On every New Year’s Eve – now for over half a century – as many as a thousand folks from all over the country gather in an auditorium in Oklahoma City and sing the old year out and the new year in. It’s one of the most awe-inspiring moments you’ll ever see.
As midnight draws near, our longtime brother Johnny Elmore leads the final song of the night, and it’s been the same song since sometime well into the last century: “Rock of Ages.”
“Rock of Ages, cleft for me. Let me hide myself in thee.”
I’ve been considering this “Rock of Ages” since the great song has ushered in another year, and I am glad to know that here in 2017 some things never change. It’s hard, indeed, to keep up with the changes in this world, so we have to hold on a little tighter to those things that don’t change. You understand, I’m sure.
I want to tell you today what I believe our Rock of Ages to be as real and solid and unchanging as anything in this world! This Rock is still as solid and real as ever; and He will never be out of date.
An Emphatic Truth
The Holy Spirit commands this truth to us when He opens the curtain of inspiration in the very beginning declaring without qualification: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).
Have you ever noticed that our Lord never goes about “proving” His existence in His Word? No, He simply declares it, profoundly and emphatically! Should a man choose to question the great truth, the Spirit seems to shrug, as it were, and announce forcefully: “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God” (Psalm 14:1).
Greatest Moment in History?
A few months ago, I was reminded how the world foolishly tends to question God’s powerful Word and the blessed Rock of Ages. I stumbled upon a panel discussion on one of the national news stations where the host asked several guests to share a great scene in history they would go back and witness if possible. One by one the panelists recounted some great American moment they would re-visit, such as Kennedy’s “Ask not what your country can do for you …” speech, or to Martin Luther King’s speech at the great Lincoln Memorial.
But one panelist surprised the rest of the group when his turn came. He said, “I think I’d go back to the resurrection.” He had his mind on the Rock of Ages, and we admire him for it. The panel laughed loudly, thinking, it seems, “What a strange request! How could you go back to a scene that never really happened?” Of course, we know better. We know the resurrection is the greatest event in the history of the world, the event that secured eternally the great victory for our Lord and for all the redeemed (Revelation 12:11). We must only, by faith, “obey that form of doctrine” ourselves, dying to sin, being buried in a soul-cleansing baptism, and then rising triumphantly “free from sin” (Romans 6:3-4, 17-18).
I could not help but think as I listened to the scoffing TV panel: What a sad thing for a man or woman to live such a faithless life! I thought: Show me your foundation, good friend, and let’s compare it to the blessed Rock of Ages.
The host of the show – obviously in reaction to the previous gentlemen – said, “Well, I think I’d go back to the big bang.” The group was more than pleased with that countermove and chattered on a good while about that worldly response. When the chatter died down, the first gentleman – unwilling to concede to faithless notions – said boldly, “Well, I subscribe to a different belief.”
Out of Date?
It was refreshing to see a man – on national television – subscribe to what the world sees as an old, archaic, out-of-date belief. I am glad that “In the beginning God created” still stands for many. It may be out of date to the world, but it is not out of date to us! And it was not out of date to those writers whose pen the Holy Spirit guided long ago.
The psalmist writes pointedly: “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth … For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast” (Psalm 33:6, 9).
Nehemiah, one of the last writers of the Old Testament – writing around 400 B.C. – echoes David’s declaration, “Thou, even thou, art Lord alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all: and the host of heaven worshippeth thee” (9:6).
Then the Hebrew writer concurs powerfully centuries later, “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear” (Hebrews 11:2).
David, Nehemiah, nor Paul are eyewitnesses of the creation. They are not there when God creates the heaven and the earth suddenly by a mere word. They are not there when God takes invisible objects we now know as “atoms” and makes all of matter. They are not there when God’s Spirit glides majestically across a formless, unorganized mass of water and matter (Genesis 1:2), adding organization and structure to a vast universe and to an earth designed for life. And they are not there when God reaches down to the dust of the ground to shape the crown of His creation – man – in His very image (Genesis 1:26/ 2:7).
True Faith Is Knowing!
But these inspired writers choose to believe in God’s creation by “faith” – no, not by “blind” faith, but by the vast, undeniable “evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). There is something the world needs to know about this idea of “faith” that the apostle mentions here in Hebrews: Faith does not mean we cannot know. Faith only means we cannot see! The world does not understand this fact at all, nor can it understand it spinning along on a sand-filled foundation.
The world’s intellectuals may want to ascribe God’s Truths as a matter of “blind faith,” but our faith is based upon the soundest of evidence, the power of God’s Word. The truth is, every concept of the world’s beginning is based on faith, for faith is based on things no man can “see.”
Have you ever thought that – even had there been a “big bang” – no man was there to “see” it! Man is forced to accept that feeble theory based on “faith.” It is based on the flimsy man-made “evidence” of things not seen.
An Ever Changing ‘god’: Time
However, our faith is built on the Rock (Matthew 7:25). The world’s agnostics have no Rock of Ages, so they must create a god they call “time.” Given enough eons of time, anything becomes possible (so they think), even life developing from non-living matter, organization emerging from chaos, and intelligence evolving from non-intelligence. “Time,” though, is a flimsy god, and it is a far, far cry from the “Ancient of Days.”
Man may deduce the glory of the heavens to some random, accidental explosion. We, too, believe in a magnificent explosion, but it was not accidental. God “spoke, and it was done. He commanded and it stood fast”!
We stand today with the psalmist, and we declare with assurance: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork …” (Psalm 19:1, ESV).
The Solid, Unchanging Rock!
I have to say I was proud the other day of the gentleman on that panel of worldly scholars. He took the unpopular stance of faith amidst an unbelieving crowd. While that stance may be old, archaic, and out of date to the world, to us who believe it is still new and refreshing, just like the early morning dew.
As we sing in a new year, we cling to that which is unchanging, to an anchor safe and sure. The world may opt to continue to build on a crumbling foundation, but we will choose something different – both in this New Year and for as many years the Lord supplies us, by His grace. We will choose to build, by faith, on the blessed immovable and unchanging Rock of Ages.
“Oh, Rock of Ages, cleft for me. Let me hide myself in thee …”
Article by: Steven Bowen