The idea of the sacrifice is basic to all religions. The explanation for this lies in the fact that all men are religious and, therefore, they sacrifice out of the necessity of their nature. For the sake of definition we point out that the word sacrifice indicates that which is available for common use is set apart for the worship and glorification of some deity. The word offering looks at this object from the viewpoint of its being presented by the subject of the honored deity. In proof of the fact that all men sacrifice we point out that even the ungodly reprobate comes before the Lord as his father Cain with his arms laden with all manner of the fruit of his toil, his grains and monies. This is how he attempts to placate the wrath of the Holy God and so to obtain favor.
But, in contrast to the previous, there is tins sacrifice of the faithful believer of God. And Scripture reveals to us not only the proper way of approach to God, but it also reveals the names of many who have so sacrificed. For example, we read of Abel who by faith brought his bloody sacrifice and of the miracle of grace, “And the Lord had respect unto Abel and his offering” (Gen. 4:4b). This is die beginning of the Scriptural revelation concerning the practice of the church in history with regard to its worship. Later we read in great detail of how Israel, after it had become the official people of God in the world, was to worship God with all the tabernacle ritual and ceremony.
Nevertheless, through a passage such as Psalm 51:17 we see that this ceremony and ritual was not merely external for “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” This speaks to us of the subjective reformation which the Holy Spirit works in the hearts of believers. And this is necessary before the believer can have communion with Jehovah.
Yet it is just this truth which, if comprehended, gives evidence of the antithesis among men. For not all men have such a broken spirit and this produces a ferocious warfare in the world. The world stands over against the church as Cain stood against Abel. Yet again there is another cleavage which produces an even more bitter battle and that is the war for truth in the midst of the historical manifestation of the church. This warfare within the church is manifested in the offerings which she brings before the Lord. The prophet Malachi rebukes those who of Israel offer polluted bread and animals which are blind, lame and sick. (Therefore being useless for profit.) The Lord indicated the terrible folly of Israel by pointing out the fact that even a human governor would not receive such a worthless “sacrifice.” And the divine condemnation against this policy is “I have no pleasure in you, saith the Lord of hosts, neither will I accept an offering at your hand” (Mai. 1:10b).
Now in the New Dispensation we understand that Jesus Christ is the end and epitomy of all bloody sacrifices. He is THE sacrifice of God and therefore He alone placated the wrath of God against His people. Yet within the church historical there are many who would enter the Holy place through another door than that which God has put there. These are those who have not learned to look outside themselves for their entire salvation, and we may add they abound on every side.
In contradiction to such we who are regenerated by the Spirit of Christ have learned to cry “Father.” Through our Lord Jesus Christ we now seek to give a pure offering of praise and thus we seek to obey the admonition “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. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Horn. 12:1, 2).
That, O young people, is our calling and the calling of the whole church in the present time, for it is necessary that the people of God walk in a way of spiritual warfare against evil and of resistance of the flesh. This is especially true today as it is so easy to labor for the ungodly mammon and the pleasures which such implies and so to sacrifice some of that — if the cost is not to great. And again it is true in a special sense because it has become so difficult to account all things as loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ. It is because of this, O young people, that grace is necessary for us to say truthfully “We are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day” (I Cor. 4:13b). This is our heritage as heirs of the kingdom of heaven. This is our heritage as children of the deformation. This is our heritage as members of the Protestant Reformed churches.
But you will say this is true only in principle and further we see so little of that as the youth of the church pursue all the vanities of the flesh, the carnal things, and the things that perish! Yet we do not despair or lose hope, no, for, on the contrary, this causes the saints to boast increasingly in the power of Cod and of His faithfulness to His covenant “For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed” (Mai. 3:6). Therefore, resting on such a firm foundation we look for the day of final fulfillment when in the new heavens and earth we shall stand in the Presence of Cod as the perfected church of Christ offering undefiled praise. This, O young people, we seek to do by the sovereign grace of our God.