A hymn by Joseph Hart.
What makes mistaken men afraid
Of sovereign grace to preach?
The reason is (if truth be said)
Because they are so rich.
Why so offensive in their eyes
Doth God’s election seem?
Because they think themselves so wise
That they have chosen Him.
Of perseverance why so loth
Are some to speak or hear?
Because, as masters over sloth
They vow to persevere.
Whence is imputed righteousness
A point so little known?
Because men think they all possess
Some righteousness their own.
Not so the needy helpless soul
Prefers his humble prayer
He looks to Him that works the whole
And seeks his treasure there.
His language is, “Let me, my God
On sovereign grace rely
And own ’tis free, because bestowed
On one so vile as I.
“Election! ’tis a word divine
For, Lord, I plainly see
Had not Thy choice preceeded mine
I ne’er had chosen Thee.
“For perseverance, strength I’ve none
But would, on this depend:
That Jesus, having loved His own
He loved them to the end.
“Empty and bare, I come to Thee
For righteousness divine
Oh, may Thy matchless merits be
By imputation, mine!”
Thus differ these; yet hoping each
To make salvation sure
Now most men would approve the rich,
But Christ has blessed the poor.
It never ceases to amaze me when someone who was dead long before my grandparents were ever born can identify the very problem of our churches today. Christ’s imputation of righteousness is one of the most neglected doctrines in many churches today, including that of my own. I do not say this to impune anyone’s motives on leadership; I rather point it out to say that I see the effects of this first hand.
What effects? The rat-wheel of good works, for one. “You’re a Christian now…get to work! Serve! Give! You’re supposed to be getting better and better every day! Why do you want to sin??”
Really? Come on. Is that the biblical gospel? I’d say absolutely not. The good news is not simply that Christ died for my sins, but that in my unity with Him I am granted His perfect righteousness like a robe. It’s a truth clearly sung on Sunday mornings when we sing, “Dressed in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne.” If this is what we sing, it ought to be what we believe, Church. (I’m not simply addressing my church…I’m addressing the Church Universal.)
If we do not believe this…if this doctrine is just an invention of man to promote sin in the believer’s life…then let’s strip “On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand” out of our hymnals.
But if imputed righteousness IS our only hope…righteousness which is alien to us…completely outside of us…why do we not proclaim this truth from our preaching? Our ministry? Our sharing of the Gospel?
Repentance and the forgiveness of sins, friends, is the only thing we offer the world. Preach it loud and long.