“In Christ Alone”

“In Christ Alone”

#hymnsforHim

This will be the first hymn I have done this year that isn’t a traditional hymn, and more of a modern hymn. I haven’t done one yet to drive a point home! So many Christians now-a-days think that traditional, older hymns are boring – or out-of-date. But they are so beautiful, so well thought out, and so deep. Praise and worship songs are, in many ways, today’s answer to a new style. However, I want to be purposeful in showcasing the older hymns. So, let’s look at “In Christ Alone.”

 

In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all—
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone, Who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev’ry sin on Him was laid—
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine—
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the pow’r of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow’r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow’r of Christ I’ll stand.

 

One of the reasons I like this song so much is that it again speaks as a sermon in, and of, itself. That is the beauty of hymns, when written expertly, speak to a deeper truth than the words themselves. When we sing hymns, or songs, often times we simply follow the tune and rhythm. A good song follows a story, it draws you into it’s truth. A good hymn speaks words of truth – of the Truth. In Christ Alone brings us along through the life of Christ, the One who came to take away our sins!

Throughout the entire song we hear the words of the title, “in Christ alone.” It is a mantra reminding us what the foundation of our faith is. It isn’t our work. It isn’t our repentance. Not our prayers, or desires. It isn’t how good – or bad – we are. It isn’t us working along with God. It is not some kind of cooperative work that gets our salvation worked out. No – it is in Christ alone. In Him alone do we find the power. The imagery is biblical, the words emotive – it brings a little more light to the awesome might, and amazing Will of our Lord and Savior.

I am a bit of a theology nerd (Adam 4D: theology nerd) and this song touches on a number of profound theological truths that you may not register at first. Historically, the Truths that we take as obvious about Christ and the faith have not always been so. For instance, the Truth that Christ was 100% God, and yet 100% man was settled, in part, during the Council of Ephesus (431AD). “Christ, who took on flesh, fullness of God in helpless babe…” It is this Christ that could die a perfectly sinless life (as 100% God), while also providing the perfect atoning sacrifice for a sinful man (100% human). He was a true gift of Love, and pure righteousness. John 3:16 tells us that “God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son…” Many read this to be an emphatic expression of God’s care for the world. I think it can be more explicitly read as “in this way, God showed His love for the world, that He gave His one and only Son.” In this way meaning as a man, as a servant, as a perfect example of what God called His people to be. This Jesus took on flesh, to die a perfect absolution for His people – His called people.

And yet… this sacrifice… this willing sacrifice… He was scorned, shamed, hated for His words… hated for His miracles… As another hymn laments, “ashamed I hear my mocking voice call out among the scoffers.” This was the life He came to lead. He knew what He was getting into – He had seen this day from the inception of all days. Yet, even after all the misdirected hatred, even after the betrayal… after the abandonment of His closest disciples… after the whipping, and the mocking… after the nails… after the excruciating and indescribable pain… After all of that, He never once used a fraction of His power to call down even the smallest legion of angels to rescue Him. He took the sins of His chosen upon Himself… and He exclaimed “it is finished.”

One of my favorite things to do is to connect a text to readers in a way that many may not know. Take the phrase “it is finished” for instance. We read this and think, “yea, it is here that Christ has finished His duty to save us. He is letting those in attendance to His death see that He has finally died.” But no, there is more to that phrase. Remember that this event happened in history. It happened with language – real language – and real people who lived in a real time in history with cultural context. The Greek words used to recall Christ’s final words would have been very common to the reader of the time. They were used on a constant basis in the court room. They described a full payment. A debt was owed, and Jesus just exclaimed that that had been paid in full. Full restitution had been made… Just let that sink in… Christ was literally telling the Gospel. He was the very first to proclaim it! The Good News was proclaimed by that News that the Gospel is speaking of!

