Category Archives: God

Entering God’s House

But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy Temple in the fear of you. (Psalm 5:7 ESV)

We enter God’s house only because He draws us to Himself.

God built a house, a Temple and a place where His people would worship Him, in Jerusalem, the City of David. Solomon spent seven years building the Temple (see 2 Kings 6:38). Jesus went to a Temple built by Herod the Great, still under construction after 46 years (John 2:20). Solomon’s Temple was destroyed in 586 BC and its contents carried off to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar. God used Nebuchadnezzar to punish His people because of their sin, as He continuously warned them He would do. In AD 70, Herod’s Temple was destroyed by Titus, who attacked Jerusalem because of the rebellion of the Jewish nation against Rome. 

God is not contained in a physical place. He does not live in a physical house. Solomon knew this as he dedicated the Temple he built to God.“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27 ESV). God created the heavens and the earth. He transcends heaven, filling the earth with Himself, holding the universe in His hand.“Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the LORD”(Jeremiah 23:24 ESV). We build places of worship for ourselves. Our purpose is to know God intimately, the reason He created us in His image. God wants us to worship and know Him.

Thus says the LORD: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest?  All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.”(Isaiah 66:1-2 ESV)

Abundance means multitude and greatness. Steadfast love means goodness, kindness and faithfulness. Fear is not terror caused by an eminently dangerous circumstance but the greatest respect, reverence and piety brought on by the awesome and terrifying presence of God. To bow down is to worship and prostrate oneself before God. God draws the worshipper into His presence because of His eternal love for the person created in His image. In response, the individual offers true worship to the God of the universe with an intimate understanding and knowledge of Him who is above all.

Jesus entered the Temple at the beginning of His ministry and violently drove away those who desecrated the House of God. He challenged those given the responsibility to lead God’s people in truthful worship. He knew the Temple would be destroyed. Herod’s Temple was a magnificent structure, which impressed all who saw and entered. 

“Jesus left the Temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the Temple. But he answered them, ‘You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.’”(Matthew 24:1-2 ESV)

 God’s Temple is the body of Christ, which Jesus said they would destroy and He would raise again in three days.“He was speaking about the Temple of his body”(John 2:21 ESV). He is the eternal Temple of God built with the living stones of those who belong to Him. 

“As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”(1 Peter 2:4-5 ESV)

God’s house is in eternity. Jesus did not come to preserve a sinful world, to fix it or make it better. He came to draw to Himself, into His presence for eternity, “those who hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Matthew 5:6 ESV), who have abandoned themselves to Him.“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it” (Luke 9:23-24 ESV).

We are surrounded in the world by God’s enemies. We are separated from the world for Him who created the world, while still living in the world. We are here as a witness to them of the love God has for them, shown through the life, death and resurrection of His Son. Also, He is preparing us for eternity with Him. Our place is both as a witness in a courtroom and a student in a classroom.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.(1 Peter 2:9-12 ESV)

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God is Self-Existent and Immense

“According to the foreknowledge of God the Father” (1 Peter 1:2 ESV).

God has no beginning or ending. God is not dependent upon any force outside of Himself for His existence, which is unconstrained by either the physical universe or time. God exists outside of both. We learn this from the first verse in Scripture. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1 ESV). When He spoke to Moses, commanding him to lead His people out of Egypt, God gave His name as I AM. “God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ And he said, ‘Say this to the people of Israel: “I AM has sent me to you”’” (Exodus 3:14 ESV). I AMmeans to be, to exist without cause, to remain (eternally) and continue (without beginning or end). Jesus uses the same phrase to describe Himself, which exacerbates the hatred of the religious leaders toward Him. “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.’ So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple”(John 8:58-59 ESV). John has already told the world who Jesus is.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.  (John 1:1-3 ESV)

How big is the universe? No one knows. Scientists have tried to measure the observable universe but they can only provide educated guesses. Currently, Scientists suggest the distance from earth to the edge of what they have observed is over 46 billion light years, making the diameter closer to 96 billion light years, if Earth is the center. This is only an estimated measurement of what they can see and cannot include what they cannot see. The universe is huge, unimaginably large.

