Thursday, March 22, 2012

All I Have is Christ

This song was put out by Sovereign Grace Ministries in 2008, but only recently has it captured my heart and imagination (the infectious joy of Erin Hill singing it doesn’t hurt either!). I’d like to take a moment to comment on the lyrics. I’ll take each of the three sections and then offer a few comments. I encourage you to listen (and watch) before and after this blog.

Section 1:

I once was lost in darkest night
Yet thought I knew the way.
The sin that promised joy and life
Had led me to the grave.
I had no hope that You would own
A rebel to Your will.
And if You had not loved me first
I would refuse You still.

The first thing that occurs to me is the promise of sin to provide joy and life, but leads us instead to the grave. That’s so true of our experience isn’t it? Sin promises so much yet yields so little;in fact, sin provides the opposite of what it promises – death! I wish I remembered that more often. I am so easily bamboozled by the promise, I forget the penalty.

The second thing to note here is the fact that if Jesus had not loved me first, I would refuse him still. This is one of the precious truths of Reformed theology that so fits with Scripture and human experience. Jesus is a relentless lover bent on rescuing sinners, of whom I am chief. If he does not pursue me daily, I will be lost.

Section 2:

But as I ran my hell-bound race
Indifferent to the cost
You looked upon my helpless state
And led me to the cross.
And I beheld God’s love displayed
You suffered in my place
You bore the wrath reserved for me
Now all I know is grace.

The gospel is not something we deal with at the beginning of the Christian life and then advance to “more meaty subjects.” The gospel is as meaty as it’s ever going to get for the Christian. We never get past the gospel; we only deepen and broaden our experience of it!

On a daily basis I still jump into the “hell-bound race, indifferent to the cost.” Jesus continually sees my helpless state and leads me to the cross. There, broken and disillusioned of all of what I thought was moral strength, I behold the brilliant display of the glorious love of God. As I look at a broken and bloodied Jesus on the cross, I see the clearest picture of the glory of God!! The place of holiness is reserved for the broken and the weak. This is other-worldly glory.

Because he suffered in my place and took the wrath that I deserved, I live my life now in and by the grace of God. “All I know is grace” – what a beautiful phrase! When my senses are overwhelmed with the stench of my sin, Jesus reminds me that the air I actually breathe is grace, love, pure reality. Can you smell it?

Section 3:

Hallelujah! All I have is Christ
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life
Now, Lord, I would be Yours alone
And live so all might see
The strength to follow Your commands
Could never come from me.
Oh Father, use my ransomed life
In any way You choose.
And let my song forever be
My only boast is You.

I surrender all to the kind of God who does all this for me, such a worthless ragamuffin, full of sin & wound!

The strength to follow God doesn’t come from me, but from Jesus (another precious truth from Reformed theology).

This part is extremely hard for me to sing: “Oh Father, use my ransomed life in any way you choose.” It’s like sitting on an operating table still recovering from surgery and inviting another incision, another operation knowing that it will require more recovery and disability.

He has chosen a path for me that has involved more pain, more abuse and rejection than I ever thought I could handle. But, what can I say after experiencing Christ’s love on the cross? How can I refuse one who had it all yet laid it all down to experience the depths of torture, rejection, shame and death for me? How can I hold back everything I am and have, even knowing that he could easily continue to strip away everything that I look to for affirmation and worldly glory? I find myself echoing the words of Peter, “Where else can we go Lord? You alone have the words of eternal life” (John 6:67-8, my paraphrase).

Hallelujah! All I have is Christ
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life

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