They use hair nets to hold their hair down and straight back,
unless they’re 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 it’s hot, a white sleeveless undershirt, rolled up so you can
see more belly than you would have chosen to see yourself.
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 gym shorts are worn.
The gym shorts must be worn so very low that the brightly colored
underwear shows clearly at the top of the shorts worn on the outside.
Shirts are optional, but headwear is very carefully chosen. The color is critical, oftentimes determining whether you are
friend or foe. Then there is
this obligatory baseball cap turned sideways, a sure sign of mental
retardation. 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 these days.
It used to be that black stockings were required, with short and
very tight skirts, frequently black or gray.
And sweaters that were ill fitting were sometimes covered by a
leather jacket. In the summer
time it was a pullover that’s four sizes too small.
And the hair? If it
was straight it would be stringy. And
on the ears were the scars of too many ear rings, or the stretched scars
of ear rings that are too heavy.
Nowadays, it will be spaghetti straps on top that do not conceal
trashy looking bra straps. And
there will be belly, so much belly, so very much belly.
Some of the too much belly will be the result of a tank top that is
entirely too short. But some
of the too much belly will be the result of just too much belly.
And the navel rings, various tattoos, and other stuff.
And the skirts. You wonder . . . . Well,
The girls don’t walk like ladies.
They certainly don’t talk like ladies.
They like to talk the tough language of the gutter.
And when a man walks by they frequently look the look of boldness
and wickedness. The daring
look. The penetrating look.
The wicked look. The hard look. Just
the kind of girl to take home to mom.
If jeans are worn they will be so tight that the girl cannot
possibly slide them on, unless her legs have recently been shaved.
Girls have actually told me that they have used petroleum jelly on
their legs to enable them to slide their jeans on.
Others have confessed to me to buying new jeans tight enough to
just get on, then sitting down in a tub of hot water, and later drying
them with a hair dryer. The
reason? To get the jeans so
tight that if it’s cold outside the goose bumps will show.
And how about the groups you sometimes see standing around a
convenience store or a gas station, or passing the time in a park, or
standing in front of the Krikorian Theater for hours?
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 decent education? Do
guys and gals who wear their hair in such strange looking ways have any
hope of ever getting a good paying job?
Why do whole groups buy the same model small car and then modify it
to the point that it has almost no practical function, and then paint it
with the same basic designs? Why
do they put speakers in the 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?
And when they get a little older and make a little bit of 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?
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 is so you might gain acceptance
by those others.
Now, 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. But
as with anything else, when anyone seeks to have legitimate God-given
needs met in an illegitimate way by someone other than God, sin is the
Sexual needs, for example, are God-given needs intended to be met
by God within the bounds of God’s institution of marriage.
But when a person seeks to meet that God-given need in a way
contrary to God’s plan, it is called fornication, it is selfishness, and
it is both life-destroying and soul-damning sin.
What powerful forces drive human beings to seek acceptance.
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 is such a follower that he will destroy himself to pay the price
for acceptance? Do they not
see that they are acting like sheep, or like dogs in a pack?
Guess what? Your
children are already paying the price for acceptance.
Though they may not be gang banners or biker babes, they are in
many respects even worse than those I have described to you.
How so? They are the
young hypocrites called church kids; your own children, who engage in the
soul condemning cliquishness of seeking each other’s approval and
Parents, please understand. I
recognize that all human beings need to be accepted.
But what your child needs to be made to realize is that God has
already made provision for meeting that need of acceptance in his life,
and that provision is not some other church kid.
The second greatest danger your child will ever face is found in
this church auditorium. It is
that other boy or girl your kid likes so much, even to the point of
adopting that other kid’s value system and his habit of either ignoring
or rebelling against the gospel message he hears during the preaching.
Of course, the greatest danger to your child would be to miss
church, and thereby miss out on the preaching that the Bible declares to
be so vital in the salvation of a sinner.
The point being, your child is in great danger wherever he happens
to be, and the danger is only slightly less dangerous in church.
In today’s sermon from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians we will
focus today on the concept of acceptance.
Our text is Ephesians 1.6. And
it is my belief that a correct understanding of your need of acceptance
and God’s provision for that need will prove to be most beneficial.
Stand, for the reading of God’s Word:
“To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us
accepted in the beloved.”
So, where do we start? Where
else? We start with God.
NOTICE WHAT GOD DID
. . he hath made us accepted . . . .”
are only two places in the entire New Testament where the word translated
“accepted” 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.
1C. The specific word of concern to us is a verb that is actually
translated by four English words in this verse before us.
“He hath made accepted” translates the single Greek word, cairitaow.
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. However, the
context indicates very clearly that what Paul is referring to has already
occurred in the lives of those Christians to whom he is referring.
3C. The root word means to bestow favor upon someone, to highly favor
someone, to bless someone.
