Posted by: rcottrill | February 21, 2011

I Gave My Life for Thee

Words: Frances Ridley Havergal (b. Dec. 14, 1836; d. June 3, 1879)
Music: Philip Paul Bliss (b. July 9, 1838; d. Dec. 29, 1876)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

The Bible says, “Christ died for our sins” (I Cor. 15:3). The Greek word translated “for” (huper) can have the sense of on behalf of, or for the sake of. We see it also in Galatians 1:3-4, “Our Lord Jesus Christ…gave Himself for [huper] our sins.” It is the concept of substitutionary death that is the theological foundation of the work of salvation. The innocent died in place of the guilty.

The whole Old Testament sacrificial system was a picture of that, pointing forward to the cross. When the offerer laid his hand upon the sacrifice (Lev. 1:4), it was a way of indicating an understanding of this principle. And the wonderful 53rd chapter of Isaiah, that points prophetically, and so clearly, to the death of Christ on the cross, is full of references to substitutionary death (cf. Isa. 53: 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 11, 12).

“[Christ] Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree” (I Pet. 2:24). “And He Himself is the propitiation [the full satisfaction of God’s justice] for our sins” (I Jn. 2:2). “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (I Jn. 4:10).

In the hymn, Frances Havergal imagines Christ speaking, and He says, “I gave My life for thee” (CH-1). Then, the focus of the hymn turns to what our response should be. If the Lord Jesus loved us enough to do that for us, should we not love Him in return (I Jn. 4:19)? He gave His life for us. Is it not fitting, therefore (and “our reasonable service”) that we commit our lives to live for Him and serve Him (Rom. 12:1-2)?

Until we get to heaven, we can hardly have an inkling of what it meant for Christ to leave “[His] Father’s house of light, [His] glory circled throne…for earthly night, [and] wanderings sad and lone” (CH-2). He stepped into history, into the world that He Himself has created, and He was not only rejected (Jn. 1:11), but was spit upon, beaten and crucified. He suffered so much for us, “more than tongue can tell” (CH-3), in order to make available to us “salvation full and free” (CH-4), and “rich gifts” called, in the Bible, “the riches of His grace,” and “the exceeding riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7; 2:7).

The Word of God says Christ “humbled Himself” (Phil. 2:8). And it would be impossible for us to imagine the depths of such condescension. (“More than tongue can tell,” indeed!) It is a startling truth that God had planned this from the beginning! Christ was God’s Lamb, “slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8; cf. Tit. 1:2; I Pet. 1:18-20). The eternal God, who knows all things, knew that one day man would need saving, and that there was only one way to do it. And Almighty God in love was willing to sacrifice His Son to accomplish our salvation. Amazing!

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (II Cor. 8:9).

Since God did all this for me, since He offers all this to me, what should my response be? Isn’t it a sin to be thoughtless and careless of such a sacrifice? Selfishness and self interest die a painful death in this glorious light. The only worthy response is to become “living sacrifices” (Rom. 12:1; cf. II Cor. 5:15), bound to Christ by cords of love (II Cor. 5:14), and ready to do His will, for His glory, forever. Love answering love. To leave all, to bear all, to bring all to His feet, now and always.

1) The psalmist says, “What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me?” (Ps. 116:12). What are some possible ways of answering that question?

2) What would our service for God be like if it were done:

¤ Out of fear and grudging duty?
¤ With a loving desire to honour Him?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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