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Rock of Ages


Sermon shared by Russell Brownworth

July 2003
Summary: This sermon uses the text of the hymn "Rock of Ages" as the exposition of Psalm 94:22.
Denomination: United Methodist
Audience: Seeker adults
sermon ministry of
Thomasville, NC

A fellowship of faith, family and friendship
July 20, 2003

But the LORD is my fortress; my God is a mighty rock where I can hide. Psalms 94:22 (KJV)

When Jewish families gather at the Passover meal, singing is part of the ritual. The Scriptures are sung for a two-fold purpose -- it teaches the young the meaning of what they do; and it helps the adults remember. Our hymns are like that. Songs stay in the mind. Music inspires us, and helps us recall the words.

One of the favorite hymns of the church for more than a century has been Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me. (1)
It is entirely possible to sing it to death! That is, because the tune is so unforgettable and winsome, we can sing it so often that it becomes rote, and the words get lost in the tune; we sing without worship. This morning, as part of our celebration of the cross of Christ, shall we worship with our singing? This grand old hymn tells a great story of Jesus, the Rock of Ages. Letís sing the sermon this morning. Rock of Ages shows us Symbols of the Saviorís love...


Hearts are amazing -- they can be stopped during an operation -- restarted. A heart can be broken by unrequited love, or unchecked disease. It can be pierced by the compassion one feels when he sees a starving child. But the one most important fact about a human heart is that it can be lost forever without Jesus Christ.

We say the word ďlostĒ because we need to be reminded of our heartís need for reclaiming. The late Dr. Herschel H. Hobbs used to tell about visiting Hiroshima, Japan in the late 50ís. In a museum we saw a large stone that had once been part of the entrance to a building. The stone was black except for the shape of a man silhouetted against the stone. This manís body had taken the nuclear rays, leaving the form on the stone. This unknown man was standing in front of the rock. Had he been hiding deep within the rock Ė in a cleft, a hiding place Ė he would have been protected from the holocaust. (2)

This suggests that which we all know -- the only security we have for our hearts against the wrath of God is to be hidden in the cleft of the Rock of Ages. What Jesus did, shedding His blood, was the act of making the double cure available to us all. He saves from wrath, and makes us pure. His wounded side was broken for us.

As we sing the first verse of Rock of Ages we remember our Lord in much the same way as with the Lordís Supper. We remember the sacrifice, born in the heart of God before the foundation of the world.

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.


Cancer is a good analogy of sin. Cancer quietly takes over; it is pervasive; and it is lethal. It is one thing to detect cancer -- quite another to defeat it. Sin is detectable. It is the final turn in the chromosome pool to which all humanity is tied. We are all sinners.

The Bible teaches that the penalty for sin is death. This means since we are all sinners, and the penalty is death, that the universal state of all mankind is death
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