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The Believer’s Sacrifices

“O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His Name together.”

FATHER— We’re so thankful for the privilege of being here and having in our hands the Book of books, The Bible. We trust that many of those who sit here this morning have also stored up this Word in their hearts, as well as holding it in their hands. We’re thankful that not only do we hold the Word, but it holds us; and we need to be committed to the Word of God in these days of deepening and darkening difficulties. We’re thankful that the Word of the Lord endures forever, and while things may and will do change, You never change, and Your Word never changes; and you therefore have an Eternal Word for us even this morning that will be relevant to our needs and our problems. Bless, then, the ministry of Thy Word. Let there be nothing in any of our hearts to hinder the free moving of Thy Spirit. May we mix with faith that which we hear, so that we shall receive with profit that which is presented. I pray in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Open your Bible with me, please, to Hebrews chapter 10. I want to talk this morning concerning The Believer’s Sacrifices.” Now as I drove in here this morning, I didn’t notice any of you having brought lambs, or rams, oxen, or turtle doves, or any of those things. If this had however been under the Old Testament economy, those things or some sort of a definite offering of sacrifice, would have been essential ingredients to your worship; and you would not have been able to worship effectively without some sort of an offering, having been brought, and then having been offered on your behalf. Now, the question is raised, “Why don’t we offer sacrifices today? Why don’t we bring sacrifices, like God Himself specified that we should and to which much of the Bible is devoted?” If you read through the Bible, as I do every year, and when you read the Old Testament portion, you’ll find that much of the Old Testament is taken up with the specifications for sacrifice; and you’ll find again and again not only verses but entire chapters and almost the entire book of Leviticus, relates to the matter of sacrifices. Now, why didn’t you bring yours this morning? You say, “Well, I’m just as glad I don’t have to.” Well, why don’t you have to? Well, I am a dispensationalist and I hope you are too; and we realize that this was in another dispensation, in another period of time in which God was dealing with His own people in a particular, unique way. Have you ever realized that this Book is in reality, God’s Last Will and Testament to you and to me?
It was just day before yesterday that, we remembered that twenty years before, my father-in-law entered into the presence of his Lord. He’s been rejoicing there now for twenty years and two days, and we kind of envy him that privilege of having been over there. When he went to be with the Lord, he left a will; and we read it rather carefully, but we were a little bit surprised to find that we weren’t included in it. You say, “Haven’t you behaved yourselves or what was wrong that you were disinherited?” No, he left everything to his wife who survived him. You know, in a way, that’s true of the Old Testament. For us who are Gentiles, there’s really nothing directly in the Old Testament for us. Everything was left to the Lord Jesus Christ, Who fulfilled everything that God desired for Israel to do, and in which they failed....He succeeded. Now when Christ died, we were left a New Testament, a New Will, a New Arrangement; and that is based upon what Jesus Christ was and what He is and what He has done for us.
By the way, most of us think only of a will as that which provides something for us. Well, it does that. But, you know, a will also tells you what is expected of you. You don’t often think of that. Maybe it’s because we like the other more, that we only think about what a will provides for us, not what is expected of us. There was a man in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania who didn’t get along with his wife. He endured life with her, but he had written into his will that thirty days after his death, his wife was to be out of the house....and she had to do that. Thirty days after he died, she had to get out; and he had the house sold and gave the money away to other people. Pretty tough! But that Will not only specified what was not provided for, it specified what was expected of her. She had to get out! Now fortunately, there aren’t too many wills like that, I don’t think. But this Will provides something for all of us on the basis of what Jesus Christ has done and takes away that First Covenant and provides for us a New Arrangement in Christ.
Twelve years ago my mother-in-law entered into the presence of the Lord, and she left a will. We read that very carefully too, especially to see what was provided for us; because the business that my father-in-law had owned was sold the year after he died, and we found out that the value of the stock had quintupled in value....that’s five times over, from 1958 to 1966. We were interested to see what provision there was for us in that will. I learned something about wills, in that I was not in it; and that was a little distressing, to tell you the truth. Everything in that will was left to the five children, and if any one of them had deceased during the eighteen months the will was in probate, do you know who would have gotten my wife’s share?— our two children. Do you know why? Because they were in the bloodline, and I wasn’t. That’s important, isn’t it? You know it’s important that you be in the Bloodline to get anything out of this New Testament? You’ve got to be born into this family, and if you haven’t been born into the family of God, there’s nothing in here except judgment for you. The provisions of the Word of God are for God’s children, exclusively! That’s true. Yes, it is.
