The Sacrifice of Praise

The sacrifice of praise [Hebrews 13:15] . . . is offered to God through the Lord Jesus. All our praise and prayer passes through Him before it reaches God the Father; our great High Priest removes all impurities and imperfections and adds His own virtue to it:

To all our prayer and praises
Christ adds His sweet perfume;
And love the censer raises
These odors to consume. (Mary B. Peters)

The sacrifice of praise is the fruit of lips that acknowledge His name. The only worship that God receives is that which flows from redeemer lips.

Believer’s Bible Commentary, 2nd Edition (on Hebrews 13:15)

Our Priesthood

Through Christ’s priestly work Christians become priests (10:10, 14; 2:10 f.). As priests they have access to God and can approach Him without having to make an offering for their sins (10:22); in coming they receive grace and mercy rather than give (4:16). But though the Christian priest need not bring sacrifice as a condition of approach to God, yet in thankfulness for that access he presents the sacrifice of praise and service (13:15, 16).

Ernest Best, “Spiritual Sacrifice:  General Priesthood in the New Testament,” Interpretation Journal 14 (1960): 286

Access to God

Without the cross we have no access to God. ACCESS DENIED! You can sing, dance, prophesy, but only JESUS is the password into God’s presence. We will never write a song that will can lead people  into God’s presence!

—Bob Kauflin, “Biblical Values for Worship and Their Application to the Local Church “

Revelation and Response

Accordingly, the Church’s worship will be best conformed to its true nature when its pattern echoes the crystal logical pattern we have seen in Scripture.  In the first place, the Church must be attentive to the proclamation of the Word. . . . The second aspect of Christian worship is our joining in the latreia of Christ, offering through Him the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to the Father, in the power of the Holy Spirit. 

—William Nicholls, Jacob’s Ladder: The Meaning of Worship, 27-28

A Unique Song

The worship of the New Testament . . . is nothing else than song, praise, and thanksgiving.
This is a unique song. God does not care for our sacrifices and works.
He is satisfied with the sacrifice of praise.
I have no one to sing and chant about but Christ,
in whom alone I have everything.
Him alone I proclaim, in Him alone I glory,
for He has become my salvation, that is, my victory.

— martin Luther, Lectures on Isaiah

In His Presence

The new possibility created by the priestly ministry of Jesus is that through Him we may enter into the sanctuary, the place of God’s holy presence:

Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that He opened for us through the curtain (that is, through His flesh), and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us approach . . . (Hebrews 10:19-21).

Here is the climax of the writer’s argument. Through the living, dying, and ascending of  Christ, we can enter the sanctuary. We can stand in the holy presence of God and offer an unending sacrifice of praise (13:15). This is the joy, the delight and the reality of Christian worship: it takes place in the presence of God through the priesthood of Christ. This is why Calvin could say that Christ is our altar on whom we lay our oblations (Institutes IV.8.17) and also, commenting on Hebrews 2:12, that “Christ leads our songs, and is the chief composer of our hymns” (1853, 67). It is also here, within the sanctuary, that our whole life is lived as a sacrificial giving to God. This is the joy, the delight, the reality of Christian living: it is life lived in the presence of God through the priesthood of Christ. To be in the presence of God is the reality of Christian worship and living, because Christ has opened up for us a “new way” (10:20) through all that would divide us from God’s presence; and this way is nothing else but Himself. Following Westcott’s construction of 10:20, we have “a way through the veil, that is, a way consisting in His flesh, His true human nature” (1903, 322).

Christopher Cocksworth, “The Cross, Our Worship and Our Living,” in Atonement Today, 118-119

Grace upon Grace

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

—Matthew 11:28-30, The Message