To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he has made us accepted in the beloved.
Jesus Christ is the Beloved, the eminently Beloved One. In discoursing from this doctrine, I shall —
I. Show in what respects Christ is the eminently Beloved One.
II. Make some improvement.
I. I am to show IN WHAT RESPECTS CHRIST IS THE EMINENTLY BELOVED ONE.
1. He is the Beloved of the excellent ones of the earth. Who these are, ye may see (Psalm 16:3). They are "the saints." Him all the saints love with a love above all persons and all things (Luke 14:26). And —
(1) They meet altogether in Him in love, however they are scattered through the world; hence is He called, "the desire of all nations" (Haggai 2:7). So that lovers of Christ and saints are of equal latitude (Ephesians 6:24); "Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity."(2) Each one of them loves Him with a superlative and transcendent love (Psalm 73:25).
(3) They love other persons and things for His sake (Romans 15:2, 3; Titus 3:3-5).
(4) The liker anything is to Him, they love it the more.
2. Christ is the Beloved of the glorious ones in heaven. All eyes are upon Him there, for He is there the light of the pleasant land (Revelation 21:23), as the sun is in this world. And He is there —
(1) The Beloved of the glorified saints, who now love Him in perfection (Revelation 7:10).
(2) The Beloved of the holy angels (Revelation 5:11, 12). In the Temple the cherubims were posted, looking towards the ark or mercy seat, a type of Christ; which signified the angels looking to Jesus with love and admiration (1 Peter 1:12). They behold His glory, and cannot but love Him.
(3) The Father's Beloved (Matthew 17:5).
(a) In respect of His Person.
(b) In respect of His office. I shall conclude this point with a word of application.
I. Hereby ye may try whether ye be saints or not, partakers of the Divine nature. If so, Christ will be your eminently Beloved One.
II. Of reproof to those who love Him not eminently, above all. It is an evidence, that —
1. Ye know Him not (John 4:10). None can be let into a discovery of Christ in His glory, but must love Him (Matthew 13:44-46). It is to the blind world only there is no beauty in Him for which He is to be desired.
2. That ye are in love with your sins and a vain world. For who would loath the physician but he that loves his disease and cannot part with it?
III. Let him be your Beloved then, and give Him your heart.
1. He is best worth your love. None has done so much for sinners as Christ has, dying for them.
2. If ye love Him not, ye will be constructed haters of Him, and enemies to Him (1 Corinthians 16:22). Doctrine
II. THE WAY HOW A SINNER COMES TO BE ACCEPTED OF GOD IS FREELY IN CHRIST.
1. What is implied in this.
I. A STATE OF NON-ACCEPTANCE, or unacceptableness with God, that sinners are in while they are not in Christ. And we may take up this in these following things:
1. They are offenders.
(1) Sinners in Adam (Romans 5:12). The root was corrupted, and all the branches withered and rotted in him.
(2) Sinners in their own persons, who are capable of actual sinning.
2. Unpardoned offenders.
3. God is not pleased with them; for His being pleased with any of mankind is in His Son Jesus Christ, and without Him He can be pleased with none of them (Matthew 3, ult.; Hebrews 11:5, 6).
4. He is highly displeased with them. There is a cloud of Divine displeasure ever upon them (John 3, ult.).
5. He cannot endure to have any communion or intercourse with them, farther than in the way of common providence (Psalm 5:5). He and they are at enmity, He legally, they really; so there can be no communion (Amos 3:3). And they cannot have it till they come to Christ (John 14:6).
6. He loathes them, His soul abhors them, as abominable. They are abominable in their persons unto God, as wholly corrupt and defiled (Titus 1:15, 16).
7. The wrath of God is upon them, and they lie under His curse.
II. A WAY PROVIDED HOW SINNERS MAY BE ACCEPTED.
1. God is ready to accept of them now that will come to Him in His own way (2 Corinthians 5:19).
2. There is ready for sinners what may procure them acceptance with a holy God (Matthew 22:4).
3. There is open proclamation made in the gospel, that all may have the benefit of that sacrifice, and be accepted of God.
III. THE SINNER'S BESTIRRING HIMSELF FOR ACCEPTANCE WITH GOD. There is a way to acceptance, but the sinner must take that way, else he will not get acceptance. He cannot sit still careless, and be accepted. The sinner's bestirring himself in this matter, takes in these three things.
1. A conviction of unacceptableness to God (John 16:8). Men must be convinced of their being unacceptable to God, ere they will come to Christ. It is their not seeing their own loathsomeness, that makes them slight the sacrifices of sweet savour; and think to be accepted of God, while yet they are not in Christ.