Now look at Hebrews 10, “For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things [not the exact image, not the things themselves], can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.” You see, the sacrifices of the Old Testament were temporary. They were simply shadows of the reality that was to come. “But, in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. Wherefore when He [and this refers to the Lord Jesus Christ] cometh into the world, He saith, Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldest not, but a body hast Thou prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin Thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do Thy will, O God.” You see, ever since man became separated from God, from the very time that man sinned, God saw the need for sacrifice....and even provided sacrifice there in the Garden of Eden— by shedding the blood of animals to provide skins for Adam and Eve. But, that was not a perfect sacrifice. It pointed forward to the perfect sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Who would come at a future time to pay in full the price of man’s sin and of God’s redemption. Thus, Jesus Christ came into the world to do God’s will in providing sacrifice for man. “Above when He said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin Thou wouldest not [Those were not satisfactory.], neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; Then said He, Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God. He taketh away the first [the Old Covenant], that He may establish the second [the New Covenant]. By the which will we are sanctified [set apart] through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Thus, the primary, preeminent sacrifice that each one of you should have acknowledged and embraced as your sacrifice is the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. Don’t ever try to substitute anything for that. Sometimes when I hear believers pray, they seem like they’re giving God some kind of a promissory note, “If You’ll do this, we’ll be careful to do this or that.” Now, I’m not opposed to praising God and even promising God that we’re going to praise Him, but don’t ever think that your praise is a substitute for God’s propitiation in Christ. There is one sacrifice alone with which God has been totally and fully satisfied, and that’s the sacrifice of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. [Don’t ever try to come with any other kind of a sacrifice.] It’s a Perfect Sacrifice!
Some of you may have heard me say before that I’ve had, well....very unfortunate success or lack of it, with automobiles. Almost every car that I get, I might as well paint it yellow and put it on a fruitstand, because it turns into a lemon anyway; and I have been learning from that experience that I can thank God that my salvation never came across a Detroit or an European assembly line, because I’m sure something would be missing or upside down or inside out, and just the time when you need it, it will fail. [I even had a couple of Cadillacs, and I gave up on them. I’m back to a Buick. I don’t know whether that is better or worse or something else.] But, I’m thankful that our salvation was perfectly planned, perfectly provided in Christ, and perfectly applied by the Holy Spirit to each individual’s heart and life who believes on Jesus Christ; and realizes that this Sacrifice was a Perfect Sacrifice. Notice verse 12, “But this man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God.” You notice that in the beginning of verse one it says, “can never” and then when you come back here in verse 12 it says, “for ever.” The old sacrifices “can never,” but Christ’s sacrifice is “for ever.” Notice again, you have it in the middle of verse 12, you have it towards the end of verse 14, “For by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” Thank God for that Perfect Sacrifice!
Now, because of that Sacrifice, God expects a Personal Sacrifice from each one of us. Christ is the Perfect, Primary, Preeminent Sacrifice; but because of what God has done for us in Christ expects that we will give our bodies, “a living sacrifice”— Romans 12:l-2. Now I’m not going to labor this passage, in fact I could speak for hours on this passage, but I just want to suggest a couple of things about it, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice.” Now the word “present” there in the Greek is an aorist imperative. That means that it takes place at a point of time and remains so. Imperative means that it’s something that you’re cordially expected to do. [Sometimes we tell our students, “You’re cordially expected to be there.”] Well, you’re cordially expected to give your body as “a living sacrifice.” I firmly believe that every Christian, at some time in his Christian experience (either immediately at or immediately subsequent to his salvation or maybe longer down the line, but sometime in your life) you should have given back your body to the Lord as “a living sacrifice.”
Now in my case, I came to know Christ when I was just nine years old. It was almost nine years later, when I was a senior in high school, that I gave my body to the Lord. I only regret that I lost that many years when I “wandered in the wilderness”— but I found out that just as the Lord led the children of Israel in their “wilderness wanderings,” looking back, I see that the Lord led me, in spite of myself during those years. But, I’m so grateful that by the example of my brother and through the teaching of God’s Word, I came to see the precious privilege and responsibility of giving my body to the Lord.
Those of you who can remember back to when the Draft was in effect here in the United States of America, may remember when some of you may have received a letter of greetings from the President of the United States, what did you do? Did you write a letter back and say, “Greetings to you too?” or call the President on the phone and say, “It was nice of you that I got a letter from you. I never heard from you before, but I’m so glad that you wanted to be in touch with me; and I’m fully in sentiment with you and I appreciate what you’re trying to do.” What was the one thing that the essence of that letter was all about? I’ll tell you in a very few words, it was— “Present....your....body!” Wasn’t that true? “Present your body for induction to military service.” It wasn’t enough to present your sentiments and say, “I’m in essential agreement” or “Go ahead, I’ll pray for you.” No, no. They wanted your body. In fact, one of the first things that they did after you got in there, as I understand [and I had the fortunate privilege of escaping it....I had entered into the Lord’s preparation for the Lord’s work during the time when there was no Draft in effect; and then it went into effect while I was in Bible school and I signed up for the Draft then....but I was drafted first in the Lord’s army and that’s where I ended up]! But the fellows who’ve been in, they tell me that’s about all you had....your body They took about everything else from you, including your hair; and then you had to function, and you were given the things that you were supposed to utilize! —Well, I say it reverently folks, God expects you to give your body.
