Monday, October 29, 2012

Christian Performance versus Acceptance in Christ

Many Christians grew up in homes where parental acceptance was based, to a large degree, on academic, athletic, musical, or perhaps some other standard of achievement. Often, in that kind of performance environment, they never quite felt as if they measured up to expectations, regardless of how successful they were. Then they transfer that sense of inadequacy to their relationship with God.  They continually wonder, Is God pleased with me? Is He smiling on me with Fatherly favor? 
The answer to that question is an unqualified yes. God is smiling on you with Fatherly favor. He is pleased with you because He sees you as holy and without blemish in Christ. Do you want to talk about performance? Then consider that Jesus could say matter-of-factly and without any pretentiousness, "I always do what pleases him [the Father]" (John 8:29, emphasis added). When our Father looks at us, He does not see our miserable performance. Instead, He sees the perfect performance of Jesus.  And because of the perfect holiness of Jesus, He sees us as holy and without blemish. 
I like the translation of Ephesians 1:6 in the King James Version: "To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved" (emphasis added). Or to be more direct, God has made us acceptable to Himself through our union with Christ. You will never be accepted in yourself.  You can never, to use a figure of speech, "scrub yourself clean."
(Jerry Bridges, Transforming Grace)

In Transforming Grace, Jerry Bridges does a superb job of showing how grace transforms sinners in every way.  God's grace is operative not only in our justification, but also in our sanctification and glorification. Grace is absolutely liberating!  Grace brought me to Christ, grace sustains me in Christ, and grace will present me glorified with Christ before the throne of God.

Praise be to God!

Grace is a Gift freely given; a radically new Relationship with God; full and unconditional Acceptance in the Beloved; a deep, ongoing Cleansing from sin, guilt, and shame; and it is Everlasting (which means it is inexhaustible)!

1 John 3:1 (NIV)  "See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!  And that is what we are!"