Bereans: “a living sacrifice”
A theme verse for the Bereans in 2013 is Romans 12:1. It is a famous verse which will provide a undergirding foundation for our church motto in the new year, Berean Baptist Church: Your Pathway for Service. Perhaps you have the verse memorized. It has been translated a number of ways from the Greek:
- Parakalo oun humas, adelphoi (I beseech therefore you, brothers) Dia ton oiktirmon tou Theou (through the compassions of God) Parasteisai ta somata humon (to present the bodies of you) Thusian zosan hagian to theo euareston (sacrifice a living holy to God well-pleasing)Tein logikein latreian humon (the reasonable service of you) – Koine Greek
- “I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercifulness of God, that ye make your bodies a quick sacrifice holy and acceptable unto God which is your reasonable serving of God. And fashion not yourselves like unto this world: But be ye changed in your shape, by the renewing of your wits that ye may feel what thing that good, that acceptable, and perfect will of God is” (Tyndale New Testament, 1534, modern English and including verse 2). Tyndale adds in the margin, “True serving of God is to bring the body into the obedience of the law of God.”
- “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” (27, NKJV)
- “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.” (NLT)
- “Asi que, hermanos, os ruego por las misericordias de Dios, que presenteis vuestros cuerpos en sacrificio vivo, santo, agradable a Dios, que es vuestro culto racional” (Spanish)
- “I urge you, then, brothers, remembering the mercies of God, to offer your bodies a living sacrifice, dedicated and acceptable to God; that is the kind of worship for you, as sensible people.” (New Jerusalem Bible)
- “I plead to you, therefore, my brothers, by the mercies of Elohim, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, Set Apart and acceptable to Elohim by a rational service (of Him).” (Aramaic English New Testament) Note – this translation came from 15 Hebrew words.
- “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (ESV)
- “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” (NASB)
In considering this verse, you must first meditate on the reasons for your service – God’s mercies.
Notice that the mercies are plural, not singular. The Triune God is full of tender mercies. Rivers flow with the riches of compassion.
- “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (II Cor. 1:3).
- “Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of the one accord, of one mind” (Phil. 2:1).
- “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection” (Col. 3:12-14).
Mercy is God’s love for you and me when we were poor and needy and helpless. We reflected the pagan and religious sinners of Romans 1-2. According to Romans 3, there is no difference among any of us. We were and are all sinners. But God’s mercy stepped in.
- “justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24)
- “Blessed are those who lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin” (Rom. 4:7-8)
- “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1)
- “the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom. 5:5)
- “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8)
- “When we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son” (Rom. 5:10)
- “where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 5:20-21).
- “But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life” (Rom. 6:22)
- “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Rom. 7:24)
- “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1)
- “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified” (Rom. 8:29-30)
- “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” (Rom. 8:35)
- “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God with is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39)
- “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Rom. 10:4)
- So here comes the doxology at the conclusion of Romans 1-11: “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! ‘For who has known the mind of the LORD? Or who has become His counselor? Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to him?’ For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen” (Rom. 11:33-36).
Start now by purchasing a journal so that you may keep a record of God’s daily mercies in your life.
“Logikein” is of course related to “Ho Logos” or “The Word”, and this “Word” is indeed Christ. “In the beginning was ‘Ho Logos” (John 1:1). This service, this worship, this “living sacrifice” (a paradoxical phrase in Greek, given the most literal meaning of the Greek word for sacrifice is “to slaughter”) is that of the Logos Himself. Thus, it is first grounded in baptism wherein we die with Christ the Logos (Romans 6:1-5). It is kenotic, involving the “emptying of self” (Phil 2: 5-11, esp. vs. 8), reflecting the primordial, eternal act of being that constitutes the Trinity. It is motivated by love, both for God and for other humans (Eph. 5:2, I Cor. 13, I John 4:19-20), the Divine, Agapic Love which itself constitutes the Trinity and which the Logos manifests for humanity (John 15:13). It is physical. We offer, not just our souls or spirits, but our BODIES, even as the Logos does.
Fundamentally, this service is the service of the Logos, manifested in us, whose “bodies” are “members of Christ” (I Cor.6:15: see also John 15:5); without the Logos we “can do nothing”. Thus, making this sacrifice is done with, in, and through the Church, the body of Christ. It is therefore LITURGICAL. In the Church, in the Divine Liturgy, the Eucharist, we offer our bodies/ourselves by means of bread and wine and in return, we “chew the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Adam” (John 6) who took bread and, having given thanks, said, “Take, eat: this is my body” and also, the cup, again giving thanks and saying, “Take this, all of you, and drink from it, this is my blood”. Thus, the Anaphora, or Eucharistic Prayer, of St. John Chrysostom, repeatedly calls the Eucharist “this logical worship”, alluding to this passage and, the following appears in the Anglican formulary, “And here, we offer and present unto Thee, O Lord, ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a [“logical”], holy and living sacrifice unto Thee…”