October 8: All I Have Is Christ
It’s always fun when art begets art, and song inspires song. In writing All I Have Is Christ, Jordan Kauflin wanted to capture the essence of an old hymn by John Newton– “Old Things Passed Away.”
Most famous for the hymn “Amazing Grace,” John Newton was a sailor, attempted deserter, and slave trader before coming to faith in Christ after reading the book The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis. As a follower of Jesus, Newton became a zealous abolitionist and eventually an ordained minister. He was a prolific hymn writer, and collaborated with poet William Cowper in publishing a hymnbook called Olney Hymns (1779).
We can see many parallels between “Old Things Passed Away” and “All I Have Is Christ,” as both songwriters express that they used to admire and pursue earthly things, but now grace has set them free. Jordan Kauflin was especially drawn to echo Newton’s statement that, if God had not loved us first, we would still be refusing his mercy.
What a powerful line, speaking to God’s initiative in loving us! In the Ephesians passage we read last week (Eph. 2:1-10), the apostle Paul describes us as formerly dead in our sins. We know that dead people are not able to choose life. By God’s grace, he makes us alive in him.
Romans 5:6-8 puts it this way:
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
God’s Word shows us that His love does indeed come first. He chooses us (Ephesians 1:4, John 15:16), calls us (2 Timothy 1:9-10), and loves us (1 John 4:9-10). We simply respond: Hallelujah, all I have is Christ! Hallelujah, Jesus is my life!
For Reflection: Read Romans 8:28-30. Write down any words or phrases you see that describe “those who love God”– words like called, foreknown, predestined… What do these words tell us about God’s initiative in loving us? Read the rest of the chapter. Respond by thanking God for his active, effective, powerful, and permanent love in Christ Jesus.