Title: “Accepted in the Beloved”
Text: Ephesians 1:6
Reading: Ephesians 1:1-23
Subject: The Union of God’s Elect with Christ
Date: Sunday Morning - February 18, 1996
Tape # S-25
Let’s read Ephesians 1:6 again. The apostle Paul, writing by divine inspiration, tells us that God almighty has from all eternity, chosen, predestinated, adopted and blessed us in Christ - “To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” The title of my message is found in the last part of our text - “Accepted in the Beloved.”
Proposition: With those words the Holy Spirit reveals and declares to us one of the most comforting and delightful truths of Holy Scripture, and that is the fact that there is an everlasting, indissolvable, immutable union between the Lord Jesus Christ and his people.
Please notice at the very outset that our acceptance in Christ is spoken of as something accomplished by the Lord God himself from eternity. It is not something accomplished by us in time. Because it is something done by God and done by God from eternity, it cannot in any way be dependent upon us.
· Ecclesiastes 3:14
Let men hoot and holler all they want to about man’s part in salvation, man’s will, man’s work, and man’s contribution, our text declares, “He,” God the Father, “hath made,” from all eternity, before the foundation of the world, “us,” you and me, vile, base, hell-bent, hell-deserving sinners by nature, but chosen, redeemed, and called by his grace, “accepted,” highly favored, honored, pleasing, and delightful to God himself, “in the Beloved,” the Lord Jesus Christ, his dear Son, our Savior.
‘Twixt Jesus and the chosen race
Subsists a bond of sovereign grace,
That hell, with its infernal train,
Shall ne’er dissolve nor rend in vain
Hail! sacred union, firm and strong,
How great the grace, how sweet the song,
That worms of earth should ever be
One with incarnate Deity!
One in the tomb, one when He rose,
One when He triumphed o’er His foes,
One when in heaven He took His seat,
While seraphs sang all hell’s defeat.
This sacred tie forbids their fears,
For all He is or has is theirs;
With Him, their Head, they stand or fall,
Their life, their surety, and their all.”
Give me your careful attention. Listen closely. May God the Holy Spirit teach these lips to preach, as he taught David’s hands to war and enable me to minister to your very hearts, as I expound to you the meaning of these words: “He hath made us accepted in the beloved.”
Divisions: My message today has four divisions. Our text talks reveals...
1. A Beloved Person,
2. An Everlasting Union,
3. A Glorious Position, and
4. A Divine Operation.
I. A Beloved Person
The first thing I want to talk to about is a beloved Person, our great Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He is revealed here as, “The Beloved.” I cannot imagine a title, or name more appropriate for my Redeemer. This sweet, golden name is the one name that suits our Savior in all his relationships with the triune God, the angels of heaven, and his people in heaven and upon the earth.
A. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Beloved of the Father’s heart.
· Matthew 3:17
· Matthew 17:5
None of us can imagine how dear and beloved the Son of God is to the Father. Who can enter into the relationships of the three divine Persons in the eternal Trinity? We cannot imagine the kind of love the Father has for his Son; but we have abundant evidence of it and many illustrations of it in the Scriptures.
1. God the Son was one with the Father and beloved by him, as our Surety in the counsels of grace in eternity (Pro. 8:22-31)
2. In the covenant of grace, all the blessing of grace were bestowed upon chosen sinners only in the Beloved (v. 3; II Tim. 1:9).
3. When the Lord God stooped to create all things out of nothing, the Father called to the Son and said, “Let us make man in our image and after our likeness” (Gen. 1:26), “For without him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:1-3).
Everything that God the Father has done and decreed to be done has been done to glorify the Son, “that in all things he might have the preeminence” (Col. 1:18). And God the Son lived upon the earth as a man, died as our Substitute, and lives again as our exalted King and Priest in heaven that he might glorify the Father.
B. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Beloved of the blessed Holy Spirit.
It is the office work and good pleasure of God the Holy Spirit, in all his gracious operations and influences, to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ.
· John 16:13-14
I heard Bro. Todd Nibert say, “Where the Holy Spirit is emphasized the Holy Spirit is absent.” He was exactly right. The Holy Spirit never draws attention to himself. He has come to glorify Christ. When he is present, when he is working, Christ is preached, Christ is worshipped, and Christ is exalted.
