Sacrifice in the Age of Grace
Surrender the Practice of the Faithful
December 6th, 2018
Have you seen those around you, or have you yourself prayed in such a way, that there is no other option than God grants us our desire? I tend to refer to this as putting God in a box.
The concept is simple enough, we seek out scripture that supports our position, and use it as a weapon against God to back him into a corner so that he must give us what we desire.
Brothers and Sisters, this does not a prayer warrior make. It also sets us up for disappointment when we find God’s response to our plea is absolute silence.
The model for the prayer warrior would go more like this.
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me — nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
Luke 22:42 (CSB)
Jesus set our example for our prayer requests in this simple statement, surrender to God the Father’s will, despite our personal desire. Our salvation and redemption have not set us up as some chairman of the ‘God steering committee’ in charge of delegating the actions of God based on our perspective and our desire.
The first problem we have with an approach to prayer in this manner is that we are operating from the blind. We simply do not possess the necessary view of the situation to understand the heart and intent of God. Submitting our demands rather than our requests is nothing less than placing our thinking above that of God. We don’t have the perspective, we don’t have the knowledge, we don’t have the understanding of that which is to come later as a result of this situation or the way it will be resolved to make the call.
Yet, believer after believer has been taught that whatever you ask in faith you will be granted.
It’s true that if we have the faith of a mustard seed, we can accomplish great things.
“Because of your little faith,” he told them. “For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will tell this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
Matthew 17:20 (CSB)
Our faith does have an impact on what the outcome will be but only when faith, trust, and hope are vested in Jesus Christ and our desire is to seek his will over our own.
“Truly I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do. And he will do even greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”
John 14:12-14 (CSB)
It is perfectly fine to let God know what the desires of our hearts are in prayer, as a matter of fact we are even directed to do so.
The problem we get into is that we are to be trusting in the goodness of God and not defining what that goodness is by our own standards. We need to be surrendering that to his will completely.
“Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” This wasn’t just a formality, Jesus was surrendering to the Father his own will and subjecting himself to the will of the Father. He was earnest about his desire that the cup of suffering be bypassed but in the same breath surrendered his desire to God the Father to exercise the Father’s will rather than his own.
Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7 (CSB)
This ‘peace of God’ doesn’t come from God doing everything the way we see fit. The ‘peace of God’ Paul speaks of, is a direct result of us putting our faith and trust in God’s goodness and desire to give us those things which are best for us and glorify him most.
There are two very simple reasons that we remain here in this life after we have given our lives to Christ Jesus. The first is that he desires that we become Disciples of Jesus as noted and quoted in the Great Commission. The other is that we are here to reflect Glory and Love back to God.
He has poured and continues to pour out his grace, love and peace on us. Our worship response is to give him in return obedience, praise, and glory. The obedience comes into play when we truly love Jesus!
“If you love me, you will keep my commands.
John 14:15 (CSB)
The bargain we struck with Jesus when we accepted his unmerited forgiveness, was the surrender of our lives, in exchange for new life with him. Life which has no end point. Life which is sealed by His Holy Spirit.
In him you also were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed. The Holy Spirit is the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of the possession, to the praise of his glory.
Ephesians 1:13-14 (CSB)
We often think of the ‘Age of Grace’ which began when Jesus established the ‘New Covenant’, by his sacrificial death, burial and resurrection, as the point at which we no longer needed to perform sacrifices because of the ultimate sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf.
While that one sacrifice is sufficient for the redemption of every man, woman and child that has existed, does exist, or will exist; God does expect us to render sacrifice to him on a daily basis.
Sacrifice of our will – With surrender to Jesus we need to constantly sacrifice that which we will in favor of what God wills for us.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.
Matthew 16:24 (CSB)
Deny self, that requires that we give up our will and follow that which the savior leads us to and through, whatever that might be.
Sacrifice of our skills and abilities – God has blessed us with certain gifts. These are to be used to glorify him and promote his kingdom.
Don’t neglect to do what is good and to share, for God is pleased with such sacrifices.
Hebrews 13:16 (CSB)
Again, yet another sacrifice that is to be made in an ongoing fashion. The sacrifice Jesus made for us, absolved us of our sin and raised us from death into eternal life, as the punishment of the law was paid for by his sacrifice for us. However, we continue to have sacrifices that we need to be rendering to him. The gifts he imparts on us, are included in that. They are not our own, they only come to us to be shared for his glory and purpose.
Sacrifice our bodies – Even our bodies are a sacrifice to God.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.
Romans 12:1-2 (CSB)
A ‘living sacrifice’. The presenting of ourselves complete and whole through the cleansing of the blood of Jesus, back to God. This body purified by Christ Jesus is a holy and pleasing offering to God which defines our ‘true worship’.
It results in the transformation of our lives from conformity with the world to make us in the image of Jesus our savior. Every day, when we surrender our lives as a sacrifice to God, we imitate the sacrifice that Jesus has made for us. We acknowledge Christ’s love for us, we acknowledge the superiority of God and his ability to plot our course without fail to our best outcome and his ultimate glory and honor.
‘So that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God’ and be surrendered to that will!