But the song, and the history books, don’t end there! The ground could not hold Jesus. Not even close. While His body would be laid there for a time – He bursts forth into a new day, a new dawn! Sin has lost its sting! Sin has lost its grip on the elect of God. It is but a memory. It may always tug at our flesh – but it has no real grip anymore. Christ has now brought in the beginning of the Kingdom of God. We now live in the time of the “already and not yet.” Christ’s reign has begun on earth, but its culmination has not yet come. But we are seeing glimpses. We have His Word recorded – and sustained through His power for millennium! We have the Spirit – Who attests to Him and His work in the world and on the Cross! We have Christ, a risen and living Christ – who intercedes for us at the right hand of God! Honestly, what else do we need??

Now finally… we reach that glorious last verse… If this verse doesn’t shoot right through you in an inexplicable joy, then I don’t know what will!

 

No guilt in life…

No fear in death…

THIS… this… is the power of Christ in me…

From life’s first cry to final breath… Jesus commands

Jesus commands

my destiny

NO power of hell…

NO scheme of man…

Shall EVER pluck me

from His hand…

Until He returns, OR

Calls me home…. HERE

In the power of Christ

I. STAND.

You cannot put this truth into better words. You cannot explain this joy with a better phrasing. You cannot show such power with a better image. Let me finish tonight with a question. It is a question that I must admit I don’t ask myself enough – but it is an important question that should shape our day-to-day lives. Do we live like this is true? Do I live a life that seeks a foundation in Christ alone?

When I wake up to a screaming kid, or a barking dog, do I praise God?

“He is my light, my strength, my song!”

When I am getting ready for my day – whether it be one of work, or one of relaxation, do I preach this gospel to myself?

“And as He stands in victory, sin’s curse has lost its grip on me!” 

When trials assail you from the left and right. When the world piles annoyances, temptations, frustrating coworkers, irritating situations, loud children, and so much more… do I remind myself that God is eternally in control?

“No power of hell, no scheme of man, can ever pluck me from His hand!”

When all seems lost – when we lose that one we love – do we sing the truth of His sacrifice to ourselves, to our friends, to our family?

“Till He returns, or calls me home, here in the power of Christ I stand!”

Brothers and sisters. This is what we are called to every day. To live each day as for Christ, not for yourself. Not for your boss. Not even for your family. When every day is lived for Christ, then every day is lived to it’s fullest. Amen?

Come, Christians, join to sing!

#hymnsforHim

 

It has been a busy day for me, what with work, and then finding a squirrel in the house… But, this song reminds us what we are ultimately called to do! Rejoice, sing! Shout loud praises to the Lord of all creation!

Come, Christians, Join to Sing

1. Come, Christians, join to sing
Alleluia! Amen!
Loud praise to Christ our King;
Alleluia! Amen!
Let all, with heart and voice,
Before His throne rejoice;
Praise is His gracious choice.
Alleluia! Amen!

2. Come, lift your hearts on high,
Alleluia! Amen!
Let praises fill the sky;
Alleluia! Amen!
He is our Guide and Friend;
To us He’ll condescend;
His love shall never end.
Alleluia! Amen!

3. Praise yet our Christ again,
Alleluia! Amen!
Life shall not end the strain;
Alleluia! Amen!
On heaven’s blissful shore,
His goodness we’ll adore,
Singing forevermore,
“Alleluia! Amen!”

I feel like this is a great song to just focus your mind when you wake up in the morning. We all need something to try and keep our minds and hearts focused on the right thing – on Him who gives us life! He who condescended to the place of a lowly servant so that we may be granted grace!

As I close out the night, I challenge those who read these to send out some praise to our God and Savior! So often, we pray supplication and we pray for things! But we need to remember that prayer is conversation – conversation with One who knows what we need better than we do! Spend some time of prayer in thanksgiving and adoration!

Praise our Christ! Sing forevermore!

Alleluia! Amen!

Again, if you enjoy these posts share them with your friends and family! Let me know your favorite hymns! Let me know your thoughts or comment something you want me to tackle! This is an opportunity for growth in the faith!

Come, ye sinners

Come, ye sinners

#hymnsforHim

Come, ye sinners… once we are brought into His family, THIS …this… is the Truth that we are promised. I am poor. I am wretched. I sin. I am weak – weak willed, and weak minded. Christians are not perfect. We cannot, and should not, claim to be. THAT is what makes us stronger. So, let’s read this:

Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus, ready, stands to save you,
Full of pity, joined with power.
He is able, He is able;
He is willing; doubt no more.

