Are you striving to live right so that God will accept you? Are you busy in the church to get Godís approval and favor? Are you trying to have a prayer life that will give you Heavenís nod of satisfaction? Are you winning as many souls to Jesus as you can so that God will look favorably upon you? If you are doing any of these things for these reasons, PLEASE STOP RIGHT NOW!!
The Bible says that we are accepted in the Beloved [Jesus] (Ephesians 1:6). God accepts you because you accepted Jesus Christ! Therefore, He is your Father and you are His child. That is your sole basis for being accepted by Him.
God does not accept me because I handed out thousands of tracts this summer. I was just as accepted before I handed out the first one! I am not on a works basis with God and neither are you. I am accepted because of Jesus and for no other reason. My works did not -- and do not -- earn my right to fellowship with God. Jesus earned my right to fellowship with God by living a perfect life with unbroken fellowship and then handing over the gift of His righteousness to me! I didnít earn it and I couldnít earn it. If youíre trying to earn it, youíre wasting your time if youíre a Christian. Youíre already accepted in the Beloved! Stop trying to earn what Jesus already earned for you.
God does not smile upon me because I am called to the ministry. God smiles upon me because I am His child! He does not love me any more or any less than people who are not called to ďfive-foldĒ ministry positions. He wants me to be faithful, but He accepts me because of Jesus, not because of my faithfulness. All of us at our best still fall short of Godís standard of perfection. But our perfection is not our basis for fellowship with God. Jesusí perfection is! Letís not ever forget that.
I wonder, if weíre really honest with ourselves, how often do we think that God will love us more if we do more for Him or love us less if we do less for Him? Such thinking does not understand Godís love at all. God IS love. He loves us unconditionally. His blessings are conditional, but His love is unconditional. To take the easiest example, His blessing of eternity in heaven is conditional Ė you must receive Jesus Christ, His Son. But His love for you is unconditional. God already knows in His foreknowledge whether a certain person will ever become a Christian, yet He so loved the world that He sent Jesus to die for every last person in it. He loves even those who are headed for hell. He loves you enough that He sent Jesus to pay for your sins before you had ever lifted a finger to do anything that pleases God.
If God loved you when you were a rebel against His kingdom, how could He not love you now that you are IN His kingdom? God loved me back when I used to take George Carlinís 7 dirty words you canít say on radio or TV (back then at least!) and appended them to Godís name and yelled them up at the ceiling to ďprove there is no God.Ē If He loved me then, how could He not love me now that I am accepted in the Beloved and right in His sight?
Letís not ever forget that righteousness is a gift (Romans 5:17). You canít do anything to deserve it and you donít have to. When you received His abundance of grace, you received the gift of righteousness. In fact, youíre so righteous, you ARE righteousness, baby! (Thatís not some new weird doctrine, unless you think 2 Corinthians 5:21 is new or weird! Read if for yourself!)
God will love me just as much as He does now if I never give out another tract the longest day I live. I donít give them out to get God to like me; I give them out to let other people know that God loves them and has made a way for them to have the same right standing that I enjoy.
When you really understand that your acceptance before God is a gift, it will free you from the treadmill of trying to ďearnĒ Godís acceptance through religious good works. I believe in good works, but none of our good works will make us any more loved or accepted in Godís sight.
Now isnít that good news?