C. The Lord Jesus is the Beloved of all the heavenly angels.
I am not stretching the Scriptures when I assert that the heavenly angels, those holy spirits who wait constantly before his throne look upon the Lord Jesus Christ as the Beloved. It is before his throne that they bow. It is his praise that they sing. It is his will they wait to perform.
· Isaiah 6:1-3
D. Without question, the Lord Jesus Christ is the beloved of all his people.
Saved sinners everywhere, in heaven above and scattered throughout all the earth, look upon the Son of God as their Beloved.
· Song of Solomon 1:14, 16
· Song of Solomon 2:3, 8-10, 16-17
· Song of Solomon 5:2, 4, 9-16
· Song of Solomon 6:2-3
· Song of Solomon 7:10
· Isaiah 5:1
Never was the term “beloved” so full of meaning, so well deserved, and yet so incapable of expressing all that is meant by it, as when it is applied to the Lord Jesus Christ. He is our Beloved. “We love him because he first loved us” (I John 4:19); but we do truly love him! How our hearts rejoice to look up to heaven upon the Son of God and call him “Beloved!” The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. His love for us has kindled in our hearts a flame of undying love for him that neither life nor death can quench. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Beloved of our souls because he is our Savior.
· I Corinthians 16:22
· I Peter 2:7
Blessed is that person who can, with a heart of gratitude, faith, and love, lift his eyes to heaven and say, “ Christ is my Beloved. I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine!” Do you know this beloved Person? Do you know the Son of God? Is Jesus Christ your Beloved? If he is, I want you to see, know, and rejoice in the next thing revealed in our text...
II. An Everlasting Union
In recent weeks I have spent a good bit of time studying and meditating upon the believer’s everlasting union with Christ. I cannot think of a theme more delightful to my soul. Our everlasting union with Christ is the source and spring of all the blessings and benefits of grace which we enjoy in this world and hope to enjoy in the world to come. Did you notice, when we read it, that in the first chapter of Ephesian the Holy Spirit very specifically states that everything is in Christ? In the first fourteen verses of the chapter he uses the words “in Christ,” or their equivalent, fourteen times. He means for us to understand that all the blessings and benefits of God’s covenant grace are ours only by virtue of our union with Christ.
Our everlasting union with the Son of God is the basis of our safety and security, too. God’s elect are as safe and secure as Christ himself, for we are “accepted in the beloved.”
Now, let me show you what the Scriptures clearly teach about this everlasting union. The subject is too big for me to comprehend it with my peanut brain. Therefore, I know I cannot expound it. But I can show you that which is obviously revealed. No doctrine is sound that does not recognize the everlasting union of God’s elect with Christ. Yet, whenever I even mention this glorious subject, as I often do, I feel that it is a subject that needs an angel’s tongue to proclaim it. But it is my privilege and responsibility to preach it. So I will do the best I can.
I am not talking to you about our manifest union with Christ. That is a blessed theme. When a sinner believes on the Lord Jesus Christ, he begins to enjoy a personal, manifest union with Christ. But our union with Christ began long before we believed on him. Our faith in Christ is not the cause of our union with him, but the manifestation of it (II Tim. 1:9-10). Our subject is not our manifest union with Christ in time, but our everlasting union with him from eternity. Our everlasting union with Christ is a fivefold union. When Paul writes that we are “in the beloved,” he means that we who now believe, all who have believed, and all who shall believe are in Christ from everlasting in these five ways.
A. Our everlasting union with Christ is an election union.
We were chosen in him before the foundation of the world. This election union is the basis of all God’s gracious operations toward and in his people.
· Ephesians 1:4-6
Salvation must begin with someone’s choice. Religion says it begins with your choice. But the Bible declares that it begins with God’s choice. God’s choice of sinners unto salvation is what the Bible calls “the election of grace.” (Rom. 11:5). Election is the basis and first part of God’s salvation. Without election no one would ever be saved. Though election is personal and distinguishing, we were not chosen separately and distinctly as individuals, alone and apart. We were chosen in Christ. There is no election of grace apart from Christ. And there is no union with Christ apart from the election of grace.
1. Christ was chosen to be the Redeemer (Isa. 42:1-4).
2. We were chosen to be the redeemed (II Thess. 2:13-14).
“Christ be my first Elect, He said,
Then chose our souls in Christ our Head.”
