Though Christ a thousand times

1
Though Christ a thousand times
In Bethlehem be born,
If He’s not born in thee
Thy soul is still forlorn.
The Cross on Golgotha,
Will never save thy soul;
The Cross in thine own heart,
Alone can make thee whole.
  O, Cross of Christ, I take thee
  Into this heart of mine,
That I to my own self may die
    And rise to thy life Divine.
2
What e’er thou lovest, man,
That too become thou must;
God, if thou lovest God,
Dust, if thou lovest dust.
Go out, God will come in;
Die thou and let Him live;
Be not and He will be;
Wait and He’ll all things give.
3
To bring thee to thy God,
Love takes the shortest route;
The way which knowledge leads,
Is but a roundabout.
Drive out from thee the world,
And then thy heart shall be
Filled with the love of God,
And holy like as He.
1
Nathan Cheng

Irvine, CA, U.S.A.

I have sung this this song to my soul perhaps a thousand times, and oh how it needs to hear it again! Thank you, Hymnal.net, for bring this back to my attention.

(I'll probably always sing the older tune, though—find this song in the "Classic Hymns" section of this site to hear the older tune) [or click the "See Also" tab].

Previously, we have seen that we need to perfect others with gold, silver, and precious stones. The lover needs gold added to her plaits of hair, silver studs to hold the plaits, and strings of jewels, precious stones. We need to experience the Triune God as gold, silver, and precious stones, and then we can perfect others with the Triune God by helping them to deny themselves so that they can be with the Lord in a new way to be renewed and transformed to become absolutely a new man in God's new creation. It is only by being conformed to the death of Christ by the power of His resurrection that we can be delivered from our self to be transformed. Through the crossing-out way, we become completely a new man in God's new creation for God to fulfill His economy so that we can be the organic Body of Christ. The organic Body of Christ comes out of this kind of crossing out.

Stanzas 1 and 2 with the chorus of Hymns, #477 speak of the experience of being delivered from the self by the cross of Christ...

May God be merciful to us that we learn to love Him from our hearts as soon as we become Christians. Being short in knowledge does not mean much, because the way to know God lies in love, not in knowledge. If a man loves God, he will know God even though he may lack knowledge. However, if he knows much but does not love God in his heart, all of his knowledge will not help him to know God. There is a good line in one hymn: "To bring thee to thy God,/Love takes the shortest route" (Hymns, #477). If a man loves God, whatever he encounters will turn out to his good.

In our hymnal several hymns are concerned in particular with the aspect of the co-death of the cross. One of these hymns is #477. The hymn (without the chorus) was written in the third century; later, A. B. Simpson, founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, added the chorus. This hymn is simple yet mysterious. It is a hymn of the inner life and was translated into Chinese by Brother Nee. The first stanza says,

Though Christ a thousand times

In Bethlehem be born,

If He's not born in thee

Thy soul is still forlorn.

The Cross on Golgotha,

Will never save thy soul;

The Cross in thine own heart,

Alone can make thee whole.

This is a word of experience. If the cross remains only on Golgotha, without entering into you, it can only redeem you but it cannot save you. To be redeemed is one thing; to be saved is another thing. To "make thee whole" here refers to salvation, not redemption. The cross at Golgotha with the shedding of blood is more than able to redeem you; but this cross must enter into you as a tool of the Spirit before it can make you whole and save you.

The chorus appended by A. B. Simpson was fittingly and aptly done. It says,

O, Cross of Christ, I take thee

Into this heart of mine,

That I to my own self may die

And rise to Thy life Divine.

This was written altogether from the subjective side, not from the objective side. The objective cross on Golgotha cannot enter into us. The cross that enters into our heart is the cross that has become our subjective experience for us to live by the Lord practically. We need to sing such a hymn again and again in our daily life.

Stanza 2 is the climax of this hymn, but regretfully most people who sing it do not pay attention to its deep meaning. This stanza says,

What e'er thou lovest, man,

That too become thou must;

God, if thou lovest God,

Dust, if thou lovest dust.

Go out, God will come in;

Die thou and let Him live;

Be not and He will be;

Wait and He'll all things give.

"Dust" refers not only to the physical dust but also to the world. "Be not and He will be" means that if we do not exist, God exists. In other words, we should not think about becoming somebody; actually, we are nobody. Do not consider that you are something; only God is. Hebrews 11:6 says that faith is to believe that God is and we are not. When we come forward to God, we must believe that God is and we are not. This equals to Paul's statement: "No longer I...but it is Christ" (Gal. 2:20). "No longer I" means I am not; "it is Christ" means only Christ is.