Sunday, March 31, 2013

Unassailable Acceptance

"Mark, believer, how sure and unchanging must be our acceptance, since it is in him! Take care that you never doubt your acceptance in Jesus. You cannot be accepted without Christ; but, when you have received his merit, you cannot be unaccepted. Notwithstanding all your doubts, and fears, and sins, Jehovah’s gracious eye never looks upon you in anger; though he sees sin in you, in yourself, yet when he looks at you through Christ, he sees no sin." ~ Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening, evening March 28

What we celebrate on this day--Easter--is central to Christianity, and it guarantees our full, irremovable, unassailable acceptance before God. Is it historical? Absolutely. Is it important? Absolutely, for as Paul says, "...if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins." (1 Co. 15:17) Christ's resurrection is essential for the completed work of salvation, for an unresurrected Christ still bears the guilt of sin and has secured nothing (1 Co. 15:14-17). As long as He remained in death the righteous character of His work as our federal head and Savior remained in question. Through His resurrection He secured justification (1 Ti. 3:16), adoption (Ro. 1:4), sanctification (Ro. 6:3-11), glorification (1 Co. 6:14), and eternal life (Ro. 6:4-8). Since we are united to Christ in His death and resurrection (Col. 2:12), we have all these things too. Without His resurrection we have nothing.

As Spurgeon says, "when you have received His merit, you cannot be unaccepted." When Paul said, "38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord," (Ro. 8:38-39) he meant nothing can separate us from God if we are in Christ and that includes we ourselves. Nothing means nothing; so you cannot be unaccepted. If you have repented of your sin and accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior, you cannot make God love you any more or any less by anything you do. You are fully accepted before God in Christ, period. Bask in that truth today and every day, and go live a life of thankfulness to Him for it.

Someone might say, "All of my incentive goes away when I know that my acceptance with God does not depend on my success or failure in obedience." But, if you say that, you do not really know or understand the love of Christ. Let me give you an example. (It is a marriage one so for those of you who are not married, use your imagination.) Husbands, would you cheat on your wife, if you knew that she would love and forgive you anyway? (Wives, think about it from your perspective.) I doubt it. Why not? Because her unconditional love engenders your love and thankfulness, and you would not do that to someone you love, even if you knew for certain they would still love you if you did cheat. You would not bring yourself to hurt them that much for your own selfish gain because their love has engendered your reciprocating love and thankfulness. You would want to show them by not cheating how thankful you are for a love that would forgive you even if you did cheat. Now, if you would cheat, then you do not really understand her love or understand love at all and probably have never understood it.

True believers have been changed by the love of Christ and will want to please Him and show Him their thankfulness. In fact, the only people who get any better are those that know if they do not get any better, God will still love them anyway. Does that mean we will not sin? No, of course not (1 Jn. 1:8). But, we do when we forget the truth of the gospel and go looking for what we already have in Christ in some idol that is smaller than Him. We have hearts that are prone to wander, which is why we need to come back to the gospel over and over again. The gospel is not just the flame that ignites the Christian life, it is the fuel that makes it burn every day. Jonathan Edwards used to say, "The key to the Christian life is letting the gospel filter down into every aspect of your life both rationally and experientially." You need the gospel as much today as you did when you were still dead in your sins. Never forget that, and never forget that you "cannot be accepted without Christ; but, when you have received His merit, you cannot be unaccepted."

By His Grace,

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