How sad our state by nature is!

Isaac Watts

How sad our state by nature is!
Our sin, how deep it stains!
And Satan binds our captive minds
Fast in his slavish chains.

But there’s a voice of sovereign grace
Sounds from the sacred word:
“Ho! ye despairing sinners, come,
And trust upon the Lord.”

My soul obeys th’ almighty call,
And runs to this relief;
I would believe thy promise, Lord;
O help my unbelief!

To the dear fountain of thy blood,
Incarnate God, I fly;
Here let me wash my spotted soul
From crimes of deepest dye.

Stretch out thine arm, victorious King
My reigning sins subdue;
Drive the old dragon from his seat,
With all his hellish crew.

A guilty, weak, and helpless worm,
On thy kind arms I fall;
Be thou my strength and righteousness,
My Jesus, and my all.

Isaac Watts: Ju­ly 17, 1674 – No­vem­ber 25, 1748.

 

Lost History Lecture by Paul Cook

English: Augustus Montague Toplady (1740-1778)I just started reading Paul Cook’s book Fire From Heaven: Times of Extraordinary Revival (book link) and I recalled a lecture he gave way back in 1980 on Augustus Toplady ‘The Saintly Sinner’. I looked for it on my Website but couldn’t find it. After some searching I realised it was uploaded but the link was missing and it wasn’t even listed. Anyway, it’s now fixed and available for download.

I have great memories of Paul and his ministry. The lecture on Toplady will not disappoint. FYI, Paul Cook is married to the author Faith Cook.

Go here to download. Visit my website for full listing of lectures.

Here’s the first verse of Toplady’s ‘A debtor to mercy alone’

A debtor to mercy alone,
Of covenant mercy I sing,
Nor fear, with God’s righteousness on,
My person and off’rings to bring.
The terrors of law and of God
With me can have nothing to do;
My Savior’s obedience and blood
Hide all my transgressions from view.

 

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Brief Comments on the hymn ‘Trust and Obey’

We sang the following hymn at the service Sunday evening. Though well loved by many, I’ve felt uncomfortable about this hymn for a while so I’d like to briefly explain my problems with it. Let me just emphasise and underline that I have no problem with the command to trust and obey, these are entirely scriptural. It’s the setting of other aspects of the hymn and when it gets used in any Gospel context, any context. Period. It just didn’t sit well within the overall message. It was a good message, but with serious problems that demand another post – more later.

Here’s some of my problems with the hymn.

The overall concept it seems to me is to produce happiness. Of course there’s nothing wrong with being happy and only someone with serious problems would not want to be happy. We all want to be happy. And, it does to some extent depend on how many footnotes you put round the word. To be fair, the song speaks of being ‘happy in Jesus’ which may be an entirely different concept to a worldly description of just being happy per-se. A better word might have been ‘Blessed’ but that wouldn’t fit and is more positional than experiential.

When you look through the song it’s basically about me and my trusting and my obeying. There’s no objective truth about Jesus that might draw out from Christians a desire to Trust and Obey but the end result of happiness. Thinking back to the History lecture about Andrew Fuller, he suffered the terrible loss of his daughter and it completely rocked him. His diary entries stopped. Here’s an extract from the lecture concerning this period of Fuller’s life.

On 30th May 1786, Fuller’s daughter, Sally, died at the age of six and a half years. This was one of several deaths close to the man at the same period, but surely the most painful, and it is a measure of his sensitivity of soul that within a few days his diary entries dry up, only a few torn leaves indicating the heart trouble of the following months. The diary does not open again until 3rd October, 1789:

‘For above a year and a half I have written nothing. It has seemed to me that my life was not worth writing. Two or three years ago my heart began wretchedly to degenerate from God. Soon after my child Sally died, I sunk into a sad state of lukewarmness; and have felt the effects of it ever since. I feel at times a longing after the lost joys of God’s salvation; but cannot recover them. I have backslidden from God; and yet I may rather be said to be habitually dejected on account of it than earnestly to repent of it. I find much hardness of heart, and a spirit of inactivity has laid hold of me. . . . [After recording some sermon preached:] These subjects have tended sometimes to make me long after that joy and peace in believing which I have heretofore found. But joy of heart is a feeling I cannot yet recover.’

Jeremy continues; The climb out of this period of spiritual dullness and desolation was painfully slow and difficult, but the Lord was upholding and helping his servant.

This period of trial in the life of Fuller does not square with this hymn. Surely Fuller was not Trusting and Obeying sufficiently to be ‘Happy in Jesus’. And we should especially note the comment made by Jeremy Walker that the Lord was upholding and helping his servant. The hymn doesn’t tell us this at all. But I’m running a little ahead of myself.

