Posted by: dhkrause | May 25, 2014

Living Sacrifices to God

In Romans 12: 1-2, Paul (Shaul) sounds the trumpet (shofar) calling
believers to give themselves wholeheartedly to 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.
And do not be conformed to this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,
that you may prove what is that good
and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Paul calls them brethren – brothers and sisters born from above by the Spirit of God, by faith in the grace and mercies of God made available through Jesus Christ.

He calls each of us to be completely dedicated to God, a living sacrifice set apart and acceptable to Him. This is our reasonable service considering all that Christ and the Father have given for us.

Those who answer this call will not be conformed to this world, but transformed into new creations by the renewing of their minds, so that they can walk by the leading of His Spirit, knowing and proving His good and acceptable and perfect will.

Dr. Viggo (Vic) Olsen and his wife Joan lived out this call in their lives and ministries.   In his autobiography, “Daktar, Diplomat in Bangladesh”, he describes how they came to the decision to be medical missionaries in East Pakistan (later to become Bangladesh). They had first received salvation and eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ, as promised in John 3:16:

 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Out of love for us, the Father and the Son of God have given so much more than we will ever know! Now Dr. Olsen and his wife were seeking God to know how best to give back to Him a measure of that same love.

This passage in Romans 12 helped them to see that to know His will clearly, they would need to offer their whole lives to Him, in full dedication ready to obey whatever directions He would give. They agreed it was only right that “God should challenge us to dedicate ourselves fully to Him and His eternal glorious cause!”

   “Now it is clear!” we said to each other. Facing us, then, was a second great decision, a second great step in the Christian life. The Bible told us that this act would put us in position to be directed into a God-guided life. Wow! God was telling us through his Word that we needed to dedicate (give, yield, surrender, offer, set apart) ourselves to God that He might take us, reshape us, direct us, and use us for good and spiritual purposes.”
“Finally the day came, for each of us, when the last barrier collapsed and individually we gave ourselves back to the Lord who loved us, choosing to walk in His way for us.” (ibid, p. 81, 1974 ed.)

No longer would a lucrative medical practice be the goal for which they strived. Their focus now was to use all their skills to serve God wherever He might send them, to bring healing and health to the whole person – body, mind and spirit – to those most in need of the help they could give.

The back cover of the 1996 edition of his book highlights some of Dr. Olsen’s work in the country where God sent them:

     The former East Pakistan was a country beset with disease, poverty, and natural disasters. In the early 1960s a brilliant young Christian doctor named Viggo Olsen left behind the possibility of a prosperous career in the United States to establish the first modern medical facility on the eastern side of the country.
In 1971 a viciously one-sided civil war ravaged the country as heavily-armed troops from West Pakistan savagely attacked the almost defenseless East Pakistanis who sought to form their own nation. In countless hours of crisis and the horrors of war, God used Dr. Olsen to act as both a political mediator and spiritual counselor.
This classic missionary story continues to thrill readers with its blend of excitement, insight, and inspiration surrounding the birth of the new nation of Bangladesh and the dedicated Christian workers who served its people.

Jesus says in Luke 6:44, “For every tree is known by its own fruit.” The fruit of the ministry of Dr. Viggo and Joan Olsen and their four children in Bangladesh was wonderfully good and life-giving, pointing to the good tree from which it grew – the wholehearted giving of their lives to God, as we are each called to do in Romans 12:1-2.

The phrase, “brethren, by the mercies of God” calls to mind the description in Hebrews 2 of Christ bringing many sons [and daughters] to glory:

Hebrews 2 (NKJV)
10 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11 For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12 saying:
“I will declare Your name to My brethren;
In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You.” [Psalm 22:22]

This was the joy that was set before Jesus as he laid down his life at Calvary for all who believe, as described in Hebrews 12:

Hebrews 12 (NKJV)
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

This is amazing grace, and compelling love! Jesus wants to be your elder brother! He voluntarily laid down his life to make it possible, and He is risen from the dead as He promised. Now it is your “reasonable service” to no longer live for yourself, but for Him who died for you and rose again:

2 Corinthians 5 (NKJV)
14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.

David Krause,,

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