You can tell me it’s my age (61 in 2 months) or thinking that the past is better than the present (‘fings ain’t what they used to be!) – I don’t think that by the way: I wouldn’t want to be alive at any other time in history than now, because it’s my belief that we’re going to see more of God in these days than the world has ever seen before….
….but, it is easy to throw the baby out with the bath-water, and in the past few months, God’s given (amongst, hopefully, other inspirations to speak from!) a couple of ‘sermons’ based on old hymns. I happen to think that some of the theology of old hymns, and the reasons for them having been written (think of ‘It is well with my soul’, for instance: if you don’t know the story, google it! It’s astonishing), leaves a lot of what we sing today in the shade. I love to worship God: but I can’t stand some of what passes for worship/worship songs, and far be it from me to suggest that the Wesleys, Horatio Spafford (‘It is well with my soul’), and countless others, didn’t write songs to sell worship albums…. That’s why it’s lovely that some worship leaders, like Stuart Townend, still use old hymns.
A while back, whilst meditating one day (in the bathroom, with a newspaper!), I found myself singing, in my head, then out loud, this:
- For I know whom I have believed
- And am persuaded, that he is able
- To keep that, which I’ve committed
- To Him, against that day….. (D W Whittle, 1840-1901, so no royalties!
and have ended up preaching on it, it’s from 2 Timothy 1:12 if you need to know my theological reasoning!
The other day, I woke with this in my head (and then realised I’d been singing it in my dream…):
- 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
I KNOW all of those five wonderful promises: but suddenly I found myself in tears as the REAL revelation of them hit me. It’s what Paul said in the verse above: I believed, but if I’m honest, I’d never thought about there being much more need than JUST belief – until I realised that Paul was saying ‘belief is not enough: I AM PERSUADED – CONVINCED…. James 2:19 makes that VERY clear. ‘Even the demons believe, and they tremble’…. they believe God’s promises SO much, know the reality of them SO well, that they have more fear of the Lord than many of us do. Romans 6:11 – ‘CONSIDER yourselves DEAD to sin but ALIVE to God in Christ Jesus’. My good mate Craig Mawhinney reminded me of the truth of this this morning at church….
I meet so many people who carry their past with them like a badge of honour: pray for so many whose past not only influences their present, but destroys it, and their futures, too. Buried He carried my sins far away – as far as the east is from the west. My past isn’t mine to carry with me anymore: Jesus took it away. You’re probably saying, ‘We know all of this!’ – but DO we… I’ve been using as an illustration in sermons, occasionally, this: (to a congregation) – You believe the Bible? Yes! You believe every promise in it is yes and amen in Christ Jesus? (2 Cor 1:20). Yes! OK, then: imagine that here, at the front, is a coffin. In it, a dead body. The coffin is open. Would we need stewards to control the crowds rushing forward to lay hands on the corpse, because we’re CONVINCED that the promise of Jesus – ‘You’ll do what I have done, and greater things…’ (John 14:12), applies to us, and is SO REAL in us that we’d fight to get the corpse back to life? Silence. So we’re NOT convinced….
We’re ALIVE IN CHRIST – so why aren’t we? I don’t know about you, but it is my goal to be, and I’ll take whatever ‘risk’ I have to in order to see God do it. That particular miracle has only happened once for me, personally, SO FAR…. but American prophet Rodney Nelson, who had no idea that Andres, in Buenaventura, Colombia, had come back to life 3 days before he prophesied over me, said this: ‘God says to you that the dead IS raised, that you were there, you did what I asked of you, you were part of it, and there will be MANY more….’ YES PLEASE LORD!!!!
Friends, we nee to move on from belief, to conviction, utter conviction that NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR US. I’m so excited about this upcoming trip to Cali, Colombia, as these past weeks have been sufficiently full of the…er… brown stuff hitting the fan that I KNOW that the enemy is so, so afraid of what is going to happen during the three weeks there. Brian, who goes with me Friday, even had the travel agent cancel his ticket on Thursday! Thankfully, they’ve managed to get him booked in again….Satan doesn’t want him there….
Rising He justified, freely forever….. and in the next few weeks, we’re going to see a revelation of his coming, in wonderful Colombia, as His presence smashes into the darkness, the history (past), and the problems of the present.
“The battle is won. You may have thought it was won on Golgotha. It wasn’t. You may have thought the sign of victory is the empty tomb. It isn’t. The final battle was won in Gethsemane. And the sign of conquest is Jesus at peace in the olive trees. For it was in the garden that he made his decision:
HE’D RATHER GO TO HELL FOR YOU THAN GO TO HEAVEN WITHOUT YOU.
Those same hands that created the universe will wipe your cheek. The same hands that clenched as a Roman spike smashed through them, will wipe your face, and brush away your tears – FOREVER.’ Max Lucado.
And if you don’t know ‘It is well with my soul’, here are the words (please, read the story behind it):
It Is Well With My Soul
When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know,a
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
It is well, (it is well),
With my soul, (with my soul)
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life,
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
But Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul.
And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
A song in the night, oh my soul!
Horatio Spafford 1871.
and here’s ‘I know whom I have believed’:
I know not why God’s wondrous Grace
To me hath been made known;
Nor why, unworthy as I am,
He claimed me for His own.
I know not how this saving faith
To me He did impart;
Or how believing in His word
Wrought peace within my heart.
But I know whom I’ve believed;
He’s able now to save
What I’ve committed unto Him
Until that final day.
I know not how the Spirit moves,
Convincing men of sin;
Revealing Jesus through the word,
Creating faith in Him.
I know not what of good or ill
May be reserved for me,
Of weary ways or golden days
Before His face I see.
I know not when my Lord may come;
I know not how or where,
If I shall pass the vale of death,
Or meet Him in the air.
D.W. Whittle (1840-1901) Adapt. Stuart TownendCopyright © 1999 Thankyou Music