Through the years, various Christian groups have claimed some unique understanding, experience, or application of original Christianity that makes them more acceptable to God than other Christians. This claim often becomes a selling-point for persuading other believers to abandon their own groups and to join the superior group. So what should we make of this? Is one’s acceptance by God made any more likely by joining a particular Christian group?
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More acceptable? In the entire history of our race, there is only one short period, in the life of one man, that God accepts and approves without qualification. It consists of approximately 12,000 days — “the days of his flesh” (Heb. 5:7). It is the earthly lifetime of the incarnate Son of God. In this unique sequence of human today’s, Jesus of Nazareth heard God’s voice and did God’s will, never hardening his heart even once (Heb. 3:6-8; 10:7-10). Here alone is seen the perfect “doing” that can pass unsinged through the fires of judgment. Only here is seen the perfect “dying” that exhausts the curses of a broken covenant and offers the Father the flawless fruit of a faithful heart.
This, not our own experience, comprises “holy history.” God accepted the life that Jesus lived and offered. He accepted Jesus because he lived it. And God accepts us because Jesus is our representative. His obedience, his blood, and his now-risen and glorified life secured our acceptance by God and assure God’s approval of us. Jesus obeyed, and we are pronounced righteous (Rom. 5:19). He died and we are reconciled (Rom. 5:10). He arose and we shall pass safely through the great judgment day (Rom. 5:10).
The performance that makes us acceptable to God is finished — the gospel proclaims that news. All we can do is believe it and respond in trusting obedience and praise. Seen in gospel light, our own achievements are as ephemeral as morning fog. The everlasting gospel frees us to die to our own accomplishments and claims and to trust wholly in Jesus Christ. His faithful life and death are the grounds of our acceptance. We could not possibly be “more acceptable” than we are in Jesus Christ.