************ Sermon on Hebrews 13:15-16 ************

By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman

This sermon was preached on November 23, 2017

Hebrews 13:15-16; Psalm 100
"Give Thanks to Him"
Thanksgiving Day 2017

On this Thanksgiving Day we are gathered together to count our blessings and to name them one by one. We are gathered together to give thanks to the God Who has provided us with all of these blessings.

I God Commands our Thanks
Did you happen to notice the heading of Psalm 100: "A psalm. For giving thanks." So what do we see when we look at the psalm? We notice that every verb in Psalm 100 is a command: shout, worship, come, know, enter, give thanks, praise. Look at Psalm 105:1-5 sometime and you will notice the exact same thing: lots of commands. Commands like: give thanks, call, make known, sing, praise, tell, glory, seek, look, remember.

This is not only an Old Testament thing; let me quote a couple of New Testament passages:
(Eph 5:19-20) Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, (20) always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(Col 3:15-17) ... be thankful. (16) Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. (17) And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

God wants our thanks. He commands our thanks. Telling us what? Telling us that giving thanks, singing, worship, praise are all very important to God.

II Sacrifice of Praise
A This brings us to our text from Hebrews 13. Listen to what it says:
(Heb 13:15) Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise ...

To help you understand this I need to tell you that the Hebrew Christians knew of two kinds of sacrifices from their Jewish past: sacrifices for sin and sacrifices of praise.

Sacrifices for sin are explained in Hebrews 1-12. Hebrews reminds us that thousands of animals were offered over the years as sin offerings. But Hebrews also states that Christ's sacrifice for sin is better than the sacrifice of bulls and goats and sheep. Christ's sacrifice is once for all: once for all sin, once for all time, once for all people. So no other sacrifice is needed. No other blood needs to be shed. The debt has been paid by Christ. So the death of Christ is the final sin offering. With the coming of Christ there are no more sin offerings.

Besides sacrifices for sin there are also sacrifices of praise. These sacrifices are voluntary and represent complete devotion and surrender to God. They arise out of a spirit of thankfulness and gratitude for God's many blessings and mercies.

These sacrifices were frequently offered in the Old Testament period. The daily morning sacrifice, for instance, was a praise offering in which the Israelite worshiper would offer the fruit of the flock, the field, or the vine. The entire sacrifice was meant to be "a pleasing aroma to the Lord" (Ex 29:25) of thanks and praise.

There were many rules and regulations for the sacrifices of praise. Animals had to be killed on the North side of the altar (Lev 1:3-5). Birds were simply handed to the priest who wrung off its head. The priest collected the blood, presented it before the Lord and sprinkled it around the altar (Lev 1:5,11). The flesh was dissected, unclean parts were washed, and all the pieces had to be carefully arranged on the altar (Lev 1:6-9). The entire offering had to be consumed so the priest had to make sure there was sufficient wood for the fire. Also, the priest had to wear the proper clothing when he started the fire (Lev 6:8-13).

B Unlike the sacrifice for sin, the sacrifice of praise did not end with the suffering and death of Christ. Rather, this is one sacrifice that rises to God for all time. Says our text, "let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise." The sacrifice of praise must go on all the time. It must never end, it must never be interrupted. Even in heaven and in the new heaven and new earth we find this sacrifice of praise.

Our text in Hebrews 13 tells us why this sacrifice never ends. It ties the sacrifice of praise to the sacrifice for sin. It does this by means of the word "therefore." It says,
(Heb 13:15) Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise.
Jesus is our sacrifice for sin. Therefore, let us offer to God a sacrifice of praise. People saved by Jesus, in other words, never tire of bringing to God a sacrifice of praise. We can go so far as to say that the people of God did not really learn how to offer a sacrifice of praise until after the suffering and death of Christ. So, on this Thanksgiving Day we give thanks to God especially because of Christ and the cross. As we read in Psalm 100:
(Ps 100:4-5) Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. (5) For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
We thank God for His love and His faithfulness.

