Tag Archives: cross

Old Rugged Cross

On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suffering and shame;
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.

O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above
To bear it to dark Calvary.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.

In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
A wondrous beauty I see,
For ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
To pardon and sanctify me.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.

To the old rugged cross I will ever be true;
Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
Then He’ll call me some day to my home far away,
Where His glory forever I’ll share.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.

Words and Music by George Bennard, 1913

So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.
John 19:17 – 18

he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.
Philippians 2:8

For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
Romans 5:10

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Mark 10:45

And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
Hebrews 10:10

Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Romans 8:17

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Galatians 6:14


When I was very young, before I can even remember, I was given a little blue teddy bear. It is something that, to my memory, I always had. I called him Boo Bear. (The attempt of a small child to say Blue.) A name he retained even after I had learned to say it properly. I kept him with me all the time. He was one of those things that was so loved that he eventually lost most of his fur. At one point, when I was a little older, I stitched new eyes on him, though I honestly do not remember his original eyes.

It has been a long time since I was a small child. But even today, if look on the top shelf of bookshelf, there he sits. Something that I cherish. Despite the wear and tear that is evident when you look at him, he is still something special. I know I am not alone in cherishing something so dear from my childhood. But imagine having this same cherished connection with something that is despised by everyone. Something that represents torture, suffering, shame and even death. How could someone have such cherished thoughts of something like this. Yet as Christians, we find ourselves right there. The most brutal form of execution devised by man is cherished by those whom it has touched. This is the message of George Bennard’s “Old Rugged Cross.”

The hymn begins, “On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross, The emblem of suffering and shame; And I love that old cross where the dearest and best For a world of lost sinners was slain.” It is a poetic description of the events some two thousand years ago. The events described in John 19. As we look at verses 17 – 18 we read, “So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.” They crucified him. This was the very purpose of the cross. Something we so easily forget today as we see people wear it for jewelry or when we look upon the beautifully designed cross hanging at the front of the church.

We don’t stop to remember that this cross was perhaps the ugliest thing imaginable to the eyes of the people of that day. It was used for the execution of criminals. Philippians 2:8 tells us that he “died a criminal’s death on a cross.” So how can we cherish this thing? How can it be so dear to our hearts?

The hymn continues, “O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world, Has a wondrous attraction for me.” And it does have an attraction that is great, an attraction that pulls us to the one who died upon it. For as Romans 5:10 tells us, “. . . while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son. . . ” You see, it is not the cross itself, but was accomplished upon that cross that draws us to it. “For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above To bear it to dark Calvary.” Christ himself, came to earth ”to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)

Yes, “’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died, To pardon and sanctify me.” It is in his death that I find forgiveness. It is through his blood that I am sanctified and made holy. Hebrews 10:10 tells us, “. . . we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ. . .”

So this cross, which should be despised, becomes cherished. It is not something we run from, but it becomes the representation of what we hold most dear. This is why Bennard writes, “To the old rugged cross I will ever be true; Its shame and reproach gladly bear, Then He’ll call me some day to my home far away, Where His glory forever I’ll share.” This is what we are told in Romans 8:17 where we read, “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Through His death and resurrection, we receive new life and will dwell with him forever.

So the cross, for all its dark and loathsome meaning, has become our sign of hope. Hope as we look forward to the day that we will receive the crown of glory that He has promised to all who believe. It is in the cross alone that we can boast of our salvation. (Galatians 6:14) So it this hope that we hold on to and join with others declaring “I will cling to the old rugged cross, And exchange it some day for a crown.”

Read more about, “Old Rugged Cross.

Do This In Remembrance of Me

 

I am taking a brief aside from my hymn reflections to look at another aspect of worship. In this Lenten season we begin by looking at Christ as our example. We reflect on the fullness of His life. His struggles, His triumphs, His sorrows, His joys and most importantly His sacrifice. We look to Jesus as not only our Savior, but our example of living a life in service to the Father. We follow His lead in the examples He set, in the parables He told, in His teaching and in the commands he gave. I want to look specifically at something in this last category.

