Sunday, January 30, 2011 pm        Songs index

Sacred Selections, #338

                 Tonight we examine another song that we sing from time to time.  We will examine one based directly upon a familiar passage of scripture.  The passage is found in 2 Timothy 1:12.  Paul is writing to Timothy knowing that his time of departure is soon at hand.  Even though death is eminent, he is not ashamed of the gospel or the life he has lived.  The reason is found in our text and the title of the song we will examine tonight.

                This song was written by Daniel Whittle (1840-1901), whose pseudonym was El Nathan.  It was copyrighted in 1883.   He wrote other songs that we might be familiar with including , “Why not now?”, “Beneath the Banner of the Cross”, “Moment by Moment” “There shall be Showers of Blessing” and others.  The composer of the tune was James McGranahan (1840-1907)who also composed the tunes of songs like “The Banner of the Cross” and “Showers of Blessing”

                In it’s original form, this song had some problems that have been addressed in our version of the song. 

 I.                    Vs. 1, God’s grace and Christ’s redemption.

a.        The point of vs. 1 is to remind us that we cannot fully appreciate all that God has done for us. We know that He loves us and has extended His grace, but can we fully fathom the depth of it? As we consider all that He has done to save us, we are in awe at why He would dowhat He did for us.

b.        “I know not why God’s wondrous grace to me He hath made known.”
When Paul wrote his first letter to Timothy, early on he recalled that God had saved him.  BUT he also noted how he didn’t deserve it – 1 Tim. 1:12-16.  Bear in mind that Paul says this later in his life, AFTER he has endured years of suffering and physical consequences for his faith.
He knew that our only hope exists because of the grace of God.    And what a true statement that is. Rom. 3:23-24 reminds us that we have all sinned and justification comes through His grace.
Eph. 2:4-8 is a great passage relating the grace of God.  It demonstrates HOW God extended His grace – by sending Jesus to die for our sins.
What is grace?  It is described as, “unmerited favor”.  God gives us what we don’t deserve – and that is why it is something we cannot fully comprehend.  When we consider how we treat one another and how we have been treated, especially when wrongs have occurred, we sometimes struggle with understanding God’s forgiveness of us.  But through His grace He will forgive IF we repent.
And it is available to everyone – Titus 2:11, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men…”
 The more we study the grace of the God and understand what it involves, the more we cannot fully comprehend its depths.

c.        “Nor why unworthy Christ in love, redeemed me for His own.”
Just as we cannot fully fathom the grace of God, so we struggle with what He did to clear us of our guilt, that is to pronounce us “not guilty” (notice how in a court room the verdict is not “innocent”).  This verse also reminds us that in spite of how unworthy we really are, Christ still redeemed us.  Romans 5:6-11 – Christ died for us, while still sinners.
1 John 4:9-18 – in love God sent His Son to appease His wrath for our sins.
To redeem us means that He paid the price to purchase us – Titus 2:14 tells us that Christ, “gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. 
1 Peter 1:18-19, “knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”

d.       As Paul said in 2 Cor. 9:15, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.”


II.                  Chorus, BUT I know whom I have believed… 

a.        The Chorus is taken directly from 2 Tim. 1:12.  It is a wonderful verse written by Paul knowing that he is about to die.  Paul has suffered greatly for the cause of Christ (1:8) but he has hope that all he endured was NOT in vain.  Why? Because after all the work he has done, “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed unto Him until that day.

b.       Paul KNOWS that Jesus is real.  His grace and love and redemption are substantial (i.e. with substance).  He knows that his works have not been for an empty cause.  He has FAITH (trust).  See Phil. 3:8-10 here – Paul has suffered the loss of all things, yet he counts them as rubbish…

c.        He is persuaded – fully convinced or convicted in this...  In this Paul’s mind is FIRMLY made up.  NO one, nor anything, could dissuade him of his trust in Christ.  Rom. 8:35-39 – NOTHING could separate him from his convictions.

d.       He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that day – the word for committed in that text is a word that means to entrust or to make a deposit.  Paul is an example of one who has laid up for himself treasures in heaven, because that IS where His heart was (Matt. 6:19-21).
NOTE: The KJV, NKJV, & ASV use the word “committed” here while the NASU uses the word “entrusted.”  The word “committed” is no accident as not only does it deal with what we have put into God’s care, but such CANNOT be done without COMMITMENT on our part in this life.  ALL the treasures we lay up for ourselves in heaven (and they will NOT be the worldly things) can be forfeited if we are not committed to finishing the race faithfully (cf. 1 Cor. 9:27).

e.       THE CHORUS of this song is a contrast with things we may not fully comprehend.  This beautiful song challenges our faith.  We may not understand the find details, or even the mind of God, but it is our faith that gives us hope.  Oh how we need to constantly remind ourselves of this!


