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Author:Rev. Ted Gray
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Congregation:First United Reformed Church
 Oak Lawn, Illinois
 www.oaklawnurc.org/
 
Title:A Continual Sacrifice of Praise
Text:Hebrews 13:8-16 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Life in Christ
 
Preached:2016
Added:2022-01-26
Updated:2022-03-24
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

From the 1976 Psalter Hymnal, unless otherwise noted:
 
187:1-4 - Sing to the Lord, Sing His Praise
 
384 - How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds
 
147 (Red) – A Purple Robe, a Crown of Thorns 
 
462 - Take My Life and Let It Be Consecrated                                
 
* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


11/27/2016
A Continual Sacrifice of Praise”
Hebrews 13:8-16
 
In some nations, such as the United States and Canada, we celebrate Thanksgiving Day. It is a special day to remember God’s goodness to us. But long before the pilgrims landed in Plymouth Rock, and long before George Washington made his famous proclamation concerning a National Day of Thanksgiving, the author of Hebrews declared that we are always to praise God. Our text, in Hebrews 13:15, declares: Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”
 
Our praise for the Lord is not to be confined to Thanksgiving Day, or Sunday, but rather if we truly know the Lord Jesus Christ, by saving faith in him, then verse 15 tells us to continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise through Jesus Christ.
 
In the context of this passage, a number of reasons are given why we are to continually praise Him. And those reasons differ from the reasons that are often given at Thanksgiving. These reasons for giving praise to God continually go far beyond the perfectly done turkey or gently roasted ham. The reasons for giving praise to God continually focus on the great spiritual blessings that we have through faith in Jesus Christ.
 
One reason to continually praise our God, through Christ, is there in verse 8 which gives this description of our Savior and Lord: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” I read that more sermons have been preached on this text than on any other verse from Hebrews. I'm not sure what method would be used to make that statement, but it may well be true. Verse 8 is a well-known verse in the Bible as it declares that Jesus Christ is indeed the same yesterday, and today and forever.
 
The verse is understood in a number of various ways. Some see it in the context of verse 7 as teaching that all human leaders pass away but Jesus Christ remains faithful forever.  Others point to the work of Christ in creating the cosmos as the past – yesterday, securing our redemption as the present – today, and eternally reigning in the glory of heaven as the future – forever.  Still others see the yesterday as his work of redemption on the cross, today as referring to his intercession on our behalf in the glory of heaven now, and the forever to his high priesthood in the order of Melchizedek, having no beginning and no end
 
But the point of the text is that Jesus, being God himself – the eternal Christ – will never change. He will never change his mind about saving you from your sins. He will never change his mind about calling you his brother or sister. He will never change his mind about granting you a place in the glory of heaven to rule and reign with him forever – all this providing that by his grace you have saving faith in him alone for salvation.
 
And beyond that, the verse is telling us that because Jesus Christ is the same yesterday today and forever, he will always be there for us. Some of you, actually quite a number of you this year, had Thanksgiving with a chair that was empty where a loved one sat last Thanksgiving. We recognize that our days on earth are limited, and the time comes when dear loved ones are called home to glory.
 
But is the chair really empty?  Christ is yet around the table. He is the friend who sticks closer than a brother. He is the Savior and Lord who transcends time, ever faithful, ever loving – yesterday, today and forever.
 
Supreme Love Demonstrated by Supreme Sacrifice
 
The supreme way that Christ has shown us his love is spoken about in verses 11 to 13. Those verses describe how the high priest in the Old Testament would carry the blood of the sacrificial animals into the most holy place as a sin offering, but then the bodies of those animals were burned outside of the camp as the Israelites traveled. Those bloody sacrifices were pointing to the bloody sacrifice of Jesus Christ. After describing the sacrifices, verse 12 declares: “And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood.”
 
The Bible is truly remarkable in the way the Old Testament is fulfilled in the New Testament. Even the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, outside of the city gate of Jerusalem, is a fulfillment of the bodies of sacrificial animals being burned outside the camp in the Old Testament era.
 
Those animals could never bring salvation for anyone. They were only a dim foreshadow (or type) of the shed blood of Jesus Christ. And through faith in him, and his shed blood, anyone can be saved: A tax collector like Matthew or Zacchaeus. An immoral woman like the woman at the well or the woman caught in the act of adultery. A radical persecutor of the church like Saul of Tarsus, transformed into the apostle Paul.
 
Innumerable others could be added to that short list, including those described in 1 Corinthians 6 as drunkards, thieves, swindlers, the greedy and sexually immoral, including male prostitutes and homosexual offenders. Yet what does Paul write?  “That is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:11). These are but a few examples of the multitude beyond number who are declared holy through the gift of saving faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
 
While verse 12 describes how Jesus suffered to make us holy, verse 13 describes how he bore disgrace. As Jesus was brought out to Mount Calvary he was brought out in great humiliation. He bore the crown of thorns. He had been whipped without mercy, spit upon and cursed. And as He was lifted up on the cross, all the agony of the crucifixion the mockery continued as many below scoffed and ridiculed him, saying, “He said he could rebuild the Temple in three days but he cannot even save himself.” They said to him, “If you are really the son of God come down from there save yourself and save us too!”
 