The hymn I believe is damaging and destructive in the following ways. The tune is quite upbeat and almost triumphalistic and to the Christian that believes he is Trusting and Obeying it’s sung with great gusto – this could be a problem. But what about the Christian conscious of his sin or is walking through some fiery trial – this is anything but helpful. What would Andrew Fuller have made of the hymn? Given this biographical entry of Fullers I fail to see how verse 2 can be anything other than discouraging for one going through such a trial. This verse is just cruel to such a one. How Fuller and other suffering Christians need the Balm of Gilead pouring into their souls as they are indeed kept by the power of God and His loving kindness.

Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.

The hymn concentrates on the ability of the Christian to do His good will and to therefore find that ‘He abides with us still, And with all who will trust and obey.’ Is this true? I don’t believe it is. Are we really to believe God only abides with us when we are ‘Happy in Jesus’ and ‘trusting Him still’. The Bible says ‘He will never leave us, nor forsake us.’ It’s to the praise of His marvelous Grace that He ALWAYS abides with us still. Even though the sense of His presence or the reality of the truth is not able to be grasped. Many years ago now at an Aberystwyth Conference Douglas McMillan was preaching through Romans 8. When he recited verse 28 ‘And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose’ he leaned over the pulpit and said ‘Sin included‘. Now that’s the Grace of God at work. We do not deserve any of it including when we are not trusting and obeying as we ought to be. The hymn is pure law. There’s no Grace in it at all.

I think you get the idea now. In verse 4 we read ‘But we never can prove the delights of His love, Until all on the altar we lay; For the favor He shows, … the joy He bestows, Are for them who will trust and obey. This is not good news. I only know of one person that has laid all on the altar. We read much of Burnt offerings & sacrifices in Leviticus. And in John 1:29 we read of ‘the lamb that takes away the sin of the world’. That’s laying all on the Altar! Only Jesus has done that, otherwise we wouldn’t need a Saviour! Otherwise we wouldn’t need to repent. This why we need Jesus the only one that has kept perfectly the law of God in every way. In thought, speech, deed, behaviour, inwardly, in every way trusting and obeying the law of God. Now THAT is Good News. Even though we are so dull and wayward in our sin and rebellion God gives the desire and the power to call upon the Saviour.

The Gospel really is THAT radical! We are all self righteous at heart. Surely there’s some little thing I can do? Nope. It’s all been done. All you have to do is come – and as I say He even gives the desire and the power to do that! What a Gospel! What a Saviour! What a Salvation!

I said it would be brief so I’ll leave it at that, though more could be said. The last hymn on Sunday evening was ‘Rock of Ages’. What a contrast!

Full Text of the Hymn :

When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

Refrain

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.

Refrain

Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross,
But is blessed if we trust and obey.

Refrain

But we never can prove the delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.

Refrain

Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet.
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way.
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.

Refrain

Show me Thy Face – one transient gleam

I was reminded of this hymn at our home group Bible study & prayer meeting last evening. An interesting observation about this hymn is that God or the name of Jesus is not mentioned even once. And yet, to every true believer, it’s obvious who it is about – Jesus.  2 Cor 4:6. What an effect even a transient gleam of The Lord Jesus will have on the believer.

Show me Thy face! – one transient gleam
Of loveliness divine,
And I shall never think or dream
Of other love save Thine;
All lesser light will darken quite,
All lower glories wane;
The beautiful of earth will scarce
Seem beautiful again.

Show me Thy face! – my faith and love
Shall henceforth fixed be,
And nothing here have power to move
My soul’s serenity;
My life shall seem a trance, a dream
And all I feel and see,
Illusive, visionary – Thou
The one reality!

Show me Thy face! – I shall forget
The weary days of yore;
The fretting ghost of vain regret
Shall haunt my soul no more;
All doubts and fears for future years
In quiet rest subside,
And naught but blessed content and calm
Within my breast abide.

Show me Thy face! – the heaviest cross
Will then seem light to bear;
There will be gain in every loss,
And peace with every care;
With such light feet the years will fleet,
Life seem as brief as blessed,
Till I have laid my burden down,
And enter into rest.

Anonymous; from STOCKWELL GEMS

(Christian Hymns: 619)

I saw a new vision of Jesus

I saw a new vision of Jesus,
A view I’d not seen here before,
Beholding in glory so wondrous
With beauty I had to adore.
I stood on the shores of my weakness,
And gazed at the brink of such fear;
‘Twas then that I saw Him in newness,
Regarding Him fair and so dear.

My Saviour will never forsake me,
Unveiling His merciful face,
His presence and promise almighty,
Redeeming His loved ones by grace.
In shades of the valley’s dark terror,
Where hell and its horror hold sway,
My Jesus will reach out in power,
And save me by His only way.

