Religion & Spirituality:Christianity
Holy Week Reflections with David Shibley (Day 5)
After preaching some years ago in Bristol, my host invited me to visit "Toplady's Rock," not far away in the beautiful English countryside.
The story is often told that Rev. Augustus Toplady took refuge from a sudden thunderstorm in the crevice of a large rock at Burrington Coomb in southern England. After the storm had passed, according to the story, Toplady was inspred to pen some of the most familiar words in all English hymnody. Whatever the hymn's origins, potent theology is in every line:
"Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee
Let the water and the blood
From Thy wounded side which flowed
Be for sin the double cure
Save from wrath and make me pure."
Toplady saw Christ's sacrifice as the "double cure" for our greatest needs before God -- deliverance from His judgment of sin and deliverance from sin's power in our lives. Therefore, he appealed to Christ's sacrifice to "save from wrath and make me pure."
"Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law's demands
Could my zeal no respite know
Could my tears forever flow
These for sin could not atone
Thou must save
And Thou alone"
We acknowledge our abject inability to attain righteousness by our own merits and fulfill God's righteous demands. Christ, and Christ alone, can save us. That day as I wedged my body into the cleft of Toplady's Rock, I was reminded vividly that believers in Christ have a strong, safe refuge from judgment in the riven side of our Savior, the Rock of Ages who was "cleft for us."
The glory of the gospel is encapsulated in Jesus' pronouncement from the cross, "It is finished!" (John 19:30). This phrase is a single word in the original Greek language of the New Testament -- "tetelestai." It simply means, "Paid in full!" "This Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God" (Hebrews 10:12). Mission accomplished! This was not a cry of agony; it was a shout of victory. God's justice had been satisfied.
Religions other than biblical Christianity start with "do" and "don't." Our faith begins with DONE! All that was necessary to bring us back to God and make us righteous in His sight was accomplished completely and forever through Christ's sacrifice in our behalf. God's torrential judgment against sin was fully satisfied.
And it's this Good News and Christ great sacrifice that make today Good Friday.
It is Free