This week's 'thought' comes from Miles J. Stanford's book, "Principles of Spiritual Growth" (though the quote itself is primarily from J. N. Darby, and Wm. R. Newell). It speaks of the common mistake of trying to reason out our acceptability with God by evaluating our performance or looking to our present life circumstances.
I trust you will find it encouraging. (Some strictly theological terms have been updated or explained through paranthetical insertions). Enjoy.
"'We are accepted in the Beloved.' Our Father is fully satisfied with His Beloved Son on our behalf, and there is no reason for us not to be. God can be satisfied with us only because He is satisfied with Christ (to whom we are joined by faith). It is from God to us and not from us to God.
J. N. Darby was very clear on this: 'When the reasons with man, He does not reason from what man is for God, but from what God is to man. Souls reason from what they are in themselves as to whether God can accept them. He cannot accept you on this basis. You are looking for righteousness in yourself as a ground of acceptance with Him. You cannot get peace while you are reasoning in that way'...
Sadly today, most believers actually reason from themselves to God. When all is going well, and God seems to be blessing, then it is that they feel He loves and accepts them. But when they are stumbling, and everything seems dry and hard, then they feel that He does not love and accept them. How can this be? There is nothing about us to commend us to God. Our acceptance is in Christ. Plus, most of our true spiritual development comes through the dry and hard times. God has accepted us in His Son, and upon this FACT we must rest our faith. As in justification, our acceptance is by GRACE alone.
In his classic, 'Romans, Verse by Verse,' Wm. R. Newell presents some penetrating thoughts regarding this grace:
'There being no cause in the creature why grace should be shown, the creature must be brought off from trying to give cause to God for his care.' 'He has been accepted in Christ, who IS his standing!' 'He is not on probation.' 'As to his past life, it does not exist before God: he died at the cross and Christ is his life.' 'Grace, once bestowed, is not withdrawn: for God knew all the human exigencies beforehand: His action was independent of them, not dependent upon them.'
'To believe, and to consent to be loved while unworthy, is the great secret.'
'Refuse to make 'resolutions' and 'vows', for that is to trust in the flesh.'
'Expect to be blessed, though realizing more and more lack of worth.'
'Rely on God's chastening hand as a mark of His kindness.'
'To 'hope for the better' (so you may be more acceptable) is to fail to see yourself in Christ only.'
'To be disappointed with yourself is to have believed in yourself.'
'To be discouraged is unbelief -- as to God's purpose and plan for blessing you.'
'To be proud is to be blind! For we have no standing before God in ourselves.'
'The lack of Divine blessing, therefore, comes from unbelief, and not from failure of devotion.'
'To preach devotion first, and blessing second, is to reverse God's order, and preach law, not grace. The Law made man's blessing depend on devotion; Grace confers undeserved, unconditional blessing: our devotion may follow, but does not always do so, at least not in proper measure'...
'To promise a man certainty of his destiny may seem, on the human level, like playing with fire; but this leaves God out of the picture. Those who have the deepest appreciation of grace do not continue in sin. Moreover, fear produces the obedience of slaves; love engenders the obedience of sons.' -- J. W. Sanderson, Jr."