ACCEPTED IN THE BELOVED Lesson Number 2 THE PLACE OF BLESSING
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved." (Ephesians 1:1-6) Throughout this intriguing passage, the area of blessing is clear. It is Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. As uncomplicated as this is academically, it is a truth requiring considerable effort to obtain. Myriads of believers grapple with the matter of their acceptance by God. Some have been taught that their personal achievement is the basis for God's recognition of them. The Scriptures refer to this erroneous view as salvation "by works" (Rom. 4:2-5; Tit. 3:5). Still others suppose that being identified with a conservative religious group or movement ensures divine approval. This was the attitude the early Jews had. Paul severely upbraided this imagination when it surfaced in the body of Christ. "Now, you call yourself a Jew; if you rely upon the law and brag about your relationship to God" (Rom. 2:17). Such an attitude is inexcusable, and cannot be tolerated. It makes little difference whether it is claiming identity with Jewry, the Reformation Movement, the Restoration Movement, or some other post- Apostolic effort. Movements that started after God's innauguration of salvation in Christ cannot be adequate for the realization of God's purpose. The place of blessing is "in Christ." We were chosen "in Him." Our adoption is "by Jesus Christ." Our acceptance is "in the Beloved." Remove Jesus and there is no acceptance. There is no divine approval. There is no blessing. There is no adoption. The will and purpose of God is obtainable ONLY in and through Jesus Christ! If your religion does not require--absolutely require--a living and involved Jesus, it is spurious, and must be immediately discarded! God will not receive anything or anyone that does not depend upon His Son for vitality. As difficult as it may be to receive, there is an enormous amount of religious activity that does not really depend upon God's "dear Son." While this is a legal matter, it is also experiential. Unless your faith brings this truth home to your heart, there are no practical benefits to be realized from it. The aim of salvation is not simply to bring us to a theological position, as important as that is. God's purpose is not fully realized by you just embracing a proposition. Divine acceptance is not granted because you embrace a set of doctrinal tenets, but because of your unreserved embrace of His Son. It means you will abandon all competing interests, considering them but "dung." The appropriation of Christ is everything! That is why Paul wrote, "Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead" (Phil 3:9-11). Faith is personal. That is why it is vital and effective. How is your faith? What is your relationship to the Son of God, Jesus Christ the Lord? That, and that alone, determines your acceptance by God!
-- TOMORROW: DIVINE DETERMINATION --