WHO NEEDED THE SACRIFICE
by Wayne Jacobsen - He Loves Me!
"Church! Why would I ever go there? I was already feeling terrible about myself. They'd just make me feel worse!"
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).
(A prostitute from Chicago as quoted by Philip Yancey in What's So Amazing About Grace?)
Am I the only one who didn't think this Scripture was such great news the first time I heard it? Yes, I know it speaks of an incredible gift God gave so that we would not have to perish for our sins. For us, it is undoubtedly a great thing. But what does it say about God?
When I heard this in Sunday School as a child, my first response was, "If he loved us so much, why didn't he do it himself?" Admittedly I might have been influenced by the chores I had to do at home: For Dad so loved a well-kept yard that he
sent me out to mow it. Dad so loved his vineyard, that he sent me to work in it. Dad so loved an ice-cold Pepsi, that he sent me to the refrigerator to get it for him.
So why didn't God himself appear in human flesh and submit himself to the most painful and humiliating death imaginable? No, he sent the Son instead; or so I used to think. And my confusion didn't end there. While I was grateful for the salvation he provided, I had some concerns about God because of the way he provided it.
What kind of Father satisfies his need for justice by the death of his own Son? Couldn't he have just forgiven us without taking it out on an innocent victim? If someone wrongs me and the only way I could satisfy my anger was to punish someone else as the means to forgive them, what does that say about me?
If the cross served God's need to be appeased by a human sacrifice, especially that of his own Son, we are left with a host of disturbing questions. Raise them with others, and most will escape answering them by claiming that God's demand for justice is beyond our comprehension. But I am convinced the dissonant perspectives about God that result from an appeasement based view of the cross, cause many to shy away from the intimate relationship he seeks with us.
Instead the unanswerable questions should invite us to reconsider our distorted view of the cross. Since Adam's fall we have come to picture God not as a loving Father inviting us to trust him, but an exacting sovereign who must be appeased. When we start from that vantage point we miss God's purpose on the cross. For his plan was not to satisfy some need in himself at his Son's expense, but rather to satisfy a need in us at his own expense.
Living by appeasement is a frightful game, especially when you play it with the all-knowing, Almighty God. Though I don't believe for a moment that God plays it, many of us were taught that he does and, thus, we alternate between trying to do enough to please him or trying to hide from him when we realize we can't.
The moment Adam and Even ate the fruit, their eyes were
opened to see good and evil. The first evil they saw was in themselves. Though they had been naked since they were created, now they were aware of their nakedness and sought a cover-up for their shame.
Evidently what they first saw big enough to cover them were fig leaves. They plucked a few, sewed them together and slipped them on. I cringe at the thought. I've been in fig orchards and know how prickly and itchy those leaves are. As material for underwear it was a poor choice indeed, as are most of the ways we try to cover for ourselves.
But the real price of their shame is seen a short while later as God revealed himself again in the Garden. Instead of feeling safe with him, they felt compelled to run and hide. Notice that God neither hid from them nor was he angry at their disobedience. Instead he just showed up to be with them. They were the ones cowering in shame hoping the bushes would cover what the fig leaves couldn't.
As God came closer they told him of their shame and their failure. In doing so, they still sought cover. Adam blamed Eve; "the woman… gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it." No wonder they felt unsafe in their nakedness. They were. He turned on her to justify himself, using blame for the same purpose he had used fig leaves.
Adam's blame doesn't stop at Eve. It is not just the woman who tripped him up, but "the woman you put here with me." Adam even tried to pass some of the responsibility onto God. When God turns his attention to Eve, she blames the serpent's deception.
The creation was stained, and God parceled out the consequences of that failure. Already spiritually dead in the relational brokenness that resulted, their future physical death would follow. God threw them out of his Garden, not wanting them to eat from the Tree of Life and live forever in that sinful condition. By preserving eternity in holiness, God prepared a safe haven for their eventual rescue. "The soul that sins shall die," is a proclamation of mercy, not anger. It means that sin must have an end; and we an opportunity to regain what we forfeited.
