- (Eph 1:5-6 RSV) – He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
- (Eph 1:5-6 NKJV) – Having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.
Some translations use the word “grace freely bestowed” while others translate it as “grace by which we are accepted”. The root Greek word used for both is the same = “Charis / Charitoo” which means that you can translate it either way. The conclusion is clear – The Father has accepted us in the Beloved (Christ) by grace alone.
- Every believer is accepted by the Father, in Christ. “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). This peace is God’s peace toward us, through His Beloved Son — upon this, our peace is to be based.
- God is able to be at peace with us through our Lord Jesus Christ, “having made peace by the blood of his cross” (Colossians 1:20). And we must never forget that His peace is founded solely on the work of the cross, totally apart from anything in or from us.
From childhood, we are brought up with the understanding that we must “perform” to be accepted. If we study well, get good grades, we are loved and accepted by our parents, teachers, etc. We bring this same culture into the Christian life.
We feel that unless, we overcome sin, for example, or do things right, or strive to live by the Gospel, we will not be accepted by God. But this is far from the truth. Our acceptance by God is never based on how we perform but rather is based on how HE (Christ) has performed.
Our faith becomes a fixed attitude, once it begins to rest in this wonderful fact. Once we understand this, then it no longer matters if we are rejected by men, or go through trials and sufferings or have to face injustices in life; because our hearts are at rest and at peace as we know that the Father accepts us no matter what we are going through, no matter even if we have just done something wrong or sinful (provided our repentance is genuine). “This is the steadying influence most believers are in need of today” (Miles Stanford).
Many Christians erroneously suppose that because they are conscious of sins, they must renew their acceptance with God.” This is faulty thinking because as previously stated – our acceptance with God was never based on our performance in the first place.
God’s eye rests on the finished work accomplished by Christ for the believer. When you are not walking in the Spirit you are in the flesh: you have turned to the old man (flesh) which was crucified on the cross (Romans 6:6). You have to be restored to fellowship, and when you are, you find your acceptance with God unchanged and unchangeable. When sins are introduced there is a fear that God has changed. He has not changed, but you have. You are not walking in the Spirit but in the flesh (MJS).
God has created the wonderful provision of “confession” so that when His child sins and his fellowship with God breaks, all he has to do is repent and confess it and He is ready to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). It is sin that makes us feel that God has departed from us, but the truth is He never departs from the love which He has expressed to the prodigal, and we find that when the break in fellowship has been restored, His love had never changed.
The story of the prodigal son in Luke 15 gives us this valuable insight. Even though the father let the rebellious younger son leave the house, their relationship as father and son never ceased for a moment, but their fellowship (communion with one another) was definitely broken during this time. But when the younger son came to his senses (repented) and returned to his father’s house, he was received with great joy and restored to his former son-ship as if nothing had ever happened. Their relationship as father and son had never ceased, but their fellowship (intimate communion) which was interrupted & broken was now restored through repentance and confession. His father had never changed towards him, it was he who had changed and gone away from his father.
God’s basis must be our basis for acceptance. There is none other. We are “accepted in the Beloved.” Therefore if the Father has to ever accept us, it has to be on the basis of the righteousness & holiness of another – Christ alone (See 1 Cor 1:30). Sadly today, most Christians make this mistake – when all is going well, and God seems to be blessing, then it is that they feel He loves and accepts them. But when they are stumbling, and everything seems dry and hard, then they feel that He does not love and accept them. How can this be? There is nothing about us to commend us to God, our acceptance being in Christ, plus the fact that most of our true spiritual development comes through the dry and hard times. Thank God, He has accepted us in His Son, and upon this most important FACT we must rest our faith (MJS).
The Christian needs to understand that he has been accepted in Christ. He is not on probation. Grace, once bestowed, is not withdrawn: for God knew all the human exigencies beforehand: His action was independent of them, not dependent upon them.
God’s Processing in our lives – a forgotten factor:
In the Christian life, the way up is the way down. WHY DOWN? We need to pause here and consider just why the growing Christian is taken down into defeat and despair in order to be brought up into maturity and fruitfulness. The hard fact is that when a Christian is going through the maturing process, the Father allows / engineers circumstances which seem to take the growing Christian backward and downward rather than forward and upward.
The main reason for this is that sin still exists within us together with our new righteous nature (See Rom 7:14-17). It is by this means that God gives us the constant daily choice – to give in to our sin natures or to abide in our new natures and become Christ-like. To achieve this He has to first show us what we really are and so He uses the greater part of our early training, teaching us to recognize our sinful old nature (old man) for what it is, totally self-centred and at enmity with God!
When you become acutely aware of the sin within, and its evil manifestations in your daily walk and relationships, you may be tempted to wonder whether or not you are a Christian, after all. Hence, it is imperative at this time that you realize the foundational truth upon which you are to live and grow. And that foundation is ACCEPTANCE BY GRACE. This knowledge will keep you steady while the negative processing goes on.
And so, when He has to take you down into failure, or through trial, or into the desert–as an important part of your spiritual development–then you are apt to feel, “I must be displeasing to God; He doesn’t seem to love me or accept me any longer.” But be encouraged – failure is the chief instrument that your loving heavenly Father uses in your development.
At such times our acceptance by God will often be denied by Satan. He will accuse you concerning sin in your life. He will insist that God cannot possibly accept anyone in your condition especially as you commit the same sins again and again. It is then that you can especially rest in the Lord Jesus, who is your full acceptance before God and your shield against the devil’s dart of doubt, “For your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3).
“Not a hair of the child of God can fall without God’s permission. Satan is but the unintentional instrument to accomplish God’s will; he can do no more than he is allowed to do. If trials come as a host against us, the Almighty is between us and them. They will but work out for us our Father’s own purposes of love” (See Rom 8:28-29) MJS.
So finally, it is knowing this foundational truth, that we are accepted always in the Beloved, which will guard and keep our hearts and minds at peace, even when in the midst of a storm. And therefore even while God brings us into conformity with the image of His Son, we can rest amidst this process knowing that we are already accepted by Him. As Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa rightly stated – “Christianity does not begin by telling man what he must do, but what God has done for him” – Vatican City, March 5, 2010 (Zenit.org). The true Christian walk therefore is NOT “Christ plus my efforts”, but “Christ plus my receiving” by faith, what He has done; for His is a finished work.
This article has changed my life. I have been struggling with acceptance all my life and you have just clarified so many things God has been saying to me. And you have said it in a way so plain and easy to understand. Thank you for sharing.
Glad you were helped Emmanuel. Yes, this simple truth often eludes us in our Christian walk because we seek to please God through our efforts. And then when failure comes we dont know what to do. Thank God its all based on His efforts (finished work) alone. So our acceptance by Him remains unaffected. Praise His Name!