Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States

The Year of Acceptance

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Our Lord Jesus Christ entered the synagogue at Nazareth and read the scripture from the Holy Book of Isaiah 61:1- 2, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to preach the Gospel to the proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord" (Luke 4:18,19).

The year that is referred to in this prophetic scripture is the beginning of the preaching of the kingdom of God, salvation, redemption and the acceptance of mankind back into their former state. It is also the year of peace on earth and joy among people. Hence it is, in reality, the Lord's accepted year. How can we be accepted before God? Acceptance before God is first and foremost looked at through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Our Lord Jesus Christ is the only one accepted before the Father:

- Our Lord Jesus Christ is the only one whom the Father was pleased with. "And lo a voice from heaven, saying, this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Mathew 3:17).

- He is the only one in Whom "all the promises of God in Him are yea, and in Him Amen" (2 Cor 1:20).

- He is "the holy One and the Just" (Acts 3:14), "separate from sinners" (Heb.7:26), "neither was guile found in his mouth" (1 Peter 2:22).

- He is the only One who obeyed God completely and fulfilled His will, "For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me" (John 6:38).

- He is also the righteous who "made intercession for the transgressors" (Isaiah 53:12).

Thus, through His obedience and righteousness, He rectified Adam's disobedience and transgression restoring the fallen creation to its first place, to the bosom of the Father thereby completing His joy.

Whoever believes in the Lord Jesus Christ becomes accepted in Him and by Him.

All our righteous acts are not pleasing to our perfect and holy God to Whom "the heavens are not pure in His sight" and "He charges His angels with error." Only faith in Christ the Lamb of God who bore our sins, enrobes us with God's righteousness rendering us acceptable before the Father. For just as our master Lord Jesus Christ took upon Himself what is ours which is our sins and iniquities, He gave us what is His, which is His righteousness and holiness.

"As many as received him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name" (John 1:12). Him refers to the Lord Jesus Christ and them refers to the believers in the Lord Jesus Christ to whom the righteousness, obedience, and sanctity of the Lord Jesus Christ have been accredited.

Our Lord Jesus Christ was our deputy representing us before God. "Therefore as by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life" (Romans 5:18).

Walking in God's Commandments:

God's Year of Acceptance is the year of return to Him and following His commandment; "to the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them" (Isaiah 8:20). Fearing God and doing right is in essence walking in God's Commandments. The Holy Bible tells exactly how keeping God's commandments is regarded by Him.

"God does not know favoritism, but accepts those who fear Him and do right in His eyes" (Acts 10:34).

"Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him" (Mark 10:21). This scripture refers to the rich man who obeyed God's commandments since his early years.

"And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless" (Luke 1:6).

Therefore whoever wants to be loved and accepted by God has to study, learn and fulfill God's Word with all their heart. "In the beginning was the Word" (John 1:1).

Acts of Mercy

What day is an accepted day in God's eyes? God states it clearly in the Holy Book of Isaiah 58:5-8:

"...Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord? Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wonderer with shelter… Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard."

In God's eyes, mercy boasts over judgment and He favors mercy to judgment. "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgement of God rather than burnt offerings" (Hosea 6:6). Therefore, let us train ourselves to be merciful at least once a day. St. Paul considers mercy an accepted pleasing sacrifice to God as he states in his words to the Philippians "I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God" (Philippians 4:18).

State of Purity:

"Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness?...Therefore Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the Lord Almighty. Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1).

That is God‘s condition for accepting His people. In the Old Testament defiling occurred by touching or partaking in defiled food, and God was very particular that His people remain in a pure undefiled state. In the New Testament, becoming impure took a different route. Food is no more the source of defiling but it is disobedience and walking away from God's Commandment that render a believer contaminated causing him to fall short of a sanctified life. Let us all strive to live a pure undefiled life fulfilling God's commandments and walking in His fear to Whom all Glory forever, Amen.

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