“To the praise and glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” Eph. 1:6
Forgiveness and acceptance are not the same things. Paul speaks in verse seven of the “forgiveness of sins” we have because of the shed Blood of Jesus Christ, but in verse six makes sure we understand, acceptance is part of the salvation package, as well. It is possible to forgive someone who has wronged me, yet shun his or her company ever afterward. Here are two examples of what I mean.
David was persuaded to forgive his rebellious son, Absalom; yet for two whole years he refused to speak to him. This is an example of forgiveness without acceptance. For one of forgiveness with acceptance, I would point to the Prodigal Son and his father. When the boy came home, he must have had some prospect of his father’s forgiveness, but it’s obvious from what he said that he did not expect to be accepted back into the same father/son relationship: “[I] am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants” Luke 15:19. The father’s kiss showed his forgiveness; the ring, the robe, and the feast showed his acceptance. They were not necessary to enact forgiveness, but they were the assurance of reconstituted fellowship, which is what acceptance means.
Both forgiveness and acceptance from God are only privileges of those “in the beloved,” in other words, those who are “in Christ” (1:1, 3; 2:6, 13; 3:6). It’s our relationship to the Son of God that makes us accepted by God, the Father. A young, giddy, immature girl may not be a natural choice for a houseguest, but when that girl becomes the bride of a beloved son, she is accepted, with all her faults, and given a warm welcome in that home. And my Heavenly Father sees and knows all my weaknesses and failures, yet He forgives me because of sake of His beloved Son. As Charles Spurgeon said, “God is so boundlessly pleased with Jesus that in him he is altogether well pleased with us.” But even more than forgiveness, He accepts—even solicits—daily intimate fellowship with me, and one day He will accept me into His heavenly home.
I used to sing a wonderful old gospel song written by Wendell P. Lovelace, entitled Accepted in the Beloved. The chorus said this:
“In the Beloved,” God’s marvelous grace
Calls me to dwell in this wonderful place;
God sees my Savior, and then He sees me,
“In the Beloved,” accepted and free.
It’s a terrible thing to experience rejection. It’s wonderful to know you’ve been accepted!