ACCEPTED IN THE BELOVED Lesson Number 5
"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 1:3-6).
What a marvelous text! God has blessed with "ALL spiritual blessings." The place where they reside, and where they are appropriated, is "heavenly places." The appointed environment in which they are experienced is "Christ." The motivation behind this Divine provision is the choice and purpose of God Himself. The choice was made before the world was created. This could be done because it was "in" Christ that them purpose would be fulfilled. The objective was to bring us into the Divine family, "holy and without blame" in His sight. The consummation of this purpose would yield the "praise of His glorious grace." In that grace, we have been made accepted in God's own Beloved Son. For some, this is a most difficult teaching. They imagine that it will allow men to be ungodly, even though God has purpose they be "holy and without blame." They suppose that a Gospel like this will be counterproductive, even though it is declared by the Holy Spirit of God. Sophists think that grace has no real power -- that it is really not effectual in accomplishing the purpose of God. But they are wrong, and could not possible be more wrong! How does a person receive power to do what is right and refrain from doing what is wrong? Unless this is accomplished, there is no hope of seeing the Lord! The Spirit has said of holiness, "without which, no man shall see the Lord" (Heb 12:14). There is no amount of information - regardless of its accuracy -- that can convey this kind of power--even though information is an absolute necessity. The Law, precise in its requirements, was "holy," "spiritual," "just," and "good" (Rom 7:12,14). Yet, it could only produce the "knowledge of sin" (Rom 3:20). It could never impart the power to overcome sin. True spiritual power comes from faith, which is the life-line of the believer. Faith can grasp eternal verity. It can see the invisible (Heb 11:27), and not stagger at the remarkable promisesof God (Rom 4:20). It cannot build on law, because "the law is not of faith" (Gal 3:12). The law did not demand faith nor nurture it. In fact, the words faith and believe in any of their forms is not mentioned a single time in the entirety of the Law (Ex 20-40), or the entire Levitical Law (Leviticus). Believe is mentioned a single time in Deuteronomy, when God God rebuked Moses for not believing when he struck the rock. Faith needs a Divine commitment! When the heart is persuaded of the truth of the Gospel, power is conveyed to the individual from God. That the Gospel is "the power of God unto salvation" is more than a proof-text (Rom 1:16). The good news of God's accomplishment through Christ is the basis for moral power--the ability to choose the good and refuse the evil. This is so because it proclaims the "great love" of a great God (Eph 2:4)! It is a love that could not be quenched. It constrained Him to accomplish for us in Christ what we could not accomplish for ourselves. We could not make ourselves clean or change our nature--and both are requisites for Divine approval. Child of God, you have good reason to believe God! Heaven's door is open to you! The throne of all grace is there for you! You can come as often as you want, stay as long as you want, and receive as much as you want. Moses told the people NOT to come near to God (Ex 24:2). Now, because of Jesus, we are told to draw near "with a true heart" and in the "full assurance of faith" (Heb 10:22). The closer you get to the Lord by faith more capable you are to fulfill the Word of the Lord. Permit me put it another way. In Christ, the "righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us" (Rom 8:4). Why is this so? How is it that in the Son you can accomplish what could not be accomplished under the Law? It is because of the grace of God. The Holy Spirit is not ambiguous on this point. "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works" (Tit 2:11-14). People who try to teach holiness apart from God's grace are but clanging cymbals. As it is written, "I do not nullify the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly" (Gal 2:21, NASB). If you want the people of God to resist the devil and cleave to the Lord with purpose of heart, proclaim the grace of God to them! If you want them to know how to say "NO" to sin and "YES" to righteousness, tell them about the grace of God! If they do not respond to that, there are rebukes, corrections, and even curses. But until you have declared the grace of God in truth, you had best not pummel the people of God with Law. May today be the beginning of a larger measure of confidence for you! In Christ, God has received you. It really matters little what others may think of you or your labors.
-- TOMORROW: GLORIOUS GRACE --