LandMarks Magazine  
   

July 2011 Table of Contents

 
 

Acceptance with God
By John Pearson

I recently received a call from the man whom the Lord had used 15 years ago to open my eyes to the truth of the gospel. During our conversation, he asked me if I knew whether or not I had been accepted by God. I had to stop and think a bit, for that thought had never occurred to me.

 

As I pondered, Satan filled my mind with thoughts of my sinfulness, and I truly wondered if I had been accepted as the purchase of God or not.

 

My friend then directed me to an article in the book, Christ Our Righteousness, by E. J. Waggoner, one of the pioneers of Seventh-day Adventism. Thus began my search for more of the treasure hidden in the word of God.

 

During my search, I thought about those times when I had seen people accept Satan’s lie that only if we are good enough can we expect the Lord to accept us. I thought of one instance in which a faithful member of the church was involved in an automobile accident. She had been ill and was taking prescription medication that adversely affected her mental activity. Unwisely, she decided to run an errand in her car, during which she drifted across the center line on the road and collided head-on with two bicyclists, who suffered serious injuries. As a result of this accident, the woman completely lost her faith. She maintained that if God really loved her, if He had really accepted her, He would not have let such a thing happen.

 

When adversity occurs in our lives, we have two choices. We can murmur and complain, accusing God of not loving us, or we can look for His loving hand moving within the circumstances that seem so adverse to us. Often, we are prone to question our relationship with God and are tempted to think that God doesn’t love us. If He did, why would He have let this happen?

 

I would assert that either because of adverse events occurring in their lives or because they don’t think they are “good enough,” there are probably thousands who have been professed Christians for years who are still doubting their acceptance with God. Indeed, many people hesitate to make a start to serve the Lord because they fear that God will not accept them.

 

For those who ask “Has God accepted me?” or, “Will God receive me if and when I come to Him?” I would answer with a question, as Christ often did when questioned by His doubters: Will you accept, or receive, that which you have bought?

 

In this electronic age, it is common to do a lot of shopping over the Internet, and the minute that the “complete transaction” button is clicked, we begin looking forward to receiving and accepting that which we have bought. And when it finally arrives, we accept it. There is no room for question. We bought it. It’s ours. We accept it without question.

 

The fact that we bought the goods and paid money for them is sufficient proof, not only that we are willing, but that we are anxious to receive whatever it is that we have purchased. If we did not want it, we would not have bought it in the first place. Moreover, the more we paid, the more anxious we are to receive it. If the price we paid was great and we had almost given our life to earn it, then there can be no question but that we will accept the purchase when it is delivered to us. Our only concern is that the goods might be lost in transit.

 

Now let us apply this simple, natural illustration to the case of the sinner coming to Christ. In the first place, we know that He has indeed bought us.

 

 “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?  For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” I Corinthians 6:19, 20.

 

We have indeed been bought, but what price was paid? The price that was paid for us was Christ’s own blood—His very life. This is a truth that virtually all of the New Testament writers confirmed.

 

In Acts 20:28, we read in Paul’s statement to the Ephesians whom he had called to Miletus, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood.”

 

And in I Peter 1:18, 19, Peter wrote, “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”

 

Paul stated this truth a bit differently in Titus 2:14, where he wrote that Christ “gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity.”

 

In his letter to the Galatians, Paul mentioned again that Christ “gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father.” Galatians 1:4.

 

Did He buy only those who profess Christ, or just those who have proven themselves worthy? According to His own words, He bought the whole world of sinners. In His conversation with Nicodemus, He said, as recorded in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son.” Jesus also said in John 6:51, “The bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” In this fascinating chapter, by the way, we see how the entire independent movement, except for twelve individuals, abandoned their Saviour and returned to the structure. Although they were accepted by Christ, they chose to reject His acceptance and continue down the road of error and falsehood where the organized church was leading them (verses 59–66). [Emphasis supplied.]

 

In Romans 5:6, 8, Paul makes it clear that Christ died for the ungodly while we were yet sinners. There is no need to think that we have to prove ourselves “worthy” to be among those for whom Christ paid an infinite price.

 

And the price paid was indeed infinite, was it not? All heaven was poured out to save us. Therefore we can know—not just believe, but know—that He very much desires that which He bought. He has His heart set on obtaining it, and He will not be satisfied without it.

 

In Hebrews 12:2, we are told that Jesus’ mind was on “the joy that was set before Him,” which gave Him all the strength that was necessary to endure the cross. So focused was He on that joy that the shame that He knew He was to endure was not even worthy of His consideration.

 

Long before Christ’s first advent, the Holy Spirit inspired the Old Testament writers to testify of the Saviour’s willingness to accept His purchase. In Isaiah 53:11, we read that “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied.”

