One of the most sweetest doctrines of "the gospel of the grace of God"(Acts 20:24), and most assuring truth that our salvation is ALL "according to the riches of his grace" (Ephesians 1:7), is that in His grace "he hath made us accepted in the beloved" (v.6). In other words, God has "graced" us, i.e., He has poured out His grace upon us for Christ's sake; or as John 1:16 puts it: "Of his fulness have we all received, and grace for (or upon) grace". Oh, words fail me to be able to express what it means to be "accepted in the beloved" Son of God! May the blessed Holy Spirit be pleased to give me the words to share with you this wonderful truth! Amen.
As I write, I'm so conscious of how unworthy and unacceptable I am before God! No matter how "good" I might be; or how "moral" I strive to be; or even how "religious" I pretend to be; yet I know within the depths of my soul, there will always be something in me to make me unacceptable before God. I agree with the prophet Isaiah as he says: "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all ourrighteousnesses are as filthy rags"(64:6). That simply means that there is absolutely nothing that I can do to make myself acceptable to God; and if he doesn't make me "accepted in the beloved", what hope do I have if left to myself? None whatsoever!!!
What does it mean to be made "accepted in the beloved"? Well, it simply means that since we can't do absolutely nothing, and that there is absolutely nothing in us, to make us accepted by God, He took it upon Himself, by His grace, to provide ALL that we need to be made accepted by Him. In other words, He had to look outside of us in order to find that which would make us acceptable to Him; and so according to our text, it had to be in His beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. It follows, then, to be "accepted in the beloved", is for us to be acceptable to God as far as His very own Son is acceptable to Him, in whom He is well pleased! Hallelujah!!!
Before expounding on our text, let me share with you an illustration that I believe will help to magnify this precious doctrine we're dealing with. Think of a pearl necklace; and of one that is priceless. Usually a pearl necklace start with the smallest pearls from the tie-clasp in both directions. As the number of pearls increased towards the front and center, that last pearl would be the largest and most beautiful. Use your imagination and make that particular one the "one pearl of great price" (Matthew 13:46). Now apply that picture to the context of our text, which for our study would involve vv. 3-14 of Ephesians chapter 1. The doctrines that extend in both directions from "accepted in the beloved" is our priceless Pearl Necklace that are connected with the Tie-clasp of the glorious Grace of God. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ"(v.3). Amen!!!
Now, don't misunderstand me: I'm not belittling the other doctrines because I refer to them as "small" pearls as compared to the "one pearl of great price" that refers to"accepted in the beloved". But what I desire to bring out is that as we consider all the other precious truths, the sweeter that being "accepted in the beloved" becomes; and as we contemplate the 'beloved", we will see Him as "altogether lovely" and "the chiefest of ten thousand" (Solomon's Song 5:16;10). Oh, dear brethren, (and I also direct myself to anyone that knows not the Lord), cry out to "the God of all grace" (1 Peter 5:10) to reveal to you what it means to be"accepted in the beloved"; and if you don't have the assurance of this, come to Him right now by faith, and be covered with His banner of love (Solomon's Song 2:4), and received from Him"grace upon grace". HE WON'T CAST YOU OUT (John 6:37)!!!
Without further ado, let us now look at the other "pearls" that make up this priceless Necklace of "the riches of (God's) grace" (v.7); and let us adorn ourselves with it, wearing it "to the praise of the glory of his grace" (v.6). So, as we consider the following "doctrines of grace", you'll see that above all things else, God gets ALL the glory for His "so great salvation" (Hebrews 2:3), which He freely gives to all that are made"accepted in the beloved". But also you'll notice that the Lord Jesus Christ is highly exalted because ALL that God freely gives us is "in Christ"; making it clear that His beloved Son is to be "all, and in all" (Colossians 3:11) that He does in saving "his people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21). Furthermore, you'll find that God's "free grace" is infinitely magnified above the so-called "free will" of sinful man, because in ALL that God has done, is doing, and will do for our eternal well-being, is ALL of pure grace freely given to helpless and hopeless sinners; for it will be clear that there is absolutely nothing that we can add to our salvation. Oh, Hallelujah! All glory to the God of Grace!!! Amen.
