Calvary Road Baptist Church

ďACCEPTEDĒ

Ephesians 1.6

 

They use hair nets to hold their hair down and straight back, unless theyíre buzz cut. Black canvas slippers with brown rubber soles, purchased south of the border, are the preferred footwear. Gray or black slacks are covered by oversized short sleeve shirts that are washed, starched and pressed, and buttoned only at the top button, with the shirt tail out, of course. If itís hot, a white sleeveless undershirt, what some call a ďwife beater.Ē Tattoos indicate who you are, where you have been, and how bad you think you are. This is the uniform of the home boy.

In another part of town Air Jordans are the preferred footwear. In the summer time basketball shorts are worn. The shorts must be small enough and worn low enough so that the brightly colored boxer shorts worn underneath shows clearly at the top of the gym shorts worn on the outside. Shirts are optional, but headwear when worn is very carefully chosen. The color is critical, oftentimes determining whether you are friend or foe. This is oftentimes the uniform of the black gang member, or the person who would like to be thought of as a gang member.

And the girls all look so much alike. Black stockings. Short and very tight skirts, frequently black or gray. Sweaters that are ill fitting are sometimes covered by a leather jacket. In the summer time itís a pullover thatís four sizes too small. And the hair? If itís straight it will be stringy. And on the ears are the scars of too many earrings, or the stretched scars of earrings that are too heavy. The girls donít usually walk like ladies. They certainly donít talk like ladies. They like to talk the tough language of the gutter. And when a man walks by they will look the look of boldness and wickedness. The daring look. The penetrating look. The wicked look. If jeans are worn they will be so tight that the girl couldnít possibly slide them on unless her legs have had lotion applied after recently shaving them. Girls have told me that they have used petroleum jelly on their legs to enable them to slide jeans on. Others have confessed to buying new jeans tight enough to just get on, then sitting down in a tub of hot water, and finally drying them with a hair dryer. The reason? To get the jeans so tight that if itís cold outside the goose bumps will show.

And how about the group you see standing around the 7-11 store or the gas station, the Circle K or the park, or even Frankís Market before the police shut it down? What do they want? What are they after? What causes them to abandon the values of their parents, to forsake the opportunities afforded by a good education? Do guys who wear their hair like some strange looking guys do, and with huge holes in their ear lobes, have any hope of ever getting a good job? Why do whole groups buy the same model of small truck and then modify it to the point that it has almost no practical function, and then paint them with the same basic designs? Why do they put speakers in cars that can only destroy their ability to hear the music they claim to love so much that they want everyone in town to listen to it? When they get a little older and make a little money, why do they all dress up in the same way and go to the same places where they all look alike and spend more money than they can really afford to impress each other? They certainly donít impress anyone else.

Oh, there are many reasons why so many people do these and other kinds of things such as I have described. But a very large part of the motivation for looking like, walking like, talking like, and thinking like the others of some real or imagined group is so you might gain acceptance by those others. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being accepted. Being accepted is a legitimate need given by God to every human being who has ever lived. We all need and crave acceptance. However, as with anything else, when human beings seek to satisfy legitimate God-given needs in an illegitimate way by someone other than God, sin is the predictable result. Amen?

Sexual needs, for example, are God-given needs intended to be met by God-ordained means within the bounds of Godís institution of marriage. However, when a person seeks to meet that God-given need in a way contrary to Godís plan, it is called fornication, it is selfishness, and it is sin.[1] What powerful appetites and urges drive human beings to seek acceptance. Amen? How many of you parents have children who are frighteningly driven to seek the acceptance of their friends? Do your kids have to have such and such a brand of shoes, shirts, pants? Are you afraid your youngster will even compromise his or her reputation as the price to be paid for acceptance?

Parents, your children need to understand that their problem was your problem at their age. Perhaps you still have the problem of seeking acceptance. After all, human beings need to be accepted. What you need to realize is that God has already made provision for meeting that need of acceptance in your life.