For yonder a light shines eternal,
Which spreads through the valley of gloom;
Lord Jesus, resplendent and regal,
Drives fear far away from the tomb.
Our God is the end of the journey,
His pleasant and glorious domain;
For there are the children of mercy,
Who praise Him for Calvary’s pain.

William Vernon Higham, 1926-

Tune: Crugybar

Link: Vernon Higham Hymns

Hymns of The Incarnation – The Lord Jesus Christ

Jesus the Source of Life 04
Jesus the Source of Life 04 (Photo credit: Waiting For The Word)

After posting the previous hymn ‘Who is He in yonder stall?’ the following hymn (one of my favourites)  has been buzzing around in my head. Looking through the hymnbook (Christian Hymns) the incarnation or ‘Christmas’ hymns form quite a small section. But the fact is, there are a great many hymns (and Bible texts) that don’t seem to get a mention as it were in the ‘Christmas Canon’. What could be more Incarnational than ‘Mighty, he man’s nature takes‘! I’m reminded therefore of the following text – one of the most amazing and extraordinary texts in the whole Bible – Hebrews 10:10 speaking of the will of God in sending a redeemer – Jesus Christ. Here’s the passage in context:

Heb 10:4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
Heb 10:5 Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me;
Heb 10:6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure.
Heb 10:7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.'”
Heb 10:8 When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law),
Heb 10:9 then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second.
Heb 10:10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
Heb 10:11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.
Heb 10:12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,
Heb 10:13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet.
Heb 10:14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
Heb 10:15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,
Heb 10:16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,”
Heb 10:17 then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
Heb 10:18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.
Heb 10:19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus,
Heb 10:20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh,
Heb 10:21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God,
Heb 10:22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
Heb 10:23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.

Note: It is not just difficult, but is impossible to find acceptance with God by any other means than the one God Himself has provided – it’s actually blasphemous to even suggest it! Jesus comes to do the will of God, and what is that will? That HE become man and offer His own infinitely valuable sacrifice – Himself. Because any other sacrifice is unacceptable. The blood of bulls and goats pointed forward to the coming of Jesus – the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. We need a mighty person to achieve this. We need a sinless person. We need a willing person. We need a Great Person. We need a resurrected person. And so to the hymn:

Mighty Christ from time eternal,
Mighty, he man’s nature takes,
Mighty, when on Calv’ry dying,
Mighty, death itself He breaks.
See His might,
Infinite,
King of Heaven and earth by right!

Mighty was He in heaven’s purpose,
Mighty, in the pledge to save,
Mighty, from His birth to Calv’ry,
Mighty, bursting from the grave.
Still will He
Mighty be When things hidden now we see.

Great my Jesus in His Person.
Great as God and man is He,
Great His comeliness and beauty,
White and ruddy, fair to see,
Great that sight,
Sovereign Might,
Throned secure on heaven’s height!

vv. 1 & 3 Titus Lewis, 1773 – 1811;
v. 2, Anonymous;
tr. Graham Stuart Harrison 1935 – 2013 (No. 117 Christian Hymns, E.M.W)

If it’s possible to post a link to how it should be sung I’ll put a link here. It’s a magnificent hymn.

Behind a Frowning Providence / dangers of correlation!

Citroën C3
Citroën C3 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Had a somewhat inconvenient situation this morning. A drive to Heathrow meant moving a couple of cars and I had to move my little Citroen C3 out of the garage. It’s the car I use for work. As I attempted to drive it out a terrible noise greeted me from somewhere under the front of the car. At first I thought it was a result of some work done on the car a few days ago. I took the car round to where the work was done and asked them to put it up on the ramp. The guys from Autolec couldn’t have been more helpful. This was after a 5 mph drive round the corner. Upon inspection both front springs had collapsed! O none side the spring had almost punctured the tyre and I could smell burning rubber as I limped along.

Parts of my suspension. The left spring exploded, taking all the bits with it.
Parts of my suspension. The left spring exploded, taking all the bits with it.

I discovered this at 5.30 in the morning and it couldn’t have been more convenient to say the least. Though at the time I had no idea what the problem was. As it turns out the connection or correlation I made between the problem and the cause (previous work on the car) was entirely wrong. We need to be careful about jumping to wrong conclusions because of a false correlation.

The other thing I had reinforced upon my mind and spirit was that if this had happened while driving to work – as it so easily could have – I probably wouldn’t be writing this now. The accident it could have caused would most likely have been fatal.

Atheists and skeptics may scoff – I care not – but I see in this the hand of my heavenly Father who for reasons only known to Him preserved my life, and actually has done so on many occasions. Thank you Lord Jesus.

And so as William Cowper (1731 – 1800) writes:

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

Go Here for the full hymn.

BTW, I drove to Heathrow in another car.

Christians Awake Salute the Happy Morn

P1030632
Worshiping the King of Kings this morning in Coventry

It was with great joy we attended Church this happy morn to celebrate the sending into the world of a Saviour – Christ the Lord.

