Revelation 21:7). This inheritance “cannot be shaken” (Hebrews 12:28). It is “imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:4), “where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:20).

22. Future Reign

Those who trust in Christ for eternal life will reflect his glory, share in his inheritance, and “also reign with him” (2 Timothy 2:12). “The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne” Jesus promised (Revelation 3:21). “I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father” (Revelation 2:26-27).

They will receive a “crown of life” (James 1:12) and a “crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8). They will “judge the world,” and even “judge angels” (1 Corinthians 6:2-3). Christians prepare for their future reign with Christ by submitting now, just as Christ submitted, even to injustice.

23. Joy

All these glorious, unchangeable gifts from God are grounds for rejoicing both now and for eternity. “We rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings” (Romans 5:2-3), wrote Paul. “In this [hope of an imperishable inheritance] you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,” agreed Peter. “Though you do not now see him [Jesus Christ], you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:6-9). Again, he counseled believers, “rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:12-13).

24. Eternal Fellowship with Jesus

Of course, the greatest gift of all is Jesus Christ, through whom all the other gifts are obtained. Paul described Christ’s second coming in electrifying language — angles, trumpet blasts, saints rising in the air — but he ended on the most encouraging and important point of all, “and so we will always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

Jesus will write his name of those who conquer and “make him a pillar in the temple of my God” (Revelation 3:12). For those who endure, “They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore. … For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7:16-17). When the new Jerusalem descends from heaven, “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:2), a voice proclaims:

“Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:3-4).

No earthly circumstances can diminish, dull, corrupt, or even challenge this glorious reality that is awaiting those who believe in Jesus. So let’s thank him for all these things.

All 24 of these unchangeable gifts from God are only available to those who have repented of their sins and believe in Jesus Christ for salvation. As we thank him for these gifts, let’s also remember that we live in a world full of people who don’t believe in him, and who lack the comfort and assurance of these unchangeable gifts. Let’s tell them the good news about Jesus so they can believe in him too.

If you’ve read this far, and you’re not a believer, thank you for sticking it out. A Christian is someone who understands themselves to be a sinner, recognizes their need for salvation, and believes in the free gift of salvation offered through Jesus Christ. A Christian is also someone who walks in repentance, forsaking their former sins and devoting their whole life to glorifying the God who saved them. Ask any Christian, and they would be happy to tell you how to become a follower of God. His promises are freely given to every person in the world, if they will believe in him.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views the Virginia Christian Alliance

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