Accepted and Acceptable

Ephesians 1:6; 2 Corinthians 5:9
The two words which form the heading of this paper, though rendered by the same word in our Authorized Version, are not at all the same. The former has respect to the person of the believer, the latter to his practical ways. That refers to his standing, this to his state. It is one thing to be accepted; it is quite another to be acceptable. The former is the fruit of God's free grace to us as sinners; the latter is the fruit of our earnest labor as saints, though, most surely, it is only by grace we can do anything.
It is well that the christian reader should thoroughly understand the distinction between these two things. It will preserve him effectually from legality, on the one hand, and laxity on the other. It remains unalterably true of all believers, that God hath made them accepted in the Beloved. Nothing can ever touch this. The very feeblest lamb in all the flock stands accepted in a risen Christ. There is no difference. The grace of God has placed them all on this high and blessed ground. We do not labor to be accepted. It is all the fruit of God's free grace. He found us all alike dead in trespasses and sins. We were morally dead—far off from God, hopeless, Godless, Christless—children of wrath, whether Jews or Gentiles. But Christ died for us, and God has co-quickened, co-raised, and co-seated us in Christ, and made us accepted in Him.
This is the inalienable, eternal, standing of all, without exception, who believe in the name of the Son of God. Christ, in His infinite grace, placed Himself judicially where we were morally, and having put away our sins, and perfectly satisfied, on our behalf, the claims of divine righteousness, God entered the scene, and raised Him from the dead, and with Him all His members, as seen in His own eternal purpose, and to be called in due time, and brought into the actual possession and enjoyment of the marvelous place of blessing and privilege, by the effectual operation of the Holy Ghost.
Well, therefore, may we take up the opening words of the Epistle to the Ephesians, and say, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies in Christ. According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love; having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved" All praise to His name throughout the everlasting ages!
All believers, then, are accepted—perfectly and forever accepted—in the Beloved. God sees them in Christ, and as Christ. He thinks of them as He thinks of Him; loves them as He loves Him. They are ever before Him, in perfect acceptance in the blessed Son of His love, nor can anything, or any one, ever interfere with this their high and glorious position, which rests on the eternal stability of the grace of God, the accomplished work of His Son, and attested by the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven.
But are all believers acceptable in their practical ways? Are all so carrying themselves as that their dealings and doings will bear the light of the judgment-seat of Christ? Are all laboring to be agreeable to Him?
Christian reader, these are serious questions. Let us solemnly weigh them. Let us not turn away from the sharp edge of plain practical truth. The blessed apostle knew he was accepted. Did that make him lax, careless, or indolent? Far from it. " We labor" he says,;' to be acceptable to him." The sweet assurance that we are accepted in Him is the ground of our labor to be acceptable to Him. " The love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead. And he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them and rose again." 2 Cor. 5:14, 1514For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: 15And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. (2 Corinthians 5:14‑15).
All this is pre-eminently practical. We are called upon, by every argument which can bear sway over the heart and conscience, to labor diligently to be acceptable to our blessed and adorable Lord. Is there aught of legality in this? Not the slightest tinge. The very reverse. It is the holy superstructure of a devoted life, erected on the solid foundation of our eternal election and perfect acceptance in a risen and glorified Christ at God's right hand. How could there be the very smallest atom of legality here? Utterly impossible. It is all the pure fruit of God's free and sovereign grace from first to last.
But ought we not, beloved christian reader, to rouse ourselves to attend to the claims of Christ as to practical righteousness? Should we not zealously and lovingly aim at giving Him pleasure? Are we to content ourselves With vapidly talking about our acceptance in Christ, while at the same time there is no real earnest care as to the acceptability of our ways? God forbid! Yea, let us so dwell upon the rich grace that shines in the acceptance of our persons, that we may be led out in diligent and fervent effort to be found acceptable in our ways.
It is greatly to be feared that there is an appalling amount of antinomianism amongst us—an unhallowed traffic in the doctrines of grace, without any godly care as to the application of those doctrines to our practical conduct. How all this is to end, it would be hard to say; but, most assuredly, there is an urgent call upon all who profess to be accepted in Christ to labor fervently to be acceptable to Him.