Lessons from 1Peter 2: Spiritual Sacrifices

We’ve already talked about being living STONES, now we turn our attention to the second half of verse 5:

Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up SPIRITUAL SACRIFICES, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.”

(1Peter 2:5, emph seb)

What exactly are the SPIRITUAL SACRIFICES we are to offer up to God?

Before we attempt to discern what they are, let’s note four things about them.

Firstly, we are to be ACTIVELY doing them, “Offer up…” Being a Christian is not a passive condition, it’s active. Note that we are “LIVELY” stones.

Secondly, our sacrifices must be “ACCEPTABLE to God.” Paul wrote, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God” (2Tim 2:15a; cf. Rom 12:1).

Thirdly, they we are to AIM them “…to God”. Whatever these sacrifices are, they are to be directed toward God.

Fourthly, they are directed toward God through the AVENUE of Jesus; “…by Jesus Christ.” Jesus Himself said, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).

Paul also wrote on spiritual SACRIFICES, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Rom 12:1). So, what are they? Verse 6 begins a list from Paul, so we shall look at both Peter & Paul’s letters. “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether…”

We are to SHEW Forth Praises of God. “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1Peter 2:9; cf Heb 13:15-16). It reminds me of when Jesus told the healed man to “Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee” (Mark 5:16).

ALL of our BODY, our whole being is a living sacrifice to God. “that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice” (Rom 12:1). This clarifies how much of our life is dedicated to God, ALL of it. Christ is our life (Col 3:4).

We are to give a CONTRIBUTION for the helping of needy Saints and for the  work of the Church. “But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God” (Phil 4:18; cf. Heb 13:15-16). “He that giveth, let him do it with liberality” (Rom 12:8). God loves a cheerful giver (2Cor 8:2; 9:7).

By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased” (Heb 13:15-16).

It’s a spiritual sacrifice to submit to Leaders that God has ordained for the local church, and those that RULE are offering up a sacrifice. “He that ruleth, with diligence” (Rom 12:8; cf. 1Tim 3:1-7). This is further supported in Peter’s letter, “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock” (1Peter 5:2-3).

Peter’s letter is just as much about how the Saint INFLUENCES the world. “Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1Peter 2:12). This speaks to evildoers converting to Christ through the INFLUENCE of good works done by the saints (cf. 1Pet 3:1).

Paul includes Prophecy or FORETELLING in his letter to the Romans. “Whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith” (Rom 12:6). While there was a miraculous element in the 1st century, we today can FORETELL through the inspired written word. Peter wrote, “according as each hath received a gift, ministering it among yourselves, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God; if any man speaketh, speaking as it were oracles of God; is any man ministereth, ministering as of the strength which God supplieth: that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, whose is the glory and the dominion for ever and ever. Amen. (1Peter 4:10-11). The future return of Christ is just one example.

It’s a sacrifice to be an INSTRUCTOR or Teacher of God’s word. “He that teacheth, on teaching” (Rom 12:8; cf. 2Tim 2:2).

It’s certainly a sacrifice to have COMPASSION (Mercy) on our fellow man. “He that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness” (Rom 12:8). We have obtained mercy through the blood of Jesus. Ought we not show mercy on others?

EXHORTING (to urge one to pursue some course of conduct) is another important sacrifice. “Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation” (Rom 12:8; 2Tim 4:2). Encouraging brethren to better conduct can be a challenge. For example; “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but EXHORTING one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Heb 10:25).

Finally, SERVING (ministering) our brethren is a Spiritual Sacrifice to God. “Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering” (Rom 6:7). When we serve the brethren, we serve Christ. Jesus listed some things, “For I was an hungred, … I was thirsty, … I was a stranger, … Naked, … I was sick, … I was in prison… Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when … ? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Acts 25:35-40’ cf. Acts 6:1-7).

These are all matters the individual Christian does through their own lives and homes. Some believe we abdicate these to others. These are OUR SPIRITUAL SACRIFICES. May we all offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

Spencer

The Lonely Ember

A MEMBER OF A certain church, who previously had been attending services regularly, stopped going. After a few weeks, the pastor decided to visit him. It was a chilly evening. The pastor found the man at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire.

Guessing the reason for his pastor’s visit, the man welcomed him, led him to a big chair near the fireplace and waited. The pastor made himself comfortable but said nothing. In the grave silence, he contemplated the play of the flames around the burning logs.

After some minutes, the pastor took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it to one side of the hearth all alone. Then he sat back in his chair, still silent. The host watched all this in quiet fascination.

As the one lone ember’s flame diminished, there was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more. Soon it was cold and “dead as a doornail.”

Not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting.

