Home Bible Study ©
Established November 2008
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
(2 Timothy 2:15)
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1Timothy 2:3-4
I’m grateful for God’s gift of another day, and I’m grateful for each one of you.
I thank you for the enthusiasm you have shown in gaining knowledge of the truth.
Studies have shown that people are not happier living busier lives – cramming more and more things to do into their daily schedule. The population is taking more and more prescriptive medications to combat depression, loneliness, alienation, and stress than ever before which proves that plan A isn’t working. It’s essential that people re-evaluate what’s really important and be intentional about “slowing down” and learning to savor the life God has given them.
We spend our lives hurrying through each day, meeting one commitment and then rushing off to meet another; racing the clock along the way. Let’s face the facts we don’t savor one moment, one hour, or the day God has given us. Because we’re too busy we fail to notice the beauty God brings into our lives everyday such as: the warmth in a stranger’s smile, the sound of children’s laughter, a field of sunflowers, a song bird in its nest, or the crimson and purple sunset.
Believe me when I say Satan wants to keep you busy, too busy to be occupied with thoughts of God or the things of God… So practice being still. Learn to create pockets of quietness. Turn off the cell phone, the music, the T.V. set or anything else that might cause a disturbance in order to carve out 20-30 minutes of silence either in the morning or in the evening and spend that time with God and His Word. He tells us that our strength comes from quietness and rest and not from activity (Isaiah 30:15).
Let’s start this week’s Bible lesson. Please open your Bible at Romans 12:1
Many pastors and Bible teachers refer to Romans as a “Gold Mine of biblical treasure” and for good reason: the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the benefits of justification, and the riches of God’s Grace, no condemnation in Christ Jesus, no separation from Christ Jesus, and the adoption as sons and daughters are but a few of the Church Doctrines Paul teaches.
So, Romans is loaded with “spiritual nuggets,” as I like to refer to them, and I’d be remiss if I moved on without examining at least one more important doctrine located in verse one which pertains to our reasonable service. Let’s read it again together.
1: 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.
This week we’re looking at the word service. The Greek word for service is: Latreia (pronounced: lat-ri’ah). It means – the service and worship of God according to the requirements of the Levitical law. This word could just as well be translated “worship.”
I’ll illustrate: most of you have driven past a church at one time or another. When you drove by, you may have noticed their sign out front advertising their “business hours.” The sign might have read: “Sunday Service at 11:00 A.M.” This sign could just as well have read, “Our worship of God begins at 11:00 A.M.” The messages are identical.
The word “worship” is derived from an old English word “worthship” and means to attribute worth to God, to consider Him as worthy of the ultimate value in our lives, and then in some way express that sense of worth and value to Him. (Exodus 20:3-6)
When you stop to consider that the Creator God’s worth is infinite and we can never give back enough - this Truth leads us to understand its biblical definition, which is a new life in Christ Jesus given in service (worship) to God – here on earth.
If you’ll turn with me to Revelation 5:14, Scripture gives us a “glimpse” of what life and worship will be like in heaven: Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.”
This is descriptive of what “worship” will be like in heaven, but how should we be worshiping God today, here on earth? The Bible provides the answer.
Paul uses the same word, “service,” several times in his letter to the Hebrews: The first (covenant) therefore also indeed had ordinances of (divine) service, and the sanctuary, a worldly (earthly) one. (Hebrews 9:1 - The Darby Bible)
The LORD God ordained the ordinances of worship under the Law of Moses for the people of Israel describing how and where this was to be done. The earthly sanctuary spoken of in Hebrews 9:1 refers to the Tabernacle in the Wilderness and then later to the Jewish Temple which stood in the very center of Jerusalem, where the worship of Israel was continuously carried out (Hebrews 9:2-5).
Paul then goes on to describe the worship or service that God commanded for Israel and the personnel who were required to perform the worship (Hebrews 9:6-7).
It was a complicated and burdensome religious system, but all things being considered what a privilege! The LORD God in effect told His people I want to have fellowship with you. Then He provided access, a way, in which they could enter into His presence to fellowship with Him. Of course, this fellowship was extremely limited; only the High Priest could enter into the Holy of Holies and this happened only once a year to make atonement for their sins, but it was access to the Creator God and it was “divine worship” or service.
Our Acceptable Service
In all of this, God has taught us there is a right way to worship Him, which means there’s a way that’s unacceptable. This Bible Truth brings two absolutes in Scripture into play. The first one is found in Hebrews 9:22b: and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. The other one is located at Hebrews 11:6a: And without faith (taking God at His Word; every time) it is impossible to please Him
Using the Law of First Mention, and turning to the book of Genesis, we find the very first “unacceptable” offering (act of worship) to the LORD: So it came about in the course of time that Cain (Adam’s first born) brought an offering to the LORD of (what) the fruit of the ground. (Genesis 4:3)
Adam’s youngest son, Abel, in obedience to the Lord’s command also brought an offering but note the difference: Abel, on his part, also brought of the firstlings (the firstborn) of his flock and of their fat portions. (Genesis 4:4a)
One of the first things we learn from this is that:
Cain was a farmer: he worked the land and harvested its reward.
Abel was a herdsman: he owned sheep and bred them.
The Lord responded differently to these offerings:
Abel: And the LORD had (what) regard for Abel and for his offering; (Genesis 4:4b)
Cain: but for Cain and for his offering He (the LORD) had no regard. (Genesis 5a)
Cain became very angry and his countenance fell, after the LORD rejected his offering (Genesis 4:5b). This is significant as it reflects the viewpoint of prideful man to this day.
The LORD lovingly spoke to Cain expressing the way to please Him saying if you would listen to Me and do what I tell you to do, then I’d accept you and your offering: “If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” (Genesis 4:6-7)
Why did the LORD accept Abel’s offering but regard Cain’s offering as unacceptable?
