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Saturday, June 30, 2012

ACCEPTED IN THE BELOVED


"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and without blame before Him, in love, having predestinated us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ according to the good pleasure of His will to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the Beloved." (Ephesians 1: 4-6)

The Signs of Our Times
 
            We seem to live in "perilous times, the time that Jesus said would occur before His return. Today, there are many who have turned away from the one true faith, delivered once to the saints, and are deceiving many.  They are false teachers.  Some are denying that the first twelve chapters of Genesis are factually accurate and asserting that "science has proven that it took billions of years for the universe to be created, therefore it is not true that God created 'all things' in six literal twenty-four hour days and rested on the seventh day."  They deny "that there was a real Adam and real Eve" and deny that there was a real Garden East of Eden where everything "was good" in God's eyes. 

The Fall

            These false teachers deny that there is a real Satan.  They deny that Satan deceived Eve, and they deny that Adam joined her in disobeying the Lord God.  They deny that the punishment was death.  They deny the Fall of Man.  In fact, as a result of the Fall, all are "dead in their trespasses and sins and are, by nature, children of wrath."  They deny that many are "strangers from the Covenants of Promise, have no hope, and are without God in the world.  They deny that God banished Adam and Eve from the garden and posted an angel to guard the entrance into the garden to prevent Adam and Eve from re-entering and eating of the fruit of the Tree of Life.  They deny that Noah was a preacher of righteousness who found grace in the eyes of the Lord, and in obedience to the Lord, built the ark.  They deny that the Lord sent the flood over all the earth to destroy all flesh except Noah and those on the ark with him, to redeem fallen man and to start over.  They deny the Great Doctrine of Substitutionary Atonement that Jesus who knew no sin became sin for us.  There are many and varied other deceptions such as the idea that salvation is universal or that once saved one can live as one wants to live, and one does do not need to obey God's law any longer.  In short, these false teachers deny the authority and truthfulness of God's Holy Word.  These are but a few of the matters and propositions that false teachers have put forward.  You may have encountered others.

The Truth

            The truth is that God's Word is true and righteous all together. 

"The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.  More to be desired are they than gold; Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.  Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping themthere is great reward." (Psalm 19: 7-11)

            Jesus says that God's Word is TRUTH!  Indeed, Jesus himself says that He is TRUTH, (John 14:6) and that He "works all things after the counsel of His own will."  In fact, that portion of God's Word set forth above from the first chapter of Ephesians states without equivocation that He has done these things "according to the good pleasure of His own will," "to the praise and glory of His grace." 

I.       The Overall Purpose

            "According to the good pleasure of His will."  It is God's holy sovereign will that determines all things.  Paul is an apostle "by the will of God."  We are Christians because of "the good pleasure of His will."  He has "willed" us to be in Christ "to the praise of the glory of His grace."  So we see that our calling in all things is clearly set forth to glorify God.  In fact, the shorter Catechism says that thechief end of man is "to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." 

A.    The Problem of Unbelieving Ministers

                        Perhaps the single most problematic issue confronting the Christian Church today is the apparent growing number of professing "Christian" ministers who simply do not believe that the Bible is the Word of God.  Many of these people have various ways of expressing their disbelief, but the fact remains that for whatever reason, they do not accept the Bible as God's Word.  Jesus, the Son of God, authenticates the whole of the scripture and asks the Father in John 17 to sanctify His people with "Thy truth, Thy Word is truth."  The Apostle Peter says, "All flesh is like grass, and all the glory of man like the flower of grass, the grass withers and the flower thereof falls away, but the Word of our God lives and abides forever."  The implications of the passage are infinite.  First, the Bible claims for itself to be truth.  It is unchanging, and it lasts forever.  It is never out of date, therefore, it is always relevant for today because it is alive.  Indeed, Jesus is the "same yesterday, today, and forever."  This is very significant because God's Word is the standard, more to be desired than gold (the Gold Standard), and the standard is always the same.  A foot is a foot.  A pound is a pound, and God's Word is always "true and righteous altogether."

B.    The Synopsis of the Gospel

                        In the verses set forth above from the Apostle Paul's letter to the Church at Ephesus, the Apostle "gives us one of those extraordinary synopses of the entire Gospel.  He means that it is the purpose of God in Christ for His people [from before time began] to undo, to remove, and to rectify completely the effects of sin and of the Fall of Man.  It is God's object in salvation to completely reverse all the results and the consequences of that terrible and most disastrous event."[1]  Has God done that in you?  Has He completely undone and removed the effects of sin and the Fall of Man in you?

                        It is the clear effect of misguided, perhaps unbelieving, false teachers to contradict and to impair the Word of the Living God.  They do "lead astray and deceive" many from the Gospel itself.  The Gospel that is the "power of God unto salvation" to them who believe, but it becomes foolishness "to them who are perishing."  This summary of the entire Gospel is not merely my opinion, or even Paul's opinion, but the Apostle John states it clearly in I John 3:8:  "For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil."  The Fall was the work of the devil.  The destruction of the work of the devil is the work of Christ.  This is not an isolated proposition.  Learn it well, commit yourself wholly to Christ,  and you will begin to understand that you have been saved and set free.  The writer of Hebrews says:  "Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself (Jesus the express image of the Father, who is God's last word to us) likewise took part in the same that through death, He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is the devil, and free them who, through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage."  (Hebrews 2: 14-15)  We have been set free in Christ!  We are no longer in bondage!  Christ has destroyed the works of the devil.  Embrace Jesus.  Look at Him and keep your eyes on Jesus.

