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We Have An Altar

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Date:  8-18-96  

Text:                Heb.13:1-ff

Theme:            THE CROSS



The Wall Street Journal once projected a striking paradox of our time when it reported: "The elms in South Park, Pittsburgh must come down because they are obstructing the monument to Joyce Kilmer.  They have lifted their leafy arms so high that passer-by can no longer read the inscription which begins:  'I think that I shall never see / A poem lovely as a tree.'"

   In a world where people surrender their rights to preserve themselves, where cities are bombed to protect people, where nations wage war to preserve peace, where spending determines economy, it is tragically appropriate that trees should be sacrificed for a poem about trees.

   Isn't it even more ironic that a single Christ would have to die so that we could find forgiveness of our sins?   2 Cor 5:15; 2 Tim 2:11

We ask: " the reason for Christ's Death?"  God replies: "the Sins of Mankind."

We ask: "Where do we find this forgiveness of sin?  God says: "Look to Christ."

"How do we obtain forgiveness to our sin?"  God says "humble yourself."

Where can Temporal man meet this Eternal God? At the tabernacle of God's eternal affection, ... at the shrine of Christ's ultimate sacrifice, ... at the pinnacle of the Lord's demonstration of the ALTAR..  Yes, Today we have an Altar.  Where we can transact eternal business.


"13:1  Continue to love each other with true brotherly love.  2  Don't forget to be kind to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!  3  Don't forget about those in jail. Suffer with them as though you were there yourself. Share the sorrow of those being mistreated, for you know what they are going through. 4  Honor your marriage and its vows, and be pure; for God will surely punish all those who are immoral or commit adultery. 5  Stay away from the love of money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, "I will never, [never] fail you nor forsake you."  6  That is why we can say without any doubt or fear, "The Lord is my Helper, and I am not afraid of anything that mere man can do to me." 7  Remember your leaders who have taught you the Word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and try to trust the Lord as they do.

8  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  9  So do not be attracted by strange, new ideas. Your spiritual strength comes as a gift from God, not from ceremonial rules about eating certain foods--a method which, by the way, hasn't helped those who have tried it! 10  We have an altar--the cross where Christ was sacrificed--where those who continue to seek salvation by obeying Jewish laws( NT, those who render religious service or homage,  those who perform sacred services by offering gifts, priests who officiate and discharge the sacred office) can never be helped(it can never be consumed by them).  11  Under the system of Jewish laws, the high priest brought the blood of the slain animals into the sanctuary as a sacrifice for sin, and then the bodies of the animals were burned outside the city.   12  That is why Jesus suffered and died outside the city, where his blood washed our sins away. 13  So let us go out to him beyond the city walls [that is, outside the interests of this world, being willing to be despised {13:13 [that is . . . willing to be despised,] implied.}] to suffer with him there, bearing his shame.  14  For this world is not our home; we are looking forward to our everlasting home in heaven. 15  With Jesus' help we will continually offer our sacrifice of praise to God by telling others of the glory of his name.  16  Don't forget to do good and to share what you have with those in need, for such sacrifices are very pleasing to him.  17  Obey your spiritual leaders and be willing to do what they say. For their work is to watch over your souls, and God will judge them on how well they do this. Give them reason to report joyfully about you to the Lord and not with sorrow, for then you will suffer for it too.

18  Pray for us, for our conscience is clear and we want to keep it that way. 19  I especially need your prayers right now so that I can come back to you sooner. 20  And now may the God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he who became the great Shepherd of the sheep by an everlasting agreement between God and you, signed with his blood, produce in you through the power of Christ all that is pleasing to him. To him be glory forever and ever. Amen. 21  22  Brethren, please listen patiently to what I have said in this letter, for it is a short one.  23  I want you to know that Brother Timothy is now out of jail; if he comes here soon, I will come with him to see you.  24  Give my greetings to all your leaders and to the other believers there. The Christians from Italy who are here with me send you their love. God's grace be with you all. Good-bye."

I.  The Altar is a Special Place of Sacrifice.

            A.  TWO ALTARS IN THE O.T.:

                        1.   Brazen Altar:

                                    a.  Other names:

                                                1)  "The Altar"

                                                2)  "The Altar of burnt offerings

                                                3)  "The Altar by the door of the


                                    b.  This is where the animal sacrifices were


                                    c.  Size  & Location :

                                                1)  It was 7 1/2 ft in length by 7 1/2 ft

                                                     wide by 6 1/4 ft high.

                                                2)  It was so huge it could hold all the

                                                     other  vessels of the temple and

                                                     still have more room.

                                                3)  This signified that when you came

                                                     to God He would accept your

                                                     sacrifice...He is big enough!!!

                                                            a)  there was always room...

                                                            b)  There was always a PLACE

                                                               for your sacrifice at the Altar .

                                                4)  Located between the entrance &

                                                     the laver (a gold vessel used for


                                                            a)  This represented the fact

                                                                 that you could not without

                                                                 passing the place of


                                                            b)  Acquaintance and

                                                                 intercourse with God could

                                                                 only be formed through the

                                                                 knowledge of the slain


                        2.  Altar of Incense 

                                    a.  Located on the way into the "Holy of

                                         Holies"  - Which designated that there was

                                         only one way to God... through the

                                         sacrifice and shedding of blood.

