Posted by: rcottrill | April 26, 2013

Deeper and Deeper

Words: Oswald Jeffrey Smith (b. Nov. 8, 1889; d. Jan. 25, 1986)
Music: Oswald Jeffrey Smith

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: The story of the writing of this meaningful 1914 hymn is told in the Wordwise Hymns link.

We have various names for them, none too complimentary. We call them “rice Christians” (all snap, crackle and pop, but no substance), or christianettes, a much reduced example, or an imitation of the real thing. Or we might say they have all the spiritual depth of a puddle.

These sorry individuals seem to be on the borderline between saved and unsaved. (Are they, or aren’t they?) They believe Jesus is their Saviour, though they’ve likely never thought too deeply about it. They enjoy church, if the music is lively, the sermon short, and they can shoot the breeze for awhile with their friends there. It would be bad enough if their numbers were few, but I’m not sure that’s the case.

Where are those who will respond to Christ’s call to discipleship and the deeper Christian life?

“He said to them all, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me’” (Lk. 9:23).

The Greek word for “disciple” (mathetes) gives us our English word mathematics, which suggests something that is structured, and governed by set principles. It’s an appropriate analogy. For us, as believers, to follow Christ is to identify ourselves with Him, to obey Him, and learn from Him. It’s a path of discipline and commitment, and a path of service that involves humble sacrifice and suffering. It puts us in stern conflict with the world, the flesh, and the devil.

Where is the burning passion of Paul? He said:

“What things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish [refuse, garbage], that I may gain Christ” (Phil. 3:7-8).

The Apostle Paul certainly didn’t set himself up as a flawless example of Christian discipleship, but he turned his back on the failures of the past, and kept moving forward. “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me” (Phil. 3:12).

It’s this attitude and effort of digging deeper, and striving for more, that Oswald Smith’s hymn captures. It describes a passion of heart that will bear fruit in spiritual growth and more effective service for the Lord Jesus Christ. Examine each of the five stanzas in turn, and you will see there is a logical progression to them.

CH-1. The most fundamental motivation for moving forward in our Christian lives is a deepening appreciation of the love of Christ. “The love of Christ compels [controls, urges] us” (II Cor. 5:14). Philips’ paraphrase, The New Testament in Modern English,  says, “The very spring of our actions is the love of Christ.”

CH-1) Into the heart of Jesus
Deeper and deeper I go,
Seeking to know the reason
Why He should love me so,
Why He should stoop to lift me
Up from the miry clay,
Saving my soul, making me whole,
Though I had wandered away.

CH-2. Out of our love responding to His love (I Jn. 4:19), we seek to discover and do more and more of His holy will.

CH-3. There is a realization that this is a costly course to take, but we willingly embrace and accept the cross, praying for grace to meet our need–“O Saviour, help! Dear Saviour, help! / Grace for my weakness impart.”

CH-4. The life of true discipleship is not one of misery and regret over what we’ve had to give up, but one of deeper joy and peace than we’ve ever known.

CH-5. The final stanza shows a recognition that going through these steps and stages does not leave the prior ones behind. Rather it’s a kind of endless cycle, with more growth and development as we go along, and until we enter the heavenly kingdom, there to rejoice in our Saviour’s love forever.

Questions:
1) What is it that hinders so many Christians from experiencing this deeper, richer life?

2) What would the church of Jesus Christ be like if more of us lived this way?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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