God the Father made us accepted in His Beloved Son.
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John R. W. Stott (1921-2011) was born and served most of his life in London, England, and was an evangelical Anglican preacher and teacher. Stott reminds us that the commonest description in Scripture of Jesus’ followers is that we are in Christ. The expressions in Christ, in the Lord, and in Him occur 164 times in the Apostle Paul’s New Testament letters alone, and are indispensable to understanding Christianity. Stott said that to be in Christ does not mean to be inside the Lord Jesus, as tools are in a box or as our clothes in a closet. Being in Christ means being organically united, connected, and belonging to Jesus, as an arm or leg is in the body or a branch is in the tree. This personal relationship with Christ is the distinctive mark of His authentic followers.
“Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies.” (Psalm 103:1-4)
Jesus teaches on this relationship in John 15:1-17. Christ says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers…. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
Among other things, God’s acceptance of us means:
- Because of Jesus’ doing, dying, and rising for us whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.1
- If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will repeatedly forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.2
- Since God is for us, no one or nothing can ultimately prevail against us. Sometimes we feel like Jacob who complained, “Everything is against me!” But God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are on our side, making all things work for our ultimate good.3
- All those the Father gives to Jesus will come to Him and He will never drive us away or cast us out.4
- You are loved with God’s everlasting love, underneath you are Christ’s everlasting arms, and nothing can separate you from God’s love.5
Ephesians 1:6 reminds me of the hymn “Accepted in the Beloved” based on this verse and written by Civilla D. Martin in 1930.
1. “In the Beloved” accepted am I, / Risen, ascended, and seated on high; / Saved from all sin through His infinite grace, / With the redeemed ones accorded a place.
Refrain: “In the Beloved,” God’s marvelous grace / Calls me to dwell in this wonderful place; / God sees my Savior, and then He sees me, / “In the Beloved,” accepted and free.
2. “In the Beloved”— how safe my retreat, / In the Beloved accounted complete; / “Who can condemn me?” In Him I am free, / Savior and Keeper forever is He.
3. “In the Beloved,” I went to the tree, / There, in His Person, by faith I may see / Infinite wrath rolling over His head, / Infinite grace, for He died in my stead.
Martin’s hymn reminds us wonderfully that Jesus followers are forever accepted by God the Father, based on what Christ has done, is doing, and will do for us. It’s not based on our faithfulness to God, but Christ’s faithfulness to God as our Mediator. Jesus’ followers need to begin each new day remembering that God is for us. There is no need to fear, for our loving Heavenly Father desires only the best for His born again children, even if we must go through pains and problems to receive God’s best.
Jesus said: In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
Notes (various translations): 1 John 3:16. 2 1 John 1:8-10. 3 Gen 42:36; Psalm 124; Rom 8:28-39. 4 John 6:37-39; 10:28-29. 5 Jer 31:3; Deut 33:27.