Ray Bonds - Sacrifice - Lancaster - 1952

For some reason the last chapters in Romans, from chapter 12 to the end of the 15th, have been a help to me in this particular sense as showing us what would be and what is the acceptable sacrifice that God requires of us. The acceptable sacrifice, the acceptable life, There are some thoughts expressed in the 11th chapter that help me to appreciate the way Paul begins the 12th chapter, when he said, "I beseech you by the mercies of God." Jim Ratcliffe was telling us about being thankful for many things. He spoke of a few for which we are and should be thankful, and this chapter begins by beseeching us by the mercies of God that we would present our bodies a living sacrifice. We could mention many of the mercies of God, but I believe, when Paul used this word he had one particular kind of mercy in mind, because Paul was this particular part especially to the Gentiles. You know, he says in the 1 5th chapter that he received the grace of God, the favor of God and the responsibility from God to be an apostle unto the Gentiles, the minister of Christ unto the Gentiles. The Jews had their day. They had had a chance and they had come to the place where God was not satisfied with their service and with their sacrifices and the time had come now for the scriptures to be fulfilled that was going to open the door unto he Gentiles. That they were going to have their chance, their day and Paul was appointed by God, with others, he received the responsibility and that grace, that favor of ministering unto the Gentiles. That Gospel of Christ, that their sacrifice, their offering, that the offering of the Gentiles unto God might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost, He was not speaking in the term of their sacrifice being something they offered, but thinking more of them being the sacrifice, the offering unto God as we are offering unto God, body, soul and Spirit. We are like those that are led captive and we have become captives of Christ.

Paul was telling about the Gentiles as a people individually and collectively being an offering to God. The Gentiles did not know what the Jews knew, did not know God, did not know what would be acceptable unto God. Their minds were darkened, hearts darkened, lives tainted with sin, having false conceptions and it meant a great deal for him to go and teach these Gentiles and bring them to obedience of the faith, so that they would submit to the service of God That was his work and that was his task which he did so very well. That is our task today. He was thinking that he did not want that to happen to the Gentiles. He was responsible that what had happened to the Jews, should not happen to the Gentiles. This part in the 11th chapter and also in the 9th chapter have been made very real to me, because of our experience in Morocco where there are thousands of Jews. I never see them without having a feeling of sadness and also guilt. You say, "Why guilt?" We are not responsible for them having been rejected as a people. But when I see those Jews, see a people standing outside the door, I see them still abiding in the unbelief and I know as well as I know I am here, that for the greater part of these Jews, those who once had the promise of God, those who gave us the Scriptures, those people from whom to us came salvation, as Jesus said to that Samaritan, "The hour is coming and now is, etc." That is something I never like to forget, that salvation came to us from a people who themselves have been rejected as a people. The door is open unto them through Christ, through faith, but they have to come in through our door now. When I see these people and see them holding on to their old hope and feeling in their pride, "We are the people of God." I think of these verses here were Paul said, "Have they stumbled that they should fall, etc." It is not for ever they are all cut off. Those who are willing, those who believe, can still come in. "Through their faith etc. " We see there as he says in another verse, "For as ye in times past have not believed God, etc." You have obtained mercy through their unbelief. I like to remember today that we are those that were not the people of God, but now are the people of God. We are those that had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy and all through their unbelief and disobedience, It makes me feel a little shaky, a little queer, a little fearful, if I feel some other person has failed, and that through their failure I have obtained something, a place, a favor, largely through their failure, and Paul does not hide the fact that it was through their unbelief. He gives us a warning, "Don't be high minded," etc.

The thought that has been coming to me these last few days is this. There is still danger, there is a danger that we also may fail as did the Jews, to offer unto God an acceptable sacrifice, an acceptable service, one that would be worthy of Jesus Christ, one that would be worthy of the love that has been bestowed upon us and worthy of the mercy that we have obtained. You could also say mercy through the misfortune and loss of others. The thing that has made this real to me is as I have seen these people, I see them and I am always sad because I have a tender feeling in my heart toward the Jews. I don't forget either Abraham and the Apostles and the Prophets and Jesus Christ Himself are the root, they are all Jews. We have been grafted in and we are enjoying the fatness of the tree and all the precious things that those prophets who were Jews, suffered for and brought unto us and that God has given unto us through them. This should make us humble and make us careful and make us grateful.

The thought to me is that we can never afford to get familiar, never afford to get careless, never afford to rest on our lees and settle down and think, "We are God's people." Those of us who have heard the Gospel and have believed in Jesus, in His truth, in His way, in His intercession, His sacrifices and we have accepted that wholeheartedly and unreservedly, we are on a solid foundation. That is something to be glad for. We see Mohammedans, hundreds and thousands of them, with no hope of salvation. There is a large body of Catholics. You know what they have done They are far, far from God, far from the truth, far from obedience to the faith, going through their forms, calling upon their myths.