TERMS OF APPEASEMENT
Their failure had profound consequences in the creation and in their relationship to their Creator. He could no longer be the friend who walked with them in the Garden, because their own sense of shame would cause them to cower whenever he approached.
Knowing good and evil didn't provide the joy Adam and Eve thought it would. Because they came to know good and evil outside of their trust in God, they had no power to resist evil and choose the good. They, and all generations after them, have found themselves captive to evil passions, with its destructive consequences and overwhelming sense of shame.
When God did make himself known, even the most righteous people fell on their faces, overwhelmed by their own unworthiness. The friendship he desired with his creation was thwarted. Instead of seeking his friendship, people only thought to appease him—doing enough good to somehow stay in his favor. The Creator had become someone to avoid not to embrace.
This shame so permeates our nature that this appeasement-based approach even emerged in every false religion humanity devised. From the earliest tribal attempts to appease the "gods of the earth" or the "god of rain" to more sophisticated religious systems with idolatry and tradition, the objective was always the same. What can we do to appease the wrath of the gods and find their favor?
He loves me, He loves me not.
Good times led to complacency and bad times to even greater rituals of repentant prayers, sacrificial offerings and good deeds. Their offerings started with small gestures of fruits or grain, but increasingly difficult times demanded ever-greater gifts. Soon animals were sacrificed, and in many cultures throughout the world eventually human sacrifice became the ultimate expression of commitment to their conception of god.
But this is not how the true God wanted to be known.
I WILL PROVIDE MY OWN
If you go to Tel Meggido in Israel today you can stand on
an overlook and view an altar used to sacrifice first-born male children to the gods of the Canaanites. Your guide would tell you that that very altar was in use when Abraham came unto the Promised Land. They thought they could appease their false gods with such sacrifices.
Thus it was not so incredible for Abraham when the God who had touched his life had asked him to sacrifice his only son. All the other gods in Canaan did it, why not his? But this God was not a false god like the others interested in human sacrifice. This was the true and living God. He was going to reveal himself to Abraham and wanted him to know this God had nothing in common with Molech, Baal, or Asherah.
At God's word, Abraham took his son—a treasure born in his old age—and set out for Mt. Moriah. As they got close to the mountain, Isaac noticed that they had no sacrifice. "The fire and wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?"
It appears that Abraham's response was less a brilliant insight into God's nature than it was a deflection to stave off the curiosity of his son. He nonetheless spoke prophetically the lesson God wanted to show him. "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son."
Only later, after his son lay tied to the altar and Abraham lifted the knife to plunge it into his son, did he see just how prophetic his words were. "Abraham! Abraham! Do not lay a hand on the boy . . . Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son" (Genesis 22:12).
Abraham had faced the ultimate test in trusting his God. He discovered that God never wanted his son as a sacrifice at all. After God pointed out to Abraham a ram nearby caught in the bushes, he offered it in Isaac's place. Abraham declared that place "The Lord Will Provide" (Jehovah-jireh), understanding that his earlier words had proved more true than he could have imagined.
God drew a line that separated him from all the false gods men have ever created. The false gods demanded sacrifices for their own appeasement. This God would provide the sacrifice we needed that could finally cover our shame and allow us to
know him as he really is.
At Mt. Moriah God foreshadowed to Abraham what he would literally accomplish some three thousand years later on another hill not far away called Golgotha. It would not be the appeasement of an angry God by any sacrifice we could give, but an act of a loving God to sacrifice himself for those who were held captive in sin.
Far from being a blood-thirsty Sovereign demanding sacrifice to satiate his need for vengeance, the Living God spends himself to bring back the banished son or daughter. He did not need a sacrifice to love us, for he already did.
We needed a sacrifice for our shame so that we would be free to love him again. At the cross, God provided the undeniable proof of just how much he loves us. For those who understand that, it opens the door for us to do what Adam and Eve could not do that fateful day in the Garden—entrust our lives totally to the Living God.
"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.
