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Worship and Hymn Writing Part VI – Write On the Massive Contrast Between Our Sin and the Perfection of Christ

July 1, 2007

John Calvin’s Institutes of The Christian Religion opens with the statement, “Nearly all the wisdom we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom, consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.” This statement is the foundation of Calvin’s theology. Without the knowledge of self there is no proper knowledge of God and without the knowledge of God there is no proper knowledge of self. We always seem righteous and holy to ourselves until we “first look upon God’s face” and are able to scrutinize ourselves, “convinced of our unrighteousness, foulness, folly, and impurity” and then our complete ruin and miserable poverty “compels us to look upward.”

To see the holiness of God we can look at his greatest self-revelation – his Son, Jesus Christ. “He has made [the Father] known” (John 1:18) to us. He says to Philip, his disciple in John 14:9, “Whoever, has seen me has seen the Father.” And Paul, most emphatically, says in 2 Corinthians 4:6, “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” We see all of the rich perfection of God, more clearly, in Christ, his Son. Our poverty of sin and the rich perfection of Jesus Christ should be trumpeted in our songs.

There seems to me to be three main reasons why this is important to write music in order to sing about this massive contrast. First, it glorifies the perfection of Christ. It shows the elevation of his deity over our humanness. It shows his complete power over the power of sin and our helplessness under it. Second, it shows our complete need of him. Since he has complete power over sin and we are helpless under it, he is our only hope to escape the wrath of God. Only Jesus can satisfy the Father with his perfection and holiness. Only he is worthy to save us from our misery. Third, focusing on the massive contrast between our sin and the perfection of Christ, glorifies the righteousness that is imputed or transferred to us through faith in Jesus Christ. Not only does Jesus have the power to save us, but it is his actual obedience that becomes ours before the judgment seat of God. “For as by the one man’s disobedience (Adam’s) the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience (Christ’s) the many will be made righteous” (Rom. 5:19). The disobedience of Adam was transferred to all men, making them sinners, but through faith, the obedience of Jesus was transferred to the many, making them righteous. We should celebrate the perfect obedience of Jesus Christ that is ours in faith. Writing of this massive contrast glorifies perfection of Christ, it glorifies Christ as Savior, and it glorifies Christ as our righteousness.

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