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Why Should We Care About Pornography If It Wasn’t an Issue during Biblical Times?

Songs to Sing: A Debtor to Mercy Alone

Posted July 1, 2020
Worship

A debtor to mercy alone,
of covenant mercy I sing;
nor fear, with your righteousness on,
my person and off’ring to bring.
The terrors of law and of God
with me can have nothing to do;
my Savior’s obedience and blood
hide all my transgressions from view.

The work which his goodness began,
the arm of his strength will complete;
his promise is yea and amen,
and never was forfeited yet.
Things future, nor things that are now,
nor all things below or above,
can make him his purpose forgo,
or sever my soul from his love.

My name from the palms of his hands
eternity will not erase;
impressed on his heart it remains,
in marks of indelible grace.
Yes, I to the end shall endure,
as sure as the earnest is giv’n;
more happy, but not more secure,
the glorified spirits in heav’n.

As a child, I was absolutely terrified of going to hell. I grew up in the rural South, in churches with laudable enthusiasm for Christian service and evangelism, but not much attention to detail when it came to precise theology. Salvation was always a bit uncertain. Getting “saved” meant saying a prayer, walking the aisle, or simply attending Mama’s church. I knew adults who believed you could lose your salvation, and others who believed you had to be “rededicated” every so often to appease our Creator. I knew I needed to “ask Jesus into my heart,” but I didn’t know if he was going to stay there. My salvation was completely up to me; my choice, my decision, they all said. And it terrified me. What if I made a mistake? What if I got something wrong? What if the adults around me were mistaken? Had I lost my salvation at any point? Would I even know if I had? My little heart cried out many nights, “Lord, what must I do to be saved?!”

How many of us still share these fears? As adults, we silently brush unwelcome thoughts to the side and distract ourselves with the next activity or responsibility. But if we’re honest, how many anxious nights have some of us spent contemplating eternity? So many Christians have wrestled with their assurance of salvation through the ages; you are not alone. Moms and Dads, the above hymn is a treasure trove of assurance for you and your family. Its words display the beautiful reality of the perseverance of the saints. Oh, how I weep when I sing this hymn! It is so precious to me that I can’t even read its verses without tears; it is balm to my timid soul. Admittedly, the vocabulary found amongst these stanzas might reach above the understanding of small children, but its words will not be lost on your teenagers’ minds and hearts. Besides a careful explanation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I cannot think of a greater gift to give your children than to point them to the Bible to assure their tender hearts of the unchanging nature of their salvation.

The man who wrote “A Debtor to Mercy Alone” also penned the famous hymn, “Rock of Ages.” Augustus Montague Toplady was converted at the age of 16 while on a trip to Ireland during a church service held in a barn and led by an illiterate preacher. Toplady later remarked, “Strange that I, who had so long sat under the means of grace in England, should be brought nigh unto God in an obscure part of Ireland, amidst a handful of God’s people met together in a barn, and under the ministry of one who could hardly spell his name. Surely this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous.” The tune this hymn is traditionally set to is a hauntingly beautiful Welsh tune by the name of “Trewen.” There have been other more recent tunes composed for this hymn, but none even come close to the perfection with which this particular tune captures the weight of these verses. It is minor in nature, but neither dreary nor despondent. The gravity of its text is impressed upon the singer’s heart, and the music echoes the steady, determined cries of a believer whose faith is unwavering and whose God is trustworthy. “The work which his goodness began, the arm of his strength will complete.” Oh Christian, your God keeps his promises!

“A debtor to mercy alone, of covenant mercy I sing; nor fear, with your righteousness on, my person and off’ring to bring.” “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life” (John 5:24).
“Things future, nor things that are now, nor all things below or above, can make him his purpose forgo, or sever my soul from his love.” “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:27–28).
“My Savior’s obedience and love, hide all my transgressions from view.” “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:1–2).

Faith is clinging with shaking hands to “his promise is yea and Amen.” Faith is the weak whisper of a dying man, “the terrors of law and of God with me can have nothing to do.” Faith is the joyful marveling of an aged saint, “my name from the palms of his hand, eternity will not erase.” Faith is the strangled and desperate cry of a repentant sinner, “I to the end shall endure!”

At a small reformed church in college, my understanding of God as a capricious, angry dispenser of judgement was transformed. I understood what saving grace was for the first time, that my sins were covered to the fullest by a perfect sacrifice which could never be undone, and that my salvation was kept by Jesus, my great high priest. I had nothing to offer, nothing to bring to the heavenly table, and oh, what a blessed relief it was! The terrors of hell could no longer plague me; I marveled at my Father’s pure and unmitigated mercy, and his vast, unexplainable love for his people, of which I was finally assured I was one. And I wept in that little church pew and soaked the hideous aquamarine carpet beneath me. “More happy, but not more secure, the glorified spirits in heaven.”


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Sarah Morris

Sarah Morris has been happily married to her husband, Sean, for 12 years and is a mother to four crazy, hilarious, and adorable children. She graduated from Grove City College with a degree in music. She and her family live in Oak Ridge, TN where her husband is a pastor in the PCA. In between homeschooling duties, toddlers, and babies, Sarah enjoys writing, cooking, podcasting, napping, and making fun of her ridiculously pathetic dog.