But notice, that before the apostle shows us the "pearls" that make up the Necklace of Grace, he first starts off by praising and blessing"the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (v.3). Oh, what a precious lesson to learn; and how natural it should be for us to always praise and bless "the Lord, whodaily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation" (Psalm 68:19)! Much more should this be impressed to our hearts as we note that it is"the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" who has blessed us richly for His Son's sake, and not because of us; in other words, since we are "not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth" (Genesis 32:10) He has shown us, and that there isn't anything in us to recommend us to Him, yet He was pleased to set His heart upon us, and to include us "in Christ"so that He could give us ALL in Him for our eternal good! Because we deserve it? NO! but because of Someone else, even our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Oh, how that should humble us, and cause us to fall at His feet in praise and worship, giving ALL glory to Him, who now is also our God and Father in Christ Jesus! Hallelujah!!!
THE PEARL OF BLESSING
The first pearl we see is the Pearl of Blessing; or as we read that "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ...hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ" (v.3). How can we be "accepted in the beloved"without being"blessed...in Christ"? Impossible! Romans 8:32 states that "he that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" In other words, when God determined from eternity to give His Son to die for us, He also determined not only to provide ALL that was necessary to accomplish that purpose, but also for us to partake of ALL its "blessings". Truly, every believer can say that they are "blessed...in Christ". When Christ said that He had come so that we "might have life, and that (we) have it more abundantly" (John 10:10), this can only be so because we have been"blessed us with all spiritual blessings in (Him)"(v.3).
But note that it is "all spiritual blessings", and not temporal, material, physical, etc., but"spiritual". Although it's true that God can bless us temporally, materially, physically, etc., yet He doesn't promise to do it in ALL of it; yet in the other hand, every believer is"blessed...with ALL spiritual blessings". Just think about it: What good does it to have ALL the "health and wealth" in the world, and yet be devoid of the love of God, His grace and mercy, His forgiveness and acceptance, faith, righteousness, peace, joy, etc., etc.? The Psalmist understood this when he said, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life" (23:6). David knew that because he was accepted of God, he was truly blessed! In other place he said, "Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not ALL his benefits" (Psalm 103:2). In a word, the "spiritual blessings" have to do with the spiritual life and and eternal well-being of the believer, and not so much with his temporal, material, physical life and well-being.
We note, also, that "all" of these "blessings" are "in heavenly places", i.e. in the heavenlies. Either we can take this to mean that these "blessings"can only come from Him who is in heaven, as James 1:17 states it: "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights..."; or it is only those"blessings"that are compatible with heaven, i.e. as Peter says that we have "an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you" (1:1:4). Either way, since these "spiritual blessings" are "in Christ", that means, then, that in order to enjoy them we have to be"accepted in the beloved". Therefore, every one who is "made accepted in the beloved" can rejoice that "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" has blessed us with everything that is necessary to enable us to spend eternity in Him and with Him. Is this a precious pearl? Yes, it is! Hallelujah!!!
THE PEARL OF ELECTION
Now, let us continue with The Pearl Of Election; and oh, what a precious pearl this is! Oh, let me praise God and thank Him for choosing me for salvation, as Paul says we are to do in 2 Thessalonians 2:13 -"But we are to bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation...". Thank You, O Father, for including me in your "election of grace" (Romans 11:5), and I praise You for Your glorious grace that You have bestowed on me according to Your sovereign will. Hallelujah!!! Just think about it, my dear reader, if it hadn't been for Divine election, none of us would have ever been "made accepted in the beloved". Precisely because of this precious Pearl is there any hope for anyone of us sinners! To put it in another way, if hadn't been for Election, none of us would be saved even now!
