"I will accept you with your sweet savor."--Ezek. 20:41
There is not an essential truth of the Gospel more dimly perceived or imperfectly estimated, and yet not one more clearly revealed or more unspeakably precious, than the doctrine of God's acceptance of the believing sinner. An error here is destructive of the scheme of salvation, and fatal to our eternal happiness. May the Holy Spirit open it up in all its scriptural clearness to our minds, and apply it in all its saving, sanctifying sweetness to our hearts!
First, there is the Lord's acceptance of our PERSON. "I will accept you." Our person must first be the object of God's favor and delight before He regards with favor and delight the offerings we bring. It was the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ which gave such virtue, efficacy, and acceptance to His sacrifice. Because He was Divine and sinless, His Godhead imparted dignity and perfection to His Atonement--the Sacrifice of Christ resting, as its basis, upon the Person of Christ. This marked the essential difference between Cain and Abel. Cain brought his offering of fruits and flowers without a personal acceptance, and God rejected both him and his offering. Abel "brought of the fatlings of his flock," "and the Lord had respect unto Abel,"--first to his person, and then to his offering.
My soul, are you personally accepted in the Beloved? Before bringing to God any flower or fruit of your fancied merit, springing from the stock of your unregenerate nature, have you brought your sins to Jesus--to His blood to be cleansed, to His grace to be subdued? Have you put on in faith Christ's righteousness, "which is unto all and upon all those who believe?" And have you tasted of the honey that flows from that precious, glorious declaration of the Apostle--"Being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ?"
"I will accept you with your sweet savor." And now comes God's gracious delight in, and acceptance of, the sweet savor of our spiritual offerings! And what are these savory offerings, thus so acceptable to God? What a "sweet savor" to Him is prayer! The prayers of the saints are "vials full of odors," sweet incense perfumed with the yet sweeter incense of their Savior's divine and precious merits, and so presented by Him with acceptance to God. Pray on, dear saint! If afflicted, pray; your words may be few--your utterances stammering--your faith weak--yet pray on. God having accepted you in the Person of Jesus, will, on the ground of His worthiness, accept the "sweet savor" of your prayers.
What a sweet savor to God are our praises! "Whoever offers praise glorifies Me." What strong ground have we for joy, what rich material for praise! Were we to rejoice in the Lord all the day, and praise Him all the night--as before long we shall without weariness or pause--it would not be a too exaggerated expression of the greatness of our salvation of grace here, and of the preciousness of our hope of glory hereafter.
What a fragrant offering to God is the dedication of our intellect--the contribution of our wealth--the consecration of our rank, influence, and time--all, all is a "sweet savor" to God, acceptable and accepted through the sweet savor of Christ's atoning merits. Such, too, is the ministry of those who preach Christ. "We are unto God a sweet savor of Christ in those who are saved, and in those who are lost." There is a divine savor and power, in that preaching which exalts the Savior that no other preaching has. Oh for more of the savor of His Name in the pulpits of our day! Truly His Name would then be as ointment poured forth, delighting all who love Him. And such too the liberality of the saints towards the Lord's ministers--"an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable and well-pleasing to God."
Approach, my soul, the mercy-seat, robed in the righteousness of Christ; and when you have presented His blood and righteousness, then lay your own offerings at His feet, for your covenant God and Father has said--"I will accept you with your sweet savor."