NT Sacrifices

Q. Is choir singing or a group of people singing on stage the same as offering a sacrifice to God on behalf of the congregation?  Now that Jesus died for us, do we need to offer sacrifice anymore other than ourselves during worship?

From Romans 12:1 “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” I only know that we need to offer our own self as a sacrifice. For myself, I don’t sing well (poor quality) but if I prepare myself and sing my very best during worship, wouldn’t this please God?

My dilemma was on the concept of choir representing the congregation to sing.  If I offer myself a living sacrifice, why do I need someone else to sacrifice on behalf of me?  I think I can accept the role of choir or another group leading congregation in worship, but I am not sure I see their action as a sacrifice on behalf of me or others.

A. You rightly point out that our Lord offered Himself as the sacrifice for our sins once for all:

Heb 10:12 but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God,

but atonement is not the only type of sacrifice in the NT.

Consider the following:

  • Php 2:17 But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all.
  • Php 4:18 But I have received everything in full and have an abundance; I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God.
  • Heb 13:5 Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.
  • 1 Pet 2:5 you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Paul considered the service of our faith and the love gifts we gave to help others as sacrifices pleasing to God. The author of Hebrews treats our praise and giving thanks to God to be sacrifices. Peter referred to spiritual sacrifices, which in its context includes proclaiming the excellencies of God (1 Pet 2:9).

To answer your question directly, I consider choir singing as a sacrifice of praise, but for themselves, not on behalf of the congregation. The priesthood of all believers (1 Pet 2:9) informs us that we, the congregation, are a royal priesthood. We do not need to go through priests as in OT Judaism, or modern-day Roman Catholicism, to approach God. The choir or praise team leads us in worship, but do not offer worship on our behalf. I do not accept the argument that they represent the congregation. That is why I used 2 Co 8:11-12, which is quantitative, to argue that the same rationale applies to the qualitative. Another analogy is the widow’s mite (Mk 12:41-44). She gave only one cent, but Jesus said she put in more than all the contributors. The value is not in the absolute amount, but in relation to how much she owned. Similarly, laymen singing their hearts out to God, though their music is mediocre, is more pleasing to God than professionals who simply go through the motions, even though their half-hearted efforts may be very good already to ordinary people. Hope this clarifies your dilemma.

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