I realize that to many the truth of election seems to be harsh and hard; and that they can't conceive that the God of love could do such a thing, i.e. choose some sinners to be saved, and let everybody else to perish forever. Of course, such thinking comes from trying to "rationalize" God, or trying to bring Him down to our level of thinking. But what says the Scriptures: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts"(Isaiah 55:8,9). Oh, beloved, this wonderful truth of election should bring us down on our faces in adoration and praise to Him, who was pleased to set His heart upon us and chose"us in (Christ) before the foundation of theworld, that we should be holy and without blame before him..." (Ephesians 1:4). Oh, to think that "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (v.3) would think of me from eternity past and to accept me in His beloved Son! I have nothing to attribute that to but that He chose and predestinated me to be His "according to the good pleasure of his will" (v.5). Praise His Name!!!
But in spite of what carnal man says, and even though some brethren in Christ reject the humbling doctrine of Unconditional Election, it is STILL a precious pearl that will never lose its glorious luster. Although it's true that pearls can get "dirty", and then restored to their beauty by cleaning them, likewise the Pearl of Election can be tarnished with the false doctrines and philosophies of man, but when "all the counsel of God" (Acts 20:27) is declared, then this precious Pearl will shine forth in all its beauty to the glory of God! Some have said the most beautiful and expensive pearls come from the deepest waters, truly then the believer can praise and worship "our God"who"is in the heavens", and "hath done whatsover he hath pleased" (Psalm 115:3), as Paul does with regard to election and the sovereignty of it: "O the depth of the riches both of the wisom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!...For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen" (Romans 11:33,36).
Now, note here what we are "chosen"for. Paul tells us it is so "that we should be holy and blameless before him..." (v.4). Before I made reference that "from the beginning" we were"chosen...to salvation"(2 Thessalonians 2:13), but here for holiness and to have no blame before God. How can this be? I have to confess that every day there's much failing in being "holy and blameless before" God, and so daily I have to ask for forgiveness of my daily sins by the cleansing of Christ's Blood; and yet I am told by God's Word that I was "chosen...in (Christ) before the foundation of the world, that (I) should be holy and blameless before (God)". Of course, we are to "follow...holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14), and to perfect "holiness in the fear of God" (2 Corinthians 7:1), being "diligent that (we) may be found of him...blameless" (2 Peter 3:14) when Christ comes back; but, beloved, the ONLY sure way to be found "holy and without blame before him", is that God makes us "accepted in the beloved"(v.6). Consider the following Scripture, and rejoice in it: "But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, andredemption" (1 Corinthians 1:30). See, you are "holy"because Christ is your "sanctification"; and you are "blameless" because Christ is your "righteousness"; and so therefore, because every believer is "chosen in (Christ)", they are "holy and without blame" because they are "accepted in the beloved" Son of God. But in the practical side of Election, this Pearl will look more beautiful as we walk "holy and without blame", not only before God, but before men.
THE PEARL OF PREDESTINATION
Next, we note the Pearl of Predestination; and here it has to do with being "predestinated...unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself" (v.5). This wonderful truth is in conjunction with the Pearl of Election; for not only did God "chose us in (Christ) before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him" (v.4), i.e. "to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth" (2 Thessalonians 2:13), but in doing so, He also set our eternal destiny even before"in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" (Genesis 1:1)! And what is the destiny of every one God's elect? "The adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself"! Matthew Henry puts it like this: "Predestination has respect to the blessings (the elect) are designed for; particularly "the adoption of children", it being the purpose of God that in due time we should become his adopted children, and so have a right to all the privileges and to the inheritance of children". Matthew Poole's Commentary says "having appointed us unto a state of sonship and right to glory,...to be sons of God and heirs of heaven". V.11 says that "we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will"; and the apostle Peter further adds that it is "to an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you" (1 Peter 1:4). That's why in another place it is said that "if children, heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ" (Romans 8:17). In other words, all that the Beloved Son of God has, belongs to each one of God's adopted children. HALLELUJAH!!!