Come ye needy, come, and welcome,
God’s free bounty glorify;
True belief and true repentance,
Every grace that brings you nigh.
Without money, without money
Come to Jesus Christ and buy.

Come, ye weary, heavy laden,
Bruised and broken by the fall;
If you tarry ’til you’re better,
You will never come at all.
Not the righteous, not the righteous;
Sinners Jesus came to call.

Let not conscience make you linger,
Nor of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him.
This He gives you, this He gives you,
‘Tis the Spirit’s rising beam.

Lo! The Incarnate God, ascended;
Pleads the merit of His blood.
Venture on Him; venture wholly,
Let no other trust intrude.
None but Jesus, none but Jesus
Can do helpless sinners good.

When I read/sing these words they cut at every aspect of my life. It’s just amazing what God does in this world by speaking through His people. Gifted people who can discern His Truth on such a beautiful level.

Come ye sinner poor and wretched, weak and wounded, sick and sore… weary and heavy laden, bruised and broken by the Fall. Who doesn’t feel that burden daily? Who isn’t reminded our life’s brokenness on a consistent basis? Yet, truly, if we tarry – if we push ourselves to be better…. to be stronger… to just fight that tempting mistress just a little more earnestly.. maybe God will like us more? Maybe if I’m just nicer to that weird guy at work. Or say my prayers more earnestly… Maybe I can tithe more! Or say more kind words? If I just read the Scriptures more! Do even more devotions! That is surely find favor in His eyes! If we tarry until we are better… we will simply never come at all…

How many people live their lives this way? How many religions are founded on such premises of merit based salvation? I sit here just exhausted contemplating doing those things simply to gain favor with an almighty being. Those works above are not bad things! In fact, as we read in James, if I am to count myself in the family of believers and do not do those things I have no faith. Faith without works truly is a dead faith. It is lukewarm, and Christ will in the end times spit you out for you were never truly for him. Our faith, wholly given in grace by God (so that none may boast), finds completion in works. But if we simply lean on them for salvation we will surely fall!

True belief… true repentance… they are found in Him. Lo! The Incarnate One pleads on our behalf – those who look to Him in grace given faith. Amazing grace it is! The merit that we desire is His blood. The works that we want to offer are simply to accept His sacrifice and offer our lives to the one who gave His. Him and Him alone do us good. We must, MUST, venture on Him – and wholly on Him – to find that true belief and true repentance. It is through Him that we find relief. Relief from hardship. From pain. From suffering. From heartbreak and tears. From the cascading and, at times, all enveloping sadness of death. It is He who breaks the cycle that sin tosses us into.

If you want to know more about Him who calls us ugly sinners to Himself. To come and dine with Him. Not to find wagging fingers, but a firm vision of who He sees you to be in Him – please, let me know. Share this with your friends, with your family. Reach out to me! I am by NO means an expert, but I can pray with you, pray for you!

And be praying for me! I thoroughly enjoy writing these posts! Hymns are beautiful, they bring such passion in such few words. But I need to keep my focus on this! Sometimes life can get confusing, and I will get pushed back and just need God to keep me pushing forward on my blog posts. Thank you for reading!

The Church’s One Foundation

#hymnsforHim

This is probably one of my favorite hymns – though there are many. This hymn always gets me for some reason. Its a long one, not unlike For All the Saints, but every verse is a sermon in and of itself. So, today I submit to you – the internet, and the two or three followers I currently have – day 28: “The Church’s One Foundation”

The Church’s One Foundation

1. The church’s one foundation
Is Jesus Christ her Lord,
She is His new creation
By water and the Word.
From heaven He came and sought her
To be His holy bride;
With His own blood He bought her,
And for her life He died.

2. Elect from every nation,
Yet one over all the earth;
Her charter of salvation,
One Lord, one faith, one birth;
One holy Name she blesses,
Partakes one holy food,
And to one hope she presses,
With every grace endued.