And, as verse 13 reminds us of the disgrace he bore, it also tells us that we are to go to him, willing to be disgraced for our faith. We are to go to him in faith, picking up our cross and carrying it, being willing to be persecuted, mocked and ridiculed because those who persecuted him will certainly persecute, ridicule and mock those who believe in him and faithfully follow him. (cf. John 15:18-21)
 
Verse 14 gives us incentive to bear the disgrace that Jesus bore, to be identified with him even though it may incur the wrath and the ridicule of the world. Verse 14 reminds us, “For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.”
 
­It is a much-needed reminder that this world is not our home. It is a much-needed reminder that we will take nothing from this world with us when we go to our eternal home. None of the material things that millions rushed out to buy on black Friday will be taken with them out of this world.  And no wonder! How pathetic would it be for a Christian to carry some trivial material possession into the glory of heaven! There is no comparison between the glory yet to be revealed in our heavenly home, and the material things that many rush out to buy in this life.
 
Verse 14 is a much-needed reminder that our true citizenship is in heaven and that we eagerly await a Savior from there, just as Paul wrote to the Philippian church in Philippians 3:20 and 21.
 
A Continual Sacrifice of Praise
 
With that as our background and context, we see that verse 15 contains the word “therefore.” The author of Hebrews will stress that if we truly know him who is the same “yesterday and today and forever” as our Savior and Lord, then we will continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise through Jesus Christ.
 
And that is, incidentally, the only way that we can offer praise to God. The only way to offer praise to God the Father is through Jesus Christ. We even see that in the first recorded sacrifice in the world's history. Abel offered a sacrifice that was acceptable to God, and his brother Cain offered a sacrifice that the Lord did not bless. What was the difference?
 
Admittedly one was a blood sacrifice and the other was a grain sacrifice, but the ultimate difference was that one was offered by faith in the eternal Messiah – him who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. And the other sacrifice was made with an outward display of good works, but no true saving faith within.
 
And still today many give extravagant offerings – millions of dollars to help the poor or feed the needy or fund research against cancer or other diseases. But unless the gift is offered through Jesus, with faith in him, it is of no spiritual value.
 
By contrast, those of us who truly do believe in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for salvation are to offer continual praise. It is not enough to offer praise when things are going well. We must also offer praise when life is hard and circumstances seem to be going against us. It is not enough to offer praise on the Lord's Day but not during the rest of the week. Or in the context of Thanksgiving, all the praise that is rendered on Thanksgiving Day means nothing if it is not continued, day by day throughout each week, for as long as God gives us grace to live.
 
This continual praise that we are to offer to the Lord includes both lips that confess his name and deeds that show we belong to him as we share with others. It is relatively easy to offer praise to the Lord with our lips. We have an expression, “talk is cheap.”  If you have recently received your cell phone bill you may not agree with that expression, although I'm sure that we all understand what the expression is saying. It is teaching that it is easy to say something, but to show that you truly mean what you say by how you live is a whole other matter.
 
Verse 15 is telling us what we are to do; we are “to continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that confess his name.” And then verse 16 describes how we are to offer that sacrifice of praise: We offer praise not only with our lips but with the way we live our lives.
 
Verse 16 tells us two practical things that we are to do in order to please God. Verse 16 tells us that God is pleased when we do good and when we share with others. And we should not be surprised by that statement. In the summary of the law, the Lord teaches us that we must love him with all that is within us and to love our neighbors as ourselves. How do we show our love for our neighbors, for our brothers and sisters in Christ, for family and for friends? We show that love by actively doing good and by sharing with others.
 
By sharing with others, we show God's goodness to us. When we share with others it shows that God has given to us abundantly. What we give to others is what we have received from God, whether it is the gift of time spent with others or material gifts that God has given to us, or better yet, both combined together, God is pleased.
____
 
Some of you may still be recovering from Thanksgiving Day. Each year on Thanksgiving Day we do remember with deep gratitude God's goodness and grace to us. But our text reminds us that through Jesus we are to continually offer God a sacrifice of praise for. Our praise for our Lord is not to be confined to Thanksgiving Day, or to the Lord's Day, but rather if we truly know the Lord Jesus Christ, by saving faith in him, then may we continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise through Jesus Christ!
 
And may our praise not just be expressed on lips that confess his name. May your praise and my praise include good deeds as we share with others our time and gifts, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Amen.
 
 
 
Sermon Outline:
 
Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of
praise—the fruit of lips that confess His name. And do not forget to do
good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
                                                                                       Hebrews 13:15
 
                           “A Continual Sacrifice of Praise”
                                        Hebrews 13:8-16
 
I. Through Jesus we are to continually offer God a sacrifice of praise for:
     1) He is the same yesterday, today and forever (8)
 
 
 
 
     2) Jesus suffered to make us holy (12), bearing disgrace (13)
 
 
 
 
     3) He has secured our citizenship in the heavenly city (14)
 
 
 
 
II. Our response:
    1) Continual praise offered to God through Jesus (15a, b)
 
 
 
 
    2) Lips that confess His name (15c)
 
 
 
 
    3) Lives that show we belong to Christ as we do good deeds and share
         with others (16)
 

 

 

 




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2016, Rev. Ted Gray

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