************ Sermon on Hebrews 13:15-16 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on June 6, 1999
"A Sacrifice of Praise"
To understand the passage in front of us we need to realize there are two kinds of sacrifices – sacrifices for sin and sacrifices of praise. On this Lord's Supper Sunday we need to know the difference between the two.
I Sacrifice for Sin
A Sin offerings were made throughout the entire Old Testament period. They were required whenever anyone sinned against any of the commandments or ritual laws. The type of animal required depended upon the rank of the person who sinned. The high priest brought a young bull (Lev 4:3), a ruler brought a male goat (Lev 4:25), a commoner could furnish a female goat (Lev 4:28) or a lamb (Lev 4:32), and a poor person could bring two turtle doves or two young pigeons (Lev 5:7). The sinner brought the animal to the priest. The animal was killed after the sinner laid his hand on it. In this way the sinner identified the offering with himself – in offering the animal he is offering himself and paying for his sin; in offering the animal he is making atonement for his sin. The priest then collected the blood, sprinkled some before the veil (Lev 4:5-7), put some on the horns of the incense altar (Lev 4:16-18), applied some to the horns of the altar of burnt offering (Lev 4:7,18), and the remaining blood was poured or drained out at the base of the altar (Lev 4:7).
The fat, the kidneys, and the liver were all consumed on the altar (Lev 4:8-10). Usually the edible flesh belonged to the priest as food; it was to be eaten within the temple or tabernacle area and very strict rules of ritual purity governed its handling (Lev 6:25-30). The carcass, the entrails, and any remaining flesh were taken outside of the camp to be burned (Lev 4:11,12,21).
A sin offering of one male goat was also required at each of the sacred festivals: the New Moon Feast (Num 28:15), each day of the Passover Feast (Num 28:22-24), the Feast of Weeks (Num 28:30), the Feast of Trumpets (Num 29:5), the Day of Atonement (Num 29:11), and each day of the Feast of Booths (Num 29:16,19).
Day after day, feast day after feast day, year after year sacrifices for sin were offered in Israel. Blood and gore, fire and smoke – all on account of sin – were a fact of life in Israel.
B Then came Good Friday, the cross and the grave of Christ. On that day Jesus offered Himself as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God (Eph 5:2). Jesus offered Himself as a sin offering to God. We were reminded of that sacrifice this morning in the Lord's Supper.
Hebrews tells us that Jesus is the last sacrifice for sin. He died for sin, once for all. Because of Christ no further sacrifice is required, ever again, to all eternity.
(Heb 10:11-12) Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. (12) But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.
Jesus, dear people, is the only sacrifice for sin we need. Jesus, dear people, is the last sacrifice for sin. Jesus, dear people, fulfilled all that the Law demanded in terms of sin and sacrifice. Says our Scripture reading:
(Heb 13:11-12) The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. (12) And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. Jesus, as we remembered this morning, is our sacrifice for sin.
C The cross of Christ – we can never underestimate its importance. It is the only ladder high enough to reach heaven's gate. It is only by means of the cross that we can be forgiven and enter into the presence of God.
Topic: Cross of ChristYes, congregation, when we come to the cross we can always find our way home.
Officer Peter O'Hanlon was patrolling on night duty in northern England some years ago when he heard a quivering sob. Turning in the direction that it came from, he saw in the shadows a little boy sitting on a doorstep. With tears rolling down his cheeks, the child whimpered, "I'm lost. Take me home." The policeman began naming street after street, trying to help him remember where he lived. When that failed, he repeated the names of the shops and hotels in the area, but all without success. Then he remembered that in the center of the city was a well-known church with a large white cross towering high above the surrounding landscape. He pointed to it and said, "Do you live anywhere near that?" The boy's face immediately brightened. "Yes, take me to the cross. I can find my way home from there!"
II Sacrifice of Praise
A 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 also 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. Unlike the sin offerings, the entire sacrifice was meant to be consumed as "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 for sin mentioned in verses 11-14 to the sacrifice of praise mentioned in verse 15. 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. The people of God, you see, make a sacrifice of praise because of the sacrifice for sin upon the cross. Or, to tie it in with our celebration of the Lord's Supper this morning: we have been reminded and assured that Jesus is the sacrifice for sin; therefore, let us offer a sacrifice of praise.
C Our text tells us that this sacrifice is to be done "through Jesus." In the Old Testament, as I mentioned before, 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 sacrifices of praise must come from those who know and love Jesus, those "that confess his name."
"Through Jesus." This means the sacrifices of praise must come because of what Christ has done as a sin offering.
"Through Jesus." This means the sacrifices of praise are 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. In the Lord's Supper we have been reminded and assured that Jesus died for our sins; therefore, let us offer 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." But, again, if you are asking for a life made up of praise, you certainly want to offer praise with your lips too.
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. I also think of the missionary, Allen Gardiner:
Topic: ThankfulnessThink of that! No word of complaint, no childish whining, no grumbling at the circumstances – just praise for God's goodness. His words and his life too were a sacrifice of praise because of Christ's sacrifice for sin.
Subtopic: Examples of
Allen Gardiner experienced many physical difficulties and hardships throughout his service to the Savior. Despite his troubles, he said, "While God gives me strength, failure will not daunt me." In 1851, at the age of 57, he died of disease and starvation while serving on Picton Island at the southern tip of South America. When his body was found, his diary lay nearby. It bore the record of hunger, thirst, wounds, and loneliness. The last entry in his little book showed the struggle of his shaking hand as he tried to write legibly. It read, "I am overwhelmed with a sense of the goodness of God."
"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. In the Lord's Supper we have been reminded and assured that Jesus died for our sins; therefore, let us offer a sacrifice of praise. The second thing this requires 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.
Topic: WorksGod is pleased when, as our sacrifice of praise, we do good.
A crippled boy was once hurrying to catch a train. Carrying gifts under his arm, he was struggling with his crutches. Suddenly, a man bumped into him, knocking his parcels in all directions. The man then paused and scolded the boy for getting in his way. Another gentleman, seeing the youngster's distress, quickly picked up the scattered gifts and slipped a dollar bill into his pocket, saying, "I'm sorry! I hope this makes up for your trouble." The child who couldn't remember being shown such kindness, called after him, "Mister, thank you! And sir, are you Jesus?" "No," replied the man, "but I am one of His followers."
C Jesus is our sacrifice for sin. Therefore, let us offer to God a sacrifice of praise. In the Lord's Supper we have been reminded and assured that Jesus died for our sins; therefore, let us offer a sacrifice of praise. The third thing this requires 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.
I want to praise the many couples of Trinity who do an impressive job in this area. When we have visitors or new members many of our members make a point of talking to them and inviting them to their homes. God is pleased with this.
Sacrifices for sin, sacrifices of praise – that's the two kinds of sacrifices we see in the Bible. Jesus is our sacrifice for sin. Now, in response, we are to make a sacrifice of praise.
Is this your response?
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