Monday, January 29, 2007

Story Behind: The Power of the Cross

Parkview has been enjoying the new modern hymn titled “The Power of the Cross” by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty. Below I have published the “story behind the hymn” from the Getty website. There are so many rich messages within this hymn text, the greatest of which is this idea of the “imputation” of our sin upon Christ. We sing about this with the line in the refrain “Christ became sin for us.”

People are extremely familiar with the physical sufferings Christ endured on the cross, but very seldom do we stop to consider what it was like for Christ “to be sin” (2 Cor. 5:21) and to become “a curse for us” (Gal 3:13). Grudem, in his Bible Doctrine book, points out that Jesus “hated sin with his entire being… Far more than we do, Jesus instinctively rebelled against evil. Yet in obedience to the Father, and out of love for us, Jesus took on himself all the sins of those who would someday be saved.” (P. 252) Could you imagine the utter horror it was for the blameless Christ to endure the imputation of our sins upon himself? To literally become our sin and endure the spiritual wrath that God had been storing up for all the sins of the saints past, present, and future? Mel Gibson could never imagine or even come close to putting this reality on film. In the words of the song “what a life, what a cost, we stand forgiven at the cross!”

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"The Power of the Cross" is a meditation on the sufferings of Christ.

Over the past couple of years, we have been working through the Apostles Creed and writing hymns teaching the fundamental beliefs of Christianity.

The Creed teaches that 'He suffered under Pontius Pilate', and in communion we are commanded to 'remember his death 'til he comes'. In the New Testament, Paul and the Apostles often preached and prayed in more detailed and visual ways about the cross, turning all of our senses to Christ's sufferings and their significance.

Stuart and I considered how the reality of His sufferings should penetrate our worship services and were challenged by the need to explain the overwhelming significance and implications these have for our lives. In our congregational worship the sufferings of Christ have often only been given a surface glance and it is hardly surprising that the theological meaning often remains confused:
This the power of the cross
Christ became sin for us
Took the blame, bore the wrath
We stand forgiven at the cross.
Our hope is that the hymn; "The Power of the Cross" will be a resource to the church as a declaration of what we believe; a challenging reflection on Christ's sufferings and a powerful song for Easter or Communion services. It is also our hope that people will be challenged again by the wonder and the power of the cross.

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