For your personal journey
Can you recognize the effects of shame in your own life? What effort will you expend to make yourself look better to others, to yourself, or even to God? In your relationship with God do you think more of what you have to do for him or what he has already done for you? Ask him to show you how appeasement thinking distorts your relationship with him and ask him to free you from it so that you can participate in what he wants to do in you.
by Andrew Murray - Absolute Surrender
"And Ben-hadad the king of Syria gathered all his host together: and there were thirty and two kings with him, and horses, and chariots: and he went up and besieged Samaria, and warred against it. And he sent messengers to Ahab king of Israel into the city, and said unto him, Thus saith Ben-hadad, Thy silver and thy gold is mine; thy wives also and thy children, even the goodliest, are mine. And the king of
Israel answered and said, My lord, O king, according to thy saying, I am thine and all that I have"
(1 Ki. 20:1-4).
What Ben Hadad asked was absolute surrender
; and what Ahab gave was what was asked of him - absolute surrender
. I want to use these words: "My lord, O king, according to thy saying, I am thine, and all that I have," as the words of absolute surrender with which every child of God ought to yield himself to his Father. We have heard it before, but
we need to hear it very definitely - the condition of God's blessing is absolute surrender of all into His hands. Praise God! If our hearts are willing for that, there is no end to what God will do for us, and to the blessing God will bestow.
- let me tell you where I got those words. I used them myself often, and you have heard them numberless times. But in Scotland once I was in a company where we were talking about the condition of Christ's Church, and what the great need of the Church and of believers is; and there was in our company a godly
worker who has much to do in training workers, and I asked him what he would say was the great need of the Church, and the message that ought to be preached. He answered very quietly and simply and determinedly:
"Absolute surrender to God is the one thing."
The words struck me as never before. And that man began to tell how, in the workers with whom he had to deal, he finds that if they are sound on that point, even though they be backward, they are willing to be taught and helped, and they always improve; whereas others who are not sound there very often go back and leave the work. The condition for obtaining God's full blessing is
And now, I desire by God's grace to give to you this message - that your God in Heaven answers the prayers which you have offered for blessing on yourselves and for blessing on those around you by this one demand: Are you willing to surrender yourselves absolutely into His hands?
What is our answer to be? God knows there are hundreds of hearts who have said it, and there
are hundreds more who long to say it but hardly dare to do so. And there are hearts who have said it, but who have yet miserably failed, and who feel themselves condemned because they did not find the secret of the power to live that life. May God have a word for all!
Let me say, first of all, that God claims it from us.
God Expects Your Surrender
Yes, it has its foundation in the very nature of God. God cannot do otherwise. Who is God? He is the Fountain of life, the only Source of existence and power and goodness, and throughout the universe there is nothing good but what God works. God has created the sun, and the moon, and the stars, and the flowers, and the trees, and the grass; and are they not all absolutely surrendered to God? Do they not allow
God to work in them just what He pleases? When God clothes the lily with its beauty, is it not yielded up, surrendered, given over to God as He works in it its beauty? And God's redeemed children, oh, can you think that God can work His work if there is only half or a part of them surrendered? God cannot do it. God is life, and love, and blessing, and power, and infinite beauty, and God delights to communicate Himself to every child who is prepared to receive Him; but ah! this one lack of
absolute surrender is just the thing that hinders God. And now He comes, and as God, He claims it.
You know in daily life what absolute surrender is. You know that everything has to be given up to its special, definite object and service. I have a pen in my pocket, and that pen is absolutely surrendered to the one work of writing, and that pen must be absolutely surrendered to my hand if I am to write properly with it. If another holds it partly, I cannot write properly. This coat is absolutely given up
to me to, cover my body. This building is entirely given up to religious services. And now, do you expect that in your immortal being, in the divine nature that you have received by regeneration, God can work His work, every day and every hour, unless you are entirely given up to Him? God cannot. The Temple of Solomon was absolutely surrendered to God when it was dedicated to Him. And every one of us is a temple of God, in which God will dwell and work mightily on one condition - absolute
surrender to Him. God claims it, God is worthy of it, and without it God cannot work His blessed work in us.
God not only claims it, but God will work it Himself.
