Series: Great Doctrine

Out of the years of my own ministry, this week has been the most difficult week of preparation that I’ve ever experienced in my life.  The sermon at the eleven o’clock hour is on the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit.  And I never preached a sermon on the Trinity in my life and would not now.  But in preparing for the next Sunday, I was going through the Book of Galatians which follows Second Corinthians.  And I intended to finish Second Corinthians last Sunday night, but the last verse in Second Corinthians, the thirteenth chapter, the last verse is this: “And now may the love of God the Father and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the fellowship and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you now and always.  Amen” [2 Corinthians 13:14].

And I got to lookin’ at that verse – “the love of God” and “the grace of Christ” and “the fellowship of the Holy Spirit” – and I thought, “Out of all of my ministry, never one time to preach on the Trinity.”

Well, the reason I haven’t preached on the Trinity is I haven’t known what to say.  It’s an inscrutable, unfathomable revelation, but the Bible has a lot to say about it.  So I just committed myself to it, and the product of the prayer and effort of the week is in that sermon at eleven o’clock, and I hope you will listen to it on the radio.

Now, the same thing about the sermon for this hour: never in my life have I ever stopped other than to take a text from Leviticus. I’ve never spoken, I’ve never looked at, much less tried to understand, the sacrifices of the Lord.  They were too complicated.  Why worry about that?  And yet, there are page and page and page and pages of it in the Bible.  And then I’d read it – just go through it just like that – oh, move along, move along.

Well, this morning I have prepared a message on the sacrifices of the Lord, the offerings of the Lord, and it is encompassed in the first seven chapters of Leviticus.  And you can follow me.  This is another one of those messages where, on the flyleaf of your Bible or in a little notebook, you can write it down.  You can follow it.  Leviticus.  Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, the third book in the Bible, the third Book of Moses – and we are going, this morning, to look at the worship of the ancient Jewish religion, the Old Testament sacrificial system.

Now, to begin with – and it’s very simple to envisage – to begin with, let us keep in our minds the arrangement of the tabernacle which later was placed in stone and gold – the temple.  They were both made alike.

First, facing the east – where is east here?  That?  Is that east?  South?  East?  Is this east?

All right, facing the east now.  As you would face the east, the tabernacle always was set facing the east [Exodus 27:9-18Numbers 2:173:38].  Solomon’s temple, which was the tabernacle placed in stone, faced the east [Ezekiel 8:16].  Facing the east now, there was a courtyard [Exodus 27:9-18].  The tabernacle itself had a court around it, a wall around it.  In the tabernacle, all these things made out of tent cloth, out of badgers’ skins [Exodus 26:14]; in the temple, of course, made out of great heavy white stone.

Now they had a courtyard all the way around – a wall all the way around – and you could enter in from the east side [Exodus 27:9-18].

Now, when you walked into the court, why, first was a tremendous brazen altar, the great altar of sacrifice [Exodus 27:1-7].  It was a big thing, a huge thing.  Oh, it is half as big as this church.  It was an enormous thing.  It’s not a little thing as you might imagine.  It was a great big thing.  And the priest walked up to it by a ramp, a large ramp: a great brazen altar, horns on each corner [Exodus 27:2].

Then beyond – now that was the first thing when you walked in was this tremendous altar – then the second thing was a tremendous molten sieve: a laver, a great washbasin in which the priest could bathe himself, an enormous round sieve – big basin [Exodus 30:18-21].  Then beyond that was the tabernacle itself, the temple itself – and the temple had a porch on it [John 10:23].

The tabernacle would be in two parts: the holy place when you went in, the seven-branch candlestick, the table of showbread, the golden altar of incense, the veil in between [Hebrews 9:2]; the Holy of Holies beyond with the Ark of the Covenant, the cherubim looking down upon the lid which was called the mercy seat on the inside of which was the two tables of stone and the rod of Aaron that budded [Hebrews 9:3-5].

Now, as we go through this, try to keep that in mind: the courtyard and the first thing – the great, great altar, the laver – then the tabernacle beyond [Exodus 30:17-21].