The most important reason we give God a sacrifice of praise is because of Jesus and redemption. However, Psalm 100 also reminds us to thank God for creating us and providing for our needs:
(Ps 100:3) Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

C Hebrews tells us that the sacrifice of praise is to be done "through Jesus." In the Old Testament, as I explained, there were many do's and don'ts in connection with the sacrifice of praise. The New Testament also has a rule. The basic and all-inclusive rule is this: sacrifices of praise must be offered to God "through Jesus."
-"Through Jesus." This means the sacrifice of praise must come from those who know and love Jesus, those "that confess his name."
-"Through Jesus." This means the sacrifice of praise must come because of what Christ has done as a sin-offering.
-"Through Jesus." This means the sacrifice of praise is acceptable to God only because of Jesus and not because of the purity or zeal or devotion of the giver -- for don't forget, even the best we do is imperfect and stained with sin.

III Fruit of Lips, Do Good, Share With Others
A Jesus is our sacrifice for sin. Therefore, let us offer to God a sacrifice of praise.

What is this sacrifice of praise we are to continually offer to God through Jesus? Hebrews mentions three things.

First, it is the fruit of lips. This means using your mouths and lips to praise God. There should be a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer's praise. But too many people don't even use the one tongue God gave them.

Of course, we all realize that we don't praise God only with our lips. For if that's the case, then we are hypocrites. We must praise God with our lives as well. Or, as the song puts it, "Not for the lip of praise alone, or even the praising heart, I ask but for a life made up of praise in every part."

An impressive example of this was the golden preacher of the early church, John Chrysostom. He was persecuted and driven to exile by enemies angered by his preaching. His final words were, "Glory to God for all things!" His words and his life were a sacrifice of praise because of Christ's sacrifice for sin.

"The fruit of lips that confess his name" -- how the Lord loves this sacrifice of praise. He loves this more than burnt offerings, cereal offerings, or drink offerings. He loves this more than thousands of rams, more than ten thousand rivers of oil (Mic 6:7f). Simply going through the motions of worship is not acceptable to God. He wants, He demands, acceptable worship (Heb 12:28). So our praise is to be from the heart and offered in love; it is to be sincere and real. Listen to what the Lord says through the prophet Hosea:
(Hosea 6:6) For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.
The Lord loves our thanks and praise. He loves it when our lips and mouths are used to confess and glorify His name. "With such sacrifice God is pleased" says Scripture (Heb 13:16).

B Jesus is our sacrifice for sin. Therefore, let us offer to God a sacrifice of praise. The second thing this means is that "we do not forget to do good."

"To do good." This sacrifice of praise must always start with our own families. If we can't do good to those closest to us, then there is something seriously wrong with our hearts. Paul has this to say:
(1 Tim 5:4,8,16) But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God ... (8) If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever ... (16) If any woman who is a believer has widows in her family, she should help them ...

When it comes to doing good, our next priority after our own families ought to be fellow believers. Again, I think of what Paul has to say:
(Gal 6:10) Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

Lastly, of course, we want to do good to all men.

We want to do good to family members, to fellow believers, to all people, because Christ has made Himself a sacrifice for sin.
Today, I know there are people throughout Visalia who are preparing and serving turkey dinners for the poor and the homeless. If they are doing it in Christ's name, they are giving a sacrifice of praise.
God is pleased when, as our sacrifice of praise, we do good.

C Jesus is our sacrifice for sin. Therefore, let us offer to God a sacrifice of praise. The third thing this means is that "we share with others."

The word for "share" here is the Greek word "koinonia." It means loving fellowship. God is pleased when we include others in our conversation and invite them to our homes. God is pleased when we extend the right hand of fellowship to new members and visitors in worship and afterwards too. God is pleased when we reach out to the lonely and hurting and include them in our lives.

I want to praise the many couples of Trinity who do an impressive job in this area. When we have visitors or new members or those who are lonely and hurting many of our members make a point of talking to them and inviting them to their homes. God is pleased with this.

Jesus is our sacrifice for sin. Now, in response, we are to make a sacrifice of praise. Is this your response on this Thanksgiving Day?
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
Back to Index of Sermons Page