The End of the Slave Trade

In this world acceptance comes at a price. If you want to be accepted you have to perform, you have to deliver, you have to shine. You have to be first in and best dressed. You have to close the deal and make the sale. You have to woo the girl and win the crowd. You have to dazzle the customer and impress the boss. In other words, your acceptance is determined by other people. To win respect and approval, you have to play by the rules others have set. You have to conform to their standards.

Live like this and your legitimate need for acceptance will dictate what you do, where you live, how you talk, even what you eat, drink, and wear. Your life will be defined by other people’s expectations.

As social creatures we were created with the need to be accepted. God put these needs and desires within us so that we might look to him to fulfill those needs. When we don’t—when we seek to get our need for acceptance met outside of him—we can literally hand our lives away. In our desire for acceptance we sign up for courses we’re not really interested in, we take on jobs that suck the life out of us, and we get cozy with those who don’t love us.

The desire to ascend to the high places of acceptance and avoid the valleys of rejection is one of the strongest reasons we do the things we do.

The unholy market for performance-based acceptance

Every manmade religion trades in the market for performance-based acceptance. For Christians this unholy trade is based on the lie that says you have to work to make yourself acceptable and pleasing to God. You’ve got to toe the line, do what you’re told, and make whatever sacrifices are currently in vogue with those up the front. Some churches prescribe codes of conduct and assign people to accountability groups to make sure they keep them. Others, who may scoff at this Old Testamenty idea of writing down rules, don’t hesitate to impose with equal fervor their own unwritten expectations defining “acceptable” behavior. In either case, newcomers quickly learn what one must do to be considered “a good Christian” or “one of us.” Those who conform are welcomed (Acceptance! Hooray for me!), while those who don’t are marginalized (Rejection! Dear God no!).

Performance-based acceptance is a diabolical game with no winners and plenty of losers. Those who fail to perform are made to feel like nobodies while those who get the gold stars can end up further from grace than when they started. This happens when the applause of men deafens them to the voice of the Father that says, “You don’t need to do any of this to please me.”

Life’s winners can be its biggest losers if they become addicted to the feeling of being special that comes from accomplishment. “You love me, you really love me.” In the pursuit of that high they sacrifice themselves and their families on the altar of achievement. They may even come to define themselves in terms of their results or, in Christianese, their “fruit.” They become number-worshippers, their conversations littered with references to how many people God is touching through their ministry. “God is really using me. I must be a Somebody.”

When things turn sour and their success evaporates, they no longer know who they are. “I thought I was a minister but my ministry’s gone. Who am I?” What began as a legitimate quest for acceptance and approval ultimately robs them of their identity.

The gospel of acceptance

The market for acceptance and affirmation is a slave market. It perpetuates a system of human sacrifice based on envy and selfish ambition. It dehumanizes all who trade in it and fosters a distorted image of our heavenly Father as a loveless, scorekeeping judge. To end this unholy trade it is essential that we preach the gospel of acceptance, and here it is: The love of the Lord is not for sale. Like everything with grace, his acceptance and approval is a free gift that comes to us through Christ alone:

To the praise of the glory of his grace, by which he made us accepted in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:6, NKJV)

This verse is fantastically good news for those who want no part in the acceptance game. Look at the first part of that verse. Does it say, “To the praise of the glory of your service?” It does not. His acceptance of you is to the praise of the glory of his grace. Isn’t that wonderful?

But wait, it gets better. Look at the middle part of that verse. “He made us accepted.” His acceptance is not something you ever need strive for; you already have it. What relief! What freedom!

But wait, there’s more. Look at the final part of the verse: “in the Beloved.” This is referring to Jesus. God’s acceptance comes to you on account of his Son. So if you want to know just how acceptable you are to God, you only have to look at the One called Beloved.

As pleasing to God as Jesus is

On the day Jesus was baptized, a voice from heaven declared, “This is my Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17, NKJV). Do you know how much ministry success Jesus had accomplished before God spoke those words? None. According to the gospel writers, Jesus had not done a blessed thing. He had preached no sermons, healed no sick, and raised no dead. And yet God said, “I am well pleased with him.” That’s acceptance such as the world does not know. That is the unconditional affirmation of heaven.

[Excerpted from The Gospel in Ten Words, pp.70-71]

Comments

  1. Very good news indeed… Well said Paul. This is healthy perspective that we all need to be frequently reminded of. I am the righteousness of God in Christ.

  2. Mr. Ellis, my husband was one of the blessed ones to receive an advance copy of The Gospel in Ten Words. I have read to page 122 so far and I thank you deeply for writing this book. I have always struggled with God’s love for me, and many Christian authors I’ve read seemed to have a list of hoops to jump through that I never seemed to do correctly. I have been on my knees many times asking for God to obliterate the lies my childhood told me about who God was, and I’m still praying for that Damascus Road revelation. I plan on reading The Gospel in Ten Words several times, praying that if I fill my brain with its truth, the untruths will get pushed out.

    • Irene, I’m delighted my book is helping you. But I have to be honest and say that the revelation you’re looking for comes from the Holy Spirit. By all means keep reading – the good news is good! But at the same time ask God to reveal how much he loves you. He will!

