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How Deep Is God’s Love for Us!

Today’s blog is quite different from my usual blogs; it features the Christian art of hymn writing, featuring the contemporary hymn “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us.”

“How Deep the Father’s Love for Us” was written by Stuart Townend and copywritten by Thankyou Music in 1995.  This song became one of my favorites the first time I heard it.  I’m not sure why.  This song remains one of my favorite songs.

Perhaps it’s the mood set by the song.  The first time I heard this song, I was convinced it was an old song.  The melody is somber and reflective without becoming mournful.  Its tone is that of a hymn.  The song does not suggest contemporary worship.

Perhaps it’s the haunting lyrics.  These lyrics harken back to crucifixion songs such as those written by Charles Wesley or Isaac Watts.  The stanzas of contemporary songs rarely achieve the depth and expressiveness of these lyrics.  This writer (Townend) undoubtedly was inspired!

But this song is not from another time.  Mr. Townend continues to compose songs today.  He was born in 1963, hailing from West Yorkshire, England.  Stuart committed his life to Christ at age 13 and began songwriting at 22.  He serves Christ today as a worship leader and songwriter.  His most well-known song is “In Christ Alone” which he co-wrote with Irish songwriter Keith Getty.

But more about this song.  The melody presented itself first—before the lyrics.  The tune came to his mind so spontaneously that Stuart wondered about the song’s origin.  Was this melody new and unique or was it a half-buried memory from his past?  He finally determined the melody was, indeed, his own.

The Father turned away.

His next thought was What sort of lyrics should accompany this music?  The music sounded “hymn-like.”  He never wrote a hymn before.  This sober melody called out for an equally solemn theme.  What theme could be more appropriate that the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ!

God’s Loving Sacrifice

But there are so many songs about the cross.  So he asked himself, “Are there aspects of the cross that have not been considered?  Has anyone written a crucifixion song from God’s point of view? Has anyone considered the tremendous price God paid at the cross?”  Such thoughts led him to write the first verse.

How deep the Father’s love for us,

How vast beyond all measure,

That He should give His only Son

To make a wretch His treasure.

How great the pain of searing loss –

The Father turns His face away,

As wounds which mar the Chosen One

Bring many sons to glory.

God gave His only Son for me.  Christ endured unimaginable pain and torment for the souls of men and women.  But the beneficiaries of Christ’s passion continue to scorn Him and rebel against His rule.  Does this seem like a fair transaction?  Do God the Father and God the Son make all the sacrifices?  Why would They do this for me?  God’s deep, vast love is the only answer that makes any sense.

II Corinthians 5: 21 reports the unfairness of cross: “[God] made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (NAS) The unblemished lamb bears the punishment for my sin.  Such agony unfolds that the Father must turn His face away.  How deep is God’s love for us!

Christ died for my sin and for yours.

Our Response at the Foot of the Cross

What was our response to God’s loving sacrifice?  Turning to the second verse, Stuart writes of our complicity in the death of God’s only begotten Son.  “It was my sin that held Him there.”  As Christ bled and died on the cross, replacing His holy purity with my filthy unrighteousness, my own voice ridicules His sacrifice.

Behold the man upon a cross,

My sin upon His shoulders;

Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice

Call out among the scoffers.

It was my sin that held Him there

Until it was accomplished;

His dying breath has brought me life –

I know that it is finished.

“[Christ’s] dying breath has brought me life.”  As the Bible reports in Romans 5: 8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (NAS) God answers my hatred, meeting it with sacrificial love.

When Christ died on the cross He said, “It is finished.”  The work of atonement was finished.  Christ died for us.  He paid the ransom for my sins.  His work is completed for all eternity.

Christ’s Amazing Sacrifice Empowers My Redemption

Christ died for my sin and for yours.

Because of His atoning sacrifice my sins can be forgiven.  Fellowship with God, the heavenly Father, can be restored.  God wants me to live with Him forever, not as a slave or servant or former rebel but as a beloved adopted son.  I do not deserve any of this.  It is God’s will to make it so.

Now that Jesus Christ is my Savior, how should I respond to Christ’s amazing sacrifice?  Many responses are possible.  I feel the most appropriate response is one of deep gratitude and profound humility.

I will not boast in anything,

No gifts, no power, no wisdom;

But I will boast in Jesus Christ,

His death and resurrection.

Why should I gain from His reward?

I cannot give an answer;

But this I know with all my heart –

His wounds have paid my ransom.

These words remind me of the second verse of “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” by Isaac Watts.  “Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast / save in the death of Christ, my God! / All the vain things that charm me most, / I sacrifice them through his blood.”

Townend’s song comes to an end after the third verse.  It closes with a kind of unfinished quality.  “His wounds have paid my ransom.”  What happens next?  Is this the end or is it just the beginning?

The Bible has the answer.  When a person accepts Christ, his new life has just begun.  According to II Corinthians 5: 17, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (NAS)

My sins put Christ on the cross.  What is God’s response?  He gives me eternal life?  Yes!  The Bible says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (NAS)

How Deep is the Father’s love for us!  How vast beyond all measure!

“How Deep the Father’s Love for Us” by Stuart Townend Copyright © 1995 Thankyou Music (Adm. by Capitol CMG excl. UK & Europe, adm. by Integrity Music, part of the David C Cook family.

The ideas and quotes ascribed to Mr. Townend are taken from a YouTube video titled “Stuart Townend—How Deep the Father’s Love for Us (Story Behind the Song).”

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