Just before the pastor was ready to leave, he picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire. Immediately it began to glow once more with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it.

As the pastor reached the door to leave, his host said, “Thank you so much for your visit and especially for the fiery sermon. I shall be back in church next Sunday.”

Source: unknown.

It would be difficult to add much to this simple illustration, but there’s a little room so I must. This story demonstrates an important reality regarding our role in the worship. Sure, you can see yourself as the lone ember, desiring to be uplifted by the others, but do you see yourself as a part of the larger fire?

Many complain, “I get nothing from the worship” or “that church is so cold” looking only at how it affects THEM. The illustration also shows what we GIVE to each other, of which you are a part.

Rather than asking, “what do I get” ask, what do I give? When we come together, as the Lord commanded, we give so much to each other. The New Testament writers presented a picture of giving in our coming together (I’m not referring to the monetary collection). You say that you gain nothing from the worship, but what do you keep with you in your absence?

Here’s what you give us

  • Love – And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Hebrews 10:24
  • Exhortation – not forsaking our own assembling together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as ye see the day drawing nigh. Hebrews 10:25
  • Teaching – Teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. Colossians 3:16
  • Proclaim the Lord’s death – For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink the cup, ye proclaim the Lord’s death till he come. 1Corinthians 11:26, 30
  • Fellowship – And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and the prayers. Acts 2:42
  • Edification – Let all things be done unto edifying. 1Corinthians 14:26b

Do you see it? We need each other. I need you as much, or more than, you need me. The worship is an assembly of the local saints together in one place. We can’t do it alone. Matt 18:20.

God’s Succession Plan

ONE OF THE ARGUMENTS against the church is that we have no line of succession from the church in Jerusalem at Pentecost to the Franklin St. Church of Christ. Some point to Campbell as the originator of the church of Christ in America. This is a false teaching, and demonstrates their failure to understand biblical authority. We, as members of the Franklin St. Church of Christ, do have a direct connection to the first century church that began on Pentecost. Let’s go to the scriptures and look at God succession plan.

God’s 3 step succession Plan

FIRST, Teach our children. God expects His ways to be passed along through our children. In Genesis, we read about a man named Abraham. He was a righteous man and obeyed the Lord faithfully, from the command to leave Ur through the command to sacrifice his son. God said this about Abraham, “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him” [Ge 18:19]. Abraham was spoken well of because God knew that he would pass along the “ways of the Lord” to his children and his household.

Others in scripture seem to have failed in this. Eli had children that did horrible things against the ways of the Lord [1Sam 2:12, 22] and God rebuked Eli for failing to stop it. “For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not” [1Sam 3:13].

The Lord has been very clear on this point;

De 6:7 And thou shalt teach them (commands, statutes & judgments of the Lord) diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. [De 4:9; 6:20; 11:19; Ps 78:4]

Pr 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. [Pr 19:18; 29:17;]

In the New Testament, Paul taught this same principle, teach it to our children. “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” [Ephesians 6:4]. Parents play a vital role in God’s succession plan.

SECOND, Teach others. God commands Christians to pass along what they learn to others. This command is contained in the “great commission”; “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:” [Matthew 28:19-20]. Paul demonstrated his obedience to this command when he instructed Timothy and so many others. “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” [2Timothy 2:2]. This was also a qualification of an Elder, “able to teach” [1Timothy 3:2]. What are they to teach, what else than the “whatsoever I have commanded you.”

THIRDLY, Sow the seed of the kingdom. What all these verses have in common is The word of God. God’s succession plan has ALWAYS been through the teaching of His word to mankind. Look at the parable of the sower; “Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow: 14 The sower soweth the word… And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.” [Mr 4:3-20].

Let’s illustrate this point; If a person desired to grow Florida oranges he would go down to the place where he could buy some orange seeds. Taking that orange seed home, if he were to plant it, nurture it, and provide all that is needed for that seed to grow, in a short time he would be enjoying Oranges. The church today can be planted in any place by sowing the seeds of the kingdom of God, which is His word. We do this by reading, studying and obeying His divine word.

In human institutions we see succession by elections or by birth, as in the case of a monarchy. In God’s kingdom there is also a birth. Christians are “born again” when we obey His word. “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures” [James 1:18].

Let no one deceive you. We become Christians through His word. His word tells us to Hear the word [Rom 10:14], Believe His word [John 11:24], Repent of our sins [Luke 13:3], Confess Jesus as both Lord and Christ [Matthew 10:32-33], be baptized for the remission of our sins [Mark 16:15-16] and to live faithfully [2Peter 2:20-22]. Plant the seed of God in your heart and become just a Christian.   

– Spencer