Communion, The Lord’s Supper, The Eucharist, The Bread and The Wine. What ever term you use for it, as Christians, we are called to partake of it. The words of Jesus echo down through the ages. “Do this in remembrance of me.” This is the command that Jesus gave us, a command with a deeper meaning. It is not like the slogan of Nike, “Just Do It.” which carries not reason or meaning other than enjoying yourself. This call has real meaning. There is a reason we are to partake. Jesus said, “Do this . . . in remembrance of me.”

We find the account of the Lords supper in Luke 22 and then find Paul recounting the events with further explanation in 1 Corinthians 11:23 – 32.

Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.” “Where do you want us to prepare for it?” they asked. He replied, “As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, and say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large room upstairs, all furnished. Make preparations there.” They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover. When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.
Luke 22:7 – 20

For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world.
1 Corinthians 11:23 – 32

In Remembrance of Me

Now I realize that we could get caught up here in a debate on the substance of the Lord’s Supper, but the final conclusion will be that people hold many different position from Transubstantiation to Memorial. But from whichever belief you come, as believers we are to take part in The Lord’s Supper with remembrance of Christ.

We remember that He was born into this world in human flesh. John 1:14 tells us, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” This is of utmost importance, for the manger and the cross are intrinsically linked. Remove one and the other becomes meaningless. You can find more of this in the article, The Real Meaning of Christmas.

We remember that while he was born fully man, He was still fully God. John 1:1 tells us, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” He was Emanuel, God with us. Not a God who remained distant from us, but a God who dwelt among us. He walked among us that He might know us and we might know Him.

We remember that he faced the very temptation we face in this life. Temptations to meet physical desires, to meet the lust of the eyes and the desire to elevate our selves above God. Yet the scriptures tell us in Hebrews 4:15 that He was “tempted in every way, just as we are – yet He did not sin.”

We remember that he came to “give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45) He paid the penalty for our sins when He hung upon the cross, His body broken, His blood shed so we might not know death.

We remember that He rose triumphant from the grave so that we need not fear death. He opened the door to eternal life. This is why 1 Corinthians 15:20 – 22 tells us, “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”

We remember that Through Christ, we have become joint heirs with Him. We have become children of God. That we may stand before God not in trembling fear of judgement, boldly as children before a loving Father. So Hebrews 4:16 tells us, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

A Word of Warning

When we come before the Lord’s table our attitude should be one of remembrance and reflection. For while we remember Christ in all of these ways, we reflect on our lives. Have we remembered to give Christ the recognition He is due? Have we confessed the sin in our lives? Have we sought to live our lives Honoring Him? Have we surrendered our lives to follow Him?

These are the questions that we must ask of ourselves as we prepare to partake of the Lord’s Supper, for Paul has warned us in 1 Corinthians 11:28 – 29 that “Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves.” When we fail to properly prepare for the Lord’s Supper and when we fail to remember the real reason that we partake of the Lord’s supper, we make it meaningless. We take the incredible sacrifice that the Lord has given and make a mockery of it. This is the judgement Paul refers to in 1 Corinthians 11:29. For we have forgotten that Jesus gave everything for us.

So, as we go through this Lenten Season may we be reminded of this truth. May we prepare each day to come before the Lord’s Table. May we remember Jesus and what He has done for us. Let us truly partake of the Lord’s Supper in remembrance of Him.

I Surrender All

All to Jesus, I surrender;
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.
I surrender all, I surrender all,
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.

All to Jesus I surrender;
Humbly at His feet I bow,
Worldly pleasures all forsaken;
Take me, Jesus, take me now.
I surrender all, I surrender all,
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.

All to Jesus, I surrender;
Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;
Let me feel the Holy Spirit,
Truly know that Thou art mine.
I surrender all, I surrender all,
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.

All to Jesus, I surrender;
Lord, I give myself to Thee;
Fill me with Thy love and power;
Let Thy blessing fall on me.
I surrender all, I surrender all,
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.

All to Jesus I surrender;
Now I feel the sacred flame.
O the joy of full salvation!
Glory, glory, to His Name!
I surrender all, I surrender all,
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.

Words by Judson W. Van DeVenter, 1896
Music by Winfield S. Weeden, 1896

 


Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”
“Which ones?” he inquired.
Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”
“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”
Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”
Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.
Matthew 19:16 – 30

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”
Luke 9:23

I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:13


 

One of the fascinating traditions of New Year’s is that of resolutions. Those ideas we have, promises we make to be someone different, to do new and exciting things. The fact is that most of us who have made resolutions typically give up within a few weeks. Not surprising. They typically include ending established habits. But it is not easy to give up things that you have held dearly, even if it is to become a better person. But many times, that is what it takes. So we continue to try. It is this need to give up things held dear and change that permeates the theme of Judson W. Van DeVenter’s hymn, “I Surrender All.”

