From DGH on The Divine Acceptilatio Submitted on 2015 02 25 at 10:43 am

Mark,

During this season (for some) of Lent and (for others) Fifty Shades of Gray, I wonder about the title of your post. Acceptilatio doesn’t sound Latin or learned. It sounds dirty.

But that’s a mere quibble. I am glad to know that you acknowledge that our sins (doh!) works are flawed and God accepts them despite how much they fall short of his righteous standard. But why is it so hard for you to say the j-word?

Because God accepts less – often, a lot less (i.e., “small beginnings”) – than perfection from us because of his Son and for the sake of his Son, who is glorified in us.

Is this fair? Doesn’t God accept us because of Christ’s righteousness? I mean, if being glorified in us is the standard, then what about my cats? God is glorified somehow in them. What about Saddam Hussein? Wasn’t God glorified in him sort of like the way God was glorified by Joseph being sold by his brothers into slavery?

So why do you have such a hard time saying “justification.” You seem almost as reluctant to say it as George Washington was to utter “God” (he liked divine providence, Great Parent, Supreme Benefactor but seemed to gag on God).

Again, the Belgic Confession which you also seem reluctant to quote puts the relationship between justification and sanctification so well:

These works, proceeding from the good root of faith, are good and acceptable to God, since they are all sanctified by his grace. Yet they do not count toward our justification– for by faith in Christ we are justified, even before we do good works. Otherwise they could not be good, any more than the fruit of a tree could be good if the tree is not good in the first place.

So then, we do good works, but nor for merit– for what would we merit? Rather, we are indebted to God for the good works we do, and not he to us, since it is he who “works in us both to will and do according to his good pleasure” — thus keeping in mind what is written: “When you have done all that is commanded you, then you shall say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have done what it was our duty to do.’ ”

Yet we do not wish to deny that God rewards good works– but it is by his grace that he crowns his gifts.

Moreover, although we do good works we do not base our salvation on them; for we cannot do any work that is not defiled by our flesh and also worthy of punishment. And even if we could point to one, memory of a single sin is enough for God to reject that work.

So we would always be in doubt, tossed back and forth without any certainty, and our poor consciences would be tormented constantly if they did not rest on the merit of the suffering and death of our Savior. (Art. 25)

A piece of advice here — your posts on the law, obedience and sanctification toss some of your readers back and forth and undermine assurance. Do you really want to do that?

One other point. You write that God is always please with us, a point that seems to conflict with other posts you’ve written about the punishments believers receive in this life for disobedience:

God accepts imperfection because he is a gracious Father, who has a perfect Son, who sends his Spirit into our hearts (Gal. 4:6). Why are we called righteous and good? Why are our imperfect works acceptable and pleasing to God? The answer: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

So does this mean that we now don’t have to worry about the sort of retribution that God’s people faced according to the Psalmist?

Yet they tested and rebelled against the Most High God
and did not keep his testimonies,
but turned away and acted treacherously like their fathers;
they twisted like a deceitful bow.
For they provoked him to anger with their high places;
they moved him to jealousy with their idols.
When God heard, he was full of wrath,
and he utterly rejected Israel.
He forsook his dwelling at Shiloh,
the tent where he dwelt among mankind,
and delivered his power to captivity,
his glory to the hand of the foe.
He gave his people over to the sword
and vented his wrath on his heritage.
Fire devoured their young men,
and their young women had no marriage song.
Their priests fell by the sword,
and their widows made no lamentation.
Then the Lord awoke as from sleep,
like a strong man shouting because of wine.
And he put his adversaries to rout;
he put them to everlasting shame.

He rejected the tent of Joseph;
he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim,
but he chose the tribe of Judah,
Mount Zion, which he loves. (Psalm 78:56-68 ESV)

If you now think that saints in Christ no longer face this kind of treatment because of their sins, I’m happy to know that. But again a word to the wise, this post doesn’t seem to cohere with your recent advocacy and rationales for obedient faith.

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