Access to God—Our Sacrificial Ministry

When one speaks of access to God, one issue that needs further development is our sacrificial ministry. A good place to begin is in Hebrews itself. In 13.15-16, our access to God (remember Heb 10.19-22) includes our offering up (OT priestly language) sacrifice. That sacrifice has two forms in this passage. One is the “sacrifice of praise.” This language, derived from Leviticus 7.12-15, where it refers to the “thank” offering in the Levitical system. The other is the doing good works and sharing (in the needs of others). But God has qualified us for this ministry through the work of Jesus. Because of Him, we are fit for ministry to God in the Most Holy place where Jesus, the High Priest, ministers (Heb 8.1-2).

Romans 12.1 calls us to our reasonable service which consists in making our bodies living sacrifices. Since this verse, and its sequel, verse 2, introduce the application section of Romans, we should view the two verses as summarizing what Paul spells out in the rest of the section (12.3–15.13). This sacrificial ministry depends on our transformation in mind and leads to three sacrificial behaviors. In 12.3-8, living sacrifice serves through spiritual gifting. In 12.9–13.10, living sacrifice loves genuinely, refusing vengeance (see 12.17-13.7). Finally, living sacrifice means accepting those who differ with us about the details of how one should live the Christian life. These are our “reasonable service.” While the Greek verb does not specifically refer to priestly work, yet  it does include the formal ritual service of the divine (“to perform religious rites, to worship, to venerate, worship” (Louw and Nida). Again, though, our fitness for this work derives from “the mercies of God” that Paul described in Romans 1–11.

We might extend this discussion. Other references to our sacrificial work occur in Romans 15.16; 2 Corinthians 2.14; 9.12; Philippians 2.17, 25, 30 (the word is leitourgia or its cognates, which are regularly associated with priestly ministry in the Septuagint); 3.3; 4.18; Hebrews 9.14; 12.28; 13.10; 1 Peter 2.5-10. Our future ministry appears in Revelation 7.15 and 22.3. But in all, Jesus has purchased by His work access to God for us. This access means that we live a life  of priestly service, a service acceptable continually through the work of Christ.

About jamesallman

Jim Allman is a Bible teacher living in the Dallas, TX area. He taught 18 years in Memphis, TN at Mid-South Bible / Crichton College, and has been at Dallas Seminary since 2000. He is married to Jan and has three married children, Jill, Jim, Jr., and Julie, and six grandchildren, Hannah, Sara, Gabriel, Miles, Asher, and his little brother, Asa.
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