Sooner than you realize, once again we will witness that uniquely American event called the Presidential Election. A number of men and perhaps some women will spend a lot of energy and money trying to become the President.

These hopefuls will be very creative in their efforts to get positive media coverage. Nothing is more valuable or more cherished than an unique photo opportunity. To get a fifteen second sound bite on national network news is pure political gold. A candidate will go anywhere and do anything for an exceptional photo opportunity. So we will watch the hopefuls pretending to do things that they never did before in the attempt to identify with the American public.

But it is just a photo opportunity. That is all it is. He or she has never done that job. He or she never intends to be in that situation. The only reason he or she is there is to get fifteen seconds of recognition on the news. The candidates are looking for a way to declare, "I identify with you people. I am one of you. That is why you should vote for me."

God does not use photo opportunities. God never manipulates our perceptions with fifteen second sound bites. God identified with us on the deepest level of existence. God challenges us to identify with Him on the deepest level of existence.

  1. For thousands of years, the inferior sacrificed to the superior; people offered animal sacrifices to God.
    1. One of the more common sacrifices offered to God was a lamb.
      1. Through sacrifice, the lamb became the symbol of sacrifice.
      2. A man named Abel made the first animal sacrifice to God; he killed a sheep as an act of worship, and God was pleased (Genesis 4:2-7).
    2. Often the Israelites were commanded to sacrifice a lamb.
      1. Leviticus 1:1-9 gave specific instructions for offering an animal as a sacrifice of burnt offering to atone for sin.
        1. You had to own the animal you killed.
        2. The animal had to come from your best--it could not be sick or crippled.
        3. The man brought the animal to the Tabernacle, and he placed his hands on the head of the animal to transfer his sin and guilt to the animal.
        4. The priest then killed the animal.
          1. The blood was offered to God.
          2. The carcass was butchered and burned.
      2. If the animal was a sheep, it had to be a male without any defects.
    3. At times the offering of choice was a lamb a year old.
      1. On the night that God freed the Israelites from Egyptian slavery, every family offered a lamb (Exodus 12:21-28).
        1. The lamb's blood was smeared around the door to protect them from death.
        2. They were dressed to travel when they ate the lamb in anticipation of their deliverance.
        3. Every year after that on the same date, the Israelites gathered for the holiest day of their year.
        4. On that day they remembered God's deliverance by sacrificing and eating a lamb.
      2. Numbers 28:3-8 instructed Israel as a nation to sacrifice one lamb every morning, and one lamb every evening at sunset.
      3. On the Sabbath day, or Saturday, they offered four lambs (Numbers 28:9,10).
      4. On the first day of every month, the nation offered special sacrifices (Numbers 28:11).
        1. Among the animals sacrificed were seven lambs.
      5. During the days of the feasts of Passover and Unleaven Bread, the nation offered special animal sacrifices (Numbers 28:19).
        1. Those sacrifices included seven lambs.
      6. On the day of Pentecost or the Feast of Weeks, the nation offered special animal sacrifices.
        1. Those sacrifices included seven lambs (Numbers 28:27).
      7. In the seventh month, the nation offered special animal sacrifices (Numbers 29).
        1. In addition to the other animals offered, 119 lambs were sacrificed from the first through the fifteenth of the month.
      8. In the nation of Israel, the lamb became the symbol of sacrifice.

  2. How would you introduce the Son of the living God?
    1. This is the mighty God, the God who gives life, the creator God who brought everything into existence, the God who protects and preserves His people.
      1. What would be the appropriate introduction for the Son of this mighty God?
      2. How should he be honored?
    2. John the baptizer was born for the specific purpose of introducing Jesus.
      1. When he saw Jesus coming to him, he did not say:
        1. "Behold, God's mighty arm!"
        2. "Behold, God's King of kings!"
        3. "Behold, God's great conqueror who will defeat Satan!"
        4. "Behold, God's great spokesman!"
      2. Just before Jesus began his ministry, John introduced Jesus by declaring, "Behold, the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).
      3. God let His son be placed on an altar made in the form of a splintered cross, and allowed him to die for our sins, just like a sin offering.
        1. The God who had been worshipped by sacrifice for thousands of years gave a sacrifice, a special lamb without any defect.
        2. Peter cautioned us not to forget that we were redeemed with the precious blood of God's lamb, the blood of Jesus (1 Peter 1:19).
        3. When John looked into heaven and saw God's throne, he saw Jesus standing as a sacrificed lamb, and he heard thousands and thousands of angels shouting, "Worthy is the Lamb" (Revelation 5:6,11,12)

