The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower (Psalms 18:2).
I love the simplicity and truth of many of the older hymns of the Church. One such hymn is Rock of Ages, one of my top ten favorite hymns. Like so many of the hymns in my heart I learned this song from my early youth. I never tire of hearing it though sadly Rock of Ages does not seem to be used as much in modern worship.
The message of Rock of Ages is clear – that we are sinful humans have no hope of salvation without Christ. There is nothing we have that can be used to buy or otherwise obtain pardon from sin and death, only a trust in Christ who is the Rock of Ages can save from the guilt of the Law. Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph 2:5-6). As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed (Rom 9:33). There are no works we can do to obtain pardon from the guilt of the Law. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast (Eph 2:8-9).
The Bible tells us that Christ is the Rock of Ages. Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ (1 Cor 10:1-4). Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner (Acts 4:10-11). Further, this same chapter of Acts tell us that there is nothing else, no other god, that can save us. Verse 12: Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. Psalms 62:2 says He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defence; I shall not be greatly moved.
When the Rock of Ages saved me he also placed my feet on Himself (rock). He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings (Ps 40:2). Christ leads me day by day, if I submit to follow him. For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me (Ps 31:3).
The Church was built on Christ, the Rock of Ages, the cornerstone. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18). And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (1 Pet 2:6). Christ will keep us forever in his safety and we will enjoy his riches forever. That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus (Eph 2:7). While the theme of Rock of Ages is about God’s saving grace my favorite verse if the last one that speaks about our first sight of the Rock of Ages on His throne; what an event that will be! After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald (Rev 4:1-3).
Augustus Toplady, an Anglican minister with Calvinist theological underpinnings, penned the words to this immortal hymn in 1763 but the text was not published as text until 1776. the tune most popularly used with Rock of Ages was not written until 1830 by Thomas Hastings.
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure;
Save from wrath and make me pure.
Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.
Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.
While I draw this fleeting breath,
When mine eyes shall close in death,
When I soar to worlds unknown,
See Thee on Thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.