God tells us that He is larger than the universe. He declares that He fills heaven and earth. “Am I a God at hand, declares the LORD, and not a God far away? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 23:23-24 ESV). Not only does He fill the universe, He surrounds it. “You have set your glory above the heavens” (Psalm 8:1 ESV). Solomon recognized how puny he was and how small was the temple built for Him. God does not live in a physical place. “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27 ESV). Just before Stephen was stoned for his witness for Jesus, he spoke about Solomon’s words and the temple built for God.

But it was Solomon who built a house for him. Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands, as the prophet says, “‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord, or what is the place of my rest? Did not my hand make all these things?’” (Acts 7:47-50 ESV; see Isaiah 66:1-2)

Jesus gives the same analogy in the Sermon on the Mount. “But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King”  (Matthew 5:34-35 ESV). God doesn’t just sit in the heavens and place His feet on the earth. This analogy is an anthropomorphic illustration used to help those created in the image of God and corrupted by sin to understand God’s immensity and power.People tend to think about God as if He were one of them, having the same size and limitations. We are limited by space and time therefore, God must also be limited by space and time. We occupy a physical place in the universe, therefore, God must also occupy a physical place in the universe. Theology tells us that God is immense, which means He is unlimited by the physical universe and cannot be contained within its boundaries. He is eternal. As the Creator of the heavens and the earth He must be larger than that which He made.

Truth

You destroy those who speak lies; the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.(Psalm 5:6 ESV)

Why does God hate lies? When He spoke to the Israelites after He brought them out of Egypt He told them “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:16 ESV; see also Deuteronomy 5:20). To bear false witness is to speak deceptively about anything to your neighbor or before a group, such as a court of law. God hates lies because His essential, eternal character is truth. He created Man in His image, which means for anyone to speak something that is not true goes against His will in creation. Lying is first against God and then against others. It is one more way for people to reject God and His perfect design for them. In the Garden, the Deceiver lied to Eve, who believed the lie and acted in rebellion against God. Lying is an act of rebellion against the eternal nature of God.

Those who speak lies are anyone who tells a falsehood or deceptive thing about anything, including libel and defamation, slurs and slanders, making statements fabricated to lead another to an untrue conclusion. Deceitful  means treachery, and involves betrayal, treason, disloyalty and sedition.

There are two other words used to describe God’s justice toward those who lie. God will destroy those who lie, which means to perish, vanish and make go away, blot them out, sentence to eternal death, which is separation from Him, the source of life. God abhors them, which means to detest, loathe, to make an abomination, all ritually and ethically. God does not tolerate lies. He then equates lying to those who are bloodthirsty, or those who seek to put others to death for no reason. God equates lying to murder.

When Jesus violently drove the vendors and moneychangers from the Temple courts He was challenged by the religious leaders. They asked Him for a sign, a testimony, to establish His authority to clear the Temple. It was their Temple, in their minds, and not His. It had taken many years to complete and was still not finished. They were in charge of what occurred on the Temple grounds. Jesus’ actions were a direct challenge to their traditional authority. “What sign do you show us for doing these things?”  (John 2:18 ESV).

Jesus’ response made no sense to them. “Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19 ESV). They thought He was speaking about the physical Temple, the structure rising around them. But He was speaking about His body. “But he was speaking about the Temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken” (John 2:21-22 ESV). He did not say He would destroy the Temple. He implied they would destroy the Temple, which is His body. He prophesied their actions in murdering Him and His accomplishment in rising from the dead.

How did they manage to condemn Jesus to death and destroy the Temple that was His body? They lied. Their lies revealed the thinking of their hearts and the bloodthirsty nature of their actions. They believed false witnesses.

Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward and said, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the Temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.’”(Matthew 26:59-61 ESV; see Mark 14:55-56)

When Stephen was executed for his witness about Jesus and the gospel, those who condemned him used almost the same lies they spoke against Jesus.

Then they secretly instigated men who said, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council, and they set up false witnesses who said, “This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law, for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses delivered to us.” (Acts 6:11-14 ESV)

Their lies led to the murders of both Jesus and Stephen. They did not violate only one of the statements of God in Exodus 20, but many. By lying and murdering they dishonored God, heaping derision upon His name. Jesus was resurrected and Stephen will be resurrected. Those who lied will stand before God and then be driven from His presence, unless before they die they repent, admitting their sin and embracing the grace of God given through the Man they murdered.

The Person of God, the Father

“According to the foreknowledge of God the Father” (1 Peter 1:2 ESV).

