Being Loved And Accepted By God

 

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Many Christians are confused about the differences between being loved by God, being accepted by Him and pleasing Him. One view wrongly says God only loves Christians. Another view insists falsely that we must continually aim to be good in order to be accepted by Him. Yet another wrongly suggests that because we have received Jesus and His righteousness, we do not have to try to please Him. In this chapter and the next chapter “Pleasing God”, we will see the differences between these things.

 

God loves every human

 

John 3:16 and Romans 5:8 reveal God loves all non-Christians, even the most wicked. John 3:16 says: “For God so loved the world…” 1 John 4:8 and 4:16 show God is love. Therefore, He must love every Christian and non-Christian.

Many of us know God loves everyone the same amount. He has no favourites. Because we emphasise this truth so much, however, we sometimes neglect another truth. This is that God has such an unlimited ability to love, that when He loves you or me, it is as though in one sense He loves you or me alone.

Humans love each other with a limited amount of love. Also, even though believers can love all humans in a general sense, they usually can only form deep intimate personal relationships with a limited number of people – family, friends and so on. But God has such an unlimited ability that He can love millions and millions of people intimately and personally. This is while at the same time loving each individual more than his or her spouse, parent, child or friend can. God loves you so deeply that it is as though you are the only person on Earth. Never forget this!

 

God loves more-obedient and less-obedient Christians the same

 

The number of hours each day we as Christians pray, worship God, praise Him, read the Scriptures, fast or how much we obey Him each day, will never determine how much He loves us. God loves all Christians with the same amount of love.

This does not mean, however, that we should pray, read our Bible, praise and worship God a small amount. Nor should we aim at a small level of obedience to His will.

 

David’s adultery, murder and lies

 

Humans change in their level of love for God. But His level of love never changes. He loves believers the same amount when they are sinning and not sinning. God did not love King David less when he committed adultery (see 2 Samuel 11:1-4), lied, resulting in the death of the priests of Nob (see 1 Samuel 21:1-2, 5 and 8) and committed murder (see 2 Samuel 11:14-27) than when he was being more obedient to God. Instead in great love, God sent the prophet Nathan to tell him of his sin. God gave David a chance to become free of the guilt of murder, adultery and associated sins, through confession and repentance.

God loves us even though in His foreknowledge of the future, He knows all of the worst sins that we will ever commit. He hates these sins but He still loves us.

 

God totally accepts only true Christians

 

Ephesians 1:5-7 reveals that through Jesus’ death on the Cross, God has given His undeserved grace to those humans who are willing to receive it. Verse 6 shows such converted humans are accepted in the Beloved by God: “To the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved.” The “Beloved” here is Jesus Christ as suggested by the usage of the similar expression “the Son of His love” in Colossians 1:13.

Because of Jesus’ death, His grace towards us and His Presence by His Spirit within us, we are totally accepted in Jesus by the Father. This acceptance here is referring to one aspect of what many Bible teachers call our position in Jesus Christ before the Father. From the moment we are born-again, we obtain this wonderful privilege in Christ.

The word “accepted” in Ephesians 1:6 is “charitoo” in the original Greek. The word “charitoo” means “to show kindness to someone, with the implication of graciousness on the part of the one showing such kindness” [1] and “bestow favor upon, favor highly”. [2] The fact “accepted” in Ephesians 1:6 means these things and the word “charitoo” comes from the Greek word “charis” which means “grace”, shows our acceptance in Christ is based totally on undeserved grace. Therefore our acceptance in Christ has nothing to do with how we act in our daily practical behaviour before or after we are born-again.

The only other usage of the word “charitoo” in the whole New Testament is in Luke 1:28 in relation to Mary, the mother of the Lord Jesus. The word “charitoo” is here translated “highly favoured”. Roman Catholics usually translate “charitoo” in Luke 1:28 as being “full of grace”. In Ephesians 1:6, Paul revealed every Christian in the Ephesian Church was as “highly favoured” and as “full of grace” as Mary.[3]

Ephesians 2:18 and 3:12 stress we have access to God’s Presence only because of Jesus Christ. Even though God unconditionally loves and enormously values all believers and unbelievers, only believers in Christ have access to His Presence under the New Covenant.

Even if we sin, we do not lose this position in Christ of total acceptance before God the Father. We can only lose this perfect acceptance in Christ if we allow sin to reharden our hearts against God until we become so bound and deceived, we reject Him. Hebrews 3:12-14, 6:4-6 and 10:26-29 relate to different aspects of these truths.

God’s perfect acceptance of believers is a finished work. He will not accept us more if we obey Him more and sin less.

It is impossible to be more accepted by God than what we are right at this moment. He accepts us perfectly because:

 

·         Jesus has taken all our deserved punishment for our sins, thereby totally removing any reason God had for not totally accepting us.

·         we are now in spiritual union with Jesus Christ. As a result of this union, God accepts us as perfectly as He does Jesus. Christ is not just partially accepted by God.

 

In Romans 11:29, God promises to never take such gifts from us: “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.”

Hebrews 13:5 also relates to our total acceptance by God: “…For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” Here God promises He will never leave us or forsake us.

Three other New Testament verses which refer to God totally accepting believers through Jesus Christ are Romans 14:3, 15:7 and Hebrews 12:6. Hebrews 12:6 refers to God receiving His children. In the original Greek, the word “receive” in this verse is present tense and is a form of the word “paradechomai” which means “to accept the presence of a person with friendliness”. [4]

In Romans 14:3, Paul says of God’s attitude even to believers who are weak in faith: “God has received him.” In Greek, the word “received” here is a form of the word “proslambano” which means “to take to oneself, signifying a special interest on the part of the receiver, suggesting a welcome [5] or “accept the presence of a person with friendliness [6] or “receive or accept in one’s society, into one’s home or circle of acquaintances”. [7] Here we see God welcomes or accepts even weak believers into His eternal Presence. God’s welcoming of us as believers is done with friendliness.

In Romans 15:7, Paul says: “Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.” Here Paul says Christ has received us. Christ has perfectly accepted or welcomed all believers into His eternal Presence.

 

Bible Study Questions

 

1.       Does God love only believers in Him? What Bible verses prove your answer?

2.       Does God love more obedient Christians more than less obedient ones?

3.       Does God accept both unbelievers and believers or just believers? What verses support your answer?


 

[1] Louw and Nida, page 749.

[2] Bauer, page 879.

[3] As an interesting aside, this totally destroys one of the main foundations of the Roman Catholic doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. This false doctrine suggests the expression “full of grace” or “charitoo” in Luke 1:30 proves Mary was born without sin. But note Paul called all the Ephesian Christians by the same expression “charitoo” or “full of grace”. This is even though in Ephesians 2:1-4, he said that the same people were previously sinners who needed to be saved. This shows the expression “charitoo” does not mean being without sin.

[4] Louw and Nida, page 453.

[5] Vine, page 511.

[6] Louw and Nida, page 453.

[7] Bauer, page 717.


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