Now, if I could describe the ancient religions as being one thing above anything else, I’d call them slaughterhouses, butcher shops.  They slew, oh, innumerable, innumerable animal sacrifices.  It was the pouring out of blood and the burning of the sacrifice day after day – a vast, vast endeavor, a tremendous thing – no little thing, a vast thing.

Now, these sacrifices of the Lord were of five different kinds, five of them, and they’re all here: one chapter, one; second chapter, the other; third chapter, the other; fourth chapter, the other; fifth chapter, the other.  They’re just right here in the Book of Leviticus.  They’re all plainly written.  It’s just that we don’t ever take time to read it.

Now, there are five of those tremendous sacrifices made unto the Lord, five of them.  Three of them were voluntary.  You could do it if you please.

Now look there in your Bible in the first chapter of Leviticus and the third verse: “He shall offer it of his own voluntary will” [Leviticus 1:3].

Now, the first three kinds of sacrifices are voluntary.  The man did it of his own accord, and they are called sweet-savor offerings [Leviticus 1:132:23:5].  The smoke of them, the incense of them, the fire of it as it came up to the Lord and the Lord looked upon it and smelled the sweet savor of it, it pleased the Lord.  They are called sweet-savor offerings.

Now, the last two – I said the first three were voluntary.  The man did it of his own heart, of his own will – but the last two were mandatory.  They were compulsory.  Those two kinds of sacrifices are sin offerings.  One called a sin offering [Leviticus 4:1-35] and one called a trespass offering [Leviticus 5:1-19], but they were mandatory.  You had to bring those sacrifices.  The first three are optional.  Now let’s take these in order.

The first sacrifice, the sweet-savor offering before the Lord, is the whole burnt offering [Leviticus 1:1-17].  That’s the first one.  The second one is the meal offering[Leviticus 2:1-16].  The third one is the peace offering [Leviticus 3:1-17].  Those three are voluntary.  The last two, I say mandatory, are the sin offering [Leviticus 4:1-35] and the trespass offering [Leviticus 5:1-19].

Now we’ll take the first one, the whole burnt offering.  In the third verse, the offering could be the sacrifice out of the herd [Leviticus 1:3].  In the tenth verse, the sacrifice could be of the flock [Leviticus 1:10].  In the fourteenth verse, the sacrifice could be of the fowl, turtledoves or young pigeons [Leviticus 1:14].

Now the reason God did that was so all of the people could share in it.  If I were so poor I didn’t have a bullock, or if I were so poor I didn’t have a lamb, I could offer a little pigeon or a little turtledove.  So if I were well-to-do, I would offer out of the herd, out of the cattle.  If I were moderate in circumstances, I could offer out of the flock a goat or a lamb, a sheep; or if I were poor like Joseph and Mary [Luke 2:22-24] and had nothing at all, then I could offer a turtledove or a young pigeon.

Now, this is the way the offering was made.  There came into the courtyard, say – I say it, both the tabernacle and the temple.  Let’s talk about the tabernacle.  The temple is exactly like it, and back here where we are with Moses, we’re in the tabernacle.  The tabernacle, I say, had a wall around it [Exodus 26:15-30].  And so the offerer with his offering would come to that door, the gate of the courtyard, and the priest would meet him there.  And he would lead the offerer and the offering in to the courtyard of the tabernacle, and he would lead the offerer and the offering to the north side of the altar [Leviticus 1:11].  That’d be this side, wouldn’t it?  This is east.  This is north.

All right, on this side of the great altar, that enormous altar, on this side – the north side of the altar – the man who brought the offering would lay his hands upon the head of the animal [Leviticus 1:4].  It’d be a bullock [Leviticus 1:3].  It’d be a sheep [Leviticus 1:10].  It would be a little turtledove or a young pigeon [Leviticus 1:14].  And the man would lay his hand upon the offering [Leviticus 1:4].  That identified the man with the offering.  They were both one.  They’re the same now.  And then, the animal is slain there at the north side of the altar [Leviticus 1:11].  And the priest catches the blood in a basin, and the priest takes the blood and sprinkles it on the altar, and the rest of the blood he pours out at the bottom of the altar.

