THE PURPOSE OF THIS BLOG

I am the song leader in my church. I am not very proficient as a musician or a choral director. I pray that, someday soon, God will send someone more capable, to take this ministry from me. But for the time being it is my responsibility to select the music and lead the congregation in the singing every week.

I take that responsibility seriously. The hymns and songs that I select must be doctrinally sound, they must be appropriate for worship with a God-centered worldview, and, within those parameters, I try to select music that will reinforce and support the text and the subject of my pastor’s messages.

Some of us have been singing the hymns for years; the words roll off our lips but the messages often don't engage our minds or penetrate our hearts. With the apostle Paul, I want the congregation to "sing with understanding."

So for the past few years, it has been my practice to select one hymn each week, research it, and then highlight it with a short introductory commentary so that the congregation will be more informed regarding the origin, the author's testimony, or the doctrinal significance of the hymns we sing.

It is my intention here, with this blog, to archive these hymn commentaries for my reference and to make them freely available to other church song leaders. For ease of reference, all the hymn commentaries in this blog will be titled IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS. Other posts (which will be music ministry related opinion pieces) will be printed in lower case letters.

I know that some of these commentaries contain traces of my unique style, but please feel free to adapt them and use the content any way you can for the edification of your congregation and to the glory of God.

All I ask is that you leave a little comment should you find something helpful.

A complete list of hymns is located on the right side panel.


Ralph M. Petersen

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Sunday, December 31, 2017

WE THREE KINGS

Christian music has always suffered a lot of criticism and some of it is deserved.  So, we should carefully examine lyrics for truth and doctrinal correctness.  Some of our available Christian music is so full of heresy that we should never use it in our worship.

But then there are some that aren’t necessarily heretical; they just contain some figurative or speculative or poetic language that might be misunderstood or are slightly, factually incorrect. 

WE THREE KINGS is one of those Christmas songs, and I have deliberately avoided it several years.   I was bothered by its inaccurate imagery: 
  
“Three Kings come from the Orient to visit the baby Jesus in His manger bed.” 

The Bible tells us none of that.  So, I have to admit, I never really paid much attention to it.  But once we get past the song’s title and the opening line, there is a lot of important prophetic doctrine in it. 
  
In fact, I have come to realize that my only legitimate dislike for this carol could be narrowed down to just TWO LITTLE LETTERS; “R” and “E.”  That’s right!  If the author had just written, “We THE Kings,” there wouldn’t be much left for me to criticize.  

John Henry Hopkins, Jr. was an author, book illustrator, stained glass window designer, clergyman, and editor of the New York Church Journal.  He wrote WE THREE KINGS for a Christmas pageant at the General Theological Seminary of New York City in 1857.  Six years later it was published in his book, Carols, Hymns and Song. 

Were there really three kings?  The Bible calls them Magi, so some would argue that they were pagan astrologers or sorcerers.

The suggestion that the Wise Men were kings comes from prophecies in Isaiah 49:7; “Kings shall see and arise,” and Isaiah 60:10; “Their kings shall minister unto thee.” 

There are other records that refer to the Wise Men as kings. The journals of Marco Polo contain a report from Persia about three kings who took gold, frankincense, and myrrh with them on a journey to visit a newborn prophet.

The term Wise Men, as used in the King James Bible, is from the Greek word that is translated, “magi” in English.  Some scholars think the Wise Men were priests in a Persian religious sect.  However, other biblical scholars have speculated that they might have been descendants of Nebuchadnezzar’s advisors who were influenced by Daniel during the captivity.  Having heard of Daniel’s prophecies and teachings they may have been true believers to whom God had revealed the birth of the promised Messiah.

The first four stanzas are a narrative.  The first verse starts with the account of the wise men following the star on their journey to find the baby.

Stanzas 2, 3, and 4 name three gifts they brought: 

Gold speaks of royalty.  This Baby is the King of kings.
  
Incense was used in the tabernacle as a symbol of prayer and worship.  Jesus is God in human flesh. 

Myrrh was used as an embalming spice.   It pointed to Christ’s death on the cross for sin.