                        God's Word tells us clearly that the purpose of God in choosing His people is to "make us holy and without blame!  God's purpose is to completely reverse and to completely destroy the work of the devil, the effects of sin, and the Fall of Man, and through the Savior's death, to destroy the devil and free men and women from bondage.

                  C.  The Contrast

                        These men who now profess to "being enlightened" and now claim that the Bible is not the authoritative, living, true Word of God should be filled with shame.  They keep men and women in bondage.  They should repent and confess that they are wrong.  Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said of men like these, "How foolish they are who think that you can pick and choose portions of the Bible and reject others at will.  The Bible is a whole, and we have no hope of understanding the New Testament Gospel unless we accept the first chapters of the Book of Genesis with their account of the Fall of Man into sin."[2]  God's Word is clear as to what you should, no, must do if you are sitting under one of these men.  Leave!  Find someone who is preaching truth.  Go to the website of mlj.usa.org.  They have resources available to help you.  This is what the Word of God says in II Corinthians 6: 14-18: 

"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers:  for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?  and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Be-li-al? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?  And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, 'I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate,' saith the Lord, 'and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters,' saith the Lord Almighty."

II.     To the Praise of the Glory of His Grace

                  God has purposed to do this mighty work in His people "to the praise of the glory of His grace."  It is by grace, through faith in Jesus, that we are saved.  We have been saved that "in the ages to come, He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus."  (Ephesians 2: 7).  Paul expounds on this point in the third chapter of his letter to the Ephesian Church, where he reveals that God has done these things "through Jesus Christ, to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord."  This is all done "to the praise of the glory of His grace." This is amazing!  We have been saved "to the praise of the glory of His grace"!  This has been done so that the angels might know the "manifold wisdom of God."    The shorter Catechism reminds us that "the chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever."  If the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, it thus follows that the essence of the most heinous nature of sin is that we fail to give the glory to God that is rightly due to Him.  The Apostle Peter says a similar thing regarding the angels in the first chapter of I Peter when he says that these are "things which angels desire to look into."  (I Peter 1: 12)  Are you living to glorify God?  Jesus says that "herein is my Father glorified, that you go and bear much fruit."  Lord God help us to bear much fruit to your glory.

III.    How Should We Then View Ourselves?

                  If you know the Lord Jesus Christ, you have heard the Good News of the Gospel of Christ. You have surrendered your will to God's will and placed your trust in Jesus to save you.  You know that "the Word of God became flesh" and "gave His life a ransom for [you and] many."  You know that "He who knew no sin became sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him."  You have also learned that "[Jesus] Himself bore our sins in His own body on the cross," and you know that you have "been redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus," all to the praise of the glory of His grace.  We should also realize that we have been "made accepted in the Beloved."  We are accepted in Jesus!  God looks on Jesus and accepts us.  But this statement which is translated "accepted in the Beloved" is even a greater blessing than it first seems. 

                  Dr. D. Martin Lloyd-Jones, in his great commentary on Ephesians, says this is even more magnificent than we may realize because the word that is translated "accepted in the Beloved" is "the very word that is used in Luke's Gospel, Chapter 1, verse 28:  'And the Angel came in unto her, and said, hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee:  Blessed art thou among women.' The Word means 'highly favored.'" . . . So we should read this passage thus:  "We know that He has highly favored us in the Beloved"![3] 

Mary's Response and Our Response

            God chose Mary out of all of the women in the world to bear His Son, Jesus!  She was created for this purpose, that the Son of God should enter her womb and be born of her.  When Mary heard these things, her response was:  "My soul does magnify the Lord and my spirit does rejoice in God my Savior . . . for He who is mighty has done unto me great things and Holy is His name."  He has also chosen you and me to be adopted as His son, and for Christ to come into you, in a sense as He came into Mary.  He abode in her, and He comes into me and into all of His children and makes His abode with us.  Wherefore, in a sense, as Christ came into Mary, He comes into us and abides in us.  We are "highly favored."  Paul stated to the Church at Colossae that this choosing of us to be highly favored in the Beloved is "Christ in you, the hope of glory."  (Colossians 1: 27)  Thus, amazingly, you are "highly favored" just as Mary!  God has chosen you and me in His infinite grace, and wisdom, and mercy, and love, before the foundation of the world to be "highly favored" in the Beloved to the praise and glory of His grace.  So shouldn't we have the same response as Mary? The very Son of God has come to dwell in you and me, and our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, the dwelling place of God.  We should make it our purpose habitually to think of ourselves in this way as we walk through each day.  We are highly favored in the Beloved!  We should rejoice and remember that "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I who lives but Christ who lives in me, and the life I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me."  (Galatians 2:20)  Pray that those "ministers" who have been deceived might come to know the Beloved!  Look for God's man who is preaching holy truth.

            Now, unto Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we can ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus, world without end, Amen!


[1]   D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, "God's Ultimate Purpose," pg. 95.
[2]   D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, "Exposition of Ephesians One," 1954.
[3]   D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones "Exposition of Ephesians One," pg. 135.

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By William Gray
Email: wgratty@aol.com
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