Date: October 7, 2018
Pastor Matthew Burt
Title: An Offering Holy and Acceptable
Text: Psalm 86, Ephesians 1:3-14
Wellspring Church Springfield, Ma.
SCRIPTURE: Hebrews 12: 28-29, Romans 12:1-2
28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:28-29
I appeal to you therefore, brothers,[a] by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.[b] 2 Do not be conformed to this world,[c]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
BIG IDEA: An Offering Holy and Acceptable
What we have been trying to do over these last 3 weeks is to explore the concept of idolatry. We have been trying to understand the false gods that claim our loyalty and dependence. We are told to offer worship with reverence and awe. We want to do this so we need to understand what false worship looks like. Last week we looked at the account of the disciples getting into the boat with Jesus and Jesus fell asleep and the storms came. They woke Jesus got up and He said hush and the wind stopped and they had a great fear. If we don’t see God as our everything then we will find ourselves fearing everything else.
In Romans we see two positive exhortations between a negative exhortation. This will take us at least two weeks to unpack. We see the words worship and acceptable. The word discern is better translated as prove.
Point 1: The Mercies of God
What Paul is doing here is moving from the Who and What of God has done – the imperative to the indicative. His exhortation is to urge or appeal to you brothers. Sometimes we get the idea that all the Holy Spirit does is to stand by us in times of pain but the word Paraclete also means encouragement. Paul is saying I beg you. He could have come and said I command you as an Apostle. But he comes with a gentleness and a tenderness and a sweetness and love for God’s people. Paul is speaking as a representative of our Lord Jesus Christ. He doesn’t come and say he is a spiritual father but he comes to them as brothers, equals, co-runners in this race.
Paul has earned the right to speak. He earned his stripes. He could come to these people and say I have more experience with God than any of you so listen to me. But he doesn’t. Paul says I beseech you.
Look at this man Paul:
Acts 20: 31 – Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears.
2 Corinthians 10:1 – I, Paul, myself entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am humble when face to face with you, but bold toward you when I am away!
Philippians 1:9 – And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment,
Colossians 1:9 – And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,
Ephesians 1:16 – I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers,
1 Thessalonians 1:7 – we were gentle among you
2 Timothy 2:24, 4:2 – And the Lord’s servant[a] must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
We get a picture of who Paul is when he says I beseech you my brothers. This is the Paul who is exhorting his brothers. I urge because I love you and care for you. He is following the example of Jesus. What a wonderful model for us if we seek to exhort anyone to turn from sin.
There is a story of a man who asked a pastor what he preached on. The pastor replied that he had preached on hell and the wrath of God. The man said I hope you did it with tears. What a difference this would make to children if parents came with tears to their disobedience.
Paul says he appeals according to the mercies of God – not fear of God’s punishment or wrath but mercies in the plural. Why would he say this? The mercy of God is not a singular event in your life. His mercies are new every morning. Paul is appealing to his people to see the many mercies God has shown them. We can also say that mercies is meant to intensify any mercy that God has shown to them. It’s an extraordinary marvelous mercy.
We know that mercy is that good thing that we receive at the hand of God that we don’t deserve. It’s a gift. It’s a favor that we haven’t earned. This is hard for us because we live in a culture that tells us we deserve many things. That’s not what scripture tells us. Every good we have is a mercy of God.
Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
the wormwood and the gall!
20 My soul continually remembers it
and is bowed down within me.
21 But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;[a]
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
What are His mercies in your life?
- Your sleep last night was a mercy you didn’t deserve. Any minute of sleep is a gift from God. If you had a good night sleep then you have a greater mercy.
- The fact that you got up this morning is a mercy and put your feet on the floor and got up.
- The entirety of my life
- The entirety of my mental acuity
- My health is a mercy
- My food, my clothes, my comforts, my children are mercies
Paul says I beseech you by the mercies of God. As we go through the list, we might be looking from the wrong direction. We look more at what we don’t have than what we do have. It was a mercy of God that you were born in the United States of America. It may not seem it, but it is. You don’t deserve to live here. There has been a recent cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe – hundreds of people are dying. It is so easy for us to ignore the mercies of God. A good utility company is a mercy of God. To look in the wrong direction is to experience frustration with some of the problems with our current church building. It has been mercy of God to be in this building for the past 9 years. But we pay a small rent and it is dry and out of the wind and the city takes care of the maintenance. He has given us a place and a country where the truth can be heard. If we overlook the mercies of God, we sometimes look at the now and say where is God’s mercy in all this. He saves us from ourselves! We are covered and undergirded with His mercies in many many ways. So when we come to the painful times in our lives we need to say that this is a mercy. We are so quick to quote Romans 8:28 as if God has the ability to make good out of our troubles. This can not be what He meant. Look at Joseph who comes to the end of a long and painful experience. His brothers sold him, he was put in prison for some 7 years and when he comes to the end of his life he says; What you meant as evil God meant for good. So we need to say thank you for your mercy – we don’t see it now – all I see is a cloud of trouble right now.
But that’s not what Paul is completely talking about. These plural mercies of God are nothing less than the work of Christ. The plan of salvation. The morally perfect life of Christ. We can’t pass by this too quickly. It doesn’t mean that Jesus was merely a man who lived a good life. No this holy perfect Jesus never bowed to a false god, never dishonored God, never disobeyed his parents, never showed disrespect. He kept the Sabbath. He who created the day, obeyed it. Never did he murder in word or thought. We see him restoring life. Never did he lust after a woman or steal or shade the truth even though he was tempted personally by the devil at a time of abject weakness, yet without sin. You have been tempted in times of strength, in times of weakness and too many times you have given into it. We have done every single thing prohibited in the moral law of God. We have broken every one of the 10 commandments many times. Our disobedience is conscious and unconscious; out of knowledge or out of ignorance. None of our heroes are without a defect. Jesus has nothing in his life that could be called sin whatsoever.
Now if Jesus only came into this world to show us how to live and if he only came to call us to follow His example, then there would not be a report or a big deal made of the fact that He died. If Jesus had lived a perfect life, He would not have died because death is a result of sin. When there is death, it says to everyone around there is sin here. But indeed He did die – horribly, unjustly. Why? Because of the mercy of God; that’s why He died. He died so we could live. I urge you by the mercies of God says Paul. All that Jesus was has been for those who take it, transferred to us and all that we are in our disobedience has been transferred to Him. That’s God’s mercy. But death couldn’t hold Him because of His perfection.
Paul says based on the mercies of God ….
It’s more than this. The mercy of God in Romans:
Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? Romans 2:4
Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. Romans 11:22
What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, Romans 9:22
and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. 6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:5-8
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? Romans 8:35
nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:39
and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, Romans 3:24
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith[b] into this grace in which we stand, and we[c] rejoice[d] in hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:1-2
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! Romans 11:33
His mercies are kindness, wisdom, patience, grace.
This is why we have mercies and not just mercy. John Calvin wrote in his commentary, “Paul’s entreaty teaches us that men will never worship God with a sincere heart, or be roused to fear and obey him with sufficient zeal, until the properly understand how much they are indebted to him”!
If you have not considered the mercies of God, PB implores us to take time to do so. This is why it’s important for us to hear the law regularly. It is important for us to remember what we have been saved from.
Then Paul asks them to present their bodies as a living sacrifice, be transformed. What a gift we have been given. Consider often and intentionally and gratefully the mercies of God in your life. Put an end to the life that is hardened and grumbling. His loving kindness never ceases. If you don’t know Christ Jesus as savior, come to Him today. Unless you have the mercies of Christ you are condemned to a place of eternal suffering. That we have the opportunity to escape that is because of His mercy.