God Accomplishes Your Surrender
I am sure there is many a heart that says: "Ah, but that absolute surrender implies so much!" Someone says: "Oh, I have passed through so much trial and suffering, and there is so much of the self-life still remaining, and I dare not face the entire giving of it up, because I know it will cause so much trouble and agony."
Alas! alas! that God's children have such thoughts of Him, such cruel thoughts. Oh, I come to you with a message, fearful and anxious one. God does not ask you to give the perfect surrender in your strength, or by the power of your will; God is willing to work it in you. Do we not read: "It is God that worketh in us, both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13)? And that is what we should seek for - to
go on our faces before God, until our hearts learn to believe that the everlasting God Himself will come in to turn out what is wrong, to conquer what is evil, and to work what is well-pleasing in His blessed sight. God Himself will work it in you.
Look at the men in the Old Testament, like Abraham. Do you think it was by accident that God found that man, the father of the faithful and the Friend of God, and that it was Abraham himself, apart from God, who had such faith and such obedience and such devotion? You know it is not so. God raised him up and prepared him as an instrument for His glory.
Did not God say to Pharaoh: "For this cause have I raised thee up, for to show in thee my power" (Ex. 9:16)?
And if God said that of him, will not God say it far more of every child of His?
Oh, I want to encourage you, and I want you to cast away every fear. Come with that feeble desire; and if there is the fear which says: "Oh, my desire is not strong enough, I am not willing for everything that may come, I do not feel bold enough to say I can conquer everything" - I pray you, learn to know and trust your God now. Say: "My God, I am willing that Thou shouldst make me willing." If there is
anything holding you back, or any sacrifice you are afraid of making, come to God now, and prove how gracious your God is, and be not afraid that He will command from you what He will not bestow.
God comes and offers to work this absolute surrender in you. All these searchings and hungerings and longings that are in your heart, I tell you they are the drawings of the divine magnet, Christ Jesus. He lived a life of absolute surrender, He has possession of you; He is living in your heart by His Holy Spirit. You have hindered and hindered Him terribly, but He desires to help you to get hold of Him
entirely. And He comes and draws you now by His message and words. Will you not come and trust God to work in you that absolute surrender to Himself? Yes, blessed be God, He can do it, and He will do it.
God not only claims it and works it, but God accepts it when we bring it to Him.
God Accepts Your Surrender
God works it in the secret of our heart, God urges us by the hidden power of His Holy Spirit to come and speak it out, and we have to bring and to yield to Him that absolute surrender. But remember, when you come and bring God that absolute surrender, it may, as far as your feelings or your consciousness go, be a thing of great imperfection, and you may doubt and hesitate and say:
"Is it absolute?"
But, oh, remember there was once a man to whom Christ had said:
"If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth" (Mark 9:23).
And his heart was afraid, and he cried out:
"Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief" (Mark 9:24).
That was a faith that triumphed over the Devil, and the evil spirit was cast out. And if you come and say: "Lord, I yield myself in absolute surrender to my God," even though it be with a trembling heart and with the consciousness: "I do not feel the power, I do not feel the determination, I do not feel the assurance," it will succeed. Be not afraid, but come just as you are, and even in the midst of your
trembling the power of the Holy Spirit will work.
Have you never yet learned the lesson that the Holy Spirit works with mighty power, while on the human side everything appears feeble? Look at the Lord Jesus Christ in Gethsemane. We read that He, "through the eternal Spirit" (Heb. 9:14), offered Himself a sacrifice unto God. The Almighty Spirit of God was enabling Him to do it. And yet what agony and fear and exceeding sorrow came over Him, and how He prayed!
Externally, you can see no sign of the mighty power of the Spirit, but the Spirit of God was there. And even so, while you are feeble and fighting and trembling, in faith in the hidden work of God's Spirit do not fear, but yield yourself.