Focus your attention on God, not on the word “foreknowledge.”  God’s eternal attributes and characteristics are revealed in both Scripture and in nature. We could know little about God without Him telling us. We can assume great things about God through an honest examination of nature, which is the evidence of His work. But to know Him, either intellectually or intimately, demands He reveal Himself to us in a way we understand. There are two ways He has done this. As mentioned, He has revealed Himself in the Scriptures. He has also given us His image so that we might know Him intimately. For this study in First Peter we will focus on some of God’s essential characteristics and eternal attributes to understand what is meant by His foreknowledge.

God’s unique essence is features of His eternal nature He shares with no created being. The words “essence” and “substance” are reasonably interchangeable when used to describe God.  As God reveals Himself, we discover the evidence of His eternal self, upon which His attributes have their foundation. His essential character is similar to His attributes. However, we could say those created in His image have similar attributes, mirrored in the image given, with a likeness to His essence, limited but given so we might intimately know Him. 

God is spiritual and has no physical substance, unlike the physical universe He created. Scripture is filled with anthropomorphic descriptions of God, describing Him as having human characteristics, given as a means for people to grasp particular aspects of His being. God is also described as having a characteristic of a bird. He has “wings” (see Psalm 17:8; Ruth 2:12). God is described as a fire, speaking to Moses from a burning bush. “When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am’” (Exodus 3:4 ESV). As an eternal being, God does not have physical characteristics.

Jesus, when speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well, describes God as spirit. “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24 ESV). Since God is a spirit, those who are created in His image must worship Him in both spiritand in truth.  Spirit means the vital principle that animates those created in the image of God. Truth is reality, whether in the physical or eternal realm.  People cannot makeup ways to worship God Worship originally came from their natural inclinations, uncorrupted by sin, according to the image of God in them. Worship is the natural outcome of an intimate relationship with God, not simply ritualistic observances. Sin and rebellion corrupts the vessel containing the image but the image of God in people is not corrupted. Jesus added these two words, spiritand truth because of the corruption of sin that has caused the inability of the sinful person to comprehend the spiritual or that which is true.

Paul tells us God’s essence is revealed in the physical universe, which is the evidence of His work.

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. (Romans 1:19-20 ESV)

This is not a contradiction to the words of John. “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known”(John 1:18 ESV). No one who is corrupted by sin can see God for He will not allow sin in His eternal presence. God can be known, both intellectually and intimately, by an honest examination of His creation and through an intimate relationship with the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ.

God will do only what God can do. No created being can do that which only God can do. Therefore, the evidence of God is in the work done which only He can do. People can see and examine the obvious evidence of the physical universe, including their own bodies, and their understanding of the laws of the universe. Only God can create and only He can suspend the laws of the universe and perform miracles. God may use people as the instrument though which His miracles are performed, as when God used Moses to do miracles before Pharaoh and the people of Egypt.

As His people entered the Promised Land, Joshua told them how they could know that God was with them. “Here is how you shall know that the living God is among you” (Joshua 3:10 ESV). You will know when the ark, carried by twelve men, enters the Jordan River while at flood stage, and the water is stopped so they can cross without injury. God’s miracles are more evidence of God. Peter and the disciples, and many of the people who followed and listened to Jesus, saw His works and the miracles He did. They saw Him with their eyes and witnessed His divinity, declaring Him the “Son of God” (see Matthew 14:33, 16:16; John 1:49, 6:69, 11:27, 20:31). They saw the evidence of creation, the miracles performed, and the Person of Jesus. We can read about the eyewitness accounts of the miracles of God and the Person of Jesus but can also examine the evidence of creation. As such, we can know God is both living and active in the physical universe and in the spiritual realm.

God, Trinity

To those who are elect exiles … according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood.(1 Peter 1:1-2 ESV)

God is a mystery. Even though people are given the image of God so they might have an intimate relationship with Him, people are created and have limitations. God is not created and has no limitations. God has revealed Himself to people in both general and special creation. Peter refers to God as three persons in his opening statement. He speaks about the knowledge of God the Father, the work of the Holy Spirit and the government of God the Son, Jesus Christ. Scripture does not implicitly state God is a Trinity but does imply that God is Three in One.