2. A weighty concern and uneasiness about it.
3. Anxiety of heart for it (Acts 2:37). There must be earnest longings to be accepted of Him, yea, the soul must be brought to esteem and so prize it, as to be content with it upon any terms (Acts 9:6).
IV. The next general head is to consider THE NATURE OF A SINNER'S ACCEPTANCE WITH GOD.
1. I shall consider the nature of a sinner's acceptance with God in itself. And in itself it is a great and unspeakable benefit, and implies these following things: —
(1) In general, it implies an acceptance of the sinner with God, as a righteous person. The Lord reputes, accounts, and accepts him into favour as a righteous person (2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 4:6; and 5:19).
(2) More particularly it implies —
1. The ceasing of wrath against the soul (Hosea 14:4).
2. The curse is removed (Galatians 3:13).
3. He is fully pardoned (Isaiah 43:25).
4. He is reconciled to God (Romans 5:1).
5. God is pleased with him (Hebrews 11:5).
6. He is admitted to communion with God.
7. God has a delight and complacency in him.He looks on him in His own Son, and takes pleasure in him, as covered with His righteousness.
V. Let us consider THIS ACCEPTANCE IN ITS EFFECTS AND CONSEQUENTS. It is in these an unspeakable privilege. By means of it —
1. The springs of mercy are opened to the sinner, that rivers of compassion may flow towards him (Romans 5:1, etc.).
2. He is adjudged to eternal life (2 Thessalonians 1:6, 7; Acts 26:18). Life was promised in the first covenant, upon the fulfilling of the law; now the believer being accepted of God as a righteous person, for whom the law is fulfilled, is accordingly adjudged to live forever.
3. The channel of sanctification is cleared for him, and the dominion of sin is broken in him (Romans 6:14).
4. He is privileged with peace of conscience.
5. Access to God with confidence.
6. His works accepted.
7. The sting removed from afflictions and death.
8. All things working for good (Romans 8:28).
VI. I proceed to show THE WAY OF A SINNER'S ACCEPTANCE WITH GOD. First, It is "freely." There is nothing in the sinner himself to procure it, or move God to it (Romans 3:24). It is done freely, in that —
1. It is without respect to any work done by the sinner (Titus 3:5). Grace and works are inconsistent in this matter.
2. It is without respect to any good qualification or disposition wrought in the sinner (Romans 4:5). For —
(1) The way of a sinner's acceptance with God excludes all boasting (Romans 3:27).
(2) What good qualities can there be in the sinner before he be accepted in Christ? (Hebrews 11:6).
(3) When the man comes to be endued with gracious qualities, as he is by that time already accepted, so if his acceptance depended on them, he would come short; for still they are imperfect, having a great mixture of the contrary ill qualities, that need to be covered another way. And how can one expect acceptance on that, for which he needs a pardon?Secondly, It is in Christ the sinner is accepted. It implies —
1. The cause of a sinner's acceptance with God. It is for Christ's sake (Romans 3:24, 25).
2. The state of acceptableness of a sinner, wherein he may, and will be, and cannot but be accepted of God; it is being in Christ, united to Him by faith. One must not think to be accepted for Christ's sake while out of Christ; no more than the branch of one tree can partake of the sap of another, while not ingrafted into it; or the slayer could be safe, while he was not yet got within the gates of the city of refuge. But in Christ the sinner is in a state of acceptableness to God.We take up this in these five things following: —
1. In Christ the sinner may be accepted of God (2 Corinthians 5:19).
2. In Christ the sinner will be accepted. Any, even the worst of sinners shall certainly be accepted in Christ (Acts 16:31). Whosoever shall make their escape into this city of refuge shall be safe. Christ will refuse none that come to Him; and God will reject none that are in Christ.
3. In Christ the sinner cannot but be accepted. It is impossible it should fail or miscarry (Hebrews 6:18).
4. That moment a sinner is in Christ, he is accepted (Romans 8:1, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus")I come now to the improvement of this subject.
1. Then the door of acceptance with God is open to all; none are excluded (Isaiah 55:1, 2).
2. Seek then acceptance with God, that ye may find favour with Him. This should be your main aim (2 Corinthians 5:9). Here your happiness lies in time and eternity.
3. Seek it freely, without pretending to anything in yourselves to recommend you to His acceptance or favour.
4. Seek it through Jesus Christ only, that is, by faith in Him, laying the whole stress of your acceptance on His righteousness.
5. Therefore as ever ye would have acceptance or favour with God, seek to be in Christ; to be united to Him. For as there is no acceptance with God, but for His sake; so there is no acceptance for His sake, but to those that are in Him (Colossians 1:27). There is salvation in Christ, but none partake of it that are not in Him; a righteousness in Him, but it covers none but the members of His body.
(T. Boston, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.