And when you do yield yourself in absolute surrender, let it be in the faith that God does now accept of it. That is the great point, and that is what we so often miss - that believers should be thus occupied with God in this matter of surrender. I pray you, be occupied with God. We want to get help, every one of us, so that in our daily life God shall be clearer to us, God shall have the right place, and
be "all in all." And if we are to have that through life, let us begin now and look away from ourselves, and look up to God. Let each believe - while I, a poor worm on earth and a trembling child of God, full of failure and sin and fear, bow here, and no one knows what passes through my heart, and while I in simplicity say, O God, I accept Thy terms; I have pleaded for blessing on myself and others, I have accepted Thy terms of absolute surrender - while your heart says that in deep
silence, remember there is a God present that takes note of it, and writes it down in His book, and there is a God present who at that very moment takes possession of you. You may not feel it, you may not realize it, but God takes possession if you will trust Him.
God not only claims it, and works it, and accepts it when I bring it, but God maintains it.
God Maintains Your Surrender
That is the great difficulty with many. People say: "I have often been stirred at a meeting, or at a convention, and I have consecrated myself to God, but it has passed away. I know it may last for a week or for a month, but away it fades, and after a time it is all gone."
But listen! It is because you do not believe what I am now going to tell you and remind you of. When God has begun the work of absolute surrender in you, and when God has accepted your surrender, then God holds Himself bound to care for it and to keep it. Will you believe that?
In this matter of surrender there are two: God and I - I a worm, God the everlasting and omnipotent Jehovah. Worm, will you be afraid to trust yourself to this mighty God now? God is willing. Do you not believe that He can keep you continually, day by day, and moment by moment?
Moment by moment I'm kept in His love;
Moment by moment I've life from above.
If God allows the sun to shine upon you moment by moment, without intermission, will not God let His life shine upon you every moment? And why have you not experienced it? Because you have not trusted God for it, and you do not surrender yourself absolutely to God in that trust.
A life of absolute surrender has its difficulties. I do not deny that. Yes, it has something far more than difficulties: it is a life that with men is absolutely impossible. But by the grace of God, by the power of God, by the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, it is a life to which we are destined, and a life that is possible for us, praise God! Let us believe that God will maintain it.
Some of you have read the words of that aged saint who, on his ninetieth birthday, told of all God's goodness to him - I mean George Muller. What did he say he believed to be the secret of his happiness, and of all the blessing which God had given him? He said he believed there were two reasons. The one was that he had been enabled by grace to maintain a good conscience before God day by day; the other
was, that he was a lover of God's Word. Ah, yes, a good conscience is complete obedience to God day by day, and fellowship with God every day in His Word, and prayer - that is a life of absolute surrender.
Such a life has two sides - on the one side, absolute surrender to work what God wants you to do; on the other side, to let God work what He wants to do.
First, to do what God wants you to do.
Give up yourselves absolutely to the will of God. You know something of that will; not enough, far from all. But say absolutely to the Lord God: "By Thy grace I desire to do Thy will in everything, every moment of every day." Say: "Lord God, not a word upon my tongue but for Thy glory, not a movement of my temper but for Thy glory, not an affection of love or hate in my heart but for Thy glory, and according
to Thy blessed will."
Someone says: "Do you think that possible?"
I ask, What has God promised you, and what can God do to fill a vessel absolutely surrendered to Him? Oh, God wants to bless you in a way beyond what you expect. From the beginning, ear hath not heard, neither hath the eye seen, what God hath prepared for them that wait for Him (1 Cor. 2:9). God has prepared unheard-of things, blessings much more wonderful than you can imagine, more mighty than you can conceive. They
are divine blessings. Oh, say now:
"I give myself absolutely to God, to His will, to do only what God wants."
It is God who will enable you to carry out the surrender.
And, on the other side, come and say: "I give myself absolutely to God, to let Him work in me to will and to do of His good pleasure, as He has promised to do."
Yes, the living God wants to work in His children in a way that we cannot understand, but that God's Word has revealed, and He wants to work in us every moment of the day. God is willing to maintain our life. Only let our absolute surrender be one of simple, childlike, and unbounded trust.
God Blesses When You Surrender
This absolute surrender to God will wonderfully bless.
What Ahab said to his enemy, King Ben-hadad - "My lord, O king, according to thy word I am thine, and all that I have" - shall we not say to our God and loving Father? If we do say it, God's blessing will come upon us. God wants us to be separate from the world; we are called to come out from the world that hates God. Come out for God, and say: "Lord, anything for Thee." If you say that with prayer,
and speak that into God's ear, He will accept it, and He will teach you what it means.
