Isaac Watts, the lyricist of such hymns as “Joy to the World” writes in this hymn of Christ, our sacrifice. The hymn contains all the necessary elements…confession of sin, assurance of pardon, indeed the Gospel itself.
Not all the blood of beasts
On Jewish altars slain
Could give the guilty conscience peace
Or wash away the stain
But Christ, the heavenly Lamb
Takes all our sins away
A sacrifice of nobler
And richer blood, than they
My faith would lay her hand
On that dear head of Thine
While like a penitent I stand
And there confess my sin
My soul looks back to see
The burdens Thou didst bear
When hanging on the cursed tree
And hopes her guilt was there
Believing, we rejoice
To see the curse removed
We bless the Lamb with cheerful voice
And sing His bleeding love
This, dear friends, is the message we’re to proclaim. Who dares suppose they have better news than this to sing or preach?
Unfortunately, the answer is many. People would rather reserve the gospel for those who are not yet Christians. Is that the way the apostles did it? (The answer is, of course, no.) Are we supposed to be proclaiming the Gospel in the same way at the apostles? The answer is a resounding yes.
The declaration is objective. It is not your personal story.
The declaration is to be the sum and substance of Christian preaching.
The declaration is to be applied to the hearer.
In the coming entries, I’ll try to unpack these ideas.