Could I parenthesize there to say that I have seen the holes in the rock at the base where the great altars were made in the ancient day and the blood would run down and out of the way?  Oh, there’d be streams and streams of blood from the vast number of victims that were slain.

So the priest, I say, catches the blood in a basin and sprinkles the altar, poured the rest of it out at the foot of the altar [Leviticus 1:51115].  Then he takes the sacrifice, and he disjoints it [Leviticus 1:61216-17].  He takes it apart piece by piece at the joints.  He washes the inward parts [Leviticus 1:913].  Then on the altar, he places all of the washed inward parts.  Then he places all of the pieces of the sacrifice in the arrangement and all of it is burned before the Lord [Leviticus 1:7-912-1316-17].

There was only one burnt offering, whole burnt offering, and that was this – this one I’m talkin’ about.  The rest of them were not all burned, not like this – one exception a little later.  That’s the whole burnt offering.

Now that whole burnt offering was also made twice every day.  In the twenty-ninth chapter of the Book of Exodus, at the thirty-eighth verse, God says:

Now this is that which thou shalt offer upon the altar; two lambs of the first year day by day continually.

One lamb thou shalt offer in the morning –

that’s the morning sacrifice –

the other lamb thou shalt offer at evening –

that’s the evening sacrifice –

This shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord: where I will meet you, to speak there unto thee.

And there I will meet with the children of Israel . . .

And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God.

[Exodus 29:38-3942-4345]

Every morning of the world, there was offered this lamb for all of the people – a whole burnt offering [Exodus 28:38-39].  Every evening of the world, there was offered this lamb.  The smoke of that offering continually arose to God day after day.  Now you will notice here in Leviticus that that offering had to be a male.  Not only had it to be a male, but it had to be without blemish, without blemish [Leviticus 1:3].

When you turn over here to Malachi, the first chapter and the eighth verse, this is what God says about the people and their sacrifices: “You offer polluted bread upon Mine altar.  You offer the blind for sacrifice.  Then you offer the lame and the sick” [Malachi 1:7-8].

Now, what does all of that mean?  Well, the meaning is rather plain.  As these ordinances of ours hold the truth, as a dipper holds water – tonight we’re going to have the memorial of the breaking of bread and the drinking of the cup.  As we go through this – we’re not going to have time to take all five of these, and I regret it. I’ve worked and studied so hard and prepared it.  We won’t have time to hardly begin it – but as these ordinances of ours, as they hold the truth, the bread, the wine, the ordinance of baptism – great spiritual truths – so these sacrifices held in them great spiritual truths.

The people did it.  They did not realize all that it meant, but God knew.  And hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years – when this was written, it is 1500 years before Christ, 1500 years before Jesus – when God gave these sacrifices to the people, and day after day they made them, when God did that, they had tremendous truths that they were holding by shadow, by harbinger.  They held the great truths of God.

For example, it had to be a male.  This whole burnt sacrifice, it had to be a male.  It had to be without blemish [Leviticus 1:3].  It had to be wholly offered unto God.  The blood had to be poured out [Leviticus 1:5].  The offerer had to place his hands on the head of the offering identifying himself with the offering [Leviticus 1:4].  That offering was a substitute, in other words, for this man.  He deserved to die himself, but there is a substitute made for him.  The animal, the victim, died in his stead.  The man lived, but the animal – the victim, the offering, the substitute – perished.

I don’t need to tell you the meaning of those things.  When I just say them, you see it.  You just see it.  There is the Lamb of God.  There is the identity of the sacrifice with us.  He was made like unto His brethren [Hebrews 2:17].  There is His life poured out on the ground [Psalm 22:14Matthew 26:28].  There is His whole body offered a sacrifice unto God [Luke 22:19].

Why I – I say to you, just the thinking of these thoughts brought self-condemnation to my heart.  Here I pass by great sections of the Bible, and yet, when I pause and read them and study them, why there is the wonderful hand of God, beautifully wrought out – the whole message of the gospel of Jesus Christ back yonder, years and years and years ago.

Now, let’s hurriedly go to the second one.  The second sacrifice: now you have it translated – and we are taught and we are encouraged to bring our King James Version Bibles here.  That’s because I love it.  I trust it.  It has some places in it that are archaic, a few places where they’ve discovered more recent manuscripts, but, I say, there’s not a one of them that I cannot explain just in a moment.