The final stanza is a song of praise in which Hopkins summarized the three-fold offices of this Baby.  Jesus Christ is our King, He is our God, and He is our Sacrifice.  Praise the Lord!


Sunday, December 24, 2017

ONE DAY (GLORIOUS DAY)

The hymn, ONE DAY was written by Dr. J. Wilbur Chapman.  While he was a guest preacher at a Bible Conference around 1908, He handed the text to his organist, Charles Marsh, who composed the tune.  Chapman published it in 1910.

This is one of those songs that appear in many hymnbooks but, for some reason, always seems to be there just to take up space.  I don’t know why it is not one of our more prominent hymns.  Maybe it’s because of how it’s placed in the topical index.  It’s not categorized as a Christmas song, although the first stanza tells of Christ’s incarnation.  And neither is it listed as a resurrection hymn, although it sings of His death, burial, and resurrection.  It is just placed somewhere in the category, “The Life of Christ.”

ONE DAY is a hymn that recounts the glorious days in God’s story of redemption; the day of Christ’s birth, the day of His crucifixion, the day of His death and burial, and the day of His resurrection. 

The good news is that Chapman’s lyrics are making a comeback in a popular, new version titled, GLORIOUS DAY.  It was produced with a new music score, by Mark Hall and Michael Bleeker of Casting Crowns.  Except for the addition of a few lines, the original lyrics remain intact.

However, the new rendition has already generated some unfair criticism, mainly about the refrain:
“Living He loved me, dying He saved me, buried He carried my sins far away; Rising He justified freely forever; One day He’s coming, O glorious day.”
 
The critic’s objection is that Jesus’ living doesn’t equate to His loving; His death didn’t save us, our sins were not carried far away by His burial, and His resurrection did not justify us.

But the arguments are foolish.  It is not hard to understand that the author’s intention was to recap the full scope and purpose of Christ’s ministry; His incarnation and perfect sinless life, His crucifixion, His death, burial and resurrection, and His Second coming, as an all-inclusive, once for all, completed work of God’s redemptive grace.

In fact, it reads like a poetic paraphrase of these words in Paul’s, summary statement of the Good News of the Gospel: “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”

This hymn is rich in sound doctrine and packed full of allusions to Scripture.  One researcher broke it down and identified multiple scriptural referenced for almost every phrase.  He found over 75 supporting texts for this hymn.

Some of the more overt theological themes in this song include the doctrines of angels, sin, the virgin birth, the incarnation, atonement, propitiation, justification, redemption, resurrection, ascension,  and second coming. 

The song ends with a proclamation our hope.
ONE DAY the trumpet will sound for His coming.
One day the skies with His glories will shine;
Wonderful day, my beloved One’s bringing;
Glorious Savior, this Jesus is mine.

One day He’s coming, O GLORIOUS DAY!

Monday, December 18, 2017

THOU DIDST LEAVE THY THRONE

THOU DIDST LEAVE THY THRONE was written by Emily (Elizabeth Steele) Elliott in the late 1800s.  She was the daughter of Charlotte Elliot who wrote, “Just As I Am.”

Emily had a passion for her work in rescue missions and teaching Sunday school, and she saw those occupations as opportunities to reach children with the gospel.

For six years, she edited a missionary publication for children’s ministries, in which she published a collection of 48 of her hymns.

But THOU DIDST LEAVE THY THRONE was different; it was printed separately and written exclusively for the children’s choir in her father’s parish in Brighton, England.  She wrote this hymn to clarify the meaning, of Advent and the Birth of Jesus, to the children she taught, and there are some great doctrinal truths to be discovered in it.

The text is based on Luke 2:7, “And (Mary) brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”

In the structure of this hymn, Emily used a literary technique called rhetorical antithesis.  Two observations, in each verse, are intentionally contrasted to emphasize the difference.  And each contrast hinges on the same conjunction, “BUT.”

In the first stanza, Jesus left His glorious heavenly home, BUT there was no room for Him in Bethlehem.

In the second, He is described as the King surrounded by angels always singing His praises, BUT His birth on earth was lowly and humble.

Verse three is a poetic paraphrase of Matthew 8:20 “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, BUT the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”

And in the fourth verse, He came from heaven bringing words of love and life BUT, on earth, He was mocked and scorned.

