'Rock of Ages (Seated High),' written by Augustus Toplady and Matt Wagner, is the latest song to be released from ONElife Worship's forthcoming debut EP. This is the Theology Behind the Song.
"Rock of Ages, cleft for me
From the very first line of this great hymn, we see the Lord referred to as the “Rock of Ages” who was “cleft for me.” This simple line speaks to the eternality of God, the constancy of His character, and his steadfastness -- like a rock upon which we can rely. Not only that, it explains that this very rock, Christ Jesus, the Cornerstone Himself was “cleft” for us, meaning that He was broken for us. As a rock that is cleft is split in two, or chipped apart, so the body of Christ was beaten and broken to the point of death for us -- in our place. Instead of us being cleft, which is what we deserve, Christ the Rock was cleft. This is a savior in whom we can truly trust and find refuge in! We can hide ourselves in His rest.
“Let the water and the blood,
The blood that flowed from Christ, that was poured out on the cross for us, is truly a double cure. The first part is that by His blood we are saved from wrath; God the father chooses to withhold His wrath from us though we deserve it, and instead pours it out on Christ, the Son. The second part is that He no longer sees our own unrighteousness but sees the righteousness of Christ. Jesus' blood covers us and “makes us pure” in the eyes of the Father. In this single line we see the doctrine of imputed righteousness.
“Not the labor of my hands
No work of our own can account for our salvation. No labor of our hands is ever good enough to make us righteous in the eyes of the Lord. Only the righteousness of Christ can atone!
“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:21-26)
"Seated high on His throne of grace
This is the God that we look to. The God that we worship is seated upon His throne! By His grace He has saved. We rest in this, knowing that our hope for eternity is in sacrifice that Christ made for us. The Risen Jesus is now seated at the right hand of the father for eternity, interceding on our behalf.
“Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” (Romans 8:34)
"Nothing in my hand I bring,
When God regenerates us and opens our eyes, our utterly helpless state is realized. We realize that our only hope for salvation is to cling to the cross of Jesus. It is by our clinging to Christ and His cross in our trials, in our sufferings, and in joy, that we are sanctified, that is refined more and more into the image of God, and thus grow in spiritual maturity (Luke 9:23).
"While I draw this fleeting breath,
The first part of the song spoke to our justification by the blood of Christ. The second part spoke to the necessity of clinging to the cross daily for sanctification. and now we look forward to eternity with the Godhead in our glorified state!
This last verse looks forward to our beautiful hope of glorification. Glorification encompasses our moral perfection upon leaving this life (2 Thess 2:13-14; Heb 2:10-11), it includes our liberty and deliverance from these earthly bodies along with their sickness and physical ailments to our glorified body, which is immortal (Rom 2:7), imperishable, powerful, and spiritual (1 Cor 15:43-44). Additionally, glorification brings participation in the kingdom of God (1 Thess 2:12), even to the point of our reigning with Christ (2 Tim 2:10-12) and lastly includes partaking in God's own glory (Rom 5:2; 1 Thess 2:12; 2 Thess 2:14; 1 Peter 5:10)!
Contributors / Matt Wagner & Dan Dameron