The Special of the Day... From the Orange Moon Cafe...
"Acceptance With God: Achieved Or Received?"
Part 7 - The Motivation of Grace
God has no interest in a grudging service that flows merely from obligation and fulfillment of duty. Unto wayward Israel, He expressed His displeasure for a dedication that lacked heartfelt devotion...
"Thou servedst not the LORD thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things" (Deuteromony 28:47).
Or, in New Testament terms, we could give our bodies to be burned, but if love does not guide and empower our sacrifice, we are "nothing" (I Corinthians 13:3). When God freely accepts by His grace in the Lord Jesus received by faith, He also imparts His very nature into our redeemed spirits. "The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us" (Romans 5:5). The indwelling Holy Spirit makes possible our love for God in sincere devotion of affection, commitment, communication, and sacrifice. Wondrously, the born again believer can truly love God in a manner that pleases His heart, fulfills ours, and influences others to seek the same grace that motivates our heartfelt fellowship. "And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus" (I Timothy 1:14).
The realization of being "accepted in the Beloved" serves a vital role in our sincere and heartfelt devotion to God (Ephesians 1:6). Knowing that God receives us because we are in Christ, as opposed to working our way into His favor, fulfills the Apostle John's identification of the source of our motivation: "We love Him because He first loved us" (I John 4:19). Of course, John speaks to the origin of our devotion to God. The proclamation of the Gospel and its "free gift" of salvation, based on "For God so loved the world" touched our hearts and led us by the Holy Spirit to the new birth and genuine love for God. However, the ongoing measure of our affectionate commitment grows as we increasingly discover the "love of Christ, which passeth knowledge" (Ephesians 3:19). Realizing our acceptance and righteousness abides as a fixed reality solely because of the Lord Jesus results in motivating gratitude and the determination to respond in a life that honors our Savior and pleases our Heavenly Father. We continue to love Him, growing in affection and commitment, as we increasingly discover the measure and permanence of His love for us.
"Beholding as in a glass (mirror) the glory of the Lord, we are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (II Corinthians 3:18).
A final thought, and perhaps the most important of this series of messages. Our righteousness and acceptance with God forever graces us because on the cross of Calvary, the Lord Jesus became the very essence of unrighteousness as He was rejected by the Father and Holy Spirit He so loved. "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" (Matthew 27:46). No answer came in that dark hour as our Savior suffered and died completely bereft of the favor He had eternally known in the triune fellowship of God. However, the New Testament provides the answer to us: "He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" (II Corinthians 5:21). Indeed, to the degree the Lord Jesus was furiously rejected by God, all who believe are freely accepted by God. To the degree He was forsaken, the promise was forged in the fires of Calvary: "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" (Hebrews 13:8). Our Father does not accept us or provide our righteousness merely as the inclination of His heart, but rather as the justly given gift purchased by the sacrifice of His Son. This is the source of our motivation for a life whereby we requite our acceptance and righeousness by the earnest desire to bear "the fruits of righeousness which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God" (Philippians 1:11). We love Him because He loved us, and because He forever loves us in Christ, because of Christ, and for Christ...
Unto the Son He saith, Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Thy kingdom."
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.