We were treated to an excellent message appropriate for Christmas morning given by Pastor James and were exhorted through all the busyness of the Christmas season to make sure there is room for Jesus. He made comparisons between the pomp and greatness of Herod and a mighty Roman Empire and the silent almost imperceptible coming of the King of Kings. And although it seemed like Mary & Joseph and the birth of Jesus was at the behest of the rulers of the day – the reality is completely the opposite. We as Christians can take great encouragement that although events today may seem to militate against a sovereign God – again nothing could be further from the truth.

Two scriptures that illustrate this is Luke 17:20 ‘And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he (Jesus) answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:’

And Hebrews 2:8 ‘putting everything in subjection under his feet.” Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him (Jesus). Heb 2:9 But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

We opened the service with the singing of ‘Christians Awake‘.

Christians, awake, salute the happy morn
Whereon the Saviour of the world was born
Rise to adore the mystery of love
Which hosts of angels chanted from above
With them the joyful tidings first begun
Of God incarnate and the Virgin’s Son

Then to the watchful shepherds it was told
Who heard the angelic herald’s voice: “Behold,
I bring good tidings of a Saviour’s birth
To you and all the nations upon earth
This day hath God fulfilled His promised word;
This day is born a Saviour, Christ the Lord.”

He spake, and straightaway the celestial choir
In hymns of joy, unknown before, conspire
The praises of redeeming love they sang
And heaven’s whole orb with alleluias rang
God’s highest glory was their anthem still
Peace upon earth and unto men goodwill

To Bethlehem straight the shepherds ran
To see the wonder God had wrought for man
And found, with Joseph and the blessed Maid
Her Son, the Saviour, in a manger laid
Amazed, the wondrous story they proclaim
The earliest heralds of the Saviour’s name

Let us, like these good shepherds, them employ
Our grateful voices to proclaim the joy
Trace we the Babe, who hath retrieved our loss
From His poor manger to His bitter cross
Treading His steps, assisted by His grace
Till man’s first heavenly state again takes place

Then may we hope, the angelic thrones among
To sing, redeemed, a glad triumphal song
He that was born upon this joyful day
Around us all His glory shall display
Saved by His love, incessant we shall sing
Of angels and of angel-men the King

John Byrom 1691-1763

Wonderful words to praise Jesus.

Happy Christmas to you All.

Baptised into Christ – Death & Resurrection

Not only is it Easter Sunday – Resurrection Day – but we also had two baptisms this morning, one at each service. We stood to sing Jesus Christ Is risen today,  Alleluia! Then followed the first baptism. What a day to be baptised on! Praise God!

Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
Who did once, upon the cross, Alleluia!
Suffer to redeem our loss, Alleluia!

Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
Unto Christ, our heavenly King, Alleluia!
Who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
Sinners to redeem and save, Alleluia!

But the pains which He endured, Alleluia!
Our salvation hath procured, Alleluia!
Now above the sky He’s king, Alleluia!
Where the angels ever sing, Alleluia!

Sing we to our God above, Alleluia!
Praise eternal as His love, Alleluia!
Praise Him, all you heavenly host, Alleluia!
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Alleluia!

Words: 14th Cen­tu­ry Bo­hem­i­an La­tin car­ol (Sur­rex­it Christ­us ho­die). The first trans­lation appeared in Lyra Da­vid­i­ca, or a Col­lect­ion of Di­vine Songs and Hymns (John Walsh: 1708). Stan­zas 1-3 took their cur­rent form in The Com­pleat Psalm­ist, by John Ar­nold (Lon­don: 1749). Stan­za 4 is by Charles Wes­ley, Hymns and Sac­red Po­ems, 1740, alt.

There is a Path of Pardon

I take the view – if pushed on the subject – that hymn writing is not what it once was. So often after singing one of the ‘old favourites’ the phrase ‘they don’t write them like that any more’ comes to mind. And for today the following hymn will demonstrate this. The desire to post on ‘Good Friday’ has resulted in a hymn that to be honest I can’t remember, with sadness, when it was last sung. Further, there doesn’t seem to be a desire to sing then either. It’s by William Williams.

Here it is translated by Vernon Higham. To hear it sung go to the WV Higham Trust website.

THERE is a path of pardon 
In His blood;
There is a sure salvation
In His blood.
The law’s full consummation,
A Father’s approbation—
Hear Zion’s acclamation!
In His blood—
Atonement and redemption
In His blood!

O come, ye sons of Adam,
And rejoice!
Now trust the God of Abraham
And rejoice!
O hasten, happy sinner,
To life in Christ for ever,
To bonds that nought can sever:
O rejoice!
In full and glad surrender
Come, rejoice!

William Williams, 1801-76
tr. by William Vernon Higham 1926-