Todayís text in Godís Word is Ephesians 1.6. Where we will see that a correct understanding of our need of acceptance and Godís provision for that need will help us stay out of trouble and help us stay in the will of God. Stand, if you please, for the reading of Godís Word:

 

ďTo the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.Ē

 

So, where do we start? Where else? We start with God.

 

NOTICE WHAT GOD DID

 

There are two only places in the entire New Testament where the Greek word translated ďacceptedĒ is used, Ephesians 1.6 and Luke 1.28. As we take note of these two verses, let us examine the meaning of the word, first, and then the use of the word:

The meaning of the word in Ephesians 1.6. The specific word of concern to us is a verb that is actually translated by four English words in this verse before us. ďHe hath made acceptedĒ translates the single Greek word, charitaoo. The word is what is called an aorist verb, which means that the tense of the verb is undefined but that the action is described as complete. It is, therefore, not clear from the word itself whether the past, present, or future is in view by Paul. The context, of course, indicates very clearly that what Paul is referring to has already occurred in the lives of those Christians to whom he is referring. From the root word for grace, it means to bestow favor upon someone, to highly favor someone, to bless someone.[2] And besides being found in only two places in the New Testament, I recall once reading that whenever the word is used in the Greek writings of the apostolic fathers, those men who themselves sat at the feet of the apostles, it always and in every case refers to God giving grace or God making someone the recipient of grace. Paul, then, is informing the Ephesians that at some point in time in the past God bestowed favor upon, divinely blessed, made accepted.

Examine with me the use of the word in Luke 1.28:

 

ďAnd the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.Ē

 

In this verse we see the verb in the form of a passive participle. Translated ďthou that art highly favoured,Ē the word describes the Virgin Mary as one who has been the recipient of this bestowal of favor, this blessing with grace, from God. Think about that for a moment. Here we have proof that the mother of the Lord Jesus Christ, far from being a woman of unparalleled virtue and worthiness, is described as a woman who received grace from God just as the believers written about in Paulís Ephesian letter had received grace. So, where does that leave Mary? It leaves her in the same place you and I are in, if you are a Christian, a sinner who has received the salvation that comes only by the grace of God.

Consider, now with me, the implications of the meaning of this word. Every human being who has ever lived has legitimately needed to be accepted and to literally feel that acceptance. When God created us He created us to be social beings, as indicated by His Own recognition in Genesis 2.18 that it was not good for Adam to be alone. What that means is that each and every one of you positively needs to have not only the favor of God, but also the favor of other human beings. Where we typically get into trouble is when two things happen: First, when we forget that God will simply give us the favor, God will simply give us the acceptance that we need, and that we do not need to go anywhere to get that favor from others. Second, we get into trouble when, having forgotten that God simply gives His divine favor away, we put ourselves into positions in which we will barter and trade and try to buy the favor of others. And there are a variety of ways in which people try to buy the favor of others. What will you do in order to be accepted by that person or group of persons you want to run with, the boys? What must you give up? Your virtue? Your integrity? Your personal standards? Your virginity? And going to a person or a group in which you have to purchase the favor, trade for their acceptance, have you not then rejected the acceptance that is given to you freely by God? Havenít you rejected those people given to you by God to meet your needs for social acceptance? Havenít you decided that the ones God has chosen to meet your social needs are somehow not good enough for you? Be careful. To sum up then, God recognizes that you and I need to be accepted. We need to be accepted by Him and we also need to be accepted by other human beings. But when God saves the believer He does a work on that soul to favor him and meet his great need, by providing for a relationship with God and by providing for relationships with other human beings through the family of God and the church. Those people that I described at the beginning of my message. They are not wrong in needing to be accepted. They are wrong in seeking to meet their needs themselves, instead of turning to God to supply all of what they need. They are wrong in running with a crowd that makes them pay for acceptance when they could have acceptance given to them by those of us in this church. Oh, we might not accept their behavior, but we always have and always will reflect Godís willingness to accept their persons. And why is that? Because of what God did. Folks, we who are strangers from the covenants and promises, we who had no hope, have been made acceptable to God by God.