So when we come across any of those archaic expressions or any of those translations that are not quite like original, why we can just point it out and go right on.  I love this King James Version, and here is an archaic expression.  You have it, “the meat offering” [Leviticus 2:1].  Now in 1611, meat referred to food.  The meat offering, it was for meat.  Well, in 1611 that meant food – just food.  Now today, we would call it the meal offering, the meal offering.

Now when the burnt offering was made, there was also made with it and never separate from it, there was made a meal offering [Numbers 29:6].  The two went together.  Now, don’t think you made a burnt sacrifice but you didn’t offer a meal offering, and don’t think you’d offer a meal offering and not the burnt sacrifice.  No.  They were offered together.  They were together.

Now the meal offering, the food offering, was made of three kinds.  In that first verse there, one, it could be made of fine flour [Leviticus 2:1].  The second there, it could be made of baked loaves or fried loaves [Leviticus 2:4].  And the third in the fourteenth verse, it could be made of green ears of corn [Leviticus 2:14].  I missed telling you the verse for the second one.  In the fourth verse and following, it could be made of baked loaves.

Now there’s something about this that let’s look at.  This is just another instance of the wonderful hand of God here in the meal offering, the food offering.  It was made of fine flour or it was made of a baked loaf or it was made of green ears of wheat.  Now there’s another archaic expression. “Corn” to us is Indian corn.  You know, you get roasting ears from it.  That was never known until they discovered America.

So the word “corn” in the Bible always is wheat – a “corn” of wheat, a grain of wheat.  Always in the Bible, remember it is wheat.  Corn was never known until they found the Indians cultivating it here in America.

Now, look how this meal offering was made.  In that first [verse], it shall be of fine flour, an oil – olive oil – poured on it and frankincense [Leviticus 2:1].  Now, look in the fourth verse: baked in the oven with oil, unleavened, unleavened [Leviticus 2:4].  Same thing about if it’s in the pan.  In that fifth verse: unleavened, mingled with oil[Leviticus 2:5].  Made of fine flour with oil in the seventh verse [Leviticus 2:7].  Now look at the eleventh verse: “No food offering, which ye shall bring unto the Lord, shall be made with leaven” [Leviticus 2:11] – none.

All right, look in the thirteenth verse: “And every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy food offering: with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt” [Leviticus 2:13].  And the same things about these green ears of corn that were dried by the fire: “Thou shalt put oil upon it and frankincense” [Leviticus 2:14-15].  In the last verse: “with all the frankincense thereof: it is an offering made by fire unto the Lord”[Leviticus 2:16].

Now, let me say all that in my own words.  Whenever the food offering was brought, there he is leading his bullock and there the burnt offering is slain and offered.  There was also offered with it this food offering, this meal offering, made out of flour – that is, the wheat was ground up real fine.  Now he could bake it or not bake it, but whether he baked it or not, the ingredients were all brought there to the tabernacle [Leviticus 2:2814].

Now, when it was offered, this is the way that they did it. The priest would take a handful, take his hand and take a handful of the fine flour and put it there on the altar, and then he would pour the olive oil upon it, and then he would take all the frankincense – frankincense is the resinous gum of one of those trees over there that exudes; and they gather it, dry it, beat it very fine; then when you burn it, it has a sweet fragrance – he’d take all of the fine flour, I mean he’d take all of the frankincense with a handful of flour, and he’d put it on the altar.  And all of the frankincense would burn, and then the oil, and then the fine flour [Leviticus 2:2]; Then what was left there, outside the handful, was given to the priest and that was a part of their food, their support [Leviticus 2:3].

Now, what does that mean?  Well, just to name it, just to name it, makes it clear what it means.  Who is the corn of wheat that is to perish and die?  Jesus said, “Except the corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone:  but  . . . if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit [John 12:24].  And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me” [John 12:32].  That’s in the twelfth chapter of John.

What is the oil?  The Holy Spirit of God – oil in their lamps [Luke 4:18].

What is salt?  That which preserves and keeps our world [Matthew 5:13].

