Accepted in the Beloved – Part 1

by Mike Ratliff 

To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. (Ephesians 1:6 KJV) 

Our salvation, our redemption if you will, is God’s handiwork. In all my many years as a believer, I have run across multitudes of professing Christians in spiritual bondage because they believe that it is up to them and their performance in walking in repentance to remain in God’s good graces. It is as if they have the offer of salvation, which they have accepted, but they are in deadly fear that the offer will be revoked if they sin. This is a form of unbelief because God’s Word does not teach that. In fact, it teaches the opposite. I wonder if those in this bondage have every considered the fact that since none of us could do one thing to save ourselves, therefore, the teaching we will be held eternally accountable to a standard of perfection that is impossible for us to be conformed to in this life is not biblical.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:3-6 ESV)

The Apostle Paul wrote the epistle to the Ephesians. It is written in Koine Greek. In this language it is acceptable to have very long sentences that are not acceptable in English. In Ephesians 1, vv3-14 is one sentence. It is an exultation by the Apostle to the praise of God’s glory. He begins with the word ‘Blessed.’ This is the Greek word εὐλογητός or eulogētos. This word is dervived from εὐλογέω or eulogeō, which means ‘to speak well of’ or ‘to eulogize.’ εὐλογητός, therefore, could be best translated as ‘one to be well spoke of, worthy of praise.’ Paul is saying that God is deserving of great praise to His glory. Paul makes sure that we understand that it is God the Father who is the center of this praise. He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and has εὐλογέω (blessed) us in Christ with every spiritual blessing… Hold that thought about that word ‘in’ for now. We have another word derived from εὐλογέω, which is  εὐλογία or eulogia. In this context, Paul is telling Christians that they are ‘blessed’ by the good word and actions of God. Where were we ‘blessed?’ It is ‘in the heavenly places.’ This refers to the realm of God’s complete, heavenly domain. It is from here that all His ‘blessings’ come. Now, let us go back to that word ‘in’ which referred to our being εὐλογέω ‘in’ Christ. These ‘blessings’ with which God has ‘blessed’ us are superabundant. They belong only to believers who are His children by faith in Christ. This means that what Christ has is theirs. This includes His righteousness, His resources, His privilege, His position, and His power (Romans 8:16,17).

 Well, that was v3. Did you praise God for His εὐλογία of you? How can those of us who are saved by Grace through faith alone not glorify God when we read a passage like this? Now, let us look at v4, “even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him” The Greek word translated here as “chose” is ἐκλέγομαι or eklegomai. The grammar structure of this statement indicates that God not only chose by Himself but for Himself to the praise of His own glory (vv 6, 12, 14). Who is the ‘us’ in v3? This is referring to all the elect. What standard did God use in this selection? According to Ephesians 2:1-3 (below), it could not have been by any merit on the elect’s part. No, it was according to His own will apart from any attribute or merit that any of the elect possessed.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience– among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (Ephesians 2:1-3 ESV)

Notice that we have another ‘in him’ here. God the Father chose His elect in Christ before the foundation of the world. Again, this was according to God’s sovereign will and, therefore, apart from any influence from any of the elect’s actions or beliefs. This election was not just the making of a list. No, it was that each chosen child of God should be holy and blameless before Him. How is this possible and God remain just? No human is either holy or blameless. The key is that believers, God’s elect, are chosen ‘in Him’ so that we can stand ‘before Him.’  The next part of this passage reads, “. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,” The Greek word translated here as ‘predestined’ is προορίζω or proorizō. It simply means to determine or decree beforehand. This was God’s electing grace in action and done in ‘love,’ which is the Greek word ἀγάπη or agapē. This is benevolent love. It is a love that seeks what is best for the one loved regardless of what the one loved desires. Therefore, God ordained the elect as He exercised ἀγάπη towards them. ἀγάπη was the divine motive for their election. Notice that salvation consists of God adopting His elect into the divine family and it is ‘through Jesus Christ.’ Through this adoption, God gives His own nature to those who have believed and trusted in Christ. This makes them His children in the image of our Lord Jesus Christ. They actually receive His divine nature (John 15:15; Romans 8:15).

Now, let us tackle v6, which states, “to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.” Do you remember those words above which were translated as ‘Blessed, “blessed,” and “blessing?” Well, the word translated here as ‘blessed’ and “accepted into” in the KJV is not from the same word family as εὐλογέω. No, this is completely different word. It is χαριτόω or charitoō. It is derived from the Greek word χάρις or charis, which is translated into English as ‘grace’ or ‘favor.’ However, χαριτόω literally means ‘to grace’, ‘to make gracious’, or ‘to make lovely.’ This speaks of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness through His substitutionary death. Jesus Christ, the Beloved provides this imputed righteousness. Because believers are accepted in Him, then they, like Him, are beloved of God. It is Christ’s righteousness that is the basis of our justification before Him. 

