Question: What did the Church sacrifice?
Answer: The Scriptures use the word sacrifice in two ways: (1) to describe the surrender of the believer’s will in order to have God’s will done in one’s life; and (2) to indicate the work of the Church’s High Priest, who made that consecration acceptable to God. Members of the Church primarily sacrificed what they possessed along the lines of their earthly rights, privileges and opportunities. But they also gave up something by faith. By faith, believing that God had made a provision that all mankind shall have the privilege of restitution to human perfection during the Millennial Age, they gave up their share of those future restitution privileges. Thus their principal giving up was the surrender of what they had, and their secondary giving up was that which they had by faith in God’s great plan.
This does not mean, however, that it was necessary for one to have an appreciation of the coming restitution blessings in order to sacrifice these and thus to present himself a living sacrifice (Romans 12: 1). A knowledge of restitution blessings is connected with a full knowledge of the ransom. In the Interim of the Gospel Age practically no one had this knowledge clearly. But since members of the Church consecrated everything that they had to the Lord, this included restitution also. Those saints who lived before the Harvest period made an acceptable sacrifice through faith in the Redeemer.
The Terms Offer, Sacrifice and Devote Differentiated
The terms offer, sacrifice, devote, etc., sometimes have different meanings. For example, when we read that the high priest offered the sacrifices and also that believers offered their bodies living sacrifices, we should differentiate between these uses of the word offer and say that to devote for sacrifice was the part of the believer. This was done when they presented their bodies at consecration. This is shown in the type by the bringing of the two goats to the door of the Tabernacle and the tying of them there. In this sense, they sacrificed – that is, they gave up their own will and their own rights to everything. But the Heavenly Father did not deal with them in the sense of accepting a sacrifice from them, except through the Redeemer. As their great Advocate He stood ready to impute His merit to their offering, and as the High Priest, the representative of God, He sacrificed it. The believer presented himself, and the offering was completed when the High Priest accepted the sacrifice and began the killing of the antitypical goat. But that was a gradual work. In the type, the life was accepted instantly when the high priest thrust the knife into the goat, but the sacrifice was not actually completed until the blood was taken into the Most Holy. Such is also the case in the antitype.
The Lord Jesus sacrificed the Church throughout the Gospel Age. When believers became spirit-begotten they became new creatures. Their actual dying, all their sufferings in the “narrow way,” and their continuing to yield themselves to the guidance of the Lord were all parts of the work of sacrifice. Consecration was only the beginning. They needed to continually fill up the sufferings of Christ. The Apostle indicated this when he said that the bodies of those beasts whose blood was brought into the Most Holy by the high priest, wherewith to make atonement for sin, were burned outside the camp (Hebrews 13: 11). In one sense, that “goat” was dead. But the Church’s experiences represented the actual suffering and going outside the camp – all that happened to them while they were reckoned dead according to the flesh.
It is different for those of us who have consecrated our lives to God after the High Calling closed. The act of consecration is the same, but God makes use of our consecrations differently. We do not become spirit-begotten, nor do we sacrifice our future restitution privileges.