2. The MUSTS Of The Christian Faith: The MUST of Sacrifice

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John 3:14-15 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

This is a message that I believe every Christian should hear – particularly the American Christian. The preaching we most often hear in our Churches throughout America are those that make God our Servant, and we His master. I have heard of many, and seen many, come to Christ for salvation and yet later drop away from Him because of trial or tribulation in their lives. We have been sold a Pollyanna version of salvation by many modern preachers.

Central to the Christian faith is the MUST of Sacrifice.

Though Jesus and the Apostle preached this great truth clearly, it has been largely ignored by the modern Church. Our faith is all of sacrifice. We are saved because Jesus Christ sacrificed Himself for us. Once we as His children by faith are saved, we are to live lives of sacrifice. Not like the world, but like the Christ. When we understand the sacrifice of the Christian faith our lives begin to make sense. God did not save us through the sacrifice of His Son so that we as believers would drift casually into Heaven. God saved we who are Christians by faith in the sacrifice of His Son so that we, being born again, will be light and salt to this present world.

We Cannot Be Saved Apart from The Sacrifice of Christ

God cannot adopt a sinner into His family. God cannot inhabit a law breaker. Sin must be paid for. The debt must be eradicated, or there can be no New Birth. When Nicodemus came to Jesus, our Lord told him:

John 3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up

If you do not know your Bible you will not understand this verse at all. Nicodemus was a high ranking Jew in the Jewish Council, the Sanhedrin. What is Jesus talking about, “as Moses lifted up the serpent”? To understand this we need to take a “field trip” from today’s text to Numbers Chapter 21.Please turn there with me.

In Numbers 21 the Canaanites attacked Israel, and Israel cried out to God. God strengthened His people, and the Bible says:

Numbers 21:3 .. the LORD hearkened to the voice of Israel {He heard their prayers}, and delivered up the Canaanites; and they utterly destroyed them and their cities: and {Moses} called the name of the place HORMAH.

Israel had their eyes on God, and were serving God as they should. Moses commemorated this great victory by calling the name of the place “Hormah”, which means “Devotion”. Israel had a mountaintop experience. We have all had mountaintop experiences, times when the blessings just seem to pour out. But as we walk with God, we will have mountaintops – but we will also have valleys.

Sooner or later you are in the valley. But God is there. God is there on the mountain, and God is there in the valley.

We are to love God with all our hearts regardless as to our circumstances (Deuteronomy 6:5). It is a fickle love that only loves on the mountaintop. We are to love God in the valleys of life. It didn’t take long for Israel to hit a valley.

Numbers 21:4 {Israel} journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.

The journey that God took Israel on led from the mountaintop, and into a hard valley. They were to trust the Lord Who saved them. We must always trust and love God … but Israel forgot this. They took God’s name in vain. We read:

Numbers 21:5 … And the people spake against God, and against Moses…

Beloved, if you are saved by faith in Christ, you will have trials. You are to trust God in the trials. You are to live for Him.

As Israel murmured and blamed God, the Lord took action. Because of their sinful mouths the Bible says:

Numbers 21:6 … the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.

Serpents came into the camp. I saw a movie once called “Snakes on A Plane”. Israel suffered “Snakes On A Plain”! I don’t like snakes. I don’t know many people who like snakes. Adam’s fall came because of the devil disguised as a snake.

the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23)

Our God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29). It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God (Hebrews 10:31). It is a terrible sin to curse the god Who saved you, but an even more frightening thing when God sends punishment upon us. Because God’s Israel sinned against God, God sent serpents into the camp. Not just any old serpents, but “fiery serpents”, poisonous creatures who brought with their bite death.

Israel repented. The Bible says:

Numbers 21:7 the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; pray unto the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.

Moses prayed – and God blessed. He said:

Numbers 21:8-9 And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. 9 And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.

Now let’s go back to Nicodemus. Now you understand what Jesus was telling him. Our Lord said:

John 3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the SON OF MAN must be lifted up:

As Moses lifted up the fiery serpent on a pole, the “SON OF MAN must be lifted up”. Moses made a serpent, put it on a pole, and those who looked upon it were saved. God the Father made a Son of Man, put Him on a pole, and those who look upon Him are saved.

Jesus Christ is that “Son of Man”. Our Jesus came and lived a life of sacrifice that ended in sacrifice for our sins. When we look upon Him, this “Son of Man”, believing He died for the sins of the Sons of Men, then we are saved!

Jesus Christ Is Both The Son Of God
AND The Son Of Man

Eighty times in the Gospels Jesus refers to Himself as “Son of Man”. No one ever calls Jesus “Son of Man”
but Jesus Himself.

Others called Jesus “Son of God”. For instance,

  • The DEVIL referred to Jesus as “The Son of God” (Matthew 4:3,6).
  • The DEMONS called Jesus “The Son of God” (Matthew 8:29).
  • Jesus’ DISCIPLES called Him “The Son of God” (Matthew 14:33).
  • The CENTURION who crucified Jesus called Him “The Son of God” (Matthew 27:54).
  • The Apostles called Jesus “The Son of God” (Mark 1:1; John 1:34).
  • The ANGEL GABRIEL called Jesus the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).
  • The early PREACHERS of the Gospel focused on the fact that the “Son of God” came and sacrificed Himself for us (Acts 9:20; Romans 1:4; 2 Corinthians 1:19; Galatians 2:20, et. al).

Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He is God Himself become human flesh. We are told in …

John 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

When the Father speaks of Jesus, He says …

Hebrews 1:6-8 … let all the angels of God worship him. … 8 But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom.

Jesus Christ is the only God the Son.
But Jesus is also the Son of Man, the Messiah.

The Son of God agreed to sacrifice Himself on Calvary.
The Son of Man died in our place, paying for our sins.
The Son of God agreed to die.
Jesus died as a perfect “Son of Man”.
This is why you and I are saved – God died for us!

God foretold of this unique sacrifice of Christ the Messiah in the Old Testament. The “Son of Man” would come from God to bring God’s people into a closer union with Him. The Prophet Daniel – in the grip of Babylonian captivity – nonetheless prophetically looked forward to see our Jesus:

Daniel 7:13-14 I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. 14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

The Messiah would one day rule the earth, and the dominion of the Son of Man would be an everlasting dominion which would never pass away. When Jesus spoke of Himself as the “Son of Man” He said that He would first have to be “lifted up” or sacrificed for our sins.

No one can be saved unless they recognize Jesus as the ONE and ONLY Son of Man, the Messiah sent from God. Jesus told the religious Pharisees:

John 8:23-24, 28 {Jesus} said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins. … 28 Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.

Just as Israel looked on the serpent that Moses lifted up to be saved, we who are Christians looked on the Son of Man Who was lifted up to be saved. We believe on the Messiah, our Jesus. What love Christ had, to leave the splendor of Heaven to come to this earth for us! Jesus chose the nails! He said:

John 12:32-34, 37 … And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. 33 This he said, signifying what death he should die. 34 The people answered him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man? … 37 But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him:

Salvation comes to us when we look at Jesus, high and lifted up, the “Son of Man” dying for the sins of others sons of men. Jesus Christ the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins (Matthew 9:6). It was Jesus Christ the Son of Man Who was handed over to be crucified (Matthew 26:2). Jesus – our Lord Jesus – was tortured, rejected by the Jewish Council, by the Pharisees and leaders of Israel, killed and yet rose again (Mark 8:31). It is Jesus Christ Who is coming again to save His people, and establish His Kingdom on the earth (Revelation 14:14).

Do you know Him? Do you know the Son of God Who became the Son of Man to save us? Do you know Him Who was willing to be put on a pole, nailed to that tree, just so that we could be saved? Oh the foolishness of those who reject Him, refusing to look upon Him and be saved. Oh that all who read this would be convicted of their sin! Oh that all who hear this would turn to Him Who made such a great sacrifice for us! He willingly took the nails.

Luke 18:31-33 {Jesus said to His disciples} Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the SON OF MAN shall be accomplished. For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again.

Jesus did this so that “whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Do you know Him?

The Son Of Man Was Sacrificed
So We Could Be Saved

We have all we need to enter Heaven with the Blood of Christ. “The Blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7)”. So why don’t we go immediately to Heaven? BECAUSE JESUS WANTS US TO WALK AS SONS OF GOD ON THIS EARTH. He wants others to see Christ in us, living sacrificially for Him. Listen to the Scripture:

1 John 1:5-9 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Salvation brings the sinner into sonship, the son into sainthood, and the saint into service unto God.

If you have been saved by faith in Christ you are called to walk – not in the darkness of this present world – but in the light that is Christ. You are called to cherish God’s Word. You are called to live a life of sacrifice. If the Son of Man be lifted up, He will draw all men unto Jesus (John 12:32). The Christian who is saved indeed will live a life of sacrifice, imitating Christ in all that we do. What draws others to Christ? It is not just a static Cross hanging on a wall in a Church house. It is believers in Christ living as sons of God, Saints separated unto Him, living for Him Who died for us. When believers live sacrificially, loving as Christ loved, motivated to glorify God our Father, then this draws others to come to Jesus.

We call ourselves “Christian”, but the word “Christian” is only found three times in the Bible (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16). The Bible refers to those who love Jesus as “Saints” (62 times) and “sons of God”. Listen to these texts:

John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name ..

Romans 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

Galatians 4:6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

Philippians 2:15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;

1 John 3:1-2 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. 2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

Romans 12:1-2 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. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

As sons of God every believer in Christ is called to live sacrificially, just as Jesus lived. What did our Master tells us? “Take up YOUR CROSS and FOLLOW ME” (Matthew 10:38; 16:24; Mark 8:34; 10:21). The Christian life is a life that imitates God, not the world. We know that our old man is crucified with Jesus, destroying the body of sin, so that we will not serve sin (Romans 6:5-11). Since we are risen with Christ, we seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God the Father. Our affections are on our savior and Lord – our life is hid with Christ in God (Colossians 3:1-4). We who are Christ’s do not follow the world, but our Lord (Ephesians 4:17-24). The Baptist Evangelist F.B. Meyer wrote:

“When once a man understands the meaning of Calvary and not only accepts it for himself, but unites himself with it, he enters upon an absolutely new zone, or sphere, of living. Old things pass away! All things become new! The love of Christ constrains him, no longer to live for himself, but to Him, who loved him, and gave Himself for him.”

What Christ did for us is not just save us from Hell, but He brought Heaven to this earth. Live for Jesus, dear believer, if you are indeed a believer. Follow Him, imitate Him, live sacrificially not selfishly. Be the light, the Son, the Saint, the Servant you were called to be. For Christ’s sake, and for the sake of our community, our city, and our country. BE THE LIGHT! In Christ’s name I beseech you. Amen and Amen!

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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