3. Though with a scornful wonder
Men see her sore oppressed,
By schisms rent asunder,
By heresies distressed,
Yet saints their watch are keeping;
Their cry goes up, “How long?”
And soon the night of weeping
Shall be the morn of song.

4. The church shall never perish,
Her dear Lord to defend
To guide, sustain and cherish,
Is with her to the end
Though there be those that hate her,
And false sons in her pale
Against a foe or traitor,
She ever shall prevail

5. Mid toil and tribulation,
And tumult of her war,
She waits the consummation
Of peace forevermore;
‘Til, with the vision glorious,
Her longing eyes are blessed,
And the great church victorious
Shall be the church at rest.

6. Yet she on earth hath union
With God the Three in One,
And mystic sweet communion
With those whose rest is won.
O happy ones and holy!
Lord, give us grace that we
Like them, the meek and lowly,
On high may dwell with Thee.

The first verse, is the gospel. Plain and simple. God, from both physical and spiritual creation has sought His bride – the Church. His sacrifice would be the dowry paid to claim her, and He will never let go. The bride is comprised of every tribe and tongue… so so many different kinds of people call out to Christ in total dependence on Him. Yet, we are all one in the Church. We find unity, and community, in partaking the Last Supper. Every time our church has Communion Sunday we are reminded that we stand among a cloud of witness from past, present, and future when we partake this meal. This meal that seems to breach the walls between natural and supernatural. It is not soul saving, but it is absolutely thirst quenching and grace giving. We, the Church, have seen a lot of tumult in our time. From the councils, and the unifying of an empire under a pseudo-banner of Christ. To the hardships and pains brought about through the Catholic church. The false gospel proclaimed in the execution of the crusades, and the false purity sought in the horrors of the Inquisition. The Church has pressed onward. There have always been those Godly few that proclaimed Truth in the midst of spiritual, political, and societal heresy. And I know a time will come when we will no longer cry out, “how long,” but will turn our voices to glad singing as He has brought His kingdom to fruition.

The Church’s foundation is not in doctrinal words, or a pope, or through apostolic intercession… it is built upon the Solid Rock. The Cornerstone. The perfect Man, who was wholly God. No matter what earthly circumstance plagues us as the bride of Christ – we can be assured that we will not fail. Though man can corrupt the true nature, and mission, of the Church – for a time – she will be the lamp on a hill reflecting God’s majesty to all those who look. Let us thank God for His everlasting covenant with His people!

———–

Thank you for reading, and if you enjoy please comment and share! I am going to post concerning a different hymn every day, and potentially other topics whenever I can! Have a blessed day!

My response to “Why I Can’t Say ‘Love the Sin/Hate the Sin’ Anymore”

“Christian” can mean many different things when spoken by people. But that doesn’t mean they are all right. In fact, it is not even incorrect to say that one person can be right. That being said, the “most right” person doesn’t actually have everything right. That being said, I am implying that I am not completely right. I can say that I have had training and education in these matters, and have taken them to heart, studying multiple points of view, and have come the conclusions found in this post. 

The article I am going to be quoting from is : http://www.huffingtonpost.com/micah-j-murray/why-i-cant-say-love-the-sinner-hate-the-sin-anymore_b_4521519.html?utm_hp_ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false

It was an interesting article. Murray made some valid points, and yet also needs to be clear about certain aspects. This also proved to be a great chance for me to “think online” (rather than out-loud).

Let me first say this: the Church over the past century (though, to be honest, there have been huge oversights since its inception) has really dropped the ball on how they approach public sin. Witch hunts, slavery, race/gender equality. Then you have the active&passive approach to “internal sin,” or sin committed by “believers.” Extra-marital affairs, gambling, alcoholism, pedophilia… the list could go on and on. So, how can a church (notice the lower case c) like that possibly call out other sin?? This seems to be the tone of the aforementioned article.

