Sunday, August 29

A Sunday To Contemplate Our Solid Rock

[Today's hymn and sermon have been posted later than usual due to Blogger's quirkiness].

Studying the immutability of God has me thinking a bit about the solidness of the hope we have in Christ, so that's the theme for this Sunday's hymn and sermon.
My Hope Is Built
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus Name.


On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.
---Music by William Bradbury. [Listen]
---Words by Edward Mote. From Edward Mote's own account of the writing of this hymn:
One morning it came into my mind as I went to labour, to write an hymn on the 'Gracious Experience of a Christian.' As I went up Holborn I had the chorus,

'On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand.'

In the day I had four first verses complete, and wrote them off. On the Sabbath following I met brother King as I came out of Lisle Street Meeting-who informed me that his wife was very ill, and asked me to call and see her. I had an early tea, and called afterwards. He said that it was his usual custom to sing a hymn, read a portion, and engage in prayer, before he went to meeting. He looked for his hymnbook but could find it nowhere. I said, 'I have some verses in my pocket; if he liked, we would sing them.' We did, and his wife enjoyed them so much, that after service he asked me, as a favour, to leave a copy of them for his wife. I went home, and by the fireside composed the last two verses, wrote the whole off, and took them to sister King. -As these verses so met the dying woman's case, my attention to them was the more arrested, and I had a thousand printed for distribution.

The featured sermon is also on the sure hope we have in Christ. It is the sermon preached by John Piper on September 16, 2001, shortly after the September 11th strikes against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and so it speaks to the vulnerability felt after that catastrophic event, and the foundation of our hope even while in such turmoil. The text for the sermon is Romans 8:35-39.
...the way I want to strengthen your hope this morning is not by glossing over how utterly vulnerable we are in our earthly existence, or by deflecting your attention away from the Biblical truth that God's judgments fall on believer and unbeliever alike - purifying in some cases and punishing in other cases, depending on whether we repent and make Christ our Treasure instead of the idols of this world. I want to stare those realities of vulnerability and judgment square in the face with you and give you real, solid, Biblical hope. Not just hopeful feelings based on naive notions of earthly stability or escape from painful, purifying, disciplinary judgments.

So then, what is this hope and what is the basis for it? I'll give you my answer, and then show you where I got it from the Word of God.

  • Our hope is that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ, not suffering and not even death.

And the two foundations for this hope are the death of Jesus and the sovereignty of God.
  • Our Savior and King, Jesus Christ, died and rose again to bear our sins, become our curse, endure our condemnation, remove our guilt, and secure our everlasting joy in the presence of the all-satisfying God.
  • And the sovereignty of God over all persons and events guarantees that what Jesus Christ bought for us by his own blood will infallibly become our inheritance.
On the foundation of our hope in Christ's death for us:
The first answer is the death of Jesus in our place. Look at verse 32: "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?" The basis of our hope that God will freely give us all we need to satisfied in him forever is that he did not spare his own Son, but gave him for us all. He gave him. For us. God did this. And he did it for us. And verse 32 says that death is the foundation of our hope that he will give us everything that we need to be satisfied in him forever.

I say it like that - he will give us everything we need to be satisfied in the love of God forever - because what becomes clear in verse 35 is that the sovereignty of God does not guarantee our escape from suffering. It does not guarantee that we won't be in a hijacked plane or in a World Trade Center - or that we won't drink the poisoned water or breathe the deadly gas. "Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?" These words cover virtually every kind of possible calamity. Distress and peril are broad, general words for dangers of all kinds. Christians are vulnerable to all of them. If your hope is to escape them, your hope is unfounded.

And I don't want to give you unfounded hope this morning. But founded hope. The Christian hope is not that we escape these things, but that they cannot separate us from the love of God in Christ.

You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.

(Isaiah 26:3,4 ESV)