Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Growing Up In Grace: Love and Acceptance

18 but grow [spiritually mature] in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory (honor, majesty, splendor), both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. 2 Peter 3:18 AMP

 Growing up in Grace requires the right roots. We've established in past studies what the right roots are, (see here.) I feel impressed to continue along these lines in today's study. 

that we might learn to praise that glorious generosity of his which has made us welcome in the everlasting love he bears towards the Son. Ephesians 1:6 Phillips 

6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:6 NKJV

 Understanding we are accepted and loved!

 Do you want to hear some too good to be true but true good and glad news? You are loved by God. Not just loved but accepted in Him. Jesus changed everything. Before Christ, God and man were separated by mankind's sinful, fallen nature. 

The Father who longed for a Family.

The heart of God since the fall of Man in the Garden is that of restoration and reconciliation. Our Father longed for the day when men would no longer be separated by their fallen nature. He longed for the day when Jesus would be the once for all time sacrifice for our sins. For the time when by simple faith anyone could freely receive this gift of new life and adoption into His Family.

 Our sins aren't what kept Jesus on that Cross, it was His love for all humanity. It was because of the joy set before Him, that one day the Father would be reunited with His family, (Hebrews 12:2). You were the joy set before Him when He bled and suffered and died on that Cross. Seeing you forever forgiven, completely cleansed by His Blood, eternally secure, made the very righteousness of God, healed and made whole, motivated Christ to lay down His life and pay that high price. 

 When Jesus' birth was heralded by the angels note what they stated

“Glory to God in the highest [heaven],  And on earth peace among men with whom He is well-pleased.” Luke 2:14 AMP

 When we read this with a performance and Old Covenant mindset we read it as only peace toward certain men. That there is peace only to the men whom God approves of. So if you want peace with God, you best get busy earning it or proving you're worthy of this peace He offers. 

 I used to read this passage this way. Now I see the beauty of this proclamation. This is a divine invitation. This is God speaking the end from the beginning. He saw that Jesus would provide the once for all time sacrifice. This, in essence, IS the Grace Gospel. 

 The proclamation is that God, because of Christ, is accepting and approving of all mankind. This is was not saying God accepts and approves of all the actions and thinking of mankind. This was an open invite made available to all mankind to respond to the free gift of eternal life.

 Once we receive the Lord by faith we must know and understand just how deeply and how thoroughly He loves us and accepts us. This is the right foundation for true growth and spiritual maturity. You see spiritual maturity isn't you improving your performance so that one day God may actually like you. It isn't us working on ourselves so that eventually we may be acceptable to our Father.

 So many have been told by religion that they don't measure up. Some have even been labeled undeserving or not good enough by the standards of religion. The truth is God was in Christ reconciling the World to Himself. He isn't judging this World with calamities and cataclysmic disasters. God isn't mad at anyone. He has approved of all humanity. There is no nation or person who can say they are more or less deserving of the love of God and the reception of the divine invite unto new life in Christ by faith. 

 Once we realize we are deeply loved, highly favored and accepted and approved by our Father because of Jesus' Finished Work, all strivings will cease. We will see the appeal to the things of this World system fall away. When we realize we were the joy set before Him, we can't help but fall madly in love with the love of a loving Savior and Father. This is growing up in God's Grace.