  3. God's sacrificed Lamb calls to all who have life in him to sacrifice as God sacrificed.
    1. No words express this call as dramatically as does Paul's statement in Romans:
      Realizing all that God did to make it possible for you to be His own people (chapter 11), "I urge you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship." (12:1)
      1. Permit me to state what Paul said in very simple terms.
        1. Each day of your life, take your body and crawl on God's altar.
        2. Keep your body on God's altar all day.
        3. Everything you do, do as God's living sacrifice.
      2. In every relationship and circumstance of life, be God's living sacrifice.
        1. Husbands, be God's living sacrifice in your marriage.
        2. Wives, be God's living sacrifice in your marriage.
        3. Parents, be God's living sacrifice as you love and care for your children.
        4. Children, be God's living sacrifice as you care for your parents.
        5. On your jobs, be God's living sacrifice.
        6. In school, be God's living sacrifice.
        7. In your leisure time, be God's living sacrifice.
        8. As you deal with people in every context, be God's living sacrifice.
        9. Whatever you do, wherever you go, whatever your circumstances, never forget, "I placed my body on the altar this morning--I am His sacrifice."
      3. Paul said to do that, we must have some basic understandings (Romans 12:2).
        1. If our living body is given to God in sacrifice, God defines who and what we are; the ungodly world never defines who and what we are.
        2. If we are God's living sacrifice, we permit God to completely change us, in the same way that a caterpillar is transformed into a butterfly.
        3. That change can happen only if we allow God to develop within us a new mind, which includes a new way of thinking.
        4. That change happens only if we are personally committed to discovering God's good, acceptable, and perfect will for our bodies.
      4. What will be the end result?
        1. The end result will be a sacrifice that exists to honor and worship God.
        2. The way I live in and use my body will honor and worship God each day all day every day.
        3. Public worship occurs in assemblies like this to honor God.
        4. Private worship occurs in the way my body honors God every minute of every day.
    2. God's own Son was God's sacrifice.
      1. When we place our bodies on God's altar, we join God's Son on the altar.
      2. There is no better place; there is no better altar.

  4. Once Paul was raising funds from non-Jewish Christians to send relief to Jewish Christians who were starving (2 Corinthians 8:1-5).
    1. Some very poor Christians gathered an incredibly generous gift to give.
      1. Paul knew their poverty.
      2. He knew that they had given much more than they could afford to give.
      3. He almost refused to take their gift, but they begged him to accept it.
      4. Then Paul clearly realized what had happened.
        1. Before the need for the gift existed, they gave themselves to the Lord.
        2. Because they had given themselves to the Lord, they gave themselves to Paul by the will of God.
    2. With all my heart, I want you to realize the importance of placing your body on God's altar every day.
      1. I want you to make that firm, solid decision as your personal choice.
      2. Whatever happens on any day, you never forget that your body exists to honor God.
      3. When you do that, God uses you in ways that you cannot imagine to accomplish things for Him that you never thought possible.
    3. On Sunday, June 7, we take a special collection to begin a building fund.
      1. These funds will be used in the next year or year and a half to produce facilities that we genuinely need.
      2. Buildings are nothing but tools.
      3. We need these tools to teach, influence, and help people.
      4. If we do as much of the renovation work as possible, and if we contribute generously, we can significantly reduce the amount of money we must borrow.
      5. We need at least a million dollars; we want to borrow as little of that as possible.
        1. We want to use as much of our money as possible to teach and to help people.
        2. We want to use as little of our money as possible for interest payments.

"Preacher, don't you realize that you are doing this all wrong. You need time, you need a well organized campaign, you need all kinds of preparation to raise big money." Yes, I understand that "we are doing this all wrong." But we have an immediate need, and we have very little time.

So let me share with you what I believe. I believe that every Christian man or woman in this congregation who is God's living sacrifice will do what he or she can do. I believe this Christian will do what he or she can do because he or she has placed self on God's altar.

This Christian will do what he or she can do because we all understand that our real goal is to help people. When we do all that we can do, we have done what can be done. And whatever that is, it will be enough. So all I ask you to do is what you are able to do.

God sent His own Son as a Lamb. He let Him be sacrificed to us. When we participate in His death, burial, and resurrection through baptism, our guilt is placed on Jesus Christ. Through His blood we have atonement. We stand in God's eyes as forgiven.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 24 May 1998

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