Hebrews 13:15

‘Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise, the fruit of lips that confess his name.’ Hebrews 12:15

‘ . . . fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name’ Hebrews 13:15

Through Jesus

Our great High Priest offered that perfect, once for all sacrifice for sin. Those who are trusting in his finished work do not need to offer sacrifice as payment for sin! It is their privilege to enjoy the wonderful results of that sacrifice, peace with God, the peace of God and eternal life. While Christians do not have any sacrifice of atonement to offer we do still have a spiritual priesthood and spiritual sacrifices to offer. The fact that He has paid our debt motivates us to express gratitude.

Under the law of the Old Covenant there was a thank offering, which consisted in the presentation of an ox, sheep or goat. These offerings were sometimes presented as a token of gratitude for some particular blessing received from God or as an expression of a habitual sentiment of thankfulness for God’s continual kindness.

There is no such material thank-offering required in the New Covenant. We don’t present the offspring of an animal. Nor do we offer the fruit of the earth, rather the ‘fruit of lips that confess his name’. This is done through Jesus. ‘For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus’ (1 Timothy 2:5).


What exactly is it that we are being exhorted to give thanks for? The word ‘therefore’ clearly looks back at the preceding statement, on what has gone before and has been outlined and explained. ‘And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood.’ (Hebrews 13:12). A sacrifice of atonement has been made for us, once and for all time, never to be repeated or re-enacted and this sacrifice has been accepted by God. The writer is saying that this is the primary reason for praise. It is the very first principle that under-girds the praise of the believer. In other words the writer is saying, now in the light of this, fulfil your duty by giving thanks as a spiritual priesthood.


There were limitations on the old thank offering (time and place) but we are not restricted in this manner and are exhorted to ‘continually’ offer praise to God. Not only should we be grateful for particular blessings, but also we should have that positive attitude of heart, which expresses thankfulness continually. We are encouraged to cherish a sense of gratitude for God’s kindness to us especially for the great sacrifice of His son at Calvary. We should, therefore, always be ready and willing to avail of opportunities where we can give thanks. This is to be the dominant mood of our souls!

A Sacrifice of Praise

The Christian (because of the cross) has no part in the altar, which is now obsolete and outmoded. Ours is a sacrifice of praise. Praise is not just the glib singing of a chorus. Rather it is time spent in God’s presence with hearts uplifted in awe and worship. For many people Harvest is merely a quaint primitive religious rural ritual. It is seen by many as a kind of Christianised Halloween or festive event in the liturgical calendar. As believers we look at the produce of the earth and our hearts are turned to thanksgiving for all His goodness. But Harvest is not merely about pumpkins, peanuts, cabbages and cauliflower! Let us mark this important event in the Christian calendar, not with mere lip-service but in truth from our hearts! And may it never be said of us that ‘These people draw near to me with their mouth, and honour me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.’ (Isaiah 29:13). God is looking for a harvest from our hearts!

The Fruit of Lips that Confess His Name

The fruit of our lips comes from the root in our hearts and suggests an organic unity. Jesus said: ‘For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander’ (Matthew 15:19). Hearts that have been transformed bear different fruit. Not every tree can bear apples and not every person can bear this fruit. The sweet fruit of praise is a natural product of our new nature. Harvest Services, like any other service, may become a mere mechanical observance, going through the motions and playing church. Ritual without integrity is worse than worthless, it is an abomination. Hosea exhorted Israel to repent and know the blessing of reconciliation with God. ‘Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously that we may offer the fruit of our lips’ (Hosea 14:2). It is only those who have turned to God, through Jesus, in repentance, those whose sins have been forgiven and those who have been graciously received who can bear this fruit.