 

The remainder of that verse tells us why we don’t need to be burdened by sin any longer: “By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for He shall bear their iniquities.” Christ Himself accepts us as His and in so doing, He accepts the guilt of our sins as well. [Emphasis supplied.]

 

You may think, as I once did, “But I am not worthy.” That means that you are not worth the price paid and therefore you fear to come to Christ lest He will repudiate the purchase. You might be justified in that thinking if the bargain was not sealed and the price was not already paid. However, consider this: if He refused to accept you on the grounds that you are not worth the price, He would not only lose you but also the price paid. In your own experience, even though the goods for which you have paid might not be worth what you gave for them, you yourself would not be so foolish as to throw them away. You would rather get some return for your money than get nothing. You would prefer to sell them in a garage sale for pennies on the dollar rather than to toss them out.

 

In addition, we really do not need to worry about the question of worth. When Christ was on earth “checking out” His purchase, He “needed not that any should testify of man; for He knew what was in man.” John 2:25. He made the purchase with His eyes open, and He knew the exact value of that which He bought. He is not at all disappointed when we come to Him and He finds that we are worthless. We do not need to worry over the question of worth. If He, with His perfect knowledge, was satisfied to make the bargain and seal the deal, we should be the last ones to worry about the details of worthiness.

 

The most wonderful reason of all that we should not question our worth in the transaction is that He bought us for the very reason that we are not worthy. His omniscient eye saw in us great possibilities and He bought us, not for what we were then and are now worth, but for what He could make of us. He says in Isaiah 43:25, “I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions for Mine own sake.” We have no righteousness; therefore He bought us, “that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” II Corinthians 5:21. And in Colossians 2:9, 10, Paul states, “For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power.” [Emphasis supplied.]

 

In Ephesians, Paul gives a fairly succinct version of this whole process of redemption.

 

“And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” [emphasis supplied]. Ephesians 2:1–7.

 

Earlier in Ephesians, Paul noted that we are to be “to the praise of the glory of His grace.” Ephesians 1:6. This we could not be if we were originally worth all He paid for us. There would in that case be no glory to Him in the transaction. He could not, in the ages to come, show in us the riches of His grace. But, when He takes us, worth nothing, and at the last presents us faultless before the throne, it will be to His everlasting glory. And then there will not be any to credit worthiness to themselves. Throughout eternity, the sanctified hosts will unite in saying to Christ: “Thou art worthy … for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests … Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.” Revelation 5:9, 10, 12.

 

Surely, all doubt as to acceptance with God ought to be set at rest. But … but it is not. The evil heart of unbelief still suggests doubt. Some are prone to say, “I believe all this, but ... .” Please, stop right there; if we believed, we would not say “but.” When people add “but” to the statement that they believe, they really mean “I believe, but I don’t believe.”

 

Some persist, “Perhaps you are right, but hear me out. What I was going to say is, I believe the Scripture statements that have been quoted, but the Bible says that if we are children of God we shall have the witness of the Spirit and will have the witness in ourselves, and I don’t feel any such witness; therefore I can’t believe that I am Christ’s. I believe His word, but I don’t have the witness.” Let’s relieve that difficulty in believing by digging deeper into God’s word.

 

As to our being Christ’s, we can settle that ourselves. We have seen what He gave for us. Now the question is, Have we delivered ourselves to Him? If we have, we may be absolutely sure that He has accepted us. If we are not His, it is solely because we have refused to deliver to Him that which He has bought. We are, in effect, defrauding Him. He says, “All day long I have stretched forth My hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.” Romans 10:21. Paul here refers to Isaiah 65:2: “I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts.”

 

Christ begs us to give Him that which He has bought and paid for, yet we refuse and charge Him with not being willing to receive us. But if from the heart we have yielded ourselves to Him to be His children, we may be assured that He has received us.

 

Now, as to our believing His words, yet doubting if He accepts us because we don’t feel the witness in our hearts, I still insist that we don’t believe. If we did, we would have the witness. Listen to His word in I John 5:10: “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made Him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of His Son.” To believe the Son is simply to believe His word and the record concerning Him.

 

“He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself.” We can’t have the witness until we believe, and as soon as we believe, we have the witness. How is that? Because our belief in God’s word IS the witness! God says so: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1. Our belief is the substance of that for which we so earnestly hope and the evidence of our witness.

 

If we should hear God say with an audible voice that we are His child, we would consider that sufficient witness. Well, when God speaks in His word, it is the same as though He spoke with an audible voice, and our faith is the evidence that we hear and believe.

