“True Christian Sacrifice” — (PART 1)

A God-pleasing Sacrifice

 “Through Him, therefore, let us constantly and at all times offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, which is the fruit of lips that thankfully acknowledge and confess and glorify His name.”

“Do not forget or neglect to do kindness and do kindness and good, to be generous and distribute and contribute to the needy [of the church as embodiment and proof of fellowship], for such sacrifices are pleasing to God”  (Hebrews 13:15, 16  Amplified version).

One of the most profound sentences ever written is the answer to the question:  “What is the chief end of man?”  

ANSWER IS:  “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever” OR “Man’s chief end is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever” by John Piper.

   

In other words, the only way that you can truly glorify God is by “enjoying Him”.  If you are a joyless, grim Christian, gritting your teeth as you endure till the end–that is not good advertisement of how good God is!

C.S. Lewis says, that as he was beginning to believe in God, a great stumbling block was the presence of demands scattered throughout the Psalms that we should praise God,  He did not see the point in all this; besides, it seemed to picture God as craving ‘for our worship like a vain woman who wants compliments’.  He goes on to show why he was wrong in his thinking in “Reflections On The Psalms”. 

“But the most obvious fact about praise–whether of God or anything–had strangely escaped me.  I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honor.  All the enjoyment spontaneously overflowing to praise.  I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment.” 

The “enjoyment” might be at a beautiful spot in God’s creation, where you don’t know anyone else is there.  It reminds me of the cartoon character, “ZIGGY”.  He is sitting on top of a hill, with is back turned to the readers, viewing a beautiful sunset. His exclamation of the awesomeness of God is, “GO GOD!”  Ziggy’s praise completes his enjoyment without anyone elses input. 

CHRISTIAN LIVING SHOULD BE IN THE “OVERFLOW”

“…I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)”  (John 10:10).

Moving to a monastery, where we cut ourselves off from others and praise God 24/7, falls short of what pleases God. Also, neglecting doing good and sharing is another aspect of isolation from outside distractions.  In other words, we glorify God both by a life that continually spills over in praise to God and by practical good deeds.  That truly is living in the “overflow” that Jesus was speaking about in John 10:10.

The writer of Hebrews, very likely addressed his letter to Jewish Christians in Palestine or in Rome, converts who were being tempted to revert to Judaism or to Judaize the Gospel.  They had a lot of old facts, but they were without understanding to the new truth.

“Do not be carried about by different and varied and alien teachings; for it is good for the heart to be established and ennobled and strengthened by means of grace and not by foods, which bring no [spiritual] benefit or profit to those who observe them”  (Hebrews 13:9).

JOYLESS BELIEVERS

An objection was raised by the Jews regarding “rules of diet” and “ritualistic meals” that were being set aside by believing Jews in Christ.

“We have an altar from which those who serve and worship in the tabernacle have no right to eat”  (Hebrews 13:10).

The author of the text counters the objection in telling them that they DO have an altar; the Lord Jesus Christ.  Our once-for-all offering for sin.  We need no other sacrifice for atonement, but we do offer sacrifices to God.  Not to gain forgiveness of sins, because we possess forgiveness in Christ Jesus.  Our sacrifices are THANK OFFERINGS; not just occasional but continual.  We offer sacrifices of praise and good deeds and these sacrifices please Father God.

HEBREWS 13:15-16 MAKES FOUR POINTS!

#1.  EVERYTHING WE DO IN THE CHRISTIAN LIFE IS THROUGH CHRIST

“Through Him, therefore”

The emphatic in the Greek text must be pointed out.  The only way that we can approach the holy God, is THROUGH the shed blood of Jesus.  To offer our good works to God apart from Christ is as “filthy rags” (Isa. 64:6).  When the women of old in the bible would go through their monthly ovarian cycle, current ‘feminine protection’ was unheard of. They would use cloth rags instead. So when you read,  “For we have all become like one who is unclean [ceremonially], and all our righteousness (our best deeds) is like filthy rags or a polluted garment” , you perhaps can see what the writer of Hebrews is talking about.

It is clear that Jesus fulfilled in His death what the Old Testament sacrificial system could only point to (Hebrews 10:1-4).  The only sacrifices we can now offer are ‘spiritual sacrifices of praise and good deeds; and only offered “through Him”.

CONTINUAL SACRIFICE

PRAISE to God is not ‘a nice thing to do once in awhile’; when you feel like it.  The Psalms are filled with the command:  “PRAISE THE LORD”.  It is NOT a suggestion; something you might try when you don’t have anything else to do.  It’s a command to permeate EVERYTHING I do!  “Let us constantly [or continually] and at all times offer up to God a sacrifice of praise”  (Hebrews 13:15).  We are to be so captivated and filled with the greatness and goodness and grace, and majesty of God that our lives should be in the “overflow” of praises.

TRUE PRAISE

True praise always comes from the heart.  The command implies and demands our hearts are right before Him.

“And not a creature exists that is concealed from His sight, but all things are open and exposed, naked and defenseless to the eyes of Him with Whom we have to do”  (Hebrews 4:13).

God sees our hearts and the attitudes of our hearts before we go to church on Sundays.  Putting on ‘happy faces’, singing out praises with wrong hearts–we become hypocrites. We have to deal with our ‘heart attitudes’ before we can bring a true sacrifice of praise to God.  It takes a preparation before your sacrifice.  For years, I have put Christian music recordings on, after getting out of bed on Sunday mornings.  I try to read a chapter or maybe a Psalm while eating my breakfast.  I also insert a CD of music in the car driving to church, all in preparation to offer a sacrifice of praise.

John Piper, in a sermon on Hebrews 13:15-16 writes about our number one priority:

PRIORITY #1.   Cultivation of hearts by standing in awe of God.

We believe in MISSIONS, EVANGELISM, NURTURE AND EDUCATION in the church but it is all weariness of the flesh if it is not preceded and carried by a sense of wonder; at the glory of God.  “WORK FOR GOD that is not sustained by wonder of God is weariness of the flesh”.

CONFESSION–What does to “confess God’s name” mean?

To openly proclaim and to submit to god’s attributes, His grace toward us in Jesus Christ.

“For it is written,  As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God [acknowledge Him to His honor and to His praise]”  (Romans 14:11).

AT THE JUDGEMENT SEAT OF CHRIST, there will be no choice!  BUT now, by God’s grace we can willingly offer a sacrifice of praise to God; bowing our hearts before Him, reveling in who He is as revealed in His Word (NOT in “however you conceive Him to be”).

PRAISE SHOULD FLOW FROM YOUR HEART

Your “HEART” is who you are; body, soul, and spirit.  Your ‘being’ has to be brought into submission to God and His Word.

“[For it is He] Who delivered and saved us and called us with a calling in itself holy and leading to holiness [to a life of consecration, a vocation of holiness]; [He did it] not because of anything of merit that we have done, but because of and to further His own purpose and grace which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began”  (1 Tim.1:9).

We cannot help but to praise Him!  Let us work at casting off every thought of grumbling or discontent; become a people like in Ephesians 1:6 and 1 Peter 2:9:

“[So that we might be] to the praise and the commendation of His glorious grace” (Ephesians 1:6).

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a dedicated nation, [God’s] own purchased, special people, that you may set forth the wonderful deeds and display the virtues and perfections of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light”  (1 Peter 2:9).

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