Do you have any sins you cannot get rid of the guilt? Do you have a continuing routine of confession that includes sorrow for sins already confessed? Or perhaps maybe one big sin that is in the past that is difficult to let go?
Earlier this week the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) Committee on Congregational Song voted to exclude “In Christ Alone” from their hymnals. Their contention was over the last verse that currently goes, “Til on that cross as Jesus died/ The wrath of God was satisfied.” Their objection was that it should be changed to, “Til on that cross as Jesus died/ The love of God was magnified.”
This is a perfect example of how the word of God comes under continual attack. As we learned last Sunday that, “from among yourselves will arise men speaking twisted things”. Inherently, there is nothing wrong with the line that “the love of God was magnified.” But the reasoning for the requested change and the seemingly minor distortion that it promotes is twisted. What was the love that was magnified on the cross? We read bible verses like “for god so loved the world, that he gave his only son.” Or, “while we were still sinners, God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” It would be unbiblical to think that love was not what drove Christ to the cross.
However, what exactly was Christ driven to endure on the cross because of His love? What was it that love drove Him to do? And the answer to that question is the twisted reason for PCUSA excluding the well-known hymn. The reason for excluding it was said to be that the line as it currently reads is overly orthodox and the idea that it promotes is outdated. The idea that Christ endured the wrath of God on our behalf is archaic and outdated? That was what the love of Christ drove Him to do. He loved us so much that He endured the wrath of God on our behalf. Not just a time out or a few minutes with His nose in the corner. The almighty, omnipotent, isolated, vengeful, longsuffering wrath of the Creator of Heaven and Earth. Isaiah says that “it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer…”.
So, back to our original questions. These questions are at the heart of “til on that cross when Jesus died/ The wrath of God was satisfied.” Guilt implies a lasting effect. Guilt indicates that there is something not yet vindicated. The longer we linger with guilt is the more the sacrifice of Christ is diminished. I am saddened to see churches like this diminish the wrath that Christ endured on the cross. It speaks to their understanding of the gospel and the lack of understanding they have about what has actually been forgiven of them. Ironically, it speaks to how little they understand the love that was magnified. I pray that they would be convicted and admonished to understand truly how much their savior loved them.
My charge to us this week is to meditate on the love that Christ exhibited on the cross by enduring the wrath of God for us. The better we understand this, the better we will understand how completely forgiven we are. Christ did not suffer some of God’s wrath but all of it; which obtained the complete forgiveness of our sin not just some of it. This is not to feel more guilty because we understand the extent to which He suffered, mind you. But to truly understand the absence of guilt because we know how fully our sin has been wiped away. We understand the peace that comes from knowing how it feels to be found righteous before God. To understand the joy that comes from knowing that there is now no separation between us and our God. And to be able to have a deeper love of our savior because of what He has done for us. The more we realize this the more we understand how little it can be contained. Then we erupt with this peace, joy and love to those around us as children of the loving and risen king.
Sola Deo Gloria