Sunday, 21 October 2012


At morning worship today we read Genesis chapter 8. It gives us the account of when the flood waters receded and Noah, his family and the animals emerged from the ark.
Verse 20 describes how Noah built an altar, took clean animals (clean beasts were taken into the ark in sevens) and offered burnt offerings upon the altar. Verse 21 tells us: 'And the LORD smelled a sweet savour...'
By these words we know that God accepted Noah's offering.
The question is, why was it acceptable?
This is a very important question. One which aught always to be asked and which everyone should be asking. Why? Because it addresses the most essential aspect of salvation. If we understand this most fundamental point, we have a grasp of the truth. This same theme runs through the whole of scripture from beginning to end.
So, to the question.
The reason Noah's sacrifice was acceptable to God was because it was offered in obedience.
But just as there are two separate universes, the seen and the unseen, there are also two kinds of obedience: the seen and the unseen. Before our offering can be acceptable to God we must have both kinds. But the second must be begotten by the first. Faith worketh by love. (Galatians 5: 6).
I believe the best example we can find of this is the narrative of Cain and Able in Genesis 4.
Both brothers offered a sacrifice to God. Able's offering was according to God's will, but Cain's was not. It was something which he himself decided was of value. He disregarded God's guidance but still attempted to make his offering to God. Today, this mad, presumptuous approach has lost none of its popularity and continues unabated. Nay, grows ever more popular. This is the cause of every false way in the world. Every way which claims to be of God and the way of salvation but in reality is just a lie. Even in the midst of Truth and the preaching of the word we find this. In 'orthodox' 'reformed' churches we find people who follow blindly. I would go as far as to say that the majority do this. Entire congregations attend churches which often preach much truth but never address the issues. It is possible to preach truth and not address the issues. We must address the issues. Just preaching truth is not enough.
We must preach the WHOLE truth.
Christ always addressed the issues. That's what made him controversial. That's why he was hated. That's why he was crucified. The Church must also address the issues, the Church must also be hated, the Church must also be crucified.
Cain disregarded God's guidance because he had no stomach for God. He loved his own ideas and hated God's authority, even arguing with God and attempting to cover up the crime of murdering his brother.
This runs clean contrary to reason and logic. I mean, to treat the infinite God as you might treat a mere man and to argue with him to his face. What motivates this kind of insanity? I think it reveals something of the nature and power of sin.
Able's offering on the other hand, was acceptable because God's hand was in it. God had placed his love in his soul by living in him by his continued presence: the indwelling of the holy spirit.
If this is our case, then we have the true love of God. We can now offer the acceptable sacrifice. Only now.
Now we will strive to obey. By love.
The legalist strives to obey, not out of love to God, but out of love to himself. And in a drive to glorify himself by waving the flag of his own works, like the pharisee whom Christ condemned because he stood in public making long prayers to be seen of men.
He said of them: 'They have their reward.'
Let us be sure that our reward is not merely in this world.
Noah's sacrifice was an Old Testament sacrifice which by shedding the blood of animals typified the one great sacrifice to come: the sacrifice of the Son of God.
We no longer have to do this because the divine blood of Christ has now been shed. We can now approach God boldly, and personally in the knowledge that the work has been done on the behalf of every penitent sinner.
Are you penitent? Do you desire God but cannot approach him because of your sin? Are you too wicked for God?
Then God will hear you.
Ask for mercy.
This is the acceptable sacrifice.

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