We will look at vv7-14 in the next post. However, for now, mediate on these wonderful truths. Do not get bogged down in wrestling with election. We do not know who the elect are, but God does. All in Christ are the elect and God will save all who have not yet believed. What we should be concentrating on here is the wonderful truths that God deliberately put into action all that it would take to redeem a people for Himself out of this rebellion, this lost and dying world in which we now live. He loves His children, He chose us. We did not choose Him. He did all that was necessary to draw us to Himself.

Soli Deo Gloria!

11 thoughts on “Accepted in the Beloved – Part 1

  1. What I struggle with is a problem “accepting being accepted”. I think this manifests itself in performance driven behavior and a kind of perfectionism that is hard to get past.

    When I was in college, I did extremely well. However, you would never know that based on how I talked about my work. One fellow adult student was very correct in telling me that if I got a test back with a 99%, I’d dwell on the 1% I got wrong instead of being happy with how well I did.

    I still remember that I got a B+ in “Intro to Literature” because I couldn’t define “Epithet” correctly on a test. And that was back in the fall of 1989.

    My spiritual walk tends to be the same kind of thing. Everyone gets angry once in a while. When I do, I tend to think things like “See? I’ve betrayed myself as an unbeliever!”. I read a book titled “Righteous Sinners” by Ron Julian. It is an excellent book and was a great help but I still fight with tons of doubt. Very insecure and the enemy knows that.

    And, of course, knowing that spiritual growth is a sign of spiritual rebirth doesn’t help alot because I tend to not see that but rather how messed up I still am.

    Very frustrating. I don’t fear losing my salvation. I believe in the perserverance of the saints. But this is kind of related I think.

    I appreciate this, even though it is only kind of related. Today has been especially bad. Not sure why. But thanks.

  2. Tim,

    I understand, I really do because I am a perfectionist at heart. God is irradicating that from me and that leads to ‘bad days.’ What we must learn is that God has already accepted us in Christ and so we are secure in Him. Now, we do sin and and so are called to repent and work out our salvation with fear and trembling and to mortify our sin. We are called to walk in holiness and we can only do this by the Spirit.

    Ephesians is a wonderful treasure house for the Christian. I suggest some deep time of reflection and mediation as you slowly devour this wonderful epistle.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  3. Thanks, Mike.

    While I’m thankful for whatever assurance I can find, I am so tired of having to rely on “negative assurance”. Stuff like “Well, I have a fear of God” or “I can’t give up because after all, ‘Who else has the words of eternal life”.

    Evidence of regeneration includes Love, joy, peace, and all that. *That* is what I’d like to see. Or the things mentioned by Peter that make our calling and election sure.

    It’s very frustrating because without any exception (that I can recall) I’ve run across something by MacArthur or Paul Washer or someone and they will invariably say something that alleviates my fear.

    It’s not as bad now. Ten years ago when I was just starting out, I had no track record. And I was confused because I was under the false assumption that I had been converted 20 or so years before…which there was no evidence for (to my shock).

    I’ve seen signs of growth here and there, I think. But the perfectionism just works against it.

    Today, I think, I was pounding myself for not evangelizing enough. Again, performance. Perceived failures, not actual ones. A friend of mine who used to be in leadership at MacArthur’s church once said it is “F.E.A.R. — False Evidence Appearing Real”. Vivid imagination + analytical thinking + racing mind = trouble.

    Thanks again, Mike and I’ll try to calm down and read Ephesians. Today I’ve been so hyper trying to “Think Up Something” to blog about. Time to STOP.

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  5. Your point that only God knows who He elects directs us toward judging not. The elect are members of the Church Invisible. We can only know them by their fruits. The word of God gives us our only assurance of salvation and justification(Mark 16:16). Therein is found our only hope of grace and mercy.

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  7. Tim,

    We don’t know how blessed we are if we get 90% right. I am one of those people who could never get 50% right.. a non-finisher: the village idiot so to speak. We haven’t reached total perfection but we have a great teacher who will make us consistent while being patient so that we can endure. If at one time, we were not able to endure, being ruled by our flesh, then the Spirit will reduce us to nothing before rebuilding us to the new image of himself.

    The Lord has to reduce us, break us, slay us, or what have you to toss out the old wineskins. He cannot work with us if we are still predisposed to sitting high on top of Mt. Samaria. Isn’t it a great wonder how he can reduce us and bring us low just as much as he can exalt us?

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