Acceptable Worship

Featuring Bob Kauflin Posted on April 25, 2010


Christ's work on the cross also assures us that our worship is acceptable to God. 

God could reject our worship for a number of reasons. He specifically condemns acts of worship associated with idolatry, unbelief, disobedience, and evil motives (Jeremiah 13:10; Exodus 30:9; 32:22–27; Jeremiah 7:21–26). Rehearsing this list makes me aware that our offerings of worship willnever please God on their own. Try as hard as we can, our hearts and worship will always be tainted in God's sight.

The ultimate factor of acceptable worship is faith in and union with Jesus Christ. Our spiritual sacrifices are “acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1Peter 2:5). It is his sinless offering of worship that cleanses and perfects ours.

Harold Best says it well: 

There is only one way to God, through Jesus Christ. This means that God sees and hears all of our offerings perfected. God sees and hears as no human being can, all because our offerings have been perfected by the giver. The out-of-tune singing of an ordinary believer, the hymnic chant of the aborigine . . . the open frankness of a primitive art piece, the nearly transcendent “Kyrie” of Bach's B Minor Mass, the praise choruses of the charismatic, the drum praise of the Cameroonian—everything from the widow's mite to the poured-out ointment of artistic action—are at once humbled and exalted by the strong saving work of Christ. 

All our offerings are humbled by the work of Christ because they would be unacceptable to God without him. All our offerings are exalted because when they are joined to the atoning sacrifice of the Savior, God accepts them as though his own Son were offering them.

Nothing against skill, practice, complexity, nuance, musicianship, or sincerity, but only the finished work of Christ makes our offerings of worship acceptable in God's eyes. 

What a relief! 

That doesn't mean what we do in corporate worship is unimportant. Butwhen we over emphasize our own actions in worship, we can inadvertently create the impression that our contribution makes our worship acceptable to God. We think God is persuaded to listen to us because of our sophisticated musical arrangements, our polished performance, or even our heartfelt sincerity.

It's not the excellence of our offering that makes our worship acceptable but the excellence of Christ. We cannot worship the eternal Father apart from the eternal Son. He was able to offer his own righteous life as a perfect offering because he had no sins of his own to die for (Hebrews 7:26). Even now he intercedes for us, saving us “to the uttermost” (Hebrews 7:25).

Our worship is accepted not on the basis of what we have done, but on the basis of what Christ has done. 

It's not uncommon for us to “feel” accepted and loved by God when we're engaged in worship. But if that feeling isn't rooted in the gospel, it will be an elusive sensation. It's not enough to sing songs about God's love that produce warm feelings in our hearts. We need to glory in the reality of Jesus Christ, beaten and bruised for our transgressions, giving up his life in our place on the cross. There will never be a greater proof or demonstration of God's love. 

If we help people focus on what God did two thousand years ago ratherthan twenty minutes ago, they'll consistently find their hearts ravished by his amazing love. 


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