Here is the blessedness of the doctrine of election: It guarantees our eternal security. Our election and our Savior’s election stand or fall together. The Lamb’s Book of Life, that begins with the inscription of his name is the same register that holds our names. Until the pen of hell can scratch out his name, it cannot scratch out our names!
B. Our everlasting union with Christ is also a legal, suretyship union.
As the surety and the debtor represented by him are one before the law, so the Lord Jesus Christ and his people are one before God in a legal sense. He became our Surety in the covenant of grace before the worlds were made or ever the earth was.
· Hebrews 7:22
As the Surety of the covenant, he drew near to the Father in the name of his elect, made himself our Substitute, laid himself under obligation to God to pay our debts, satisfy all the demands of God’s law, justice, and righteousness for us, and procure on the grounds of strict justice all the blessings of grace and glory for us, to the praise of the glory of his grace.
“This being accepted by God, Christ and the elect were looked upon, in the eye of the law, as one person, even as the bondsman and the debtor, among men, are one in a legal sense: so that if one pays the debt, it is the same as if the other did it. This legal union, arising from Christ’s suretyship engagements, is the foundation of the imputation of our sins to Christ, and of his satisfaction for them, and also of the imputation of his righteousness to us, and of our justification by it. Christ and his people being one, in a law sense, their sins become his, and his righteousness becomes theirs.”
1. When Christ became our Surety, our Sponsor before God, he became totally responsible to God for us, to pay our debts, fulfill our obligations, and bring us to glory (John 10:15-16).
2. When Christ became our Surety, God ceased to look for satisfaction from us.
3. When Christ became our Surety, our salvation was finished, in so far as the Lord our God is concerned (Rom. 8:28-30; II Tim. 1:9; Rev. 13:8).
4. When Christ became our Surety, our everlasting salvation and security became a matter of absolute certainty.
C. Our everlasting union with Christ is, third, a federal, or representative union.
As Adam was the federal head of all men, so Christ is the federal head of all the elect.
· Romans 5:12-19
· I Corinthians 15:21-22
Everything that Adam did in the Garden, he did not as a private individual, but as the federal representative of all the human race. All his acts were representative acts. Had Adam been obedient to God, all the descendants of that original man would have been partakers of all the benefits of obedience to God. But Adam was not obedient. He sinned. He fell. He died. And we all sinned, fell, and died in him representatively.
In exactly the same way, the Lord Jesus Christ is the Federal Head and Representative of God’s elect. He was our Federal Head from eternity. He is our Federal Head now. And he shall be our Federal Head forever. I hope you can get hold of this. It will bless your soul as nothing else can.
1. Christ was our Federal Head and Representative in the covenant of grace before the world began.
He was given for a covenant to the people. He is the Mediator, Messenger, and Surety of that covenant. It was made with him, not as a single or private Person, but as the Head and Representative of God’s elect, who were given to him as a people to save. What he promised in the covenant, he promised for us. What he received in the covenant, he received for us. Thus, we were blessed in him and saved in him before the world was made (Eph. 1:3; II Tim. 1:9).
2. When the Lord Jesus Christ obeyed the law of God and made it honorable, we were in him, obeying the law and making it honorable.
3. When Christ suffered and died under the wrath of God, we suffered and died in him. “Crucified with Christ.”
“Justice looks upon the chosen as though they themselves had suffered all that Christ suffered, as though they had drunk the wormwood and the gall and had descended into the lowest depths. “ C.H. Spurgeon
4. When Christ was buried in the earth, we were buried with him.
5. When the Son of God arose from the dead, we arose with him, triumphant and victorious.
6. When he ascended into heaven and took his place at the right hand of the Majesty on high, we ascended with him, and sat down with him in his Father’s throne, as the rightful possessors of heaven and glory with him, our Federal Head and Representative.
Illustration: The Symbolism of Baptism
7. We see not yet all things put under the feet of man, but we see it as a matter of certainty that all things shall be put in subjection to him in the new creation, for “we see Jesus” seated upon yonder glorious throne, from henceforth expecting until his enemies shall be made his footstool.
· Psalm 8:1-9
· Hebrews 2:9
D. Our everlasting union with Christ is, fourth, a mystical union.
I do not know a better way to express this aspect of our union with our Savior than by using the word “mystical.” We are one with him in the sense that we are members of his body, not in a physical way, but in a spiritual sense.
