Bible Study

Getting God’s Stamp of Approval

Michael Beck

Paul deemed certain men approved in Christ.

Salute Apelles approved in Christ. (Romans 16:10)

From the beginning, men have wanted God’s approval without “doing well” in His sight.

But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.
And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?
If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? (Genesis 4:5-7)

Most men assume they are “good enough” for God without being faithful to Him.

Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find? (Proverbs 20:6)

We do not have God’s stamp of approval by commending ourselves. Only when God commends us are we approved.

For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth. (2 Corinthians 10:18)

Jesus received the Father’s approval by doing that which was well pleasing in His sight.

And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (Mark 1:11)

Jesus proved His love for the Father through acts of obedience.

But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. (John 14:31)

Christ’s love for the church has been proven.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)

Our love for Christ is being proven.

Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. (John 15:14)

The genuineness of our love for God (and others) must be proven.

I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love. (2 Corinthians 8:8)

Love to God and man is proven, not by words, but by deeds.

My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. (1 John 3:18)

While we are accepted before God through the grace of Christ, we are approved before God through our works.

…He hath made us accepted in the beloved. (Ephesians 1:6)

accepted > Greek – charitoo > graced

Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. (2 Corinthians 5:9)

accepted > Greek – euarestos > well pleasing

Abraham was counted righteous through faith. Abraham was proven righteous through works.

But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. (James 2:20-24)

How does God prove us?

God proves us through trials of faith.

And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. (Genesis 22:1).

tempt > Hebrew – nacah > prove

KJV > translated 20 times prove, 12 times tempt

The very first proving trial was placed in the middle of the Garden of Eden.

And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:9)

Proving trials are opportunities for obedience or disobedience.

Then said the LORD unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no. (Exodus 16:4)

Paul sought for proof of obedience.

For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things. (2 Corinthians 2:9)

God searches the whole earth for “them whose heart is perfect toward Him.”

For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. (2 Chronicles 16:9)

God searches before He knows the heart.

O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. (Psalm 139:1)

God knows us as a result of trying our heart toward Him and seeing our obedience.

But thou, O LORD, knowest me: thou hast seen me, and tried mine heart toward thee… (Jeremiah 12:3)

God fully knew Abraham’s heart toward Him when He saw his obedience.

And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. (Genesis 22:12)

God already had knowledge of Abraham through previous tests.

And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;
Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?
For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him. (Genesis 18:17-19)

The Lord comes to know “all that is in our heart” over time through proving trials.

Howbeit in the business of the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, who sent unto him to enquire of the wonder that was done in the land, God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart. (2 Chronicles 32:31)

And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. (Deuteronomy 8:2)

And they were to prove Israel by them, to know whether they would hearken unto the commandments of the LORD, which he commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses. (Judges 3:4)

The Lord tries the heart of the righteous.

But, O LORD of hosts, that triest the righteous, and seest the reins and the heart… (Jeremiah 20:12)

Why does God try the righteous and not the wicked?

God doesn’t need to prove the heart of the wicked. He already knows it of “little worth.”

The tongue of the just is as choice silver: the heart of the wicked is little worth. (Proverbs 10:20)

Why does the Lord continue to try the heart of the righteous?

He desires to find out just how valuable one can be to Him.

Once we are approved God entrusts us with ministry.

But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. (1 Thessalonians 2:4)

allowed > Greek – dokimazo > proved

Before being given the office of a deacon men must first be proved.

Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;
Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.
And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. (1 Timothy 3:8-10)

The Lord put Paul in the ministry after counting him faithful as a Christian.

And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;
Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 1:12-14)

Michael Beck is a pastor in the Dallas, TX area and the main author on Signpost. Receive a daily devotional he publishes every morning via email.