Summary: The first in a series on holiness/sanctification about the significance of the altar of sacrifice.
Called Unto Holiness
Scripture: 1 Thess. 4:1-8
Text: 1 Thess. 4:3
Take your Bible and turn to 1 Thess. 4:1-8. This is going to be our key passage for messages for the next few weeks on holiness. I don’t know how many weeks. We’ll see how the Spirit leads.
1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 (READ - mention verse 3 as text verse.)
(Show video - Stuck - from Worship House Media)
Sometimes we get stuck. Sometimes we get so used to how things have always been, that we don’t see the answer that is right in front of us. The answer is there, but we’ve never seen it done, or it’s not part of our environment, or we’ve just never thought about it as a possibility. But once it’s discovered, it’s simple.
We don’t have an altar in this church. A physical altar, but there is always a place of prayer in this church. If you ever feel a tug on your heart to do something that will make things better between you and the Lord, you do it. I’ve been in churches where there was an actual physical altar, across the front here, and I’ve seen people come forward on the very first hymn. The Holy Spirit has been speaking to them about something all week long, and they could hardly wait to get to church to come forward and have the prayers of the pastor and people, and make their commitment (their sacrifice), known. Now, the most usual time, is during the last hymn, when I’m praying at the end, or even as you sense me coming to the close of my message. Just get up out of your seat and walk to the front. I might finish my sentence, we’ll finish the verse that we’re singing, or I’ll finish my prayer, but then I will have a prayer with you, talk to you, and we’ll follow the leading of the Holy Spirit from that point on. When that happens, - when someone comes forward - your responsibility as a congregation is to simply sit back down if you’re standing, pray for the person who is at the front. Or if you also feel led to come up, you come. And then, depending on the prayer needs of the person who has come forward, we will have a corporate time of prayer, or a time of celebration.
Jesus said if you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth, that you are mine, then you will be saved. Jesus is telling us to make sure that our heart and our mouth is in sync. Jesus always calls for public confession - for a witness to God’s work in our life. He does that, because this life we live, salvation, healing, victory over temptation - none of that is about us - it’s about God’s glory. It’s about His mercy in our lives. And if we don’t testify to that work, then God does not get the glory, and the witness of what God has done will be void - there won’t be any witness at all. We will have snuffed out God’s glory by our silence. I hope we can understand what a privilege that is, and that we literally can stuff, or quench God’s glory by our silence.
When I was a girl growing up, in my childhood church, there was a banner across the front of the church - it was painted right onto the back of the wall. It said, “Holiness Unto the Lord.” That’s why I called this series of messages “Holiness Unto the Lord." It’s a basic doctrine of the Bible. Most denominations have a doctrine of holiness. If you check around, most denominations have a doctrine of holiness. They may call it something else - sanctification, holiness, Christian perfection, Christ-likeness, but you really can’t not have one and be a Bible-believing church. They may have set it on the back burner - not preach about it, but it’s there. God said we are to be holy as he is holy. The text we read earlier says, “It is God’s will that you are holy.” So if we’re going to live according to God’s will, we have to live holy lives. But where do we start? Where on earth do we start. I mean is this concept of holiness something basic that you all already know all about, or is it new to you? Where do we start? We start with the heart.
And for that, we need to know about the altar - the physical altar that we use as a place of repentance and mercy, and the altar of our heart. The altar of our heart is activated inside of us, and it manifests itself at the physical altar. And it is my prayer that as we go along, you will see how each of these messages fit together with our calling to be holy.