  3. Dennis DeMagistris says:

    Awesome, awesome, awesome! Thanks very much Paul for the Gospel Truth of our total acceptance in the Beloved (Jesus)! I sure am excited and looking forward very much in ordering copies of your new book, ‘The Gospel in Ten Words’. All of the revelations that our Lord God gives you in all of your writings on this beautiful and wonderful site, I know that your new book is going to be GREAT INDEED!!! :)

  4. ….and that’s the Gospel!!! Amen

  5. Paul, on a sidebar do you have any post on Math. 10:32-33? Thanks and God Bless

    • No, but if you’d like to know what it’s about, it’s this: Jesus is saying the same message he always says – “repent and believe the good news.” It’s the same message as 1 John 1:9 and, indeed, the same word. To confess means to acknowledge or agree with. John and Jesus are saying, “Change your unbelieving minds and start agreeing with the good news that we’re telling you.” Jesus is saying, “Agree with me. Agree that I am who I say I am. This is the work of God – to believe in Me, to trust me. Those who do cross over from death to life. Those who don’t – who persist in the self-centered religion of first Adam – they don’t know me and I don’t know them.”

  6. Your post really help me!!

  7. I was blessed to receive this book also. I really loved it. This is my official Christmas gift this year and I don’t even know how much it costs yet. This is a great book but I wouldn’t have expected anything but the best from a man that has such an awsome web site. I hope everyone shares this post to get the word out to all their friends.

  8. Thanks so much Paul for an advanced copy, look forward to purchasing and keeping my own hard copy.

  9. amen! most people don’t realize how easily and often they are swayed by the acceptance of others…
    and a lot of churches today probably aren’t even aware of how worldly they are – because they have been swayed by their wanting to be accepted by men!

  10. Thank you for giving me the exact words to say to my children about acceptance, and especially the revelation from Eph. 1:6 God Bless you, your family and Ministry.

  11. I just have to comment again because I just got two books delivered by UPS 3 days before it’s release date. I love the whole book but I think my favorite is number 7. Righteous. I want every minister in the USA to read this book. It is time for the west to get the radical grace message. This book will be a great bible study for all denominations please buy it and suggest it for your next study. If you ever wanted to start a neighborhood study The Gospel in Ten words would really be a great book to start with.

    • I am delighted you like the book Janelle. Here’s something you may not know – I haven’t seen the book! DHL lost my proofs and my replacement proofs still have not arrived. A week ago I had to make a call – go ahead with the book launch and trust the books are fine? Or put everything on hold for a few weeks? I decided to go ahead so now people all over America are reading a book I have never seen.

      • Well I already gave one away so I know I will be ordering more soon. I sent this link to a couple of my friends and hopefully they will order on their own. Often Amazon sells in lots of 10 books at a reduced price. Is there any chance of that happening? I am so glad you went with the launch and I did not found a single mistake. I didn’t notice anything on the Kindle version either but I did not read the whole book on Kindle. I loan so many books out that I have to have a Kindle version because so far I have never loaned that out. This is a great post and I am going to forward this to my friends so they can get a taste of your book. Thanks so much for all you do.

  12. Marlene Davis says:

    Hi Paul, I have never read your book and hardly read your web page. But I must say that grace cannot ever be measured by humans for the Love of God in unfathomable—no bottom and at the same time no height. However what I wanted to share with you is this: the first time I met my 22 years old nephew and showed him the verse which said that God the Father loves us the same way He loves Jesus, my nephew ran away from me. Why? Because he was brought us as a seventh day adventist and until now they cant understand that truth….. We are loved by the Father the same way as Jesus. Isn’t that just totally awesome. God is excellent in all He does.

  13. Mark Ellis says:

    Myself, Wife and our three sons recently left a church that was preaching law and not grace. Every week it was the same message that we aren’t doing enough to please God, (Bible reading, prayer, fasting) Our leaving has been difficult due to the fact that the pastor is my uncle and now family that still attend the church have treated us as outcasts. I do praise God that we have found a church that teaches grace and has embraced us as family, but I also pray for my family that is stuck in the box they are in. I want to thank you for your posts as they have helped me understand God’s grace in a deeper way and have encouraged me. God bless Mark Ellis

  14. Pastor Roel V. Almazan says:

    “Ganun lang pala ka simple ang Gospel , masyado lang pinahirap ng relihiyon. Tagalog ” ( Amazing, The gospel is so simple, religion make it so difficult.) Bro. Paul thank you so much for what you are doing to the Body of Christ. We are working with Ptr. Paul Mata, (Philippines) doing Grace Conferences in different provinces here in the Philippines also blessing the Pastors in remote provinces with your Ten Gospel Books. GRACE to us all. We love you and and your family as well.- Pastor Roel V. Almazan, Jesus Water of Life Church, Angeles City, Pampanga Philippines.

  15. pilgrim66 says:

    Paul, in my comment to another article I made a passing observation about the “one dimensional” gospel that you preach. By that I meant that your views are congruent with only one class of scripture as I see it. That is, your teaching is not compatible with _all_ that the scriptures teach on salvation. I would like to believe what you write, but cannot as a one dimensional gospel is no gospel.

    Here is the good news as presented by Peter in the 1st century: “Then Peter opened his mouth and said: ‘In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all” (Acts 10:34-36).

    Is this a message you would preach Paul? Is this message congruent with your view of being “accepted?” What would you say if I used your eisegetical approach to scripture? I’ll use your words to explain/illustrate…

    “Regarding Acts 10, look at the first part of that verse. Does it say, “But in every nation God accepts you based on grace?” It does not. His acceptance of you is based on fearing Him and working righteousness. Isn’t that wonderful?”

    The point is: there is a reason the scriptures have so much to say on the topic of salvation. The reason is: one verse can be abused into teaching what the whole of scripture does not teach.

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