But there is also another aspect of the Pearl of Predestination that is very important; and that is that God "also did predestinate (us) to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren" (Romans 8:29). What this means, beloved, is that not only every one of the elect will be adopted into the family of God, but also will be 'like' the Lord Jesus Christ, so that 1 John 4:17 will be true of each one of them: "Because as he is, so are we in this world". You see, the doctrines of Election and Predestination are not just some theological and abstract teachings of the Bible, but are 'practical' in every sense of the word. In other words, in Election not only are we 'positionally' "holy and without blame before (God)"(Ephesians 1:4) in Christ Jesus, but 'practically' we are be "holy in all manner of conversation (living); because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy" (1 Peter 1:15,16); and so also in Predestination, not only 'positionally' have we "the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to (God)" (Ephesians 1:5), and will "be conformed to the image of his Son" (Romans 8:29), but 'practically' in our relationship to God as our Father, and we as His children, "have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father" (v.17), in our walk with our God and Father so that it can fulfilled that "he that saith he abideth in him ought himself also to walk, even as he walked" (1 John 2:6). "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure" (vv.2,3). Amen!!!
THE PEARL OF GREAT PRICE
Now, what moved God to do all of this for His people? Was it something in us that made us attractive to Him so that He said, "Oh, I've got to save these special people for myself"? Or perhaps He saw us, at least some of us, trying our best to get saved, and doing all we could to please Him, i.e. obeying His commandments, going to church, being a good and moral person, etc., etc.? NO! NO! NO! Then, what is the Divine answer? Note very carefully; for therein we can see why the Psalmist had to say: "Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake... But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased" (115:1,3). In other words, we are told that our being "blessed...with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ", our being "chosen...in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame", our being "predestinated...unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself" (Ephesians 1:3-5) is simply because it is "according to the good pleasure of his will" (v.5). To put it in another way: God did all this simply because He determined to do it, therefore He did it; and nothing or anyone had anything to do with it except His own free and sovereign will; or as Paul further on says it: "According to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will" (v.11).
But note also, that in God doing all of these things "according to the good pleasure of his will" (v.5), it was done "to the praise of the glory of his grace" (v.6). In other words, it is to magnify His free and sovereign grace, because, in that ALL that we have in Christ Jesus, it is NOT because we are worthy, or deserving, but that since He is "the God of all grace" (1 Peter 5:10), He decided to bestow upon totally depraved sinners His ' unmerited favor' so that He would receive all the glory and praise for His love, goodness, and lovingkindness toward us. "This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise" (Isaiah 43:21); "even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory,..." (v.7); therefore "I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images" (42:8); or to sinful man! To put it in another way, ALL that God does for our good in Christ Jesus, is not because of us, but for His glory! This may sound harsh to some because of their view of sin and of sinners, but one thing I can say: That if it wasn't "for the graceof God which is given (us) in Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 1:4), "before the world began" (2 Timothy 1:9), NONE OF US WOULD BE SAVED AT THIS MOMENT! Can you see now why all that we have in Christ is "to the praise to the glory of his grace"? Hallelujah!!!
Now, what is The Pearl Of Great Price? It is the beloved Son of God Himself; for it is in Him that God's glorious grace is magnified, "wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved" (v.6)! In other words, to be "made...accepted" is for God "to grace" us, i.e. to favor us, and to bestow freely upon us, ALL that He has determined to give us in His beloved Son; and this flows out of pure and free grace! That's why in John 1:16 we read that "of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace"; i.e. it is grace from the first to the last, from the beginning to the end, and all between! Oh, beloved brethren, that's another reason why our precious Redeemer should be "altogether lovely" (Solomon's Song) 5:16) to us; for our only hope to be made acceptable before, and by, God, is to be in the GRACE of His beloved Son! As we look to the Pearl of Great Price that is given to us in the priceless pearl necklace, see it shine forth in its resplendent glory that is "the grace of God which is given (us) by Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 1:4).Hallelujah!!!
THE PEARL OF REDEMPTION
(TO BE CONTINUED)