There are lips that curse Christ and lips that are careless about Christ and lips that confess Christ. ‘The fruit of lips that confess His name.’ There are two sides to confessing His name. Firstly, there is confession of sin. That is to acknowledge your sin and guilt in the light of God’s word (Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23; 1 John 1:9). This kind of confession is about repentance and faith. Secondly, confession also means expressing gratitude and praise for who he is and what he has done for us in salvation and in so many other ways. That is to proclaim Him as Saviour and Lord as the one who resides and reigns in our hearts. Only those who have gone through this first stage in the process of confessing their sin and their need of Him as Saviour can enter into confession in this second sense. In this second sense confession has the meaning of acknowledging something to be true, in agreement with others. We acknowledge that He is the way the truth and the life and we acknowledge our personal indebtedness to God for salvation. Those of us who have confessed Christ as Saviour want to declare to others that he is the Saviour. We want to put it on record publicly that we have a special relationship with Him and re-affirm our allegiance to Him! We do this in our services of worship when we meet together we are confessing His name.

Giving Thanks to His Name

‘It is good to give thanks to the Lord’ (Psalms 92:1). Saying ‘thanks’ is considered to be good manners. Expressing gratitude is a social custom or social grace that is part of the etiquette instilled in us by our parents and teachers. We practice it and teach our children to practice it. We expect it from others and that is right and good. But may Harvest never become for us a religious custom where we go through the formality of thanksgiving out of habit or duty without sincerity. Instead of being superficial and shallow our hearts should spontaneously overflow in love and gratitude. Harvest is a time of praise not a time of pretence. It is to be spiritual not superficial!

In the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector the Pharisee said ‘I thank you that I am not as other men’ (Luke 18:11). He started with thanksgiving but with the wrong kind! He went to a good place (the Temple) and he went for a good purpose (to pray) but he seems unaware of his unworthiness and unconcerned about the Publican. He went home unchanged. Millions of people leave churches every week, unchanged. We can be in the right place, for the right reason and even use the right words and yet be unaware of our unworthiness and unconcerned about others. The Pharisee was unchanged but true thankfulness changes us. We must pray like the tax collector ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner’.

In the account of the ten lepers (Luke 17) who were cleansed we are told that only one expressed his gratitude. He fell down at the feet of Jesus and gave thanks. He had come under the power and compassion of God and was transformed. Jesus commends this thankful man. May we never be thoughtless and thankless souls. Isaiah tells us ‘He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases . . . ‘

Thankfulness is more than words. It is a positive mental attitude, focused on God and grateful for all the benefits that are ours as believers. It is a lifestyle rooted in the disposition of our hearts! Matthew Henry said ‘Thanksgiving is good but thanks-living is better.’ Although Harvest is a seasonal thing thanksgiving should not be. There are seasons in the cycle of our lives when we don’t bear this fruit of praise and thanks. David instructs his soul to be thankful. ‘Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with loving-kindness and tender mercies, who satisfies your mouth with good things . . . ‘ (Psalms 103:1-5). There may be a tendency to focus exclusively on this Psalms 103:5 aspect of Harvest ‘who satisfies your mouth with good things’.

But as David stirs up his soul to give praise to God and as he counts his blessings we notice that he starts with the most important ‘who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases.’ The soul involves all our faculties (heart, mind, understanding, will and affections). There’s a depth and integrity to his passionate praise. There is an authentic note that rings true. There is a genuine wellspring in his heart bubbling to the surface and bursting out in praise. David too (like Isaiah) points out that he heals all our diseases. Harvest gives us the opportunity to be thoughtful and thankful. God wants to glean from our hearts a harvest of praise

I remember from childhood the apple tree in our garden with its boughs bending under the weight of clusters of golden, juicy apples. I never think of that apple tree as dutifully fulfilling its obligation to bear apples! Each spring it clothed itself in leaves burst into bloom in summer and bore fruit in autumn.

God has forgiven us and overpowered the enemy. He has turned our lives around and brought us into a place of honour with him. He has supplied all our needs and more. ‘Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that confess his name.’

Kieran Beville is pastor of Westside Baptist Church in Old Chapel Village, Bandon, Co. Cork, Ireland.

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