And what is unleavened bread?  It is a type of the loaf of Christ upon which we eat [John 6:35].

Now, I want to parenthesize to say something here.  There’s nothing wrong in what the children tell me, but I – I just wish they’d say it in a different way, that’s all.  When I talk to these children – and at this 8:30 service we have a multitude of little children, and to my amazement, mothers and fathers tell me, “Pastor, it is an astonishing thing how they listen and how much they get from those services.”  And yet, these are the deepest things of God that we talk about here.

I will say to a little child, “Ah, honey, you see us here have the Lord’s Supper?”

“Yes.”

“And we have a little tray and then another one, and we eat of one and drink of the other.  What is that?”

And the child will almost invariably refer to the tray as “crackers.”

Now, I have asked around here, “Are our teachers calling that crackers?”

“No.”

So far as I can find, no one of our teachers is calling it crackers.  So I made other inquiry.

Apparently what happens is the children seeing that, they are so accustomed to thinking of bread as being spongy and risen that anything that is flat and baked to a child is a cracker.

Now, I say to the child, “Little fellow, let’s don’t call it a cracker.  That’s all right, I know.  But what it is is bread unleavened.  It is broken bread.”

And it is better for us to teach our children to call it bread.  That’s what it is in the Bible: unleavened bread.

Now leaven is a type of sin in the Scriptures; and always, wherever there is leaven, there’s a type of sin.  These sacrifices are made without leaven.

What makes bread spongy and rise – what you call bread – what makes bread that way is the ferment in it, the fungus that grows in it.

But all of this is made with unleavened bread.  It doesn’t have yeast in it, and consequently, when you bake it, it’s flat.  And you can break it, of course, easily like a cracker.

Now that unleavened bread is a type without sin.  Leaven is a type of sin [Matthew 16:6-12].  So when the thing is brought and offered unto God, like the animal is to be without blemish, so the bread is to be without leaven [Leviticus 2:4].  It is to be pure and holy and consecrated unto God.

Now may I apply these two sacrifices – they go together – to our own selves?  The whole burnt offering, as I said a moment ago – here the Book of Ephesians the fifth chapter and the [second] verse – it’s of Christ, of course: “As Christ hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour” [Ephesians 5:2].

It’s of Christ, but it also is a picture and a type of our whole consecration to God. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” [Romans 12:1] – which is your spiritual devotion.  “And be not conformed to the world: but be ye transformed” [Romans 12:2] – all of those, the whole consecration of ourselves to God.

Then this meal offering: olive oil and wheat are a product of the fruit and toil of a man’s hands.  So a man is to offer unto God the consecration of the fruit and toil of his hands.  That belongs unto God, and it’s to be consecrated to God, and it’s to be used for the Lord.  “Yeah, but Preacher, this is mine and I do with it what I please!”  Not if you are a Christian.  Not if you are given to God.  A part of what you make you ought to bring to the sacrificial altar and the rest of it is consecrated too.

When a man foolishly squanders what God hath given him, he does wrong.  He sins in the sight of the Lord [Luke 15:12-19].  What we have is to be wholly consecrated unto God [2 Corinthians 8:1-5].  And here, as we shall see in other places, it is to be used for the ministry, for the gospel, for the support of the priesthood.  Oh, there’s so much in these things!

Now, let’s go to the third offering in the third chapter here of the Book of Leviticus – the third offering of the sweet savor offerings, of the voluntary offerings.  The third one is the peace offering [Leviticus 3:1-17].

Now when you turn over here to the seventh chapter of the Book of Leviticus, and the eleventh following verses and the sixteenth and following verses, there were two reasons why a man would bring a peace offering to the house of the Lord.

One of the reasons is this.  Look at the twelfth verse: “If he offer it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer” so and so . . . [Leviticus 7:12].  All right, look at the sixteenth verse: “But if the sacrifice of his offering be for a vow” [Leviticus 7:16] – the fulfillment of a vow.

Now, let me sum it up, then I’ll have to quit.  Did you know I’ve spoken about forty minutes?  Does it seem that long to you?  Oh, if you love this thing, the hours pass and it’s just as nothing.

