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Offering YOUR BODY As A Living Sacrifice!

August 24, 2014

Romans 12;1

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Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost                                          Trinity Lutheran Church

24 August 2014                                                                          Murdock, NE

 

+ Jesu Juva +

 

Romans 12:1-8

 

In view of God’s mercy! In view of God’s Son, Jesus the Christ, in whom you believe for salvation! In view of His giving His divine life into sacrificial bloody death on the cross! In view of His dying FOR YOU! In view of Jesus giving you total and complete forgiveness that then leads to the benefits of eternal life and the resurrection of the body on the Last Day! In view of God’s mercy-ing you in Christ Jesus … He has really good use for you.

 

Yes, that’s right. The Lord Jesus has good use for you. To be His instrument in your family, community, congregation and world for good. You, as a Christian, want that, don’t you? Of course you do.

 

Now, I sure hope you’re listening carefully today. Because what Romans 12 preaches today will absolutely blow your mind. No, it will “transform” and “renew” your mind! Triple bonus round: it will even melt your heart, repent you, and faith you. Spur you on for Christian living. Can’t get any better than that today, can it?

 

Well, Romans 12 speaks of an entirely new way of living. A life that flows from faith in Jesus, your Redeemer. The life of living in and from your Baptism into Christ. That’s exactly why Romans 6:4 speaks of your baptismal life as: “walking in newness of life.” So, Romans 12 tells of how you, the redeemed – the Good Friday-ed – are given to live in and from your Baptism into Christ.

 

Now, the front porch of my sermon is getting way too long. Better get you through the door and in to the house.

 

All right, if you could give a one-word summary of what a Holy Spirit-filled Christian life is all about, what word would best describe it? Prayer? Mission? Praise? Witness? Stewardship? Love? All those are good and biblical. However, the blessed apostle has another word in mind today. What word is it? What word best describes your Christian life? Are you ready to hear it? Are you? Good! Buckle up tight. Hang on to your hat. Here goes. The word is: “SACRIFICE”!

 

Sacrifice! Living your life as a sacrifice, that is to say, sacrificially! That flows from faith in Jesus. Faith gives birth to sacrificial living. This is the good use that the Lord has for you on this earth.   The text says to, “offer your bodies to God . . . as a living sacrifice.”

 

You’d better hear that again. “Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice.” Not a sacrifice that atones for sin. Good grief, you can’t do that! Only Jesus did that with His Good Friday divine and dead body on the cross. But you are to use your body like Jesus! Not to be served BUT TO SERVE! So, offer your body! Present your body! To God. In sacrificial service for others! Vivaciously live and generously give your life for others just as Jesus did with His body!

 

Jesus didn’t live in the body for Himself. He lived and died for you the sinner. His was the perfect Sacrifice. The supreme Sacrifice. His is the once-for-all-Lamb-of-God-who-takes-away-the-sin-of-the-world-Sacrifice. Jesus was God the Father’s Sacrifice, THE whole burnt offering. Holy. Pleasing. Perfect. Roasted on the altar of the cross in the red-hot fire of God’s wrath against all your idolatry and rebellion. And yet, His Good Friday death is God’s burning desire to rescue you from the everlasting fire of hell.

 

So, in view of THAT divine Good Friday mercy, “offer your bodies [to God] as a living sacrifice.” In view of Jesus’ death for you, you now want to live for others. Not for yourself. But for your neighbor’s sake! You descend to the depths and the dregs of ordinary life in order to help those in need. You want to use your body to benefit others. To be a little Christ in your body to serve the neighbor. This includes self-denial! Self-abasement! Self-renunciation! Or to put it more starkly: dying to your sin! Daily putting your old-selfish and idolatrous sinful nature to death! That’s really quite radical isn’t it? It is!

 

Do you remember what the Bible teaches about who you are? The last time I preached this was when Cohen Haertel was baptized. 1 Peter 2:5, 9 teaches that all the baptized are members of the holy and royal priesthood. I repeat: in the NT all the baptized are priests! That’s you! You baptized priests offer spiritual sacrifices to God! It’s what you do!

 

How do you do that? Answer: With your body! With your life in the body! Offering your body as a living sacrifice! This is the new way of worship in the NT!

 

And it all begins first and foremost here at Trinity when we gather as a congregation to attend the divine service regularly. Here on Sunday you offer your body to God primarily by parking it in the pew, opening your ears and mouth in order to be given to — to be blessed by God’s Triune Name, cleansed by the absolution and the proclamation of the gospel, and fed with the Lord’s most holy body and blood in the Sacrament of the Altar.

 

The Lord Jesus serves you in the divine service. His gifts have their way with you. Enliven you. For service as a little Christ in the places where you live. There can be no holy and acceptable offering of your body to God apart from Jesus who graces you in His forgiving Word, who gives you new birth in Baptism, and who bespeaks you holy and therefore makes your body holy, acceptable and pleasing to God the Father through His most holy Word.