 

Second, NOTICE WHERE GOD DID IT

 

Let me introduce you to the concept of spiritual geography. Look at the diagram below that shows the function of Greek prepositions. And you will notice that the diagram consists, basically, of a circle with a cube inside. This is because Greek prepositions are words that are used in the construction of sentences to show certain kinds of relationships, either in a literal or in a figurative sense. The particular preposition I want you to locate is #8, just inside the cube and inside the circle that we will take to be a sphere. It is the Greek word that is usually translated by the English word ďin.Ē Notice where it is in relation to the sphere and the cube. It is in the very middle. While some prepositions are used to show approach to or departure from, position over or under or around or through, this particular word is used to describe the concept of being in some object, either literally or figuratively.

Now consider the concept of being ďin Christ.Ē Almost thirty times in the first chapter of Ephesians alone this little preposition is used to describe something being in something else. We know Paul is not writing in a literal sense, such as a dog being in a dog house, so he must be referring to something in a figurative sense. Twenty times in the first chapter of Ephesians Paul uses this preposition to refer to being ďin Christ.Ē To understand what it means to be ďin ChristĒ it needs to be understood that the Greeks used their prepositions to describe relationships to so-called spheres of influence. Therefore, when Paul uses such phrases as ďin the Beloved,Ē and ďin Whom,Ē and ďin Christ,Ē he is referring to a sphere of influence, a domain, a spiritual region in which Christís kingship is unopposed. He is referring to a spiritual place occupied by the child of God no matter where he happens to be geographically. In Paulís thinking, to be outside of Christ, to be outside of Christís sphere of influence, is to be lost, to be unsaved, to be unforgiven, while to be in Christ is to be found, to be saved, to be forgiven. The reason I have said all that is to say this: The only place God meets any individualís need of acceptance, acceptance by God and genuine acceptance by other people, is in Christ. The fornicator can spend his or her entire lifetime (however short that lifetime may now prove to be) seeking the fulfillment of his or her sexual needs, but to no avail. Only God meets needs given to man by God. And God only meets such sexual needs within the institution of marriage. In like fashion is the need of acceptance. The thug, the hoodlum, the tramp, the groupie, the club joiner, the preppie, the yuppie, the biker, and even the church guy, can spend his or her entire life striving for the acceptance of others, but to no avail. When you come to Christ, however, that acceptance is provided, and it is provided only in and only by the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh, there will always be Christians who donít know what they have in Christ who will strive for acceptance by individuals and groups that reject Christ. But when a child of God realizes that acceptance has been provided by God, and that such acceptance can actually be experienced on a personal level only through God and Godís people, then that Christian will refuse to compromise his testimony, she will no longer prostitute her stand for Christ, to win the dubious friendships of those who reject her Savior. To repeat, then, what did God do? He accepted me. He took me just exactly the way I am. He doesnít want me to stay the way I was when He took me. But He did accept me as I was. Thatís what He did. But where did He do that? He did that in Christ. God will take you just as you are so long as just where you are is ďin Jesus Christ.Ē But be warned, lost friend. He will take you nowhere else.

 

Finally, WE ASK OURSELVES WHY GOD DID IT

 

Why did God make us accepted in the Beloved? Why did He first give us the need for acceptance and then why did He meet that need? Letís answer that question:

In Ephesians 1.12 & 14 we find the phrase ďthe praise of his glory.Ē This is not a particularly surprising phrase to find in the New Testament. We know that God has His glory. And what is glory? Itís the manifestation, the showing off if you will, of some part of God. Shining a light on some part of His greatness. And we know that He wants His glory to be praised and that He will not share His glory with another. There are a number of Old Testament passages that teach that to us.[3] But the phrase found in Ephesians 1.6, ďto the praise of the glory of his grace,Ē is unusual. Found nowhere else in the New Testament, this phrase shows us Godís motive for making ďus accepted in the beloved.Ē

Remembering that when He ďmade us accepted in the belovedĒ God literally bestowed His favor upon us, or gave to us His grace, He thereby provided a means whereby the glory of His grace, whereby the manifestation of His grace, whereby the showing off of His grace, would be praised. Think about this for a moment. Can the holy angels praise the glory of Godís grace? I suppose they can, but it is not like they have ever received the benefits of Godís grace. You see, angels are not recipients of the grace of God at all. Only people, and only people who have trusted Christ as personal savior, are recipients of the grace of God that is spoken of here.