A similar contrast is implied in the refrain; there was no room for Him in the Inn, BUT there is room for Him in the hearts of believers. 

  The song is sometimes used as an invitation hymn because of the last phrase in each of the first four stanzas, “O come to my heart, Lord Jesus, there is room in my heart for Thee.”

But that usage misses the point.

This is not a hymn of invitation for sinners to come to the Savior; it emphasizes the reality that we have NOTHING big enough, grand enough, valuable enough, or good enough to offer that would impress God and merit His good grace and favor.  All we can do is come broken and needy and offer Him our hearts.

But, should God be pleased with that?

Well, frankly, I can’t think of anything dirtier; not even that filthy stable.  The words of Jeremiah the prophet, remind me what God thinks of my heart:

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked;
Who can know it?

"I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.” (Jer. 17:9-10)

Nevertheless, the Spirit of God indwells His people anyway.  He has given us a new heart and while we are still in these sin-sick bodies, He is at work cleaning us and making us fit to live with Him.
  The point is, we have nothing to boast; ALL the glory for our sanctification belongs to Him.

The final stanza proclaims our Hope.  We are looking forward to that day when He will call us home to dwell with Him forever. 

Sunday, December 10, 2017

WHAT CHILD IS THIS?

William Dix was born in Bristol, England in 1837.  He wrote and published at least 40 hymns including “WHAT CHILD IS THIS?”

It was one of his best hymns but, unfortunately, modern publishers, thinking it was too dark and depressing for a Christmas carol, removed half the second stanza.  What remains is a bright, joyful song of the celebration of Jesus’ birth without the unpleasant gloom of the cross.

  
Before the alteration, there were three stanzas of eight lines each with no refrain.  Now there are three, four-line stanzas with a common refrain that was originally the last lines of the first stanza.  So, today, in most hymnbooks there is an abbreviated, inoffensive text that neglects an important doctrinal purpose of the song.

The carol starts with a rhetorical question.  These kinds of questions are often used to emphasize a truth or to make an expression of amazement.  Sometimes those kinds of questions are used in Scripture.

For example, when Jesus calmed the storm that was threatening the disciples, they asked themselves, “Who is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?” (Mark 4:41).

They all knew the answer; This Man is God. 
  
The question asked in verse one is; “WHAT CHILD IS THIS?”   And, of course, we know the answer.  It’s plainly revealed in Scripture; “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”  (John 1:14).
   
This baby is Christ the King.

Verse two poses another important question; “Why is He lying in such mean estate?”  

The word, mean, doesn’t mean cruel or unkind; it describes His common, ordinary, or lowly birth.  Last week, our Pastor illustrated the “insignificance” of all the people and places surrounding Jesus’ humble arrival.  There was no pompous ceremony; there were no exalted dignitaries.  There were no fancy furnishings.  He was born in a smelly stable and laid in a filthy feeding trough.  

And the verse goes on to explain that this silent little Baby is the living Word of God, who is here “pleading” for our souls. 

And this is where the editors made their terrible cut.  In the original text, William Dix continued the account with the prophetic reason for this Baby’s coming.  “The nails and the spear shall pierce Him.”  

That’s an allusion to the crucifixion.  He came to bear the suffering and death on the cross for us.  This Baby, the Son of Mary, was born to die.

His birth in the manger is a reason to rejoice only because of His death on the cross.  So, we sing, “Come, peasant king to own Him.”

That is the invitation of the Gospel.   When Jesus came to His own people, they rejected Him.  But the insignificant, lowly shepherds and the wise men from far countries came to worship Him.   And so, the final stanza is a song of Joy; Jesus came to bring salvation to all who will believe.


WHAT CHILD IS THIS?
(Here are all the original lyrics.  
The green lines are the ones that have been removed.)

1. What Child is this who laid to rest,
On Mary's lap is sleeping?
Whom Angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?

This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and Angels sing;
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

2. Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.

Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

3. So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh,
Come peasant, king to own Him;
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.

Raise, raise a song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby.
Joy, joy for Christ is born,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.