And besides being found in only two places in the New Testament,
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
4C. Paul, then, is informing the Ephesians that at some point in time
in the past God bestowed favor upon them, divinely blessed them, made them
Now examine the use of the word in Luke 1.28.
the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly
favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among
1C. In this verse we see our verb in the form of a passive participle.
Translated “thou that art highly favoured,” the word describes
the virgin Mary as one who has been the recipient of this bestowal of
favor, this blessing with grace, from God.
2C. 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 Paul’s Ephesian letter had received grace.
3C. So, where does that leave Mary?
It leaves her in the same place any Christian is in, as a sinner
who has received the salvation that comes only by the grace of God.
Now consider the implications of the meaning of this word.
1C. Every human being who has ever lived has a legitimate need 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 chapter 2 that it was not good for Adam
to be alone.
2C. 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
get into trouble when two things happen:
First, when you forget that God will simply give you the favor, God
will simply give you the acceptance, that you need, and that you do not
need to go anywhere to get that favor from others.
After all, what kind of acceptance surpasses the acceptance of the
Creator of the universe?
4C. Second, you get into trouble when, having forgotten that God simply
gives His divine favor away, you put yourself into positions in which you
will barter and trade and try to buy the favor of others people.
And there are a variety of ways in which people try to buy the
favor of others.
5C. Here is how it works out in the lives of you church kids:
What will you do in order to be accepted by the insider group here
at church? What must you give
up? Your integrity? Your personal standards?
Your virginity? No,
that’s generally what you give up in a public school, where promiscuity
is promoted and encouraged. Here
at church, or at our Christian school, what you give up to be accepted by
the insider group, known as church kids, is your soul.
Think about it. All
week long at camp we have correctly and properly compared church kids to
Pharisees, hypocrites, who “. . . compass sea and land to make one
proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell
We have examined what church kids do, and who they are so much
like. But this morning I am
examining the motive your behavior, why you do what you do.
7C. God recognizes that you feel the need to be accepted.
The fact is, you do need both God’s acceptance and the acceptance
of other people. But being
unsaved, you do not trust God to meet your spiritual and social needs in
8C. So, you insult Him and dishonor Him by seeking out on your own
those who will accept you. And who do you find? The
wicked church kids who were here before you got here, who did the same
thing you are doing when they arrived here, which is to seek out the lost
and rebellious kids of the church. And
it all occurs right under your parent’s noses.
9C. The people that I described at the beginning of my message, they
are not wrong in needing to be accepted.
Neither are you wrong in needing to be accepted.
Where you go wrong is in seeking to meet your acceptance needs
yourself, instead of turning to God to supply all of what you need, and in
rejecting Christian parents and their values to get what you want.
10C. You are wrong for running with a group of kids who require that you
reject the gospel in order to be a part of their little clique. In the old days, when parents had a clearer picture of their
duties and obligations, they would interfere when their kids hung out with
the wrong crowd, even when the wrong crowd was you kids here in church.
Second, NOTICE WHERE GOD DID IT
. . He hath made us accepted in the beloved.”
Let me introduce you to the concept of spiritual geography.
Now is the time to look at the diagram that came in your bulletin
that shows the function of Greek prepositions (See below).
And you will notice that the diagram consists, basically, of a
sphere and a cube. 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.
2C. The particular preposition I want you to locate is #8, just inside
the cube and inside the sphere. It
is the Greek word that is usually translated by the English word “in.”
Notice where it is in relation to the sphere and the cube.
3C. 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
Now consider the concept of being “in Christ.”
1C. Almost thirty times in the first chapter of Ephesians alone this
little preposition is used to describe something being in something else.
Now, we know that Paul is not writing in a literal sense here, such
as a dog being in a dog house, so he must be referring to something in a
2C. Twenty times in the first chapter of Ephesians, Paul uses this
preposition to refer to being “in Christ.”
Now, to understand what it means to be “in Christ” it needs to
be understood that the Greeks used their prepositions to describe
relationships to so-called spheres of influence.
3C. So, when Paul uses such phrases as “in the Beloved” and “in
Whom” and “in Christ” he is referring to a sphere of influence, a
domain, a spiritual region in which Christ’s kingship is established.
He is referring to a spiritual place occupied by the child of God.
4C. In Paul’s thinking, to be outside of Christ, to be outside of
Christ’s sphere of influence, is to be lost, while to be in Christ is to
be saved. The reason I have
said all that is to say this: The
only place God meets any individual’s need of acceptance, acceptance by
God and genuine acceptance by other people, is “in Christ.”
5C. 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 appetites, but to no avail. Only
God meets needs given to man by God.
And God only meets such needs within the institution of marriage.
6C. And in like fashion is the need of acceptance.
The thug, the hoodlum, the tramp, the groupie, the club joiner, the
preppie, the yuppie, and even the church kid, 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.
