T H E S I S # 45

There’s pretty good preaching in many of the songs we sing. The gospel of salvation is well packaged in “Amazing Grace” and many other old and current songs.

 

“Just As I Am”, written by an invalid, Charlotte Elliot of England (1789-1871), has been sung with heartfelt praise in millions of evangelical churches throughout much of the world. Billy Graham crusades has used “Just As I Am” to help draw millions to a decision for Jesus Christ; immediately after Billy preached, Charlotte preached. Ponder afresh the spiritual wealth and wisdom in what could possibly be the most sung hymn in evangelicalism….

 

Just As I Am

 

Just as I am, without one plea,

But that Thy blood was shed for me,

And that Thou bidst me come to Thee,

O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

 

Just as I am, and waiting not

To rid my soul of one dark blot,

To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,

O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

 

Just as I am, though tossed about

With many a conflict, many a doubt,

Fightings and fears within, without,

O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

 

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;

Sight, riches, healing of the mind,

Yea, all I need in Thee to find,

O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

 

Just as I am, Thou wilt receive,

Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;

Because Thy promise I believe,

O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

 

This sermon-song not only summons the seeker to come as is, but also rouses us, who have already come, into deeper depths of Christ.  None sufficiently hungry are disqualified from obtaining more of Him. May our daily prayer be, “O Lamb of God, I come, I come.”

 

 

Everyone has heard of the Wesley brothers, John and Charles. Both were mid-18th century preachers, John the more prolific and famous. John was one of the first to take the gospel message outside anglican church walls into the fields, the marketplaces, and roadsides of England – this being far beyond the boundaries of accepted protocol. It must have taken real grit to oppose the way it is back then because the controlling lords were much sterner than those today. John’s influence spread throughout the United Kingdom, the young american colonies, and elsewhere.

 

However, of the two brothers, Charles, the hymnist, has preached to far more evangelicals (etcetera). Most of us have never read a John Wesley sermon, but almost all have heard inspiring, quality teachings through the sermon-songs of Charles. One of his most memorable creations is his easter canticle, masterfully blending sound teaching with praise and hope and encouragement….

 

Christ the Lord Is Risen Today

 

Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!

Earth and heaven in chorus say, Alleluia!

Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!

Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply, Alleluia!

 

Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!

Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!

Death in vain forbids him rise, Alleluia!

Christ has opened paradise, Alleluia!

 

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!

Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!

Once he died our souls to save, Alleluia!

Where’s thy victory, boasting grave? Alleluia!

 

Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia!

Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!

Made like him, like him we rise, Alleluia!

Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

 

Hail the Lord of earth and heaven, Alleluia!

Praise to thee by both be given, Alleluia!

Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!

Hail the Resurrection, thou, Alleluia!

 

King of glory, soul of bliss, Alleluia!

Everlasting life is this, Alleluia!

Thee to know, Thy power to prove, Alleluia!

Thus to sing, and thus to love, Alleluia!

 

 

How could a woman, blind since infancy, hope to be of much use to the Lord Jesus? Fannie Crosby (1820-1915) has written about eight thousand hymns and lyrics, many making their way into hymnals, thus blessing several generations of mainline protestants and evangelicals. Ponder the words of this sermon-song written in 1873….

 

Blessed Assurance

 

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!

Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!

Heir of salvation, purchase of God,

Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

 

Refrain:

This is my story, this is my song,

Praising my Savior all the day long;

This is my story, this is my song,

Praising my Savior all the day long.

 

Perfect submission, perfect delight,

Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;

Angels, descending, bring from above

Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

 

Perfect submission, all is at rest,

I in my Savior am happy and blest,

Watching and waiting, looking above,

Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

 

 

It is good to sing, both by oneself and in harmony with others. Singing truth is declaring truth; declaring truth gets truth deeper into our hearts. Truth ignored is powerless to sanctify; embraced, it causes great gain.

 

Music is one of God’s methods of drawing His children into intimacy. What we will become depends on the quality of today’s spiritual diet. Hearing is good, speaking and declaring is better. Prayer life should include singing.

 

The value of corporate praise and worship will vary from one congregation to the next. As appreciation for “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” is more profound in one believer than another, so the depth of collective gratitude varies from church to church. But all is good.

 

Singing truth is medicinal, and softens the heart. (That’s why collection immediately follows praise and worship.) We elevate each other as we sing together. We get a respite from burdens as we lose ourselves in praise and worship. Jesus strengthens us. Singing of our bright tomorrow in that land that defies description, we are less affected by our troublesome now. The least happy (the least rewarded) up there is considerably more blessed than the happiest here.

 

The Lord Jesus Christ is magnified in most songs. It is so appropriate and fulfilling to give due homage to “the King of kings and Lord of lords”. Some who sing His name haven’t mentioned Him since last sunday, and if not for praise time during sunday service, would rarely mention Him.

 

Quite often the focus is changed from Jesus to something else when the pulpit person begins his forty minute sermon. It’s amazing how a christian can avoid Christ while talking to a church full of christians, but such is common. If he would elevate “the name which is above every name” the entire congregation would be healthier and thus more fruitful.

 

It is quite possible the twenty minutes of praise more effectively draws people into the church than the forty minutes of pulpit ministry. It is also quite possible attendance would increase if the twenty minutes became forty, and the forty twenty.

 

The tail end of the history of church worship is even better than the early years. The inflation of christian artists in the last few decades has translated into a real smorgasbord of choice. And with the arrival of audio tapes and cd’s and internet, every christian has brought quality sermon-songs home. Many of us have hundreds of songs available at a click or two.

 

Huge stadiums throughout the nations are filled with worshippers who come to participate with their favorite worship band or quartet or soloist. There is a 24/7 house of prayer in Kansas City, Missouri whereby praise has never ceased for several years. But most offerings of praise unto our most high Christ is in the local church, evangelical and others.