Sunday, December 3, 2017

COME, THOU ALMIGHTY KING

Why I picked COME, THOU ALMIGHTY KING for the Christmas season.

While looking for Christmas hymns this week, one thing I noticed is that the book arranges them topically, starting with Advent and then proceeding to hymns about the birth of Jesus. 

I’m not very familiar with the liturgical calendar, but, apparently, these four weeks leading up to Christmas day, in a lot of Christian traditions, is called the Advent season.

But ALL these hymns, regardless of how they are categorized, are about His birth, so I wondered what was it that distinguishes advent hymns from other songs about the birth of Jesus?

I looked to the dictionary for a definition of advent and it is a word that implies expectation or the waiting for an appearance or an event.  In Christianity, it is the anticipation of the arrival of the Messiah, the promised One from God.

I found that somewhat curious because He has already come so, I wondered, how are we still waiting?   Well, I learned a few things about advent this week.

In church tradition, Advent reminds us of the anticipation of ancient Israel as they waited and hoped for the coming of Messiah.  This is a time to recount the stories of Zechariah, Elizabeth, Simeon, and all the pre-Church saints. We think about all the promises that God made and how they looked forward to their coming salvation.

But that is just part of the anticipation.  The Advent season, today, is a reminder that there is still more to come. 

John Piper explains this two-part appearance like this:

“When Emmanuel arrives — when the Dayspring rises — we learn that redemption has only begun.

“To be sure, it is a magnificent only.
  
“The final blood is shed. The debt is paid. Forgiveness is purchased. God’s wrath is removed.  Adoption is secured. The down payment is in the bank. The first fruits of harvest are in the barn. The future is sure. The joy is great.
  
“But the end is not yet.

“Death still snatches away. Disease still makes us miserable. Calamity still strikes. Satan still prowls. Flesh still wars against the Spirit. Sin still indwells. 

"And we still ‘groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies’ (Romans 8:23)

"We still ‘wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (1 Corinthians 1:7)

"We still wait for final deliverance ‘from the wrath to come’ (1 Thessalonians 1:10)

"We still ‘wait for the hope of righteousness’ (Galatians 5:5)

"The longing continues.”

The Advent season is a time for rejoicing; Our Savior was born in Bethlehem. But the birth of Jesus is meaningless and irrelevant without His sacrificial death, burial, and His resurrection.  It was all part of God’s plan that will culminate when Jesus Christ returns for His Church and finishes His work of redemption. 

So, now we look forward to His Second Coming.  And the next time He comes, He is coming as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  


COME, THOU ALMIGHTY KING.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

FOR THE BEAUTY OF THE EARTH

I read, this week, that The Church of Sweden has urged its clergy to use more gender-neutral language when referring to God and to avoid referring to the deity as “Lord” or “he.”

The move is one of many made by the national Evangelical Lutheran Church, which is in the process of updating a 31-year-old handbook, which will outline how services should be conducted in terms of language, and that will include necessary revisions to the hymns they sing.

It is not unusual that many of our older hymns have gone through some revisions.  Sometimes those changes have been improvements but there are some that were made for the wrong reasons.

In 1864, Folliot Pierpoint published an eight-stanza poem, “The Sacrifice of Praise.”  It was originally meant to be used as a communion hymn.

In the original refrain, “Christ, our God, to Thee we raise, This, our sacrifice of praise,” reflected the author’s intent for a communion hymn.  But it was changed to “Lord of all, to Thee we raise This our hymn of grateful praise.”

As it turns out, that was a good change, but it was forced by political correctness.  There were heresies then, like now, that denied the deity of Christ and there were spineless publishers who were uncomfortable with the way the text equated Christ with God.
 
Pierpoint stood firm in his defense of the original text.  He argued that there had been a long tradition of Christians singing hymns to Christ as God; and, besides, the Fifth Ecumenical Council (553), referencing 1 Cor. 2:8, affirmed that our Lord Jesus Christ, who was crucified in the flesh, is true God, and the “Lord of glory”.

Nevertheless, the hymn was changed and, I think, for the better.  Two stanzas, that weren’t very good, have been omitted and two have been combined. 