I say again, God will bless you. You have been praying for blessing. But do remember, there must be absolute surrender. At every tea-table you see it. Why is tea poured into that cup? Because it is empty, and given up for the tea. But put ink, or vinegar, or wine into it, and will they pour the tea into the vessel? And can God fill you, can God bless you if you are not absolutely surrendered to Him? He
cannot. Let us believe God has wonderful blessings for us, if we will but stand up for God, and say, be it with a trembling will, yet with a believing heart:
"O God, I accept Thy demands. I am thine and all that I have. Absolute surrender is what my soul yields to Thee by divine grace."
You may not have such strong and clear feelings of deliverances as you would desire to have, but humble yourselves in His sight, and acknowledge that you have grieved the Holy Spirit by your self-will, self-confidence, and self-effort. Bow humbly before him in the confession of that, and ask him to break the heart and to bring you into the dust before Him. Then, as you bow before Him, just accept God's
teaching that in your flesh "there dwelleth no good thing" (Rom. 7:18), and that nothing will help you except another life which must come in. You must deny self once for all. Denying self must every moment be the power of your life, and then Christ will come in and take possession of you.
When was Peter delivered? When was the change accomplished? The change began with Peter weeping, and the Holy Spirit came down and filled his heart.
God the Father loves to give us the power of the Spirit. We have the Spirit of God dwelling within us. We come to God confessing that, and praising God for it, and yet confessing how we have grieved the Spirit. And then we bow our knees to the Father to ask that He would strengthen us with all might by the Spirit in the inner man, and that He would fill us with His mighty power. And as the Spirit reveals
Christ to us, Christ comes to live in our hearts forever, and the self-life is cast out.
Let us bow before God in humility, and in that humility confess before Him the state of the whole Church. No words can tell the sad state of the Church of Christ on earth. I wish I had words to speak what I sometimes feel about it. Just think of the Christians around you. I do not speak of nominal Christians, or of professing Christians, but I speak of hundreds and thousands of honest, earnest Christians
who are not living a life in the power of God or to His glory. So little power, so little devotion or consecration to God, so little perception of the truth that a Christian is a man utterly surrendered to God's will! Oh, we want to confess the sins of God's people around us, and to humble ourselves. We are members of that sickly body, and the sickliness of the body will hinder us, and break us down, unless we come to God, and in confession separate ourselves from partnership with
worldliness, with coldness toward each other, unless we give up ourselves to be entirely and wholly for God.
How much Christian work is being done in the spirit of the flesh and in the power of self! How much work, day by day, in which human energy - our will and our thoughts about the work - is continually manifested, and in which there is but little of waiting upon God, and upon the power of the Holy Spirit! Let us make confession. But as we confess the state of the Church and the feebleness and sinfulness
of work for God among us, let us come back to ourselves. Who is there who truly longs to be delivered from the power of the self-life, who truly acknowledges that it is the power of self and the flesh, and who is willing to cast all at the feet of Christ? There is deliverance.
I heard of one who had been an earnest Christian, and who spoke about the "cruel" thought of separation and death. But you do not think that, do you? What are we to think of separation and death? This: death was the path to glory for Christ. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross. The cross was the birthplace of His everlasting glory. Do you love Christ? Do you long to be in Christ, and not like
Him? Let death be to you the most desirable thing on earth - death to self, and fellowship with Christ. Separation - do you think it a hard thing to be called to be entirely free from the world, and by that separation to be united to God and His love, by separation to become prepared for living and walking with God every day? Surely one ought to say:
"Anything to bring me to separation, to death, for a life of full fellowship with God and Christ."
Come and cast this self-life and flesh-life at the feet of Jesus. Then trust Him. Do not worry yourselves with trying to understand all about it, but come in the living faith that Christ will come into you with the power of His death and the power of His life; and then the Holy Spirit will bring the whole Christ - Christ crucified and risen and living in glory - into your heart.