Saturday, April 19, 2014

Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure;
Save from wrath and make me pure.

 Jesus is our Rock, the basis of our faith, and not just our faith, but the faith of many throughout centuries. He is Rock of Ages, and Christ died for each and every one of us, redeeming us, freeing us of sin and death. We no longer needed to endure God's wrath. We were now pure. It was as written in Isaiah: But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises are we healed. Christ bore all of our sin, though he himself was sinless, and he died on the cross to pay our debts.

He rose to forever free us from those debts, to declare that sin would never have power over those who believed.

All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and thou alone.

The second verse of Augustus M. Toplady's "Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me" ends with those two lines. No matter what work we do, no matter how much we follow God's law, no matter how much faith and zeal we have, we still sin, and our remorse and good works can't save us. We need grace and mercy from God, which is granted to us not for our works but by Christ's death. Only Christ can save.

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to thee for dress,
Helpless, look to thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.

Without God -- without Christ -- we are desperate, alone, naked, and unclean. All we have is the covenant of the cross, that Christ died for us and that this death reconciles us with God. Without the cleansing sacrifice of Christ, we die; instead, Jesus died for us.

Christ died while we were yet sinners. That proves God's love towards us.

I love this line, and I find myself thinking it pretty regularly. It follows the confessional prayer in the United Methodist Service of Word and Table II, and it is based on Romans 5:8. Without redemption through Christ's death and resurrection, we would have always remained sinners, with no hope. God loved us enough to provide us with hope where there was none, to flood us with grace and mercy.

While I draw this fleeting breath,
When mine eyes shall close in death,
When I soar to worlds unknown,
See thee on thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in thee.

This is the promise Jesus gives us with his death and resurrection: He will always be our Rock. With Christ we will always find hope, grace, comfort, and most importantly, life with him forever.

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