So, now, FOR THE BEAUTY OF THE EARTH, is a five-stanza hymn with a new refrain.  And the focus of the original hymn has been broadened from a communion hymn to a song of praise and thanksgiving to the “Lord of all.”

The progression in the imagery of this hymn makes it a good teaching aid for children.  The thanksgiving starts with the natural creation; the world around us and then progresses to thanks for human relationships, then the Church, and finally, to the incarnation; the Gift of God’s own Son in human flesh.



Sunday, November 19, 2017

ONCE FOR ALL (Free From The Law)

Some Christian music historians have ranked Philip Bliss as the second greatest Christian songwriter in history.  In just twelve years, he had written several hundred hymn lyrics and music scores including:
I Gave My Life For Thee
It Is Well With My Soul
Almost Persuaded
Hallelujah, What A Savior!
Hold The Fort
Jesus Loves Even Me
Let The Lower Lights Be Burning
The Light Of The World Is Jesus
Wonderful Words Of Life
and ONCE FOR ALL

Philip died in a tragic train wreck at the age of 38 but, had he lived, he probably would have passed his peers, Fannie Crosby, Charles Wesley and Ira Sankey, in terms of the sheer number of compositions produced.  And he wanted his works to be freely used and enjoyed by the Church so none of his songs were ever copyrighted.

For Christmas in 1871, his wife gave him a bound copy of English periodicals called “Things New and Old.”  One of the articles referenced Romans 8:1-2 “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.”

Another passage, in that piece, was Hebrews 10:10. …we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
That article inspired Philip to write the hymn, ONCE FOR ALL (sometimes titled Free from The Law).

There is a lot of confusion about this subject and many people have perverted the doctrine of God’s grace, to imply that, once we are saved, we have the freedom to do whatever we want with no fear of His condemnation or wrath.

So, what does it mean to be “free from the law?”

The Law is a strict prison master; It is consequential and unmerciful.  It is impossible to keep, and any infraction requires a death penalty.  That’s the environment we live in when we think that we can merit God’s favor by our own good works.  But God is merciful and has provided His free gift of undeserved grace for all who would believe. 

That is the Gospel; Jesus suffered, bled, and died so that anyone whose faith is in Christ alone, is free from the grip and the penalty of the Law.   There is no more sacrifice for sin; the penalty has been paid. 

Paul wrote to the Christians at Rome, “…for you are not under law but under grace.”  But that doesn’t mean that we can go on ignoring His revealed laws or that we can live according to our own desires.  Paul’s words are prefaced by the phrase, “… For sin shall NOT have dominion over you…”

Freedom from the Law also means that, after He saves us, His Spirit lives in us and He gives us the power to resist sin, obey Him, and serve Him.          


Christ has redeemed us ONCE FOR ALL. 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

TAKE MY LIFE AND LET IT BE CONSECRATED

What we call Contemporary Christian Music got its start in the middle of the twentieth century.  Baby boomers who were bored with the old music of the church brought new styles into the mainstream of American evangelical churches.
 
Much of the music deserved the criticism it got.  It was sometimes silly, doctrinally anemic, and borderline heretical; it was often man-centered and appealing to the flesh.  But, something amazing happened in the latter part of the century.   Contemporary Christian Music grew up. 

In the midst of all the clamor, emerged a plethora of excellent Christian composers, writers, and singers who brought us some of the best and most inspiring, classical and contemporary, God-honoring music in our lifetime.
 
It was in that musical environment, that a frustrated, renegade music professor developed a new, revolutionary approach to choral conducting.  Most of his contemporaries were highly critical but Dr. Gary Bonner’s master’s program produced hundreds of graduates who launched a rebirth in Church choir music throughout the Christian world.

Children’s music was elevated too.  A man named Ernie Rettino painted his face blue, put on some blue tights and a big foam costume in the shape of a book; and the character, Psalty, the Singing Hymnbook, was created.   Ernie and his wife, Debby, produced dozens of musicals designed to teach children biblical principles and doctrines using new and traditional hymns.

In one of their most successful productions, the characters took a Hymnological Adventure in a Time Machine.  They traveled back in history, to meet some famous hymn writers like David, the Shepherd King, Isaac Watts, and Fanny Crosby.  That musical resulted in teaching some of the greatest old hymns of our faith to a whole generation of children.
 