In the beginning God created all things. We are told that His Spirit hovered over His creation. “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:2 ESV). Later, when God created Man in His image, He states “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26 ESV). God speaks of Himself in the plural. This is not the royal “we” but the eternal reality of God’s person. After Adam’s rebellion corrupted Man with sin, God gives the reason for removing those created in His image from the Garden and access to the tree of life. “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:22 ESV). Again, when people work together to build the tower of Babel, God watches what they are doing and makes a decision to confuse their speech. “Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech” (Genesis 11:7 ESV). In all cases God is speaking of Himself in a plural form, suggesting He is more than One person.

Scripture is filled with references to God the Father as the only God. Why is our understanding the Trinity important? Throughout Scripture, God declares He is the only god, that there are no others, and that none should declare any other god.

Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, you survivors of the nations! They have no knowledge who carry about their wooden idols, and keep on praying to a god that cannot save. Declare and present your case; let them take counsel together! Who told this long ago? Who declared it of old? Was it not I, the LORD? And there is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me. Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. (Isaiah 45:20-22 ESV)

Many people who declare themselves Christians treat God like He is three or more gods and not a single divine person. They say He is three but do not truly believe what they declare. They will treat God the Father, as the Old Testament god, and Jesus as the New Testament god, ignoring completely the Holy Spirit. They will declare Jesus as the Son of God but not believe He is God, the Son. Jesus is a man and thus cannot be completely God while the Holy Spirit is intangible and thus cannot be God.

God is not like people. People are like God. Perhaps the often-used illustration of water is the best way of comprehending what God’s being. Water has three forms: gas, liquid and solid, depending upon the temperature in which water is found. At high temperatures, water is a gas, but is still water. At normal temperatures, water is a liquid, but still water. At freezing temperatures, water is a solid, but still water. The molecule water remains the same while the density of the molecules varies because of temperature. God does not vary because of any physical or spiritual circumstance. God, the Father, is God, as is God, the Son and God the Holy Spirit. They are all a single God yet have three distinct persons. This is a mystery. Our spiritual selves comprehend God more and more as our relationship with Him grows in intimacy.

God has revealed Himself in the Scripture. All Three Persons of the Trinity are at work throughout Scripture. In the Hebrew Scripture, we see God the Father at work in the history of mankind. In the Gospels of the New Testament we see Jesus Christ, the Son of God, come to live as a man among sinful people to draw all to Himself. In the epistles and history of the Church we see the work of the Holy Spirit drawing those who are God’s toward Him and into eternity. In our lives we see the evidence of the Trinity working in our relationship with Him, drawing us into an eternal intimacy that begins at the moment of our redemption and salvation from sin.

Strangers in the World

Studies in First Peter

Conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile (sojourning) (1 Peter 1:17 ESV)

Peter’s second section of his epistle, in 1:13-2:10, shows the work of the Holy Spirit inside of each Christian making them ready for heaven through the three-part process of sanctification. Peter uses the word paroikos, a different word than used in 1:1, to show the kingdom of heaven on earth and the power of the Holy Spirit to set the Christian apart for holy service. A paroikos is a person from another kingdom who lives in a place for only a short time in order to accomplish a specific goal or purpose. They are citizens of God’s kingdom and are simply passing through the world to their true home.

Paroikos is the second Greek word Peter uses and is also translated exile but actually means a person who is stopping over or staying for a short period of time as they travel from once place to the next. They may be a businessman or even a tourist. “And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile (sojourn) (1Peter 1:17 ESV). Other writers of the New Testament use the same word in the same sense, referring to those who are simply traveling through a country for a short time, unlike the immigrant who will stay indefinitely.

During Paul’s first missionary journey, he traveled to various cities speaking to the local Jews and others who would listen. In Antioch of Pisidia, on the Sabbath, Paul gave those who were listening a history lesson about the nation of Israel. “The God of this people Israel chose our fathers and made the people great during their stay (dwelt as strangers, paroikia) in the land of Egypt, and with uplifted arm he led them out of it” (Acts 13:17 ESV). Stephen, before he was murdered, gave the history of Israel as part of his witness and defense of the gospel. “And God spoke to this effect—that his offspring would be sojourners (paroikos) in a land belonging to others, who would enslave them and afflict them four hundred years”  (Acts 7:6 ESV). Paul wrote to the Ephesians stating that where they had been estranged from God they were now able to live in His presence. “So then you are no longer strangers (xenos) and aliens (sojourners, paroikos), but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19 ESV).