· Ephesians 4:30
· Hebrews 2:11-14
I am in deep waters that rise far above my head. I cannot begin to explain this mystery. The fact is I do not understand all that I know about it. But this I do know, God’s elect have a greater union with Christ than the members of our physical bodies have with our heads. We are one with Christ...
· As the Head is One with the Body.
· As the Father and the Son are One (John 17:21).
· In His Glory as the God-man (John 17:22).
· As the Objects of the Father’s Love (John 17:23-24).
E. Let me show you this fifth thing, too: Our everlasting union with Christ is a vital union.
Our union with the Lord Jesus Christ is so essential and vital that without it we could never be saved and Christ could never be complete as our Mediator and Head.
· John 15:5-6
· Ephesians 1:23
I cannot talk about it more than a minute or two; but I must say at least a little about the third thing revealed in our text. It is...
III. A Glorious Position
The Holy Spirit tells us that we have been made “accepted in the beloved.” The word translated “accepted” in our text is a much stronger word than our English word “accepted.” This word means, “highly favored, laudable, praiseworthy.” Now we are not and never could be “accepted” before and by the holy Lord God, except in Christ the Beloved. But in him, in the Beloved, every believer, every sinner chosen, redeemed, and called by grace, is so completely and totally accepted of God that, even in the eyes of the holy, omniscient Lord God, we are highly favored, laudable, and praiseworthy! Let me show you three things.
A. Our acceptance with God is thorough, complete, total, and absolute. To be “accepted in the beloved” is to be...
1. Justified from all things.
2. Freed from all sin.
3. The objects of divine complacency and delight. “Well done!”
4. Worthy of our heavenly inheritance (Col. 1:12).
B. Our acceptance with God is only “in the beloved.”
God the Father is well pleased with his Son. And he is well pleased with us in his Son.
· Matthew 17:5 “In whom,” not with whom “I am well pleased.”
· I Peter 2:5
C. Our acceptance with God in Christ is everlasting and therefore immutable.
Bless God, our acceptance does not depend upon us. It did not begin with us. It is not maintained by us. And it cannot not be altered by us. Though we fell in our father Adam, yet were we “accepted in the beloved.” Though we came forth from our mother’s wombs speaking lies, we were still “accepted in the beloved.” Though we spent our days, from our youth up, in wanton rebellion against God and in league with hell, we were still “accepted in the beloved.” And though after the Lord God saved us by his wondrous grace, we sin and fall a thousand times a day, as we all do, yet it stands in the Scripture that we are “accepted in the beloved.” What a glorious position this is. You and I who believe are “accepted in the beloved!”
· Malachi 1:6
· Romans 4:8
· Psalm 89:19-37
“Unchangeable His will,
Though dark may be my frame;
His loving heart is still
Eternally the same:
My soul through many changes goes,
His love no variation knows.”
Our text reveals a beloved Person, the Lord Jesus Christ, an everlasting union, “in the beloved,” a glorious position, “accepted in the beloved,” and fourth...
IV. A Divine Operation
Look at the text one more time. “He hath made us accepted in the beloved.” Grace is stamped upon the whole thing. From beginning to end, the work of our acceptance is God’s operation. Our text declares, “Salvation is of the Lord!” Our being in Christ and accepted in Christ must be the work of God alone because no one else existed when it was done. It is a work finished from eternity!
A. God the Father put us in the Beloved by his sovereign decree because of his everlasting love for us.
B. God the Son made us acceptable and accepted.
C. God the Holy Spirit made our acceptance manifest to us (II Tim. 1:10).
· By Divine Regeneration.
· By Giving us Faith in Christ.
If this day you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord God has made you “ACCEPTED IN THE BELOVED.”
1. Your faith in Christ is the gift of his grace, the fruit of being “accepted in the beloved.”
2. Your faith in him is the evidence of your being “accepted in the beloved.”
3. Your faith in Christ is the assurance of your being “accepted in the beloved.”
4. He who has begun his good work of grace in us, making us “accepted in the beloved,” will complete his work and make us perfect in and with the Beloved.
· Philippians 1:6
· John 13:1
5. Let us give all praise,honor, and glory to our great God alone.
“Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
Praise Him all creatures here below.
Praise Him above, ye heavenly hosts.
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!”