In Matthew 3:17, the sky opened and God the Father spoke from heaven to the world about His one and only begotten Son. He said for the benefit of all those present and for every generation of people who followed, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” In several of Jesus’ parables mentioned in the Gospels the master of a house entrusts his servants with certain things and when he returns he blesses some of them for being “good and faithful servants.” The master says to those servants, “Well done!” We’d all want to hear than one day from God, don’t you think? I’m afraid most of us believe that has to do with how many good deeds we do and how many religious observations we make but i’m thinking that it is really focusing on the fact the the good servants were “faithful.” I think that means they were full of faith: “believing.” Pleasing God is more about believing in Jesus and trusting in His good works to save you rather than trusting in yourself and your own efforts in that regard. Most religions rest upon a foundation of good works and rituals. Jesus did not come to set up another, competing religion, but to destroy religion as a whole! There is much theological discussion about the role of repentance in our salvation experiences. I believe that repentance is not about being sorry for any particular sin but rather a “change of mind” about our own abilities. This is really what the Greek word for “repentance” means: to change one’s mind. According to Isaiah the best efforts, good works, of man are nothing more than filthy rags or polluted garments. That’s what Isaiah 64:6 says, “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.”

In a world in which hard work, great accomplishments and strict discipline is widely rewarded it’s rather humbling to acknowledge the fact that we can’t do it! Repentance is saying, “Your are right Lord! I cannot save myself! It is something beyond me.” It’s to humble ourselves before God and His word. In July 1976, Israeli commandos made a daring raid at an airport in Uganda. 103 Jewish hostages were freed. In less than 15 minutes, the soldiers had killed all seven of the kidnappers and set the captives free. As the commandos entered the terminal, they shouted, “Get down!” The Jews understood and lay down, while the guerrillas, who did not speak Hebrew, were left standing. Quickly the rescuers shot the upright kidnappers. But three of the Jewish speaking hostages didn’t fall down. They were shot with the bullets meant for the enemy. Had these three heeded the soldiers’ command, they would have been freed with the rest of the captives.

In Matthew 9, Jesus receives Sinners. The Pharisees take issue with that and Jesus addresses them and says, “Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Jesus said in Matthew 20:28 that, “The Son of Man did not come to be a slave master, but a slave who will give his life to rescue many people.” To attain God’s favor and full acceptance is something that’s achieved by faith not by works. When Paul tells the Ephesians that it is in “…praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the beloved.” He’s saying that Jesus’ perfect pleasing of His father, is our perfect pleasing of the father by faith in him. What a relief! Rolls is right on as he writes, “This is one of the brightest jewels of revealed truth. In spite of our frailties, failures and faults our acceptance knows no hazard because we are accepted in One who is always and altogether acceptable to the Father. Our confidence in approach, our converse with heaven, our communion in the light and our companionship with the Father are all centered in the Beloved. What a precious foundation this revelation furnishes for faith! A worthy factor to encourage our hearts in fervent devotion and to enrich our lives with delight in the Lord, while we express to Him our adoring gratitude!”1

1 Charles J. Rolls, The Indescribable Christ: Names and Titles of Jesus Christ: A-G (Loizeaux Brothers, 1984).