Tuesday, February 28, 2012
ACCEPTED IN THE BELOVED--OCTAVIUS WINSLOW (1808-1878)
“To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he has made us accepted in the beloved.” (Ephesians 1:6)
THE holy influence which a believer is called to exert around him will be greatly augmented, and powerfully felt, by an abiding realization of his full and entire acceptance in Christ. The child of God is “the salt of the earth,” “the light of the world,” surrounded by moral putrefaction and darkness. By his holy consistent example, he is to exert a counteracting influence. He is to be purity where there is corruption, he is to be light where there is darkness. And if his walk is consistent, if his life is holy, his example tells, and tells powerfully, upon an ungodly world.
Saints of God catch, as it were, the contagion of his sanctity. The worldling acknowledges the reality of the gospel he professes, and the bold skeptic falls back abashed, and feels “how awful goodness is!” What, then, will so elevate his own piety, and increase the power of his influence, as a realization of his justification by Christ? Oh how this commends the religion of Jesus! We will suppose a Christian parent surrounded by a large circle of unconverted children. They look to him as to a living gospel: they look to him for an exemplification of the truth he believes: they expect to see its influence upon his principles, his temper, his affections, his whole conduct.
What, then, must be their impression of the gospel, if they behold their parent always indulging in doubts as to his acceptance, yielding to unbelieving fears as to his calling? Instead of walking in the full assurance of faith, saying with the apostle, “I know whom I have believed”—instead of living in the holy liberty, peace, and comfort of acceptance, there is nothing but distrust, dread, and tormenting fear. How many a child has borne this testimony, “the doubts and fears of my parent have been my great stumbling-block”! Oh, then, for the sake of those around you—for the sake of your children, your connections, your friends, your domestics—realize your full, free, and entire acceptance in Christ.
Is it any marvel, then, that in speaking of His beloved and justified people, God employs in His word language like this: “You are all fair, my love: there is no spot in you.” “He has not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither has He seen perverseness in Israel”? Carry out this thought. Had there been no iniquity in Jacob? had there been no perverseness in Israel? Read their histories, and what do they develop but iniquity and perverseness of the most aggravated kind? And yet, that God should say He saw no iniquity in Jacob, and no perverseness in Israel, what does it set forth but the glorious work of the adorable Immanuel—the glory, the fitness, the perfection of that righteousness in which they stand “without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing”? In themselves vile and worthless, sinful and perverse, deeply conscious before God of possessing not a claim upon His regard, but worthy only of His just displeasure, yet counted righteous in the righteousness of another, fully and freely justified by Christ. Is this doctrine startling to some? Is it considered too great a truth to be received by others? Any other gospel than this, we solemnly affirm, will never save the soul!
The obedience, sufferings, and death of the God-man, made over to the repenting, believing sinner, by an act of free and sovereign grace, is the only plank on which the soul can safely rest—let it attempt the passage across the cold river of death on any other, and it is gone! On this it may boldly venture, and on this it shall be safely and triumphantly carried into the quiet and peaceful haven of future and eternal blessedness. We acknowledge the magnitude of this doctrine; yet it is not to be rejected because of its greatness. It may be profound, almost too deeply so for an angel’s mind—the cherubim may veil their faces, overpowered with its glory, while yet with eager longings they desire to look into it—still may the weakest saint of God receive it, live upon it, walk in it. It is “a deep river, through which an elephant might swim, and which a lamb may ford.”