7C. Oh, there will always be a majority of sinners who refuse to
acknowledge that by striving for the acceptance of individuals and groups
they are rejecting Christ, and will never get saved so long as they are
doing that. But when a sinner
realizes that acceptance has already been provided by God, and that he has
no need of acceptance by lost people, he just may end up getting saved.
It may be that he will no longer prostitute himself to win the
dubious friendships of those who reject Jesus Christ.
8C. To repeat, then, what did God do?
He accepted me. He took me just exactly the way I am. He doesn’t want me to stay the way I was when He took me.
But He did accept me as I was.
That’s 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
“in Jesus Christ.” But be
warned, lost friend. He will
take you nowhere else. Want
to be accepted by church kids? Then
you will go to Hell, just like they are going to Hell.
But if being accepted by God is important to you, and being
accepted by God’s people, then you may very well get saved from your
Finally, WE ASK OURSELVES WHY GOD DID IT
the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in
does God make Christians accepted in the Beloved?
Why does He first give individuals the need for acceptance and then
why did He arrange to meet that need?
Let me answer from God’s Word.
In Ephesians 1.12 & 14 we find the phrase “the praise of his
glory.” This is not a
particularly surprising phrase to find in the New Testament.
We know that God has His glory.
And what is glory? It’s
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 show that to us.
But the phrase found in Ephesians 1.6, “to the praise of the
glory of his grace” is unique. Found
nowhere else in the New Testament, this phrase indicates God’s motive
for making “us accepted in the beloved,” God’s motive for saving
sinners by His Son, Jesus Christ.
3B. Remembering that when He makes sinners “accepted in the
beloved,” God literally bestows His favor upon the undeserving, or gives
to the lost His grace, He thereby provides a means whereby the glory of
His grace, whereby the manifestation of His grace, whereby the showing off
of His grace, will be praised.
4B. Think about this for a moment.
Can the angels praise the glory of God’s grace?
I suppose they can, but it is not like they have ever received the
benefits of God’s 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 happens when a sinner like you receives God’s
saving grace? He praises God. But more than that, since even the unredeemed holy angels
praise God. The Christian
praises the glory of God’s grace. And
that is something that only those who have been redeemed, only those who
have trusted Christ, only those who have been made “accepted in the
beloved,” can do.
Parents, I am quite sure you have noticed that kids tend to band
together and run in packs. They
do it in the neighborhood, in public schools, in our Christian school, and
it is very noticeable here at church after each service.
When someone comes to this church for the first time, it’s a bit
scary for that individual. No
one likes to be in unfamiliar surroundings, in unknown territory.
So, the lost kid who comes in looks around until his radar locks on
to someone like him, typically another lost kid.
The problem with a new kid locating and then being attracted to
church kids is that church kids are wicked hypocrites, who are more like
the Pharisees of our Lord’s day than anyone else on earth.
Thoroughly familiar with the gospel, completely inoculated against
the truth, as much by body language and facial expressions as anything
else, the church kids require that dues be paid for acceptance into their
informal group: The gospel
must be rejected. Acceptance
requires that you sneer under your breath, scorn underneath a stoic face,
refuse in the secret places of your stony heart.
The leverage of the in group, the church kids, comes from the fact
that everyone wants to be accepted. There
are no individuals who do not want to be accepted by someone.
And so, following the inclinations of their sinful hearts, the
typical new youngster to the church will gravitate toward the acceptance
that the church kids make him pay for by rejecting the Lord Jesus Christ,
which means that he will refuse the acceptance that God gives to those who
come to Christ.
Rejecting God’s acceptance in Christ, the sinner may not
completely realize that he is also rejecting any possibility of
forgiveness, rejecting any possibility of salvation, rejecting any
possibility of a clear conscience, rejecting any possibility of a home in
heaven, and rejecting any possibility of escaping Hell, by choosing to run
with the church kids instead of getting saved.
But he is doing precisely that.
Think about it, my unsaved friend.
Is being accepted by a school friend, or a church friend who will
be gone in a few years, better than the acceptance of the eternal God? Is the temporary friendship of an unsaved buddy or pal more
valuable than becoming a friend of God and acquiring Christian friends of
Here is what you need to do: First,
recognize that what you are, if you are a church kid, is a hypocritical
Pharisee, who damns other kid’s souls to Hell.
If you are a fairly new person in our church, recognize that there
are wolves in this auditorium who will eat you up if you don’t get
saved, deceivers who will suck you into their conspiracy of rebellion
against the truth. Second,
recognize that you need to be accepted and you need to feel accepted.
God recognizes that, and you will not find real acceptance anywhere
except by coming to Christ.
8. Reject the acceptance that God offers to anyone who comes to Christ and you reject more than sweet fellowship with Christians in the church. Reject the acceptance that God offers to you by coming to Christ and you cut yourself off from the grace you need to be saved from your sins. I challenge you, this morning, to make a clean break with them in favor of Jesus Christ. Come to Him now and be accepted by God.