Too many Christians believe in token commitment and not total commitment. “I’ll give the Lord something. I’ll give the Lord a contribution, but not my life.” (You remember the story about the chicken and the pig walking through a depressed area? The chicken said to the pig, “I suggest that we supply ham and egg dinners for the people here.” “Well,” the pig said, “That’s OK for you, you’re just making a contribution. But for me, it means my life!” You know folks, that’s the difference between token and total commitment! Token commitment, you give something that you can produce. Total commitment, you give yourself! You give your body to the Lord as a “living sacrifice!” And you know, I really wonder if your worship is ever truly acceptable to God if you have not made that sacrifice? And I wonder if we don’t worship in vain when we come and go through even the ritual of a service like this, if we have not at some point in our lives given our bodies to the Lord? You say, “How about those who did that and then no longer are walking in the Lord?” Well, you know what’s wrong with them? They’ve gone AWOL. They’re Absent Without Leave!
I don’t believe that we’re all saved to serve in the same way, but I believe everyone who is saved is expected to give his body for service to the Lord— “a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable [or well-pleasing] unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world [Don’t let the world press you into its mold]: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove [or demonstrate] what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
Now, there is the Primary Sacrifice of Christ. There’s the Personal Sacrifice of Yourself; and out of that life of sacrifice, there are some Perpetual Sacrifices, that ought to come forth from your life. I believe one is the sacrifice of prayer. In Hebrews 10 and later on in that chapter, it goes on to indicate that on the basis of His shed blood, we now have the privilege, indeed the “boldness, to enter into the holiest [verse 19] by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” I believe that this is tied in with Revelation 8:3 indicates that this is a sacrifice acceptable to God, the prayers of the saints with the incense [which I believe refers to the sweet fragrance of the finished work of Christ, ascends to God as a continual sacrifice from believers, who know and love the Lord, they do and will engage in prayer day by day, sometimes hour by hour.
The second Perpetual Sacrifice of a believer is praise. In Hebrews chapter 13, verse 15, “By Him therefore [by the Lord Jesus] let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His Name.” Now many believers find difficulty even praising the Lord even when things are going well. However, your true testimony will shine forth when you praise the Lord in times of difficulty and distress.
We have experienced many blessings from the Lord in our ministry and in our family, and yet I spoke to our seniors three years ago in 1975 and I said, “You know, many of the things in life that God uses to bring blessing are a little bit like the young man who got married, and at his wedding reception was asked to say a few words. Being very nervous about saying something and really meaning to say something, he put his arm nervously around his recently acquired bride and he said, “This thing was thrust on me unexpectedly.” Now many things in life are thrust upon us unexpectedly. We had such a thing happen to us the end of June of 1975. We admitted our daughter, Becky who was then fourteen years old, to the hospital in Lancaster because she had a lump on her neck. She was operated on July first. The word came down from the operating room to my wife, who was a nurse [and I had her take the call from the surgeon in case there were any medical terms that I would not understand and she could translate to me]. I saw her face go white, and I saw her hang up the phone; and she looked at me and said, “Becky has Hodgkin’s disease (which is cancer of the lymph glands, normally fatal).” It was like a bolt of lightning, and it hit me (going down my whole body), and I took my wife in my arms and said, “Honey, ...God knows. God knows.” And, I must confess that I cried. Later I went into Becky’s room, which was empty because she was still up in the recovery room; and my initial reaction [while I was positive to others], was not as positive to the Lord. I said, “Lord, not Becky! Not Becky!” I guess I had been kind of prepared to offer a son, because I had often preached on Genesis 22; but I never thought that it might be a daughter. But, throughout that day the Lord used three scriptures. One is at the head of your bulletin today which is my life’s verse, Psalm 34:3, O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His Name together.” And then that very day, as Barbara and I were sharing together and meditating on the Word, He directed us to Philippians chapter one and verse 20 in which that same expression of magnifying the Lord is found where Paul states this, “According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also [Now notice the latter part of this verse.] Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.” And, we never did see it that way before, that sometimes God is magnified in death as well as in life; and it is only by the grace of God that enabled us to say, “Lord, if You’ll be more magnified in Becky’s death than in her life, we just want You to be magnified!” And you know what verse the Lord gave us after that?— I Thessalonians 5:18, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” And we said, “Thank you, Lord. Thank you.” You know?....It’s in times like that when your thanks and praise means something....when you’re willing even to give one of your own back to Him; and we said, “Well, Lord, thank you, we’ve had her thirteen years. If You want her back, You can have her!” The Lord graciously has spared Becky to us. She’s now symptom free; and although, six weeks ago she had a collapsed lung that’s not related to this, we learned just this week that she has a hole in the other lung! She does expect to finish her senior year at high school and then in a couple weeks and she’s already accepted, to become a student at Lancaster Bible College this Fall. [I’m not sure how she’s managed to get in there!....but her pastor is on our Board.] “In every thing give thanks.”
