Rock of Ages

by Augustus Toplady

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 of sin the double cure;
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,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.

While I draw this fleeting breath,
When mine eyes shall close in death,
When I soar to worlds unknown,
See Thee on Thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.

This is, by far, my favorite hymn. It reminds me of the heart of God who completed all the work necessary to save me from His own wrath. I am wholly bereft of any means by which I could atone for my sins. Even on my very best day I am already damned. If I were able, for even just a moment to be able to be “good enough” to enter Heaven (holding God first in all that I do, fully excluded from any pride or self-worth, not holding on to any past sin or desire and seeking only the glorification of God in all things), it would only bring me to the point at which God requires us all to be, and not any further. I would be unable to put myself into a position whereby I would be adding anything of any merit to my account. Even doing “good works” for others, if I am totally honest, isn’t about selflessly helping others, but instead it’s about my recognition for helping people, or what people believe when they think of me. This is why God had to provide salvation for us.

Suppose that there was a thief who lived in a wealthy mans’ mansion without his knowledge. One day he was discovered and, in an attempt to make restitution he broke into the man’s vault and stole valuable items, breaking them in the process. Could he then hand back these destroyed items in payment for his crime? No. The blood of a billion animals can only cover the sins of a man, never pay back in full. Who is responsible for the life of those animals? God. He is the one who created them, He is the one who feeds them, He is the one who brings their numbers and sustains them. Should I be the one to presume that stealing something from God and destroying it will somehow atone for my sins I’ve committed against Him? The salvation must come from the one that was wronged. God has provided that payment on our behalf in the person of Jesus Christ.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

~ John 3:16-18

Jesus didn’t have to condemn the world – the law has already condemned us. Jesus asks us to repent of our sins and trust in the finished work He completed on the cross. Our debt before God has been paid in full and it is in this that we rest. This is the joy that is brought. I’m not always “happy” but I am secure and that’s the deepest joy you can ever appreciate. That my God is so just and holy that I could never be in His presence, and in order that His justice and holiness would be preserved, He provided a sacrifice that is wholly sufficient for all of my sins in His Son. Jesus lived a perfect life that I could never live and died the death that I deserved in my place so that I could spend eternity in His presence, worshipping the King of Kings to whom I could never bring enough glory and honor. God did this on my behalf, and it is in light of this that I stand with tears in my eyes, proclaiming His righteousness and singing aloud:

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.

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(e.g., John 1 or God's love)