May 4, 2015
This Week’s Study
This coming Sunday, our text will be from Hebrews 13:7-19. In this portion of Hebrews, the writer describes a new way of life defined by the New Covenant, which can be described with one word–sacrifice. Learn about the three sacrifices that Hebrews tells us are “pleasing to God.” May the Lord richly bless you as you spend time in His Word and prayerfully consider what the Spirit is teaching you.
This Week’s R2R Distinctive | What Is This?
Biblical Community (Acts 2:44-47): I fellowship with other believers in a small group to accomplish God’s purposes in my life, others’ lives, and in the world.
A New Way of Life
This week our focus is on how to live our life as believers in Jesus Christ. As we have studied Hebrews, one thing is certain–the Old Covenant described a way of life. It described and prescribed in detail how God’s people should live, work, eat, worship, relate to one another, relate to leaders, deal with law breakers, etc. Throughout this epistle, the writer to the Hebrews has driven home one point–the Old Covenant has been fulfilled and replaced by Jesus Christ.
This does not mean, however, that the Old Covenant rules were replaced by our own rules, that we have become a self-governing people free to live our life any way we please. Unfortunately, this is how grace is often interpreted, especially by we Americans, where the right of self determination is inbred into our national DNA. We bristle at words like submission, humility, and obedience. If there is an American Anthem that summarizes the national spirit of the American people, it is Frank Sinatra’s My Way. In this song, he states,
I planned each charted course
Each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way.
For what is a man what has he got
If not himself then he has not
To say the things he truly feels
And not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows
And did it my way.
That is the American Anthem, but it is not the Christian Anthem. In this week’s text, the writer to the Hebrews tells us the qualities that describe the Christian way of life, and, not surprisingly, the Christian way of life can be summarized with one word–sacrifice.
John Piper identifies three sacrifices that must be exhibited in the life of a true follower of Jesus Christ. This way of life is described in Hebrews 13:13-16:
- The Sacrifice of Suffering–“Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come” (vs. 13-14). This is the priority of getting outside the safety of our camp and being inconvenienced, and perhaps even suffering, to make Christ known.
- The Sacrifice of Praise–“Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name” (v. 14). This is the priority of praise, or worship.
- The Sacrifice of a Shared Life–“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God” (v. 16). This is the priority of generosity and sharing and ministering to each other.
How do we fulfill this way of life? In the Old Covenant, the Lord provided an exact prescription that proved to be impossible to live. This is because under the Law, obedience was a work of the flesh. In the New Covenant, we please God not through a work of the flesh, but through the Spirit. Paul summarizes this way of life in Galatians 5:16-18: “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”
As you study and meditate on this week’s text, ask the Spirit to reveal to you how to live your life in a way that is pleasing to the Lord. Remember, if there is one word that describes the Christian life, it is sacrifice. We are God’s children because of the Sacrifice Jesus made on the Cross. Hebrews 13 refers to “another altar” (v. 10), and this altar for the Christian is found on a hill outside Jerusalem called Calvary. It is here that the Lord Jesus offered the sacrifice of his blood that paid the penalty for our sin. We are His because of this Sacrifice. May we now live our lives as a sacrifice of suffering, praise, and shared life, “for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”–Chris Eller