This morning, we attended the worship gathering of Sovereign Grace Church (Louisville). We wanted to hear C. J. Maheny preach, but were delighted by Jeff Purswell’s sermon on Philippians 3:7-11. Jeff’s big idea was simple, direct and probing: The most valuable thing in all of life is knowing Christ. Therefore, what do you value more than knowing Christ? Jeff went on to explain that really knowing Christ requires recognition of his superior worth (vv. 7-8), trusting in his saving work (vv. 8-9) and becoming like him (vv. 10-11). To know Christ in this sense is not the same thing as adding Jesus as an appendage to my already “perfect” life. My life isn’t perfect and that’s the reason Christ came, obeyed God perfectly, died for my sins and rose for my justification.
We sang a song that I’d not heard before entitled “Now, Why all this Fear?” It reminded me of a passage from William Gurnall that I read this week about the nature and source of the reconciliation that brings sinners peace with God. Here’s what Gurnall wrote, followed by the song we sang.
“[God] paid justice the full debt, which he had, as man’s surety, undertaken to discharge – this, gives us a greater advantage to understand God’s hatred to sin, than if we could stand in a place to see what . . . the damned find in hell, and behold all the torments they endure . . . God paid in one sum what they shall be ever paying and yet never come to the last farthing of . . . The whole curse met in [Christ], as all streams do in the sea – a virtual collection of all the threatenings denounced against sin, and all laid on him. And now, take but one step more, and consider how near in relationship Christ stood to God, and also the infinite and unspeakable love with which this relationship was filled Should you see a father that has but only one son, and can have no more, make his son his [prisoner]; come into court himself, and sit judge upon his life; with his own lips pass sentence of death upon him, and order that it be executed with the most excruciating torments . . . go to the place [of execution] himself, and with his own eyes . . . not full of water, as mourning for his death, but full of fire and fury – a countenance so set [that it ] tells all that see it, the man took pleasure in his child’s death; — should you see this, you would say, ‘Surely he bitterly hates his son, or the sin his son hath committed.’ This you see in God the Father towards his Son . . . Christ took notice of this, that the warrant for his death had his Father’s hand and seal to it. ‘Shall I not drink of the cup my Father gives me?’ His blood was the wine that made glad the heart of God – ‘It pleased the Lord to bruise him’ (Isa 53:10). When God corrects a saint he doth it, in a manner, unwillingly; but when Christ suffers, it pleaseth him; and not this from [a lack] of love in his heart to Christ, nor that any disobedience in Christ had hardened his Father’s heart against him – for he never displeased him – but from the hatred he had to sin, and from zeal to exalt his mercy towards sinners, by satisfying his justice on his Son.”
With this passage of the pardoning mercy and love of God fresh in my mind, we sang this song in worship:
Now why this fear and unbelief?
Has not the Father put to grief
His spotless Son for us?
And will the righteous Judge of men
Condemn me for that debt of sin
Now canceled at the cross?
Jesus, all my trust is in Your blood
Jesus, You’ve rescued us
Through Your great love
Complete atonement You have made
And by Your death have fully paid
The debt Your people owed
No wrath remains for us to face
We’re sheltered by Your saving grace
And sprinkled with Your blood
How sweet the sound of saving grace
How sweet the sound of saving grace
Christ died for me
Be still my soul and know this peace
The merits of your great high priest
Have bought your liberty
Rely then on His precious blood
Don’t fear your banishment from God
Since Jesus sets you free.
Music, and alt. and additional words by Doug Plank, original verses by Augustus Toplady (1772)
© 2011 Sovereign Grace Worship (ASCAP).