“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise:
Be thankful unto Him,
And bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His mercy is everlasting;
And His truth endureth to all generations.”
~ Psalm 100:4-5
Our text gives us the fifth and final step in the journey to thanksgiving: ““Enter into His gates”. This step is the culmination of a process of dedication to God that illustrates for us the event of salvation and the process of sanctification.
The Psalm started out with a call to salvation (Psalm 100:1); a call to focus on God instead of ourselves: “Make a joyful noise unto The LORD”. No matter what our feelings are, no matter what our circumstances are, turn to God in praise for He is Worthy. This is the call of salvation: “Look and live, look to Jesus now and live!” When the Hebrews were stricken by snakes, sent from God because of their sin. Moses was told to erect a cross with the image of the snake on it. That cross was held aloft and everyone who looked to it would escape death (Numbers 21:4-9). Jesus told us that sign was a foreshadowing of His own ministry (John 3:14-21 and John 12:32-33). All mankind is destined for eternal death because of sin, but if we take our eyes off ourselves and look to Jesus we can be saved: “Look and live, look to Jesus now and live!” “Make a joyful noise unto The Lord” because He offers us salvation.
Next the Psalm called us to dedication (Psalm 100:2a), which is an essential step in the journey of sanctification for Believers. We are called to a life of service to our God: “Serve The LORD with gladness”. We will learn to thank God for His blessing because we are serving Him. It is but mockery to thank the God of the Universe for His blessings while we serve ourselves. How can we thank God for allowing us to remain disobedient to Him? If we are focused on God, if God is truly the center of our lives, if He is our Saviour, then we must dedicate ourselves to walking in His will, not our own.
The Psalm then summons us to another key feature of sanctification: communion (Psalm 100:2a): “Come before His presence with singing”. Focus on God and dedication to God makes it possible for us to commune intimately with God. God would have us commune with Him “face to face” even as He did with Moses. We can’t expect to commune with God when we are not focused on Him, we can’t expect to commune with God when we are living our lives outside of His will. Conversely, God draws close His obedient child.
The next step is distilled directly from our communion with our Father (Psalm 100:4): “Know ye that the Lord He is God”. Our communion with God makes it possible for us to have a personal, relational, experiential, knowledge of God. We won’t just know of His goodness, we will know His goodness. We won’t just know of His power, we will know His power. We won’t just know of His love, we will know His love. We won’t just know of Him, we will know Him because He is our FRIEND.
Thus prepared, thus sanctified, we are now ready to step through the gates of Heaven itself and onto its courts, because we have gone through the preparation needed to make the sacrifices of thanksgiving and the sacrifices of praise.
Brothers and sisters, thanksgiving is not an arbitrary concept. Thanksgiving is a consequence of our faithful response to God, Himself. In the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican, God despised the Pharisees prayer because The Pharisee had no relationship with Him. The Pharisee’s prayer was full of thanksgiving, but he was giving thanks to One he was not seeking, to One he did not serve, to One he did not commune with and to One he did not know. God rejected him and his attempt to give thanks. There is a big thanksgiving celebration that God has invited us all to attend, but to get there we must first be made ready for it. We must take the time to make each necessary step on the way to thanksgiving.