                                    b.  Offered twice daily (Morning & Evening)

                                         by only Priests:

                                                1)  born in the family of Aaron.

                                                2)  This explains the sin of Uzziah II

                                                     Chron. 26:18

                                    c.  Six things that burning of incense


                                                1)  Christ being offered up as "a sweet

                                                     savour of Christ."  (II Cor.2:14,15)

                                                2)  A name of Christ-Savour/Incense

                                                     of God Song of Solomon 1:3

                                                3)  Communion   (Prov. 27:9)

                                                4)  Love   (Song of Solomon


                                                5)  Gifts  (Phil. 4:18)

                                                6)  It represents prayer -(Rev.5:8)

                                                            a.  That of the Priests for the


                                                            b.  That of Christ for His people

                                                               (Heb.7:25 / 9:24)

                                                            c.  That of Believers for God's


OBSERVATION:  When the priest entered the Holy of Holies once per year, he was shielded by a cloud of incense, so that "he would not die,"  Lev.16:12, 13.  The Psalmist said: "The Lord is a SUN (shekinah glory) and shield (the cloud of incense) Ps. 84:2.


                        1.  By the Plan of God.

                        2.  Represented in the O.T.

                        3.  The Cross of Christ.

                                    a)  Construed in the Heart of God

                                                1)   Is a memorial to God's intervention

                                                      in the lives of men.

                                                2)   Is a memorial to God's unselfish

                                                      love for man.

                                                3)   Is a memorial to God's plan for


                                    b) Constructed on the hill of death

                                        -Golgotha-The Place..of The Skull.

                                    c)  Constitutes  the backbone of the  


                                                1)  The preaching of the Cross is

                                                     "foolishness to the unsaved" 

                                                             I Cor. 13:18,

                                                2)  I Cor. 13:23 "but we preach Christ

                                                     crucified: a stumbling block to Jews

                                                     and  foolishness  to Gentiles,  24 

                                                     but to those whom God has called,

                                                     both Jews and Greeks, Christ the

                                                     power of God and the wisdom of


NOTE:   In the O.T. only the priest could offer INCENSE to God.

NOW, only those who are Born-again believers can offer incense to God.   (Rev. 5:8)

T.S. The Altar is a Place of Sacrifice, a place where one comes to lay down a burden... or to offer up praise. 

It is also ...

II.  The Altar is a Place of Specific Separation.

            A.  It is reserved for specific People-Priests only ...

                        1.  Exodus 19:6 "And you shall be to Me a kingdom of  priests  and a holy nation.' These [are] the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel."

                        2.  Exodus 19:22  "Also let the  priests  who come near the Lord consecrate themselves, lest the Lord break out against them."

            B.  It is reserved for a specific Peoples-A Nation...

                        1.  II Cor. 6:17   "Therefore  " Come   out   from  among them  And be separate, says the Lord.  Do not touch what is unclean,  And I will receive you."  18  "I will be a Father to you,  And you shall be My sons and daughters,  Says the Lord Almighty."  7:1  Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves  from  all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

                        2.  Lev. 15:31 "Thus you shall  separate  the children of Israel from their uncleanness, lest they die in their uncleanness when they defile My tabernacle that [is] among them."

            C.  It is reserved for the Perfecting of the Peoples:

                        1.  From Darkness into the light.

                                    a.  I Pet.2:9 "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful  light."

                                    b.  Acts 26:18  "to open their eyes and turn them  from   darkness  to light,"

                        2.  From  the power of Satan to the power of God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.' 

                        3.  From disobedience to obedience.

Acts 26:19  "So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision  from  heaven."

                        4.  From the old to the new.

II Cor. 5:17:  "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"

                        5.  From serving self to serving the Lord.

Eph. 6:7  "Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were  serving  the Lord, not men,"

                        6.  From Convict to convert.

                                    a.  We are guilty and sentenced...

                                                1)  Romans 6:23  "For the  wages  of

                                                            sin is death, but the gift of God

                                                            is eternal life in Christ Jesus

                                                            our Lord."

                                                2)  Gal.2:20  "I have been crucified

                                                            with Christ and I no longer live,

                                                            but Christ lives in me. The  life 

                                                            I live in the body, I live by faith

                                                            in the Son of God, who loved

                                                            me and gave himself for me.

                                    b.  A.W. Tozer:

"To be crucified means, first, the man on the cross is facing only one direction; second, he is not going back; and third, he has no further plan of his own."    See: Rom 6:5-8; Gal 2:20

                                    c.  THREE ROADSIDE CROSSES

As you travel down Interstate 64 through West Virginia, and Virginia, you cannot help but notice the message of the three silent crosses.  Those crosses call to mind a sermon I read some year ago by Myron J. Taylor titled "A Hill With Three Crosses."  He said that one cross portrays a thief dying IN sin, and the other a thief dying TO sin.  But the center cross speaks of the redeemer dying FOR sin.  It divides all humanity into one of two categories -- those who reject Christ and die in sin, and those who receive Christ and can die to sin.    See:  1 Cor 1:18; 1 Cor 1:23-24; Gal 2:20

T.S. The Altar is a place of Separation from Sin and death to  life and right- standing with God.