You know....a woman was confronted with that, and she said, “Pastor, I think I can do that and give thanks in everything, because eventually I can get out of it; but I don’t think that I can give thanks for everything.” “Well,” then he said, “You’re still in violation with scripture, because Ephesians 5:20 says, Giving thanks always for all things...” I don’t know how many of you read the book, The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom; but in it she tells how she and her sister, Betsy admitted to this concentration camp in a particular barracks which was just swarming with lice. And that night as they had prayer, Betsy said to Corrie, “Dear, we must thank God for everything!” Corrie said, “Not for the lice!” Betsy said, “Yes dear, we must even thank God for the lice!” It wasn’t until weeks later, after they had the precious privilege of sharing the Word of God, which they had with them, that the women in that barracks, unmolested, that they came to realize why the guards never came into that barracks. It was because of [What?]— the lice! You know, so often we American Christians, want God to get rid of every problem we have. You know, maybe God doesn’t intend to get rid of that problem. Maybe He intends to use that as a blessing in your life and in the lives of others. And, I know that we found that Becky, in spite of our problems with her and then in the year that followed when I lost my voice (had two vocal chord operations. I had two solid weeks of absolute silence without being allowed to speak even in a whisper), I tell you that you get to know the Lord through difficulties. Dr. Stoll, our late beloved pastor, used to say, “It’s hard to be optimistic when you have a misty optic!” You know folks, sometimes you never see the Lord more clearly than through your tears; and sometimes the Lord sees fit to be magnified through our tears. It’s as we praise the Lord, in the midst of difficulty and distress, that He’s glorified. Someone has said, “A Christian is like a tea bag....it’s true flavor only comes out when he’s in hot water.”
And, also Our Practice. Notice verse 16 in Hebrews 13, “But to do good and to communicate [to share] forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well- pleased.” Yes, God expects us to offer Perpetual Sacrifices: of prayer, of praise, of practice to Him doing good and sharing, even in the midst of sorrow and distress. In Psalm 51 David, after having poured out his heart in confession to the Lord, said this beginning in verse 15, “O Lord, open Thou my lips; and my mouth shall show forth Thy praise. For Thou desirest not sacrifice [That’s referring to the Old Testament system]; else would I give it: Thou delightest not in burnt offering.” Notice verse 17, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise. Do good in Thy good pleasure unto Zion: build Thou the walls of Jerusalem. Then shalt Thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon Thine altar.”
It’s the sacrifice of righteousness, of doing that which is right; and you know that I find even some Christians that don’t do what is right. I had the Head of a mission come into my office one time and tell me that his wife had a little scrape on the fender of her car and said, “We had a whole paint job out of that.” Well friends, that’s not righteous....doesn’t matter how you cut it. We sacrifice acceptably to God, not only in our prayer and in our praise, but in our practice....the way we live! It’s through those sacrifices that God is well pleased!
I find that it’s hard to motivate some people. Some you have to almost force them, others you have to motivate in various other ways, but I tell you a thing that ought to motivate all of us— is the sacrifice that God made for us! That initial sacrifice of His Son! I never cease to be moved by the reality of the fact that throughout eternity, those of you and I who have been saved will have glorified bodies without mark or blemish. Our Savior will be there throughout all of eternity bearing in His body the marks of our sin and shame, of the price that He paid for us. I tell you, I know nothing more than that or better than that that constrains us to serve the Lord— to give our bodies, because He gave His body for us; and in our bodies to then offer the Perpetual Sacrifices of prayer, praise, and practice.....to glorify the Lord, Who gave Himself for us! Shall we pray.

FATHER— We’re thankful for the Eternal Word of God that has eternal consequences as well as eternal relevance. I’m thankful that Your Word does speak to us and thus show to us that which we need to know in order to be pleasing to you. If there is anyone here who has never received Christ as personal Savior, visit that one with restlessness until he or she rests in the finished work of Calvary; and give us the opportunity of pointing them to the Lamb of God and confirming them in their most holy faith. For us who have named Christ’s Name, may we yield to Him our bodies— so that in our bodies, we may praise Him, we may pray to Him, and we may practice that which we may claim to believe. I pray in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Message delivered by Dr. Stuart E. Lease at the Halethorpe Community Church, Baltimore, MD

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