The Special of the Day... From the Orange Moon Cafe...
"Acceptance With God: Achieved Or Received?"
Part 4 - Accepted, Not Accepted
In his 2nd epistle to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul throws an interesting twist into the consideration of acceptance with God.
"Wherefore we labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of Him" (II Corinthians 5:9).
The same Paul who so plainly taught the Gospel truth of believers being "accepted in the Beloved" and being "made the righteousness of God in Him" seems to contradict himself (Ephesians 1:6; II Corinthians 5:21). "We labor that... we may be accepted of Him." What does the Apostle mean by this clear reference to an acceptability seemingly based on our works rather than those of the Lord Jesus Christ? The answer lies in the context of Paul's teaching in the passage we consider.
"We walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. Wherefore we labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad" (II Corinthians 5:7-10).
Note the subject Paul addresses, namely, the walk of the believer, or "the things done in his body." He does not address salvation or our received righeousness, as taught in so many other of his epistles. Paul rather speaks to the issue of the believer's life subsquent to salvation. Those who are "accepted in the Beloved" must seek to live in a manner acceptable to God. The fact of our righteous relationship and acceptance must result in "the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:11). Indeed, while our Father freely receives our person because we are "in Christ," He does not necessarily approve or affirm our doings. He accepts us a matter of grace. He only accepts our thoughts, attitudes, words, and actions if they are also the product of His enabling grace to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord Jesus. "Walk, even as He walked" (I John 2:6).
I recall as a child my mother saying to me on several occasions, "Glen, I always love you. But I don't always like you!" I knew exactly what she meant. I was her boy always, and nothing could affect her love or acceptance of me as her son. However, my actions and attitudes were a different story. I could be a real stinker! And was too often, I am ashamed to admit. My mother frequently let me know she did not accept my disobedience or disrespectful demeanor. Moreover, I recall the discipline she sometimes applied (ouch!). However, I can honestly affirm that never once in my recollection did I question her love for me, or her acceptance of me as her beloved child. I was her boy, and I knew nothing could or would ever change that. But she was certainly right about my likability at times!
Salvation in the Lord Jesus provides eternal belovedness and acceptance with God. We are so much His spiritual offspring that He "will not impute sin" to us (Romans 4:8). Our acceptance with Him is thus eternally secure. However, He will not and does not accept works that proceed from our flesh. He may also chasten and scourge us when necessary if we do not address issues of waywardness (Hebrews 12:6). God accepts our person freely and forevermore through the imputed righteousness of Christ. He only accepts our practice, however, if it flows from the imparted and applied righteousness of Christ's character, nature, and way. Both realities have a vital place in our understanding of what it means to walk with God as those accepted by grace, but whose walk is only approved if our steps also proceed from the same fount of freely given favor in Christ.
"And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work."
(II Corinthians 9:8)
(II Corinthians 9:8)
Part 5 - Grace Works
Weekly Memory Verse
As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him, rooted and built up in Him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.