Please turn to Hebrews 11:4: By (what) faith (which is taking God at His Word) Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still (does what) speaks.
Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain – this is the key that unlocks the answer to the above question. Now I admit you have to know Scripture because the first animals to be sacrificed for man’s sin aren’t specifically named; it’s subtle: The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them. (Genesis 3:21)
Animals were slain, their blood was shed for Adam’s sin, and so these garments of skin were more than just clothing for our first parents they represented temporary atoning blood.
As I said, it’s not specifically mentioned here but it becomes obvious when you study Scripture two important and distinct facts came into play immediately after Adam’s sin. The LORD God had explained to Adam that in order to maintain fellowship with Him and to remain in “right standing” with Him a blood sacrifice would be required in the course of time for their sins. But above all faith in what He said was absolutely essential. There was to be no deviation from His set ordinance.
Obviously, Adam passed this vital information on to his children. Cain and Abel may not have understood all there was to know about this subject but we know Abel was a man of faith (he took God at His Word) because he brought the proper sacrifice to the LORD, and He accepted it.
As for his brother Cain: So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the LORD of (what) the fruit of the ground. We don’t know what Cain’s offering was. It could have been a bundle of wheat, barley, or a basket of corn, but it wasn’t the appropriate sacrifice. Fruit of the ground doesn’t shed blood.
Cain disobeyed the LORD’s command. This is why the LORD didn’t accept Cain’s offering. Cain’s willful disobedience demonstrated that he was self-willed and that he was destitute of faith.
This describes most of the world today. When people are introduced to the Truth of God’s Word and shown to be sinners in Light of it how do they respond? They too become angry and instead of trusting in what God has said in His Word they say, “No God” or they develop their own plan to please Him as did Cain demonstrating that they too are obstinate and destitute of faith.
So, if we want God to accept our worship of Him then we need to find out from God how He wants us to worship Him in the but now era or the Dispensation of Grace.
Our Reasonable Service (Part 1)
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. (KJV)
The twelfth chapter of Romans is filled with more commands from our risen Lord on the practical aspects of living our new life in Christ Jesus than any other chapter in the N.T. It’s noteworthy that the first principle Paul chooses to deal with is “worship” for both the Gentiles and the believing Israelites in this assembly. He presents it first because it is Priority One in their lives as it should be in ours.
Please don’t fail to notice the dispensational emphasis of Romans 12:1. When Paul writes, “I beseech you by the mercies of God,” he’s not referring to the mercy of the Lord in general, but to the specific mercy that he wrote about in the previous chapter.
For just as you (Gentiles) once were disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy because of their (Israel’s) disobedience, so these (the Jews) also now have been disobedient, that because of the mercy shown to you they also may now be shown mercy. (Romans 11:30-31)
In times past, Israel had fellowship with the LORD God while the Gentiles were far off, without God, and without hope in the world. (Ephesians 2:12) But now due to Israel’s disobedience the Gentiles have obtained God’s mercy.
Jesus Christ, the Messiah, had come to His own in fulfillment of the promises made to the fathers (Romans 15:8), but the Israelites had rejected Him and they along with the Gentiles conspired to put Him to death (Psalms 2:1-3). Still, our Lord and Savior prayed, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” In the early chapters of the Book of Acts we read how the Holy Spirit preached forgiveness to the nation of Israel, if they would repent and believe in the risen and ascended Messiah. But again Israel was disobedient and rebellious persecuting the apostles and the Messianic Believers culminating with the stoning of Stephen, a man filled with the Holy Spirit.
This act of disobedience by Israel prompted God to temporarily blind His people (Rom. 11:15) and He raised up a new apostle, Paul, the zealous persecutor of God’s church, the first person to be saved by grace (alone), and revealed to him a previously withheld secret program, “the dispensation of the grace of God” (Eph. 3:1-10).
Because of Israel’s disobedience, mercy has been shown to the Gentiles, but the Jew is also blessed in that they too are now being saved by the grace of God through faith in the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ for their sins.
“I beseech you therefore brethren by the mercies of God….” Paul is writing in the light of the dispensational change that the Lord had revealed to him. The Gentiles who were once far off, not allowed to enter any further than the “vestibule” of the Temple, these Gentiles, saved by grace, now are invited to worship God. But please note carefully how they were to worship the Lord. Not by imitating Israel’s worship, not by building a temple, not even by going to the temple in Jerusalem (it was still standing and operating when Paul wrote this letter to the Romans), but by “presenting your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable worship.”
There has been a definite dispensational change in God’s plan for acceptable worship; and it’s profound. It once required all those complicated necessities for acceptable worship: a temple building, with furniture, relics, the priesthood, an altar, and animal sacrifices according to the calendar and the appropriate Feast Days, but now all that is changed. God no longer has a temple building of stone and wood. In this new dispensation of the grace of God, the temple of God is the Believer’s body!
“…your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you” (1 Cor. 6:19).
That is just the beginning of the changes. Today we worship God, not by going to a building (after all, we are God’s building; we’re God’s Temple), making use of certain implements, the appropriate personnel, by observing a certain ritual and by observing certain feast days; our worship begins by presenting your bodies a living sacrifice…
Then when Paul writes “…which is your reasonable service,” underline the word “your” for emphasis. Israel’s acceptable worship was at the Temple in Jerusalem, performing the prescribed ritual, as God ordained it, but Paul writes, “Your worship, the worship God has commanded for the members of the Body of Christ, in this Dispensation of Grace, is to present your bodies as a living sacrifice.
We’ll pick it up here next week.
(To be continued)
© Copyright 2011
GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
All Rights Reserved