One of those hymns, TAKE MY LIFE AND LET IT BE, is a prayer of consecration written by Frances Havergal.   It may have been inspired by these words in Leviticus; “Consecrate yourselves and be holy, for I am holy. “

In Paul’s letter to the church at Rome, he wrote, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Rom. 12:1).
 

In this hymn, Frances Havergal holds nothing back in her offering to the Lord.  She starts with a dedication of her life but then she gets specific; not only her life but all her days and every moment.  When she offers her hands and her feet, she is asking God to direct everything she does and everywhere she goes.  She submits every word from her lips and every thought to His control.  Her treasures, her will, and her heart; everything she has is Consecrated to God for His use and His glory. 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

The FIVE SOLAS of the REFORMATION (Part 4)


(For this morning’s service, I selected one hymn for each of the Five Solas.) 



(Opening Hymn)

SOLA GRATIA

How can one be justified and receive eternal life?

That’s the most important question a man can ask.  And that question was the catalyst for the Reformation that resulted in the affirmation of the Doctrines of Grace.

“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).”  (Eph. 2:4-5)



Hymn – “AMAZING GRACE”      

SOLA FIDE


The Reformers were guided by their convictions that the church had drifted far away from the essential, and non-negotiable, original teachings of Christianity regarding salvation.
 
Some of them tried, without success, to correct doctrinal deviations within the church.  The result of their attempts was tantamount to an all-out declaration of war.  Many of them were persecuted, imprisoned, or killed for teaching contrary to the church’s heretical practices.
 
In hindsight, we can see the sovereign Hand of God through all of it.  Because of the persecution, The Gospel of Jesus Christ was spread throughout the world.

"When the Lord stirred up Luther in Germany, Zuinglius at Zurich, and Calvin at Geneva, to set upon this great work [the Reformation], multitudes in all Nations begun to embrace the Truth, and to fly from the rents of Babel: Antichrist was made so naked and bare in all the filthinesse of his whoredomes, that the whole world was ready to forsake her."

Quoted from p. 63 in The Divine Right of the Gospel Ministry, by the London Provincial Assembly (1654).

The Church was teaching that salvation is obtained by our sacrifices, good works, indulgences, and a myriad of other ritualistic efforts.    But the Spirit of God revealed the Scriptures to Martin Luther, that clearly declared, “The Just shall Live by Faith.”  

Hymn – “MY FAITH HAS FOUND A RESTING PLACE”

  

SOLUS CHRISTUS

The signature declaration of the Reformation is summarized in what we call the Five Solas which are five, short, disconnected phrases.  Each one is essential but they do not stand alone; they build on each other.  There are disagreements about the order in which they should be arranged but I am a simple man and I prefer this arrangement, in this single, 24-word sentence that makes it easy for me to remember and understand:

We are Saved by GRACE ALONE, through FAITH ALONE, in CHRIST ALONE, on the authority of SCRIPTURE ALONE, for the GLORY OF GOD ALONE.

The first stanza of the hymn we just sang (My Faith Has Found A Resting Place), declares that our faith is “not in devise nor creed.”  We do not trust in religious mechanisms, rituals, or practices.  Real saving faith has only one object; Christ, the Ever-Living One who was Crucified for our transgressions. 

Hymn – “ASK YE WHAT GREAT THING I KNOW?”   



SOLA SCRIPTURA

It is SCRIPTURE that tells us who we are and what we are.  It is SCRIPTURE that informs us of our need of a Savior, and it is SCRIPTURE that tells us how we can be reconciled to God.  Scripture is God’s written revelation of Himself to us and it is our only sure authority in all matters of faith and practice. 

 Hymn – “HOLY BIBLE, BOOK DIVINE"



(closing hymn)

SOLI DEO GLORIA

The goal and ultimate purpose of all life is to GLORIFY GOD.  We are commanded, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). 

Salvation is God’s plan, His work, and His sacrifice.  The motivation for Him saving His people was not to improve our lives; it is for His Manifest Glory.   And so, there is nothing we contribute except our sin.  ALL THE GLORY IN THE WORK OF SALVATION BELONGS TO GOD ALONE.
    