In Algeria recently, a man took us in his car to see a large fort on a hill, overlooking the harbor. There was a Catholic church there and the mother-in-law of the man said, full of awe, "The virgin." She almost had sacredness in her voice. Those of us who have had the great privilege of knowing and hearing the truth and have accepted it, we have something to be thankful for, we have a treasure that we will never know the value of in this world, but we should be fearful, thankful and careful and feel our responsibility first of all, to see to it as Paul said here, to offer unto God the acceptable sacrifice and service, and then our responsibility towards one another and to those outside. "I beseech you brethren by the mercies of God, " etc. Paul was wanting them to offer the sacrifice and service ffat would be acceptable, so that their offering might be acceptable unto God. When I think of the sacrifice, I think of the whole burnt offering. This offering was governed by the law. There was a law that govemed every sacrifice and offering brought to God. Some sacrifices were not acceptable. They were not brought according to the rule, according to the regulations. The first thing about the law is, it defines what the sacrifice should be. It could not just be anything, could not be our money. It had to be ourselves, it had to be our body, the life given, the whole thing.

The next thing about it was the condition of the sacrifice. It could not be brought in any kind of a way. It was not sufficient to have a sheep or a bullock. It had to be the right kind of sheep, the right kind of bullock, an animal in the right kind of condition, "Holy." We cannot bring ourselves to God and expect God to accept us just in any kind of way. We know that.

Then there was the way the sacrifice should be presented. There is a way of presenting the sacrifice that makes it acceptable or unacceptable. I was a cook in the army, I don't tell this around too much, because I might be called upon. One time in America, we were going to have some people together and we wanted somebody to cook. One of the sisters said, "You are the person." I began to think fast how I could get out of it and said, "Not enough people for me." One thing I always remember about our experience in the kitchen. Those of us who were regular cooks leamed about the serving. Soldiers have their feeling and I have seen how they react when someone just threw something on their plate. We used to make the meal, place it on the plate and then that plate was passed down the line and those who were serving had to put things in the same position. Just the way the thing is done, makes all the difference. There is a right way to serve and there is a wrong way. There is a way that makes our life, our sacrifice, our service, acceptable unto God and unto our brethren, unto those in the body and those outside.

The next thing, "Be ye not conformed to this world but be ye transformed, " etc. This is a verse that I have got some help from as I mediated upon it, because it speaks of the inward transformation, of being renewed in the inner man. Joe was telling us that some of these things don't come so fast and that is true of being renewed in our mind.

The French Bible says, "Renewed in your intelligence. " In writing to the Colossians, Paul used an expression: "and having put off all these." The first thing to be conformed to is this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of your mind, your intelligence. I used an illustration for this sometimes to help to get folks to see what I mean. With those of us who have gone and labored in other countries among other nationalities, when we Anglo Saxons and Northem people come among the Latin people, we find that our great difficulty is our mentality, and we find we have to change a great deal, we have to change our ways of thinking, our way of looking at things and get accustomed to them, get acquainted with their mentality, before we can help them, because our mentality would criticize them, judge them and finish by condemning them. There was a brother in Switzerland at one time and he was talking with another brother, I was as I still am "small fry," but this man said something and I took the opportunity of putting in a word. He said, "That would be a proof that there was not anything to him." I said, "Maybe that there would be nothing to an Englishman or a American, but it would not be any proof in regard to a Frenchman, and vice-versa." We do things that would shock them, but to us, it is normal. When we get acquainted, when we stay there long enough for that to soak in on us, it changes our way of thinking, our way of talking, and we are able to be sympathetic and we draw near to them and they open their hearts to us and that can help.

Coming to help the seed of Abraham, it behooved Him in all things to be made like unto His brethren. We heard about that this moming, even going beyond in that humility and in all things being made like unto His brethren so that He might be a faithful and merciful High Priest, He could understand their failings, sympathize in their weakness and could intercede for them, a merciful High Priest. It did not take the Son of God to know what the law said, but it took the Son of God to be a merciful and faithful high priest before God. It took the Son of God with the Son of man. We are transformed by an inward transformation. When we come from all nationalities and from all walks of life we have to begin to adjust ourselves, to adapt ourselves and we get the mind of Christ. Why is it that all these nationalities, when you meet them outside God's family, they cannot understand each other, but in God's family all are like one? It is because everyone that has come into God's family has been willing to adjust themselves, to adapt themselves, and they have received the mind of Christ, and that mind of Christ has given them the mentality of the family of God. We get the inward way of thinking, it changes our way of looking on things, it changes our way of judging things. It is that mentality of the family of God that we can see in the faithful ones right down.