The hymn begins, “All to Jesus, I surrender; All to Him I freely give. I will ever love and trust Him, In His presence daily live.” For those of us who have chosen to follow God, there is no greater commitment we can make, yet it is not always as easy as it may seem.

“All to Him I freely give.” These are words that we can so easily say, but not so easily live out. This is why Jesus said of the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:23 – 24, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

Like I said, the words are easy to say, but the reality is that living them out is not. Think about it, Jesus told this man that if he wanted to attain eternal life he had to “go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Matthew 19:21) Go sell your possessions. Could you do this? Could any of us? The answer is, that I am sure that some people could do it, but stop and look at the reality of what Jesus was telling him. It was not to simply sell his belongings, it was to give up what was dearest to his heart. This is what the hymn is speaking of when it says, “All to Jesus, I surrender; All to Him I freely give.”

The hymn continues, “I will ever love and trust Him, In His presence daily live.” You see, to make such a decision, to make such a commitment is not a one time thing. It is something that we must do again and again, each and every day. I wrote about this several years ago in a blog entitled “New Year’s Resolutions.” In it I wrote;

“You see, a resolution is not a one time thing. It is an ongoing commitment. In a world were we want, and to often get, things instantly, we need to slow down and accept that things take time. That changes will not just happen, but rather that we will need to work for them.”

The commitment that we put into following is a daily thing. This is why Jesus says in Luke 9:23, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”

Yes, it is daily, but by God’s grace we do not face it alone. The hymn continues, “Make me, Savior, wholly Thine.” If we wish to change who we are and if we wish to surrender to Christ, then we can find the strength to do so in Him. In the same blog I referenced earlier, I also wrote;

“But remember this, we do not need to do this alone. We find accountability and support in friends and family. And for those of us who know Jesus as our personal Savior, we find our strength in him alone.”

The strength to make the change, the strength to surrender, is found in Christ alone. For, we “can do all this through him who gives (us) strength.” (Philippians 4:13)

Yes, we have been called by Christ to surrender all. We have been called to give up those things we hold most dear, that stand between us and following Christ. And Christ is there to strengthen us to surrender, if we will only turn to Him and trust Him. When we take these steps and begin to know what it truly means to surrender, then we can genuinely sing from our hearts,“All to Thee, my blessed Savior, I surrender all.”

 

 

Read more about “I Surrender All.

Onward, Christian Soldiers

Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.
Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe;
Forward into battle see His banners go!
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.

At the sign of triumph Satan’s host doth flee;
On then, Christian soldiers, on to victory!
Hell’s foundations quiver at the shout of praise;
Brothers lift your voices, loud your anthems raise.
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.

Like a mighty army moves the church of God;
Brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod.
We are not divided, all one body we,
One in hope and doctrine, one in charity.
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.

What the saints established that I hold for true.
What the saints believed, that I believe too.
Long as earth endureth, men the faith will hold,
Kingdoms, nations, empires, in destruction rolled.
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.

Crowns and thrones may perish, kingdoms rise and wane,
But the church of Jesus constant will remain.
Gates of hell can never gainst that church prevail;
We have Christ’s own promise, and that cannot fail.
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.

Onward then, ye people, join our happy throng,
Blend with ours your voices in the triumph song.
Glory, laud and honor unto Christ the King,
This through countless ages men and angels sing.
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.

Words by Abine Baring-Gould, 1865
Music by Arthur s. Sullivan, 1871

 


You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.
2 Timothy 2:1 – 4

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God,so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Ephesians 6:10 – 17

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Ephesians 4:3 – 5

Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Matthew 16:16- 18


 

War is a terrible thing.  There is no question about that, but there are times when it has become necessary.  It is an issue of which we all have different views. Some have been distant from the events, some have been in the middle of them, some have anxiously awaited the return of loved ones and some have never had loved one return.  No, war is a terrible thing, but unfortunately it has been a reality for time immemorial.