Hymn – “SING PRAISE TO GOD WHO REIGNS ABOVE”



Sunday, October 22, 2017

The FIVE SOLAS of the REFORMATION (Part 3)

{This is the hymns lineup for the third week of our monthlong emphasis on 

the  Five Solas of the Reformation.}


SOLA SCRIPTURA


(Opening Hymn)
REFORMATION HYMN
We will trust God's Word alone,
Where His perfect will is known;
Our traditions shift like sand
While His truth forever stands.
We will live by faith alone, 
Clothed in merit not our own;
All we claim is Jesus Christ
and His finished sacrifice.

Glory be, glory be to God alone,
Through the Church He redeemed and called His own.
He has freed us, He will keep us 'til we're safely home.
Glory be, glory be to God alone.

We are saved by grace alone-
Undeserved, yet freely shown;
No accomplishment on earth
Can achieve the second birt.
We will stand on Christ alone, 
The unyielding Cornerstone;
Nations rage and devils roar, 
Still, He reigns forevermore!

(C) 2016 - Words and Music by Chris Anderson and Bob Kauflin
Used by permission



(Song Service)

I've noticed a disturbing trend on social media, lately, where people are trying to render the Bible outdated and irrelevant.  Apparently, according to some, God has learned a few things and has changed His mind about sin.      

And some people are even suggesting that Christians who love God's Word might be violating the First Commandment by making an idol of the book.

You’ve heard me say this before, here and here; "There is an inseverable relationship between God and Scripture."  

The Word of God never changes because God never changes. 

This hymn starts by presenting the Living Word of God in human flesh.   The song moves us along from the Word to Wisdom, from Wisdom to Truth, and then from Truth to Light; all of those referencing Jesus Christ.  And then it transfers that picture of Light to the “hallowed page” which is the Written Word of God; the Bible.

O WORD OF GOD INCARNATE 


My Old Bible

Though the cover is worn,
And the pages are torn,
And though places bear traces of tears,
Yet more precious than gold
Is this Book worn and old,
That can shatter and scatter my fears.

This old Book is my guide,
’Tis a friend by my side,
It will lighten and brighten my way;
And each promise I find
Soothes and gladdens the mind,
As I read it and heed it each day.

To this Book, I will cling,
Of its worth, I will sing,
Though great losses and crosses be mine;
For I cannot despair,
Though surrounded by care,
While possessing this blessing Divine.
—Author unknown

THANKS TO GOD WHOSE WORD WAS SPOKEN




The Scriptures are God's final, trustworthy, and ultimate authority for all matters of our faith and practice.

That doesn't mean that the Bible is the only place where Truth is found, but it does mean that everything we learn about God and His world from any other presumed authorities, must be interpreted in the light of Scripture.  

The Bible gives us everything we need for our theology.  Every word of the 66 books of the Bible, is inspired by God's Holy Spirit.

“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”  That was written by Paul to the Church at Rome and he repeated it, verbatim, in his letter to Timothy.  (Rom. 15:4 and 2 Tim. 2:16)

The reformation term is “Sola Scriptura,” which has to do with the sufficiency and efficacy of GOD’S WORD ALONE in all matters of faith and practice. 

HOW FIRM A FOUNDATION



(Closing Hymn)

This is God's Word.
In times past, He spoke it through His prophets.
In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son.
And today His Spirit speaks to us through His Written Word.

This book contains: 
the mind of God,
the state of man,
the way of salvation,
the doom of sinners,
and the happiness of believers.

Its doctrine is Holy,
its Precepts are binding,
its histories are TRUE
and its decisions are immutable.

Read it to be wise,
believe it to be safe
and practice it to be Holy.

Within its pages,
heaven is opened,
and the gates of hell disclosed.

Christ is its grand subject,
our good, its design,
and the glory of God, its end.

Read it slowly, frequently, and prayerfully.

It is given to you in this life,
It will be opened at the judgment.
And it is established, unchanging forever.

It involves the highest responsibility,
It will reward your greatest labor,
and it will condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents!

 GOD HAS SPOKEN BY HIS PROPHETS