A Living Sacrifice – The Life of a Disciple
Thank you all for coming this evening.
I’d like to start off with a short prayer.
Heavenly Father, we come before you to seek your will, to open our hearts to you, to align our thoughts with your thoughts, and make your ways our ways. Please provide for us strength and protection from all evil that seeks to destroy us and interfere in our lives. Place such a burden on our hearts for others, and especially those who are not saved, that we would bring to you each burden you have placed upon us. Grant us wisdom, discernment, and the necessary resources to do all that you have prepared in advance for us to do. Bless the Children and those that are at this very moment guiding them in Word and ways of Godliness. This we pray in the precious name of your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, amen.
I want to preface this by saying that this subject is one that has been on my heart for many years. It is directed at the Church in general, not at this group. We are here tonight because we want to corporately petition and praise God, a most worthy exercise. Because of the shortness of time before the return of Christ, and the sense of urgency that I feel to be prepared for that most blessed event, this may come across as blunt. It is intended to shake us out of any complacency we may have, and usher us into a much deeper and dependent relationship with our glorious God.
How We See Ourselves
In the Bible, we are called many things, and we think of ourselves in particular ways. Here are just a very few of those:
We are the redeemed:
“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.’ He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.”
We are sons of God:
“Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”
We are loved:
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”
We are forgiven:
“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.”
We have “the mind of Christ”, his way of thinking:
“for, ‘Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.”
“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The Living Sacrifice
There are many other ways we look at ourselves. But do we see ourselves as “living sacrifices”?
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
How Jesus Saw Himself
In light of our recent celebration of the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior, I’d like to take a look at how Jesus saw himself. He saw Himself as the perfect sacrifice. John the Baptist rightly called him the “Lamb of God”
“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’”
He alluded to His death many times to his disciples, but they didn’t understand. In Matthew 20, He was very specific.
“We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!”
He referred to himself as gentle and humble.
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
Jesus was both fully God and fully man. And as he walked among us almost 2000 years ago, He set the example for us to follow. While He should have been exalted and praised and waited on hand and foot, for he was perfect in every regard, as a living sacrifice, he lowered Himself to wait on others. He healed diseases; cast out demons; restored life and health to those who believed; and patiently taught those who would follow Him. And at the last Passover supper, where He was the host, he stripped His outer garment, put on a towel, and washed the feet of His disciples.
The greatest and mightiest among us tended to our needs, and placed himself in the role of servant. He daily sacrificed himself. He was perfectly submitted to His Father through his absolute dependence on the Holy Spirit. He said only what His Father told Him to say.
“I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”
We see all these things. And we are called to be His disciples, and to make disciples
“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
In Jesus’ day, a Disciple was someone who followed his master and copied EVERYTHING the master did. I once heard a pastor say that some scribes would even copy how their master went to the bathroom. They were THAT devoted to learning their master’s ways.
A living sacrifice voluntarily consents to be on the altar. The problem with being a living sacrifice is that we have the opportunity to squirm our way off the altar when things aren’t pleasant, or going the way we want them to go. Jesus was fully and completely obedient, even after He had asked His Father for another way – three separate times our Lord asked for another way. And scripture shows us He did indeed do the will of His Father.
Questions for Group Discussion:
- Do we see ourselves as living sacrifices?
- Do our thoughts tend to dwell on Almighty God and His objectives, or on our objectives?
- Can we make disciples if WE aren’t disciples?
- If we aren’t making disciples, what ARE we making when people respond to the Gospel message?
- What changes can we make personally to be better living sacrifices and disciples?
- What changes corporately, as the body of Christ, can we make to be better disciples?