George H. Morrison - Devotional Sermons
Acceptance in the Beloved
To the praise of the glory of his grace through which he hath made us accepted in the beloved--Eph 1:6
Forgiveness Does Not Necessarily Imply Acceptance
It ought to be noted carefully by all who ponder the interior life that acceptance is something different from forgiveness. One might be forgiven and not accepted. If a man wrought me some deadly injury, by the grace of heaven I might forgive that man; yet I might warn him that he must keep his distance and never cross the threshold of my home. So conceivably might God forgive the guilty sinners of mankind and yet forbid them entrance to His dwelling-place. At the pleading of the woman of Tekoah, David forgave Absalom. Yet for two years that forgiven child never looked upon his father's face (2Sa 14:28). The palace gates were barred for him; he had no access to the royal chambers; he was forgiven, but he was not accepted. Acceptance is reconstituted fellowship. It is liberty of access to the palace. It is an authoritative welcoming to the home and heart of God. And though always this implies forgiveness, the two are not identical whether in the affairs of earth or heaven.
Acceptance Is Another Miracle of Grace
It ought again to be noted that acceptance does not necessarily follow on forgiveness. It is not an inevitable consequence; it is an added miracle of grace. When the prodigal took his homeward way he had a deep conviction that he would be forgiven. But he had no assurance that he would be accepted and so have the run of the old home. Forgiven, he would have been well content to be as the lowest of the hired servants and lodge with the other servants in the shed. The father forgave him when he ran to meet him. There was fatherly forgiveness in the kiss. But what amazed the prodigal and broke his heart was the welcome which followed on forgiveness. The ring on his finger, the robe upon his back, the filial liberty in the old home, these were the acceptance of the prodigal. He might have been forgiven without these. These were not of the essence of his pardon. These were the signs and tokens of a love that could never do enough for the forgiven. That is why the apostle tells us here that the amazing experience of acceptance is "to the praise of the glory of His grace." Acceptance is not a necessary corollary. It is not an implication of remission. It is an implication that we are in the hands of One who in His love can never do enough. He might pardon us and make us hired servants; but love can never be content with that. It crowns forgiveness in the welcome home.
Christ Makes Us Fit for Fellowship
Again we are told (and the words are haunting words) that this acceptance is in the Beloved. One can fittingly illustrate that thought from what one has seen in human life. A well-beloved, perhaps an only son, announces that he is going to be married. His mother who has been praying about that waits eagerly to see his choice. And sometimes seeing, she is disappointed, and her mother's heart is very sore within her for the girl "is not like her son at all." Then frequently follows something very beautiful. I have seen it a score of times with admiration. That foolish, giddy, ill-adapted girl gets a most tender welcome to the home. She is treated with an infinite consideration; she is borne with, her faults are overlooked not for her own sake, but for that of the dear boy who has chosen her to be his bride. She is accepted in the beloved: for his sake she gets that tender welcome. She is cherished and treated as a daughter and made one of the family because he is dear. And something like that is in the writer's mind when he finds the secret of divine acceptance not in us, but in the well-beloved Son. Pardon does not instantly make holy, and without holiness how shall we see God? We are worse adapted for that heavenly fellowship than the most foolish maiden is for marriage. But if the Son hath chosen the Church to be His bride, and if the mother-heart be a sacrament of God, then in the Well-beloved there is welcome. For His sake we have the run of home. We are adopted into the family of heaven. We are loaded with unfailing kindness. We are always taken at our best. With the heavenly Father as with the earthly mother there is welcome for the chosen of the Son. We are accepted in the Beloved.
Accepted for Service
I should like to close upon another thought--we are accepted in Him that we may serve. Very often in that word acceptance there is the suggestion of expected service. When a candidate for office is accepted, that acceptance is the road to usefulness. When an editor accepts a manuscript, that means that the manuscript is going to be used. And when God not only pardons but accepts, it implies that He is set on using us "to the praise of the glory of His grace." Just as election is not a selfish privilege but heaven's method of broadcasting its blessings, so acceptance (election's other side) is heaven's prelude to spiritual fruitfulness. For the slave knoweth not what his lord doeth and his best obedience is mechanical, but he who has the run of home is free. We are accepted not for an hour or two; we are accepted that we may abide. And abiding, as our Lord has taught us, is the secret of all fruitfulness. Accepted service is not brilliant service--brilliance is very often fruitless--it is the service of those who never cease to wonder that they are accepted in the Beloved.
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