III.                Vs. 2 , It is through God’s word that we find peace and faith.

a.        I know just how this saving faith to me he did impart and how believing in His word wrought peace within my heart. 

b.       The original text said, “I know not how this saving faith…nor how believing in His word…”  The change in our book, I suspect, is due to concerns that many teach that the influence of the word of God borders on the miraculous or requires the intervention of God to understand it.  Many religions teach this (i.e. Calvinism).  we cannot understand how we are convicted through the word of God. 
So two words were changed and now we are reminded of how through God’s word we have all things that we need to know to be saved (2 Pet. 1:3, Rom. 1:16-17, John 17:17).
RJ Steven’s, Hymns for Worship (#350) omits this verse. 

c.        We DO KNOW how faith that saves is imparted.  Romans 10:17 tells us that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
Colossians 1:3-6 speaks of our faith and love and hope “which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel.”
1 Pet. 2:1-2 calls for us to desire the pure milk of the word what we may grow thereby.
1 Thess. 2:13 speaks of how the word of God effectively works in each of us.

d.       We DO KNOW that obeying the word of God produces peace within the heart. 
James 1:21 speaks of the implanted word which is able to save our souls. 
Romans 10:15 speaks of “the gospel of peace”  Eph. 6:15 refers to it as “the gospel of peace.”
WHEN one truly understands what he is doing in obeying the gospel, as he comes up out of that water, having his sins washed away, there is a feeling of relief and hope – “a peace that surpasses understanding” (Phil. 4:6) which will guard our hearts.

e.       NOTE: While I understand the intent of our hymnal and accept the point, it is still true that we may not fully understand everything about our faith as it relates to the word of God.  But regardless of how much you understand, see the chorus of this song.  We KNOW that keeping His word is the ONLY hope we have of eternal life (Matt. 7:21-23)


 IV.                Vs. 3, I don’t know what life has planned for me

a.        I know not what of good or ill may be reserved for me, of weary ways or golden days, before His face I see.”

b.       We live in a world filled with uncertainties.  We can make plans down to the minutest of details, but things happen!  We have to make adjustments.  AND as Christians, as we do, it is imperative that we keep our faith and our priorities intact!

c.        This verse is so true in reminding us of this uncertainty.
In James 4:13-15 reminds us that our life is but a vapor and we do not know what will happen. 
Solomon wrote the book of Ecclesiastes to remind us of the uncertainty of life.  All in this world is “vanity” or “vapor”. 
Acts 20:22 describes Paul as he speaks to the Ephesian elders.  He notes that as he goes to Jerusalem, he doesn’t know what life has in store, but he will trust in God.  A study of his life reveals that he had to make changes in his plans (cf. 1 Thess. 2:18, Rom. 15:22, 1:13, Acts 16:6-7, etc.)

d.       But no matter what happens, we can know who we believe in and that God will keep what we have committed to Him.


 V.                  Vs. 4, I don’t know when the Lord will return

a.        I know not when my Lord may come, at night or noon day fair, nor will I walk the vale with Him, but meet Him in the air.”

b.       Currently there are predictions that the rapture is going to happen on May 21, 2011 and the world will end on October 21, 2011.  (Harold Camping, “We Are Almost There”).  Others have predicted the end of the world in 2012 because of the end of the Mayan calendar.
These are some of the latest in predictions and attempted date setting for the Lord’s return.  There have been more than 200 such predictions since our Lord left this earth. Virtually every generation has attempted to predict the Lord’s return, all ending in failure.  Why?

c.        Matthew 24:35-36 says differently, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.”  Based on passages such as this, it is foolish, and even sinful, to seek to specify a date when the Lord is going to return. 

d.       Our verse in this song reminds us that we don’t know WHEN He will return.

e.       The song concludes with hope, we will not walking with Him on this earth, but meeting Him in the air.
The original song said, “Nor if I walk the vale with Him, or meet Him in the air.”  That expression could have premillenial overtones, but there is another possibility.  The key lies in a obscure term, “vale”. According to Random House Dictionary, the