Posted by: rcottrill | March 11, 2013

Room at the Cross for You

Words: Ira Forest Stanphill (b. Feb. 14, 1914; d. Dec. 30, 1993)
Music: Ira Forest Stanphill

Wordwise Hymns (Ira Stanphill)
The Cyber Hymnal (Ira Stanphill)

Ira Stanphill’s parents headed west in a covered wagon to find a place to live. He was born in New Mexico, in 1914. And Ira showed a special talent for music at an early age. When in the fourth grade at school, having had only one year of lessons on the piano, he was proficient on that instrument, as well as the organ, the accordion, and the ukelele. He began writing his own songs when he was seventeen.

The young man’s God-given gifts were soon being used in ministry. Accompanying himself on the accordion, he sang the gospel in church services and at evangelistic crusades, as well as in prisons and on street corners. At the age of twenty-two, he began to preach as well, and was soon known as the singing evangelist, preaching and singing all over America and in forty other countries too.

Of the more than six hundred songs Ira Stanphill wrote, several have remained popular over the years. Recorded by many gospel singers, and published in many song books, here are the top five, as of 1971: Mansion Over the Hilltop, Room at the Cross for You, Suppertime, I Know Who Holds Tomorrow, and Follow Me. Stanphill said that one of the greatest events of his life was hearing one of his songs sung by six hundred lepers in Liberia. He said, “I was thrilled to know that, despite their condition, they had hope in their hearts.”

Like another hymn writer, Robert Harkness, it was the practice of Mr. Stanphill to ask those assembled in meetings to suggest themes or titles for a new song, and then create a song, on the spot and sing it. He’d jot the suggestions down on slips of paper, and pick one to work with. He admitted that the results could be good, bad, or indifferent. Some of these songs were only sung that one time.

“Room at the cross for you” was a title called out in one of Ira Stanphill’s meetings in 1946. And though it has been reported that he immediately wrote the song, the author says no. Later, back home, he removed the slips of paper from his pocket on which he’d jotted various suggestions, and this one impressed him. It was at that time he wrote words and music for the song.

1) The cross upon which Jesus died
Is a shelter in which we can hide;
And its grace so free is sufficient for me,
And deep is its fountain–as wide as the sea.

There’s room at the cross for you,
There’s room at the cross for you;
Though millions have come,
There’s still room for one–
Yes, there’s room at the cross for you.

It’s a compelling invitation. The day of grace has not ended. “Behold, how is the accepted time [the time of God’s favour; the time of loving welcome]; behold, now is the day of salvation” (II Cor. 6:2). The Lord still invites sinners to come, by faith, to the cross of Jesus, with their burden of sin, and claim His payment of sin’s debt as their own.

“Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink’” (Jn. 7:37). “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (Jn. 6:35; cf. Rev. 22:17). “Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).

Isn’t it ironic that the One for whom there was no room in the inn (Lk. 2:7), and the One whose hearers drove Him from Nazareth (Lk. 4:28-29), the One who was rejected by “His own,” including His own family (Jn. 1:11; 7:5), the One “despised and rejected by men” (Isa. 53:3), now graciously and lovingly invites all who are willing to come to Him and be saved?

But not all will heed His call, and divine grace won’t be extended to them forever. One day the Lord lamented over the city of Jerusalem, saying, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Matt. 23:37). And He condemned the Jewish leaders of His day with these words:

“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life” (Jn. 5:39-40).

Have you heeded the invitation to come to Christ and be saved? If you’re not sure, and want further help, please check out my article on the Plan of Salvation.

1) The Philippian jailor asked a key question, “What must I do to be saved” (Acts. 16:30-31). What is the answer to another question: “What must I do to be lost?”?

2) What are some reasons why sinners hear and reject the gospel invitation?

Wordwise Hymns (Ira Stanphill)
The Cyber Hymnal (Ira Stanphill)


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