When we contemplate the attributes of God, his might and power and creator and glory, it is amazing that we can even think about having a personal relationship with Him. The people of the old testament took these attributes far more to heart than we do, today. They knew reverence for God and while they desired to see Him directly, they also shook in fear when they heard the rumbling of His mountaintop presence and fell to their knees and face.
God did not decrease in His attributes. He is immutable, He doesn’t change. But the death and resurrection of Jesus tore down the curtain of separation and allows us, in Christ, to be in communion with our creator and Father and friend. It is an unimaginable relationship and it is one that is impossible save for the mercy of God.
In the first sentence of Romans 12, Paul addresses this fact. He urges, he directs, he encourages, he implores the believers in Rome (and us via proxy) to participate in “true and proper worship” with God.
How are we to do this? Paul, knowing His audience, calls on what they know – the sacrifices of the law – as the example, but with a new twist to reflect the new state. When we think of the sacrifices of the law, they were things, the best things, that were fully and completely given over to God. When a Jew brought a bull or a lamb or a bird to be sacrificed, it was all in, fully given and fully consumed. They were not leaving with a t-bone or lambchops. This was fully and completely given over to God. In the same way, Paul explains that communion with God is based on fully and completely giving over our lives to Him. The payment of death is has been fulfilled. Christ paid the price. But, we still have a hunger to see and know and commune directly with God through worship. We want that connection through Jesus.
We do that by fully connecting with God. Jesus is our port, our outlet, our connector, that has, through mercy, given us the ability to connect in a way that was not available to the patriarchs of the old testament. We don’t connect through death, we connect through life in Christ.
Unlike salvation, this connecting is a day by day, moment by moment thing. When we accept the gift of Jesus, we are sealed by the Holy Spirit, but God gives us the free will every minute to commune with Him or to pull the plug and go off on our own. He doesn’t hold us hostage, but accepts us as His children. To make it easier to stay connected to Him each day, He shows us His mercy each day. Lamentations 3:22-23 says, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” You may remember the old Hymn, “morning by morning, new mercies I see” based on these verses. Every morning God shows us new mercy so that every day we can choose to stay connected with Him, for Him, through Christ.
9:15 I will have mercy on whom I have mercy and compassion on whom I have compassion
9:23 riches of His glory known to the objects of His mercy, whom He prepared in advance for glory
2: because of His love, God rich in mercy made us alive w/Christ, by grace you have been saved
1:3 In his great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the rez of Jesus Christ
Innumerable – the time and location of life, the blessings of family and church and work, the gift of education and knowledge and Godly mentors and friends
Sacrifice is to give something fully and completely for the glory of God. The old testament was a sacrifice of death. The one Paul discusses is a living sacrifice.
Lev: day of atonement
Heb: Christ’s Sacrifice once for all
Rom: We participate in Christ: baptized into His death, buried and raised from the dead through glory
tithing of time, service to others, teaching and preaching. Some serve in dangerous lands or put themselves in harms way for the spreading of the gospel or to serve others