This peace offering: a man is thankful to God.  He’s thankful to God, and he brings an offering, or he has fulfilled a vow – a dedication to which he’d set himself – and it is done, and he’s thankful and he brings it to God.

Did you know I never quite really got that thing in my soul until I came across a little something that I read?  They were taking up a tremendous offering for our church, and a dear man got up and said, “We have saved this money for our boy.  We’ve saved this money for our boy, but the war came and our boy went away and he was killed and he didn’t come back.  So we’re going to give to God and the church this money that belonged – that we’d saved up for the education of our boy.  He didn’t come back.  We give this to God.”

And there was a mother there who said to her husband, quietly whispering in the church while they were making up the offering, she said, “Daddy, let’s make a like offering for our boy.”

And the father turned to her and whispered and said, “Why, mother, our boy wasn’t killed.  Our boy wasn’t killed; he came back.”

And the mother replied – now don’t you know what she’s going to say – “Daddy, that’s the reason.  Let’s make it.  Our boy did come back.  Our boy did come back.  Let’s make it to God because our boy did come back!”

Why, when I read these things and see them, why I can just see the hand of God in that.  God has been good.  He has blessed us.  Come, let us go up to the house of the Lord and bring an offering of thanksgiving.  Why, that’d elevate the spiritual life of any people.  That’s what it is here this thanksgiving offering or in fulfillment of a vow.

Now, I have time just to say there’s one other thing about it, and that is this.  The thanksgiving offering or the fulfillment of vow offering, they’re called in the Bible the peace offerings.  They were eaten by the people in the court of the tabernacle.

You know, people are funny.  I don’t understand them.  One of the finest families we ever had here in this church left our church because we eat in it.  We eat in it.

Well, I went to the home.  I went there twice.  I wanted to keep them.  They were such blessed people and loved God.  And I took the Bible, and I said, “Dear people, precious family, if the religion of Jehovah was any one thing above anything else, it was this.  It was an eating religion.  That’s about all they did.  They ate all the time.  They ate together.  They ate.”

Now, this offering, this peace offering – they brought it, a bullock or a lamb or a sheep, they would bring it.  And there they would slay it, and there they would cook it, and there they would eat it [Leviticus 3:1-16], and God said it has to be eaten in the courtyard of the tabernacle – had to be eaten right there.  And God said of one it had to be eaten on the thanksgiving offering, has to be eaten on the day that it’s sacrificed [Leviticus 7:15].  The other one could be eaten on two days [Leviticus 7:16-17], but none of it could go beyond the third day.

Why, I can just see those families making their way up to the house of the Lord and that courtyard filled with people, and here’s this group, there’s this group, and there’s this group.  When a man, when he offered it, could invite the friends and could invite all the family and there they are all over the courtyard, eating the offering after it’s baked – after it’s barbecued we’d call it, after it was cooked – and they’re there eating it everywhere.

Well, what’s the matter with that?  Is God not very – say, who invented eating anyway?  Who did that?  That’s one of the things the Lord God invented.

I got to quit.  We sing our song.  Somebody this morning wants to give his heart to the Lord, wants to come into the fellowship of this church, while we make this appeal, while the pastor is here, you come.  You come.  Anywhere, somebody you, if God bid you here, by the Spirit of the Lord, you come and stand by me while we stand and while we sing.

For more sermons by W.A Criswell, please visit www.wacriswell.com


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About The Author

W. A. Criswell was born December 19, 1909 in Eldorado, Oklahoma. He received his B.A. from Baylor University, and his Th.M. and Ph.D. degrees from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He served for fifty years as senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, for many years the largest church in the Southern Baptist Convention. As founder and chancellor of the Criswell College, Dr. Criswell gave his later years to preparing young preachers to preach the Word of God. Dr. Criswell went to be with the Lord January 10, 2002. His ministry continues through the messages he preached and the lives he touched during his seventy-five years of pastoral service. Over 4000 of these messages with notes, outlines, audio and video are available through the Criswell Sermon Library at www.wacriswell.com. The Sermon Library is a ministry of the W.A. Criswell Foundation, Inc. to assist pastors and lay people in sermon preparation.

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