 

Now, as you look at the text, St. Paul doesn’t give a long laundry list of things to do with your body. He lists being wise and humble, serving others, esteeming others more highly than yourself, persisting in prayer, having patience, etc. (Romans 12:3-21). Let me be so bold to offer some more concrete examples of how you offer your body to God as a living sacrifice.

 

When you confess your sin, turn from it, and then trust in Jesus for forgiveness, you offer your body as a living sacrifice! When you, as a young person promise to remain a virgin before marriage, you offer your body as a living sacrifice. The husband and wife who remain faithful to their marriage vows offer their bodies as living sacrifices. The mother whose body goes through all kinds of contortions, stretches and convulsions to give room for her baby to grow and to be born, offers her body as a living sacrifice. The business owner who operates a fair and honest company even to the point of losing customers and perhaps money rather than compromising the confession of Christ, offers his body as a living sacrifice. Parents who bring their children for holy baptism and raise them as Christians offer their bodies as living sacrifices. Schoolteachers who patiently work with children day in and day out. Employees who do their work honestly. Authorities who govern justly. Farmers who raise the crops. Cattlemen who breed cows. Giving food to the hungry. Doing the ice bucket challenge. Raising money for cancer research. And then how about this one? The person who forgives not only a family member or church member but also the enemy who has sinned against him! These are living sacrifices of our bodies, holy and acceptable to God through faith in Jesus Christ!

 

There are those who sing. There are those who sew. Mow. Paint. Hammer. Rock babies. Fold the bulletins. Count the money. Balance the books. Write the checks. There are those who pray for others. Comfort the sick, the hospitalized and the dying. Visit the lonely and shut-in. A father changing a diaper. A mother consoling her child. A parent teaching the Bible stories and catechism. The child obeying and honoring his/her parents. A neighbor helping a neighbor.

 

The world doesn’t applaud such things. Many times we forget to even say “thanks” for such things being done. Recognized or not, they are living sacrifices. They are your “spiritual worship.” They are holy and acceptable because they are offered through faith in the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ that makes them holy and acceptable to God.

 

I wish I could preach everything in the text today. If I did, we’d be here way too long. So I want to mention one last thing.

 

God’s mercy in Jesus gives you a new way of working together in the church. “In Christ,” the text says, “we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” Wow! We belong to each other as Christians in this congregation! Doesn’t that just blow – no – renew and transform your mind? It should! After all, you are natural born soloists. Your old Adam wants to do whatever it wants. You want toot your own horn. You want to march to the beat of your own internal drum. Better repent of that! ASAP!

 

You need to learn the art of playing in God’s orchestra and drop the solo act. Each of you has a part to play in the church. Some a longer and more complex part. Others a simpler and more straightforward line. There are different gifts of grace but the same God who gives them all. And no one should ever dare to say he or she has no part in this symphony called Trinity Lutheran Church. It is the Lord Jesus who orchestrates it. He assigns the parts. He gives out the gifts unique to each believer.

 

Now, the value of a gift is in the EXERCISE OF IT, not merely the possession of it or hoarding it. The musician who plays for no one but herself, benefits no one but herself. The wealthy person who accumulates his riches for himself, serves no one but himself. The pastor who preaches only to himself, serves only himself. The gifts that God gives each of you are to be used for the sake of others!

 

What gifts has God given you? Whatever they are you are to press them into SERVICE for the whole body of Christ, not for yourself! You’re to give your gifts away!   Recklessly! Abundantly. Just as Jesus did with His sacrificial Good Friday atoning for all sin and every sinner body on the cross!

 

So, if you prophesy and preach, it will be because you have heard the good news that your sins are forgiven for Jesus’ sake and therefore you cannot keep silent about it.

 

If you teach, it will be because you have been taught by God, with minds renewed by Jesus’ Word and hearts refreshed by the Holy Spirit in, with and under that Word.

 

If you comfort others, it will be because you have been comforted by the God of all comfort.

 

If you give your money, it will be generously and freely, because you have been given to generously and freely in Christ.

 

If you lead, it will be because you have been lead by Jesus, the Shepherd and Bishop of your soul.

 

If you reach out to the poor and the hungry, it will be because God has reached out to you in your poverty and filled your hunger with the good things of His mercy in Jesus.

In view of God’s mercy, you “offer you bodies as a living sacrifice” to God for the sake of the neighbor. This is your spiritual worship because your life is in service for others. Your Christian life is about giving yourself as a gift to God as you live sacrificially for those in your life. Your offering of your body is a sweet-smelling incense in God’s nose for the Good Friday sacrifice of Jesus makes your bodily sacrifices living, holy and acceptable to God.

 

In the Name of Jesus.

 

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