This article is by no means a bad one, with only emotional rhetoric. It has very poignant points, and a decent message. But theologically, it is quite flawed. Murray rightly points out that for far too long the “Christian church” (again lower case) has screwed up mightily in how to deal with sin, in general – let alone specific sins. There has always been some sin that was “too much to bear.” Yet, let us look at Scripture:

  • Romans 3:23 – For all have sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God
  • Isaiah 64:6 – even our righteous deeds are like nasty, filthy, menstrual rags (a more accurate Hebrew translation)
  • Galatians 5:19-20 – “When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures,  idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division,  envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these.”

Paul ends that passage saying that such people will not enter God’s kingdom. Yes, God does choose to elect some to reprobation – to damnation. But look at that list of sin – which is just one of many in the OT/NT. It covers just about everything! There is not just one sin that is considered heinous enough to deny you entrance to heaven. At least not one that man considers terrible. All sin is sin. You sin, no entering heaven for you, regardless of how man sees the action. (There is one sin: to blaspheme the Holy Spirit. But that speaks to a much more serious grievance. That is for another time.)

So, back to the article. He wants to make it clear that he loves the person who does X sin. Of course, because of the cultural climate that sin is homosexuality. Murray wants the supposed reader to see that he still loves them regardless of what Christians may think. It just seems like he overcompensates.

“He could have said “You’re a sinner, but I love you anyways.” But she knew she was a sinner.” The thing is, Jesus always allows the sin to be made plain. BUT he made a great point, that He wouldn’t allow Himself to join in on pushing someone already put down any further. Murray truly does hit the nail on the head there.

My biggest frustration is his emotional reaction to a very emotionally driven issue. The homosexual issue in this world, is one of sin. If we as Christians are to compromise on what is true in this world – we will lose this world… even more than we already are. Now, with that said I would never mean to say put the sinner down, or ostracize them, or hate them… no… never that… that is the exact opposite of Christ. Now, I also want to be clear that I dont have the answer… and I know that I dont have the answer. I can say this though… I sin daily… all the time… too much. But I know that I do…

I have to say though, you do have to hate the sin. Sin is bad. It is lawlessness (1John3:4). You have to reject the sin in your life, and repent from it. Do a complete 180* – see sin as God sees sin. That is to say, see it as it is – evil, terrible, wrong, destructive, and eternally disruptive.  And you do love the sinner. We are called to love everyone. Think about it, you love your friends… your family… nice people… kind people… etc… But we are called to love our enemies too. And if we align ourselves with Christ, His enemies are our enemies. And His enemies are those who work against Him – thus sinners. We still need to love sinners, but not to accept or love their sin. But you can be a sinner, yet be elect to eternity with Christ. That is to say, being saved in this life doesn’t mean you suddenly are perfect before God right now. That is why we have sanctification. You will fight your specific sin temptation until the day you die. But when you are in Christ each day that battle becomes easier, and His light in you grows stronger. Now, that isn’t to say that there aren’t times certain battles overtake you, and you retreat back into your sin. That will happen. But thanks be to God that His Son will come into that little cave where you try and keep your sin hidden – He will flip the switch (this cave has running electrical outlets) and brighten up the darkness. Then, at the end of your life, after all the fighting and becoming more sanctified, you are glorified and at the side of our Elder Brother.

So, with a final word: a call to any and all Christians reading this post. First, understand I have been trying to write this for like a week, working on the words to use – and I’ll admit that I got somewhat distracted as I wrote. SO, let me know if I need to clarify anything. Second, take something from Murray – do not ostracize the sinner. Love them, treat them as a human made in God’s image. Do not judge the non-Christian by Christian standards… that doesn’t make sense. BUT if you run into a Christian who lives drenched in sin – that is something we are called to oppose. So, to my friends and family who may read this – if I am living a life unworthy of the salvation I claim to cling to, call me out on it. Don’t let me live in filth because I look comfortable, or it would make you uncomfortable to tell me about the truth of my situation. That is the problem with Christians today, they are either all in (shunning the sinner) or all out (negating the sin). Let this post be an encouragement from both angles. And let us all exclaim with Paul when he said:

“Wretched man that I am, who can deliver me from this body of death? THanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

Romans 7:24-25

{and really, if you are confused, let me know!}