New Apostolic Church USA

A Gift to God

"Giving is Sacrifice" Part 1 of 2 from the 2020 Spring Vision Newsletter

What comes to your mind when you hear the word “sacrifice?” Do your thoughts go to the parents who give up their time, energy, and money to give their children a better upbringing than they had? Do you think about the men and women who serve in our armed forces? Are you reminded of the Old Testament and the story of Abraham and Isaac? Or, does the image of Jesus Christ on the cross appear before you? For as often as you eat this bread and drink this wine, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.

Whether we recognize it or not, we’ve been introduced to sacrifice in one way or the other. But the real question is, are you willing to sacrifice?

What is sacrifice?

Simply stated, to sacrifice is to offer something as a gift to God. But to be more specific to the intention of the Greek word, thysia, it means a physical sacrifice of oneself, your person, your entire being, for the glory of God. God’s mercy urges everyone to devote all aspects of life to Him.

For Christians, it’s important for us to note that sacrifice meant something different and served a distinct purpose in the days of the Old Testament and at the time of Jesus’ birth, than it did after His death on the cross. In the Old Testament, the people of God would sacrifice cattle, lambs, goats, doves, or pigeons for the specific purpose of paying for their sins. But that all changed with the incarnation of Jesus Christ, His death on the cross, and His resurrection. Because Jesus sacrificed His life as an atonement for sin, the need for God’s people to continually sacrifice animals was eradicated. The 10th chapter of Hebrews teaches us this. Consider the following verses: For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins… By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified (Hebrews 10:4, 10-14). Jesus’ sacrifice far surpasses all other sacrifices and serves as the source for every acceptable sacrifice today. His sacrifice fulfilled the promises made by God centuries before, and effectively restored the fellowship between the Creator and His people. Sin has been dealt with once and for all. The debt was paid. The power of sin, guilt, and shame was vanquished. The glory of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ will be praised forever.

That is why we should be continually thankful for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and realize that our sacrifices could never compare with His. Jesus’ sacrifice put the love of God on display for all to see. This is repeatedly made known to us in the Gospels and the epistles.

It is in recognition of and response to this great love that we find our willingness to sacrifice. Jesus’ sacrifice allows us the opportunity to surrender our lives to God in thanksgiving and recognition of His love. Our willingness to sacrifice is directly linked to the love we have for God and for people. Without that love, it’s impossible for us to offer a sacrifice that will be acceptable to God.

Consider the following from our Catechism: …a sacrifice in the Christian sense should not be considered an enforced obligation. Neither should it be made in expectation of reward, but rather freely out of faith, out of gratitude, and out of love (CNAC 13.2.3). If one sacrifices with such an attitude, it will never feel like a sacrifice, even if it requires great effort. Earnest believers do not think of it as a burden, but rather a joy, to engage their gifts and talents for the benefit of the congregation and their neighbor. If the willingness to offer and sacrifice is defined by love, the believer fulfils the will of God and acts in the mind of Jesus.

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