Tag Archives: sacrifice

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.

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.”

 

 

Read more about “When I Survey.”

The Doctrine of Christ


Who is Jesus of Nazareth? This question as been pondered in the minds of many for two thousand years. For the answer to this question has impact on everyone from the lowliest beggar, to the mightiest King.

So who is Jesus of Nazareth and why, is he called Christ. Let me answer the second question first. Contrary to what many may think, based on it usage, Christ is not a last name, rather is a title. It is derived from the Greek word [christos], which means anointed or chosen one. It is the same as the Hebrew word Messiah. So when you hear Jesus referred to as the Christ or as the Messiah, these are the same thing. It is calling him the anointed one of God.

Now, back to the first question, who is Jesus? Jesus was a man, born into this world (Luke 2:5-7), who lived (Luke 2:52) and died (Mark 15:43-45). However the story does not simply end there. For Jesus what not simply a man, Jesus was also God incarnate [in flesh] (John 1:1, 14). He is the eternal God, the great I am of the Old Testament (Isaiah 9:6, Micah 5:2), who existed from the very beginning in co-existence with God [the Father] (John 1:1, 17:5). He is simultaneously fully man (Luke 19:10, Galatians 4:4) and fully God.He was the true God who took on the form of a man and faced all temptations that men face, to an infinite degree (Hebrews 4:15, Philippians 2:6-8). If Jesus had been simply God, but not man his sacrifice would have been inadequate, as he could not represent man. Had he been simply man, but not God his sacrifice would have been inadequate as he would have been imperfect. Jesus was fully God and fully man and there for was the only adequate sacrifice. (Hebrews 10:1-14)

Now while Jesus was fully man, he did not have a human father, rather the Holy Spirit came upon the virgin Mary and she gave birth to a son, Jesus Christ (Luke 1:35, Matthew 1:18-25) Though Jesus Christ was fully God, when He came to earth, He voluntarily surrendered the rights that came with His being God.He did not give up His being God, but willingly set aside His position as God to become man and face all temptations that man faced.In fact, Jesus did not only lower Himself to becoming a man, but came to serve man and die in his place.(Mark 10:45, Philippians 2:5-11).

Some have questioned the whole death of Jesus, but let me be clear, Jesus death on the cross was not simply passing out or “swooning” but was a true physical death. (Matthew 27:45-54, Mark 15:33-41, Luke 23:44-49, John 19:28-30).It was necessary that it be a true physical death as His death was a sacrifice that paid the penalty for the sins [anything not up to God’s perfect standard] of man (Matthew 20:28, I Timothy 2:6).As God is perfect and just, the sins of Man are an affront to His being. Therefore, the sins of Man needed a perfect offering to satisfy a just God.Jesus, being fully God and fully man was a perfect man. He therefore was the only adequate sacrifice to pay the price.His death on the cross fulfilled the prophecies of the messiah to come found in the Old Testament (Zechariah 2:10-11, Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12).It is through His death that our sins may be forgiven for His death was a sufficient sacrifice for the entire world, but it was only efficient for those who would believe (John 1:12, Romans 3:22).

After his death on the cross, Jesus was laid in a grave for three days and on the third day the Father raised Him from the dead in the perfection of the resurrected body (John 20:11-17, 26-29, I Corinthians 15:3-8).He was the first to be resurrected and through his resurrection, the door was opened to eternal life for those who believe (I Corinthians 20:20-21).

Jesus now sits at the “right hand” [the place of honor] of the Father (Acts 2:32-34), where He sits in authority over the church (Colossians 1:18) and serves as an advocate for believers (Hebrews 4:14-16).Jesus will one day return to claim those who have proclaimed belief in Him and have been forgiven (Acts 1:11, I Thessalonians 4:16-17) At the end of time He will sit in the judgment seat as all humanity stands before Him and He will separate those whose sins have been forgiven through belief in Him from those who are the unregenerate of the world (Matthew 25:31-46).

Thank You For Your Service!

The words often seem empty and hollow to me. I don’t want them to be. We have all seen it and many of us have done it. You see someone in a military uniform, you walk up to them and say, “I just wanted to say thank you for your service.” . . . Thank you. . . It can so easily slip out it almost becomes simple reflex. But can these two little words truly communicate the level of gratitude I feel toward those to whom I owe so great a debt.

Last year my family took a spring vacation to Springfield, Illinois. We saw the Lincoln Museum and the capitol building. We even ate at the Cozy Dog. We ended the time in Springfield by visiting Lincoln’s tomb. We finished the tour and were ready to go when I took a small detour in the cemetery. We went to the Veterans Memorials.



We walked around these monuments and I explained to my children what they meant. That these were here to remind us of what had happened and to ensure that we never forget. As I read and talked to them about the many men and women who had given their lives in service, I wondered if they could truly understand. I am sure the answer is no. I am pretty sure I don’t understand.

I should also mention that we had the privilege to visit the Illinois Fire Fighters Memorial and Police Memorial while visiting the capitol building.  A reminder as well of the sacrifices made by these men and women in uniform.


Tonight, as we were watching the National Memorial Day Concert my seven year old daughter asked, “Why did the people have to die?” How do you answer that. I explained that there are evil people in the world. And because of the evil, it is necessary for good people to stand up and fight back against the evil. I told her that sometime when fighting against evil, good people die. They give up their lives to do what is right. This seemed to answer the question for her, but I was left asking myself, “Why did the people have to die?” The answer worked for a seven year old, why not for me.

Tomorrow I will take my children to the Memorial Day ceremonies in town both at the city park and the cemetery. I know for them it often seems long and boring. But can I do any less. Not only to remember and honor those who have given so much, but to demonstrate for and teach my children the importance of doing so.

Perhaps, Thank You isn’t so hollow. Perhaps it is simply the best that can be said when words are not enough.

So to those who have served, to those who were injured, to those who gave their life. To all these and their families, I simply say . . .

THANK YOU.