In Christ Alone
In Christ Alone
Our theme song for 2009 1000 voices, In Christ Alone, is – I believe – among the most theologically true and complete hymns that have been penned in many decades. The opening verse directs our minds to the true hope and centerpiece of life – Jesus Christ: “In Christ alone my hope is found … [He is our] cornerstone … solid ground, firm through the fiercest drought and storm.”
The world is full of deceptive hopes. Money. Material success. Education. Health. Time. Freedom. Scientific discovery. Family. Fun – be it vacations, concerts, ball games, video games, etc. None of these sustain or bring true fulfillment. Nor is there promise that they will come to us. With the certainty of death we can be confident none will last. Yet, any one of these can draw our hearts and minds away from the one true hope – Jesus Christ.
Have you ever found yourself captivated by the dreams of worldly uncertainties: a successful career; perhaps the hope of lasting family relationships; or even brethren (who will not always behave or treat you as expected)? These are not purely evil things, but they become evil when we place too much trust in them. They may result in despair and depression through false expectations. Even the apostle Paul had to learn important lessons about such matters: “For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope” (1 Cor. 1:8-10). The despair Paul experienced was so that he would learn to hope and trust in one thing: “God who raises the dead!” For us, In Christ Alone our “hope is found” and “here in the love of Christ I [we] stand!”
The three verses that follow these powerful words remind us of central truths in the Christ narrative. Here we have the story of the gospel itself – the incarnation, death, burial, resurrection and victory of Christ and our victory in Him.
We are reminded in verse two of the incomprehensible love of God, first, in becoming fully human (“fullness of God in helpless babe”). How can we not be brought to our knees and to tears of praise in meditating on the incarnation alone? How could the God of the universe choose to be born into poverty and among the stench of barn animals? Who could ever have fathomed the Creator of the universe coming to “tabernacle” among us in such a manner (Jn. 1:14)? If Jesus reveals the true nature of God in the flesh (John 14:9; Col. 2:9), what does his incarnation into poverty and suffering tell us about the God we worship (but also, too often, rebel against)? If that were not enough, this second verse also reminds us, because God loves us and wants us with him, of his rejection, crucifixion and death – taking on his shoulders “the wrath of God” that was due each of us for our sin (Isa. 53:11)! Yet, through the death of Christ we live! “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!” (Rom. 11:33). Shout to God in praise!
Verse three calls to our minds the burial and resurrection that gives Christ the victory and therefore the victory over sin for all those who trust in Him! Do you ever struggle to comprehend and experience salvation by grace – that you are truly forgiven? I do. But if we believe Jesus died and rose again – we must also realize that “sin’s curse has lost its grip” on us! “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Rom. 5:10).
“And hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom. 5:5). The final verse encourages us to recall that in Christ there is, “No guilt in life, no fear in death.” Through the death and resurrection of Christ we have hope, joy and victory over all enemies (1 Cor. 15:1-4, 54-57)! Evoking the words of Paul in Rom. 8:37-39, we are reminded that in Christ, “no power of hell, no scheme of man, can ever pluck me from His hand.”
I have no hope if I trust in things of this earth. I have no hope in myself to make it through this world. When I rely on myself, I am, in fact, a hopeless case. But, “In the power of Christ I’ll stand.” Through Christ Alone ‘I know I’m not a hopeless case.’ Neither are you. Be it in tears or laughter, hardship or comfort, turmoil or peace, may the Holy Spirit help us this day and forever to put our hope and trust In Christ Alone.