The Optional and the Obligatory in the Kingdom of God
Ezekiel 46:4-12
And the burnt offering that the prince shall offer to the LORD in the sabbath day shall be six lambs without blemish…

1. Here are minute and positive prescriptions, requiring exact conformity and allowing no deviation. The burnt offering was to be six lambs and one ram - no more and no less (ver. 4). In the day of the new moon - at that particular time - the offering was to include a young bullock (ver. 6). They who entered in by the north gate were to go out by the south gate, and vice versa (ver. 9). These (and other) instructions were in full and careful detail, and there was to be no departure from them.

2. On the other hand, the prince might, at certain hours and on occasion, bring an offering that was purely "voluntary;" one that was "voluntarily" presented unto the Lord (ver. 12). Room was left for spontaneity, even in the midst of these very specific requirements. In the kingdom of Jesus Christ we have these two orders of service - the obligatory and the optional, the plainly and positively enjoined, and the voluntary; and that Christian life is not complete which is lacking in either.

I. THE OBLIGATORY. Of those things pertaining to our Christian life which are indispensable there are:

1. At its entrance:

(1) humility (or penitence); and

(2) faith, that living faith in Jesus Christ which includes the acceptance of him as the Savior of the soul and the Lord of the life.

2. Throughout its course:

(1) worship, or the approach of the human spirit to the Divine in prayer, in thanksgiving, in consecration;

(2) obedience, or the conformity of conduct to those precepts which are an essential part of Christian morals;

(3) love, including not only the "love of the brethren," or a special attachment to those who are the friends and followers of Jesus Christ, but also a genuine pity for those who are far from him and need to be brought nigh, and a practical determination to seek and to win these erring souls.

II. THE OPTIONAL. There is room for the voluntary as well as for the necessary in our Christian life.

1. In the particulars of our worship. We have one main principle binding upon all men everywhere (John 4:23, 24), but it is left to our individual choice - to our own judgment and conscience - at what times, in what forms, within what buildings, with what kind of human ministry, we shall draw nigh to God in true and pure devotion.

2. In the minutiae of obedience. What shall be the rules and the regulations we shall lay down for the observance of the great principles of purity, of temperance, of equity, of veracity, of reverential speech, of courtesy., - these are not to be found in any Christian directory; they are to be decided upon m the sanctuary of every consecrated spirit and of every cultivated conscience.

3. In the measure and methods of loving service. What proportion of our income, what amount of our time, what order of personal effort, we shall devote to the cause of Christ and in the interest of our fellow-men, - this rests with every individual Christian man to decide. These must be, in some sense and degree, "voluntary offerings." - C.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And the burnt offering that the prince shall offer unto the LORD in the sabbath day shall be six lambs without blemish, and a ram without blemish.

WEB: The burnt offering that the prince shall offer to Yahweh shall be on the Sabbath day six lambs without blemish and a ram without blemish;

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