But no matter our view of war, we should all have respect for those who have chosen to serve their nation in the military.  Those who have been willing to give everything for the land and people they love.  They are soldiers.  Men and women who have chosen to place the needs of others ahead of themselves. No matter what you think of war, soldiers deserve our respect.

But war is hated.  It is this hatred of war that has led many to dismiss songs that seem to glorify war, especially when those songs are done under the banner of the Christian faith.  This is the case with “Onward Christian Soldiers.” How can those who claim to be followers of a loving God hold up war as a standard?  But that is not the case.  The focus is not on war but on soldiers, people who have sworn to faithfully follow their leader.

Baring-Gould writes, “Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war, with the Cross of Jesus going on before.”  You see the image is not the war, but the faithful soldiers. An imagery that Paul himself reminds Timothy of in 2 Timothy 2:3 – 4 when he writes, “Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.” As followers of Christ we need to avoid other things getting in the way of following Christ.  We need to keep our focus on the cross of Jesus that is before us.

Yes, the imagery of a soldier is clearly established, but the fact is that Paul reminds us that we are, indeed, part of a war.  A war that is, ” not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”  We are in a spiritual war, “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:57) It is for this reason that Baring-Gould writes, “At the sign of triumph Satan’s host doth flee; On then, Christian soldiers, on to victory!”

Therefore, as a victorious army, we must remember that “We are not divided, all one body we, One in hope and doctrine, one in charity.”  A reminder of Paul’s words in Ephesians 4:3 – 5, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

Yes, we are soldiers in a war, but a war for which the victory is sure.  We faithful follow the lead that Christ, Himself, has set before us.  So we do join the happy throng, and and lift our voices in the triumph song, “Glory, laud and honor unto Christ the King, This through countless ages men and angels sing.”

 

 

Read more about “Onward, Christian Soldiers.”

Forbid It, Lord, That I Should Boast

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

His dying crimson, like a robe,
Spreads o’er His body on the tree;
Then I am dead to all the globe,
And all the globe is dead to me.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

Words by Isaac Watts, 1707
Music by Lowell Mason, 1824

 


But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
1 Corinthians 6:14

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
Philippians 3:7 – 11

And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.
1 Corinthians 2:1 – 5


 

We always want to encourage children in their efforts. We want them to grow to have confidence in what they do. I know I received this encouragement. But as I got older I remember this beginning to sink in differently. I began to transition from confidence in what I was doing to pride in what I had done. And what was wrong with that? I had accomplished something significant, why shouldn’t I be proud? But before long I found myself seeing “my” accomplishment as deserving to be praised. In fact, I simply expected it.

Now, I know I am not alone in this. Most of us have been there. For some, it is one particular thing that they are indeed accomplished at for which people praise them. For others, they have simply come to believe they are good at everything, and they may be. It is this pride in our accomplishment, however, that can become our greatest barrier to knowing Christ and accepting His gift of salvation.

This is the theme of”When I survey.” Isaac Watts realized it over three-hundred years ago, and it is the same today. Our nature is to look inward, and see ourselves and our accomplishment. But we need to stop, and change our focus from inward, to Christ. When we do this, our perspective on our accomplishments will change. Watts writes, “When I survey the wondrous cross On which the Prince of glory died, My richest gain I count but loss, And pour contempt on all my pride.”

This is what Paul is telling us in Philippians 3:7 – 9 when he says, “whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.”

As much as I may have learned to be proud of my accomplishments, and sometimes for valid reasons, when I compare them to the actions of Christ they are meaningless. In fact, it is contemptuous for me to even compare them to Christ sacrifice. It is for this reason that Watts goes on to write, “Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, Save in the death of Christ my God!”

For all I have accomplished the only thing that should be praised, is the sacrifice Christ made for me and all who believe. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 6:14, “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” No matter how great, how big, how significant of things I have accomplished, they are nothing compared to Christ sacrifice on the Cross. A sacrifice that has reconciled us with God. “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God.” (1 Peter 3:18) It is for this reason that Watts writes, “All the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to His blood.”

I and my accomplishments are nothing compared to what Christ has done, and there is nothing I can do to repay it. So, I triumphantly sing the words of Isaac Watts, “Were the whole realm of nature mine, That were a present far too small; Love so amazing, so divine, Demands my soul, my life, my all.”

 

 

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