III.  The Altar is a place of Salvation.  -A place where we come and God saves us... A place where we receive an eternal relationship with the God of the universe, a place where we grow in our personal relationship to God through Jesus Christ.

A place.....

            A.  Where people find Joy.

                        1.  Eternal joy. Matt.25:20  "So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, `Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.'  21  "His lord said to him, `Well [done], good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things.  Enter   into  the joy of your lord.'

                        2.  Abundant life. Jn 10:10

            B.  Where people obtain Confidence through...

                        1.  The Power of the Gospel

                                    a. Which gives life. Rom.1:16 For I am not

                                        ashamed  of  the  gospel   of  Christ,

                                        for it is the power  of  God to salvation for

                                        everyone who believes, for the Jew first

                                        and also for the Greek.

                                    b. Which gives love. JN.3:16; Rom.5:8  "But

                                       God  demonstrates His own  love  toward

                                       us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ

                                       died for us.

                                    c. Which gives hope. Col.1:21 " And you,

                                        who once were alienated and enemies in

                                        your mind by wicked works, yet now He

has reconciled  22  in the body  of  His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight--  23  if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the  hope   of  the  gospel  which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven,  of  which I, Paul, became a minister.

A place where people obtain Confidence through...

                        2.  The Power of the Gifts  (Comes...)

                                    a.  Through the Baptism of the H.S.

                                                i)   Mk.1:8  "I indeed  baptized  you

                                                   with water, but He will baptize you

                                                   with the Holy Spirit."

                                                ii)  Acts 2:38  "And Peter [said] unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the  gift  of the Holy Spirit.  39  For to you is the promise, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, [even] as many as the Lord our God shall call unto him."

                                    b.  Through the manifestation of gifts.

                                                1)  Power is

                                                            a)  Released by faith                                                                           b)  Asserted by the 

                                                              manifestation of the gift(s)...

                                                2)  (Gifts Are manifested to)

                                                            a)  Confirm the word of God,

                                                            b)  Affirm the body of Christ,

                                                            c)  Minister  to the needs of

                                                                God's Creation.

(Power of the Gifts, comes....)

                                    c.  Through the miracles of God.

                                                1)  It is all God, not man...

                                                2)  It is supernatural, not natural...

ILL.  The supernatural goes beyond what I can do in the natural.  It allows me to participate with the divine in things that I could not possibly have ability in or of myself.

(The Altar is a place of Salvation...)

            C.  Where people find work

                        1.  Three areas of work that we find that begin at


                                    a.  The work of God-to believe

JN 6:28  Then they said to Him, "What shall we do, that we may  work  the works  of   God ?"  29  Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the  work   of   God , that you believe in Him whom He sent."

                                    b.  The work of Faith-   I Thess 1:3  remembering without ceasing your  work   of   faith , labor  of  love, and patience  of  hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight  of  our God and Father,

                                    c.  O The work of love-I Thess 1:3/Heb.6:10  "10  For God [is] not unjust to forget your  work  and labor  of   love  which you have shown toward His name, [in] [that] you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.  11  And we desire that each one  of  you show the same diligence to the full assurance  of  hope until the end,  12  that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises."

                        2.  Our work begins with Faith:

                                    a.  Heb. 11:1 "Now faith is the substance  of  things hoped for, the evidence  of  things not seen. ..

                                    b. Heb.11:6  But without faith [it] [is] impossible to please [Him], for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and [that] He is a rewarder  of  those who diligently seek Him.

                        3.  Our work ends with faith:

                                    a.  I Tim 6:12  "Fight  the good  fight   of   faith , lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence  of  many witnesses."

                                    b.  Rev.2:10  "Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw [some] of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful  until  death , and I will give you the crown of life."

CONCLUSION:     We have an Altar.... on which to lay our ambitions, our rights, our fears, and our lives as a sacrifice.... We have an Altar.... that separates us from the world... We have an Altar....  that leads us home...

  Officer Peter O'Hanlon was patrolling on night duty in northern England some years ago when he heard a quivering sob. Turning in the direction that it came from, he saw in the shadows a little boy sitting on a doorstep.  With tears rolling down his cheeks, the child whimpered, "I'm lost.  Take me home." 

The policeman began naming street after street, trying to help him remember where he lived. 

When that failed, he repeated the names of the shops and hotels in the area, but all without success.

Then he remembered that in the center of the city was a well-known church with a large white cross towering high above the surrounding landscape. 

He pointed to it and said, "Do you live anywhere near that?"  The boy's face immediately brightened. "Yes, take me to the cross.  I can find my way home from there!"   See:  Eph 2:14-16

Altar Call (Application):

So let us go out to HIM (Vs.13)

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