It is the same kind of mind that Abraham had, that the prophets had, the same mind that Jesus had,

Mary and Joseph and all the others. We have entered in and we have received a little of that mind of Christ and we have now a little of the mentality, of the feeling, of the nature of the family of God, and that is why we are like one family and we are one family. And those who are not willing to adapt themselves and to fit in and accept the conditions, they can not have any part in this, but those who are willing for this have received the spirit of God and the mind of Christ and then they all have one mind, according to the measure that we yield. The more we adapt ourselves, the more we can help others. The more we can adapt ourselves to God's way of thinking, God's way of doing, the more of the mind and mentality of God we have. "That ye may prove what is the acceptable service, " etc. As we get the new transformation, being transformed inwardly, then we manifest it outwardly.

The next thing that spoke to me was, "Through the grace of God given me" Romans 12:3. We come to the place where we have entered into this body and we begin to work together. One thing I learned in the army. I wrote a letter about it after being there a week or two. I began to have strange feelings and a little bit of resentment as I tried to analyze the situation. Immediately when I accepted this fact, I lost my resentment. It was this that in this army, a man loses his individuality, his own personality and finds himself part of a corps, part of a machine and he does not do what he wanted to do when he wants to do it, but they take him and find out what he is good for and fit him into a place and there he is until he gets out of it. He doesn't have the grace we have in the Lord's family. In France, one of the boys said, "Tough, is it not?" I said, "No, I don't find it tough." He used some language I can't repeat here. I said, "I learned discipline before I came here." Anybody who would act half decently had the respect of their superiors.
We had food, clothing etc. I found my individuality had disappeared and then it was not difficult.

The first principle, the first thing necessary for us as God's people, to work together, is first of all, for man not to have too high an opinion of himself, not to have a higher opinion of himself than God has. If he has a high opinion of himself, he is not going to be willing to serve others, Having a higher opinion of himself than he ought to have, is to forget that in this family, it is not just me and mine, I am a member of the body, I am a member even of other members. I have lost my individuality, That has gone. But on the other hand, I am benefiting, I am receiving a thousand more than I would have received in the world. Paul says: "Ye are members one of another."

I have a hand, an arm, and my finger is not a member of the arm, it is a member of a hand, it is a member of another member. God in His wisdom put it as a member of the hand and the hand as a member of the arm. Supposing my thumb were up at the elbow! The Lord has so placed the members in the body. Fingers can do things the shoulder cannot do, but they can serve as the shoulder. The finger receives benefit from the body, just the same as the hand. "I say by the grace given unto me," etc. Paul felt responsibility for that, but he was not talking about his authority, but he said, by the grace he had received, God had required him to teach. It was his responsibility, it was not that he wanted to be anything, "Each one according to what he is, whether minister. Let him minister."

After he spoke about the body, he said: "Let love be without dissimulation," let it be sincere. Love, means just like Paul demonstrated that about charity. Last year, Sam made a remark about charity, and I said, "I am going to study that this year and I am going to start practicing." Some of them thought it was late to start, but I said, "Better late than never." In studying these first 13 chapters, I have enjoyed seeing this charity in action, seeing that love being used. One of the great ways you see it in Paul, whatever he did, whatever he said, wherever he went, one thing uppermost in his heart, thinking of every person, doing or not doing according to how it would affect his brother, that is love, that is a man not loving himself, nor serving himself, but offering a service unto God, and his people, that will be acceptable. Whatever he does, it is with the thought of helping someone else.

14th Chapter. He that served Christ in this manner, is acceptable unto God and pleasing unto men. If we are serving the kingdom of God, if there is a difference of opinion, let this be our guide. Just act in a way that you think will help the other person. If it is going to hinder him do it not, even though it is legitimate. It is pleasing to God when we serve in that way. "In honor preferring one another."

Two sisters in their testimonies quoted that verse, "Esteeming others better than ourselves." It is not in human nature to do that, it is in divine nature, it is in the family of God, because we learn that others are better than ourselves and even if they are not, it is a safe thing. Two things that will help us to keep saved, one is not having too high an opinion of ourselves, being satisfied to serve how we can and where we can, and the other is learning to esteem others better than ourselves. I read an article about accidents on the road and it said, "The only way for them to be prevented is road courtesy, and in America, they have not learned that yet." They get there and it is for every man to get out of the way, We can do that, but is it not nice to see people giving preference to others, even in little things? This will go a long way in making things work smoothly and helping to build up the family of God, and it is a service that is acceptable unto God and unto our brethren.