So, then, what are we supposed to do who have received Godís saving grace? We are to praise God. But more than that, since even the unredeemed holy angels praise God. We are to praise the glory of His grace. And that is something that only we who have been redeemed, only we who have trusted Christ, only we who have been made accepted in the beloved, can do.

 

Friend, do you praise God? If you do, thatís good. But you donít have to be saved to praise God. Holy angels are not saved, yet they praise God. And a great many lost people in churches all over America lift up their hands and praise God, though they are still lost because theyíve not trusted the Jesus of the Bible to wash their sins away in His blood. So, we ought to do more than praise God. Amen? We who have been made accepted in the Beloved ought to be able to praise not only God, but a specific attribute of God that is not experienced by any other being in all of Godís creation. Only those of us who have come to know Jesus Christ, having been predestinated unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ according to the good pleasure of Godís will, only such people as we can praise the glory of Godís grace, and rejoice and hoot and holler over for having been recipients of the saving grace of God.

Do you do that? Do you rejoice and praise the glory of Godís grace? You donít if you run with those who deny Christ. You donít if you behave as though your acceptance needs have not already been met by God. And you donít if you are seen to be compromising yourself so that Christ rejecters will accept you. You donít if you party.

Christian? Why donít you make up your mind that God and what God has provided for you is good enough for you? You are accepted by God. God has provided a community of believers so that you will enjoy the acceptance of other human beings, believers in Christ. So why would you want to go elsewhere and seek the acceptance of those who reject your Savior? This is an issue that needs to be settled right now. There are too many so-called believers who sin against God by living as though God has not met their needs, when in fact He has. And I want to ask you. Isnít God good enough? And am not I good enough? And are not these others good enough for you? So, I ask you, if God is good enough, and if we are good enough on a human level, why do you seek acceptance elsewhere?

And you among us you do not know Christ. Why seek acceptance from others when acceptance is offered freely by God? Why try to pay for something that cannot satisfy when God will give freely that which does satisfy? As we stand for a time of decision, I urge you to make a personal choice. Christian? Praise the glory of His grace with your mouth and with your style of life. And what is the glory of His grace? What is the display, the manifestation of Godís grace? Why, your salvation, of course. So, sing the songs of His praise and live a life that testifies that you neither need nor want the acceptance of anyone but God and Godís people. And my unsaved friend? Hear me now. You need acceptance. You need it from God and you need it from men. Allow God to meet this need. Come to Christ.

And donít think to yourself, ďI donít need anyoneís acceptance.Ē Thatís not true. Why, even the most rebellious of men revel in the company of others whose acceptance they crave. Crips. Bloods. Hellís Angels in days gone by. Mongols. Even high school drop outs who reject education in favor of intellectual suicide seek the acceptance of others who have done the same. So, understand that everyone wants acceptance. Everyone needs acceptance. Nothing wrong with that. But if you seek acceptance from anyone besides God, Who will accept you only if you trust Jesus Christ, not only will you not find genuine acceptance anywhere, but God will Himself ultimately and finally reject you and cast you into the lake of fire.

Come to Jesus Christ. Notice that I do not suggest that you accept Him, because it is in Christ that you will find the acceptance of God. And when you are accepted by God you will be given friends and family who will accept you, as well. Stand with me as we pray.

 

 



[1] Matthew 5.32; 19.9; John 8.41; Acts 15.20, 29; 21.25; Romans 1.29; 1 Corinthians 5.1; 6.13, 18; 7.2; 10.8; 2 Corinthians 12.21; Galatians 5.19; Ephesians 5.3; Colossians 3.5; 1 Thessalonians 4.3; Jude 7

[2] Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1980), page 522.

[3] Isaiah 42.8; 48.11


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