Unlike the parapedemos, the alien immigrant, the paroikos, stranger,  has decided to be in the host country for a short, designated time. There is no thought of adopting the culture, language or identity of the visited country because they are not going to stay. They are a traveler, a tourist, a businessperson, who is only in the country to gain something the country has and then return to their own country. They may just be travelling through on their way to another place or on their way home. The may be visiting out of curiosity, for an experience. They may be on a business trip, to gain a product or a treaty. They are using the host country to meet their needs, wants or desires.

The Christian, not a citizen of this world, still lives in the world, and is extended rights and privileges commensurate with that standing.  Those who are reborn are no longer native-born citizens and therefore will not conform to the standards demanded by native-born citizens. The Christian is a foreigner, residing for a short time in a place not his home. God uses the world in which we live as a training ground for eternity, teaching us that which we need to know about Himself and His kingdom before He finally brings the Christian home. Christians are citizens of the kingdom of heaven in the world for only a short time. Life may seem long, but when compared with eternity, which is not constrained by time, is only a blip on the timeline of history.

Righteous Sacrifice

Meditations on the Psalms

Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the LORD. (Psalm 4:5 ESV)

Jesus speaks in the first person to those people who dishonor His name and who love vain words, lifting themselves up above God. They do not stand before God with awe, refusing to ponder their own actions and motivations. He told them to contemplate their position before God and to silence themselves and their self-centered thinking. Jesus does not ask them to do anything. He commands them, with an expectation of obedience.

He tells them to offer the sacrifices of righteousness, not just a right sacrifice. Offer and sacrifice are words so closely related they mean almost the same thing. Offer means to kill or slaughter. Sacrificemeans the thing being killed or slaughtered. Slaughter your sacrifice. Commit your sacrifice completely and wholly to God so that it can never be taken back.

We think of form and function when we say right. We want to be correct in what we do and how we act, according to our policy and procedure manuals. This is not what He means by a right sacrifice. Yes, God gave them detailed instructions about what kind of sacrifice, when and where to offer it, and how they were to honor Him with their sacrifices. God told them why they were to offer sacrifices. But He also told them the thinking of their hearts affected their sacrifice. Cain’s sacrifice was not accepted because he was angry. He tried to buy God’s favor, to control God, with a sacrifice, as those who give superstitious offering to an idol. “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it” (Genesis 4:6-7 ESV). Speaking through Isaiah, God is blunt about what He thinks of the offerings of a people who hate Him.

“What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the LORD; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats. When you come to appear before me, who has required of you this trampling of my courts? Bring no more vain offerings. … When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. (Isaiah 1:11-13,15-17 ESV)

When did an offering become a sacrifice? When Abel and Cain brought their offerings, they were gifts to God. Sacrifices are required. God uses both words in the Pentateuch when giving instructions on worshiping Him. Sacrifices are obligatory, while offerings are gifts. Every person offering a sacrifice does so under compunction of the law, caused by sin and circumstance, while the one giving an offering does so out of the gratitude of the thinking of the heart toward God.

There was only one righteous sacrifice slaughtered for God. All other offerings and sacrifices point to the One Sacrifice, when Jesus offered Himself as the propitiation, the covering, for the sin of all. Jesus tells those who would follow Him the cost of discipleship. “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27 ESV). Those who follow Jesus, who are citizens of the kingdom of heaven, abandon themselves to Him in complete devotion and offering. The identity of the Christian, those chosen by God, is complete. In God’s eyes, what He does the Christian does. The word appeal means to call or summon for encouragement or instruction.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2 ESV)

We know what we do is not always true to God as we live out our lives in the world. It is not what we do but what Christ has done for us.

Martha didn’t understand what Jesus could do yet still declared she believed Jesus was loved and known by God and that God would give Him whatever He asked. However, she did not believe He could bring life back to a dead body. Her brother Lazarus died. Jesus told her Lazarus would rise again. Martha’s response was “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day” (John 11:24 ESV). Jesus’ response to her is game changing.

“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26 ESV)

 Our lives are His. His life is given for us. Our identity is in Him. We slaughter ourselves as a righteous sacrifice to Him because He was slaughtered as a righteous sacrifice for us. Dying physically means nothing in the eternal scheme of things. Losing anything the world has to offer is of no consequence when we gain life in eternity.

You are the righteous sacrifice.