 

This is such important a matter that it is worth careful consideration. Let’s read a little more of the record in God’s word. First, in Galatians 3:26, we read that we are “all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” This is a positive confirmation concerning our belief in the witness. Our faith makes us children of God. But how do we obtain this faith? “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17.

 

From my personal experience, I can testify that when I read God’s word aloud, it oftentimes becomes more firmly implanted in my mind than when I read silently. Have you ever read a paragraph silently without concentrating on it, only to discover when you’ve finished that you have no idea what you just read? By reading aloud, I am forced to concentrate more carefully on what I’m reading, and my mind doesn’t wander. I hear the Word as well as read it. I absorb it through my eyes and my ears.

As we read God’s word, how do we obtain faith in it? Just by believing and knowing that God cannot lie (Titus 1:2). We would certainly not call God a liar to His face, but isn’t that just what we are doing when we don’t believe His word? All we have to do to believe is simply to believe!

 

Have you ever had an experience in your life when you had to force yourself to act on what you knew to be true, even though it seemed initially not to be what you should do? I certainly have—and more than once.

 

One very windy day I was walking with my dog through the forest. As I was walking, I was going over my Scripture cards, reading them aloud to try to get them to stick in my memory. Usually my dog would run around sniffing all the wonderful smells on the forest floor. After a while, I realized that my dog was nowhere to be seen. I called and called, but with the sound of the wind blowing through the trees, my voice didn’t carry very far, and my dog couldn’t hear me.

 

I began to ponder how I could break the news to my grandson, who had given me the dog, that it had become lost in the forest. Then it suddenly dawned on me that not only was my dog lost, but so was I! I had not paid any attention to where I had been walking and did not recognize anything around me.

 

My intuition told me that the road and my car should be just over the next ridge. So I climbed the hill and looked down the other side, expecting to see just that. But, there was nothing but more forest. So I dropped down the hill and climbed up the next ridge. Again, nothing but forest ahead.

 

Then it dawned on me that when I left my car, the sun was coming from behind me. Therefore to get back to my car, I needed to change my direction of travel, completely contrary to my intuition, and walk facing the sun. After doing that, I reached the road in about ten minutes. I walked up the road about a quarter of a mile and there by my car was my dog, patiently waiting for me.

 

All I had to do to get where I wanted to go was to believe and act on what I knew to be the truth, even though it seemed contrary to my intuition.

 

Paul alludes to this depth of faith in Romans 10:8–11: “The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed.”

 

All this is in harmony with the record given throughout Paul’s writings. “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God; And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.” Romans 8:16, 17.

 

This Spirit which witnesses with our spirit is the Comforter that Jesus promised in John 14:16. And we know that Its witness is true, for It is the “Spirit of truth.” Verse 17.

 

How does It bear witness? It bears witness by bringing to remembrance the Word which has been recorded. It inspired those words, and, therefore, when It brings them to our remembrance, it is the same as though It were speaking them directly to us.

 

We can confirm that from Scripture. In II Peter 1:21: “Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” And in I Corinthians 2:13, Paul tells us that he speaks the things that the Holy Ghost teaches.

 

The Spirit presents to our minds the record that we know is true, for God cannot lie. We can bid Satan and his evil intentions to be gone, because we believe the record in God’s word that we are His children, fully accepted in Him through Christ and His atoning sacrifice.

 

Then the glorious truth breaks more fully upon the soul. The repetition of the words makes it a reality to us. He is our Father. We are His children. What absolute joy that thought gives us! So we see that the witness which we have in ourselves is not a simple impression or an emotion. God does not ask us to trust so unreliable a witness as our feelings. He who trusts his own heart is a fool, the Scripture says in Proverbs 28:26. But the witness that we are to trust is the unchangeable word of God, and this witness we may have through the Spirit in our own hearts. “Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift.” II Corinthians 9:15.

 

This assurance does not mean that we can relax in our diligence and settle down contentedly, as though we had gained perfection. We must remember that Christ accepts us not for our sake, but for His own sake—not because we are perfect, but that in Him we may go on to perfection. He blesses us not because we have been so good that we have deserved a blessing, but in order that in the strength of the blessing we may turn away from our iniquities (Acts 3:26).

 

In John 1:12, we are told, “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power  [emphasis supplied] to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.”

 

To everyone that believes in Christ, the power—the right—the privilege—is given to become the sons of God, to be accepted in the Beloved. It is by the “exceeding great and precious promises” of God through Christ that we are made “partakers of the Divine nature.” II Peter 1:4.

 

John Pearson is part of the Steps to Life team. He can be contacted by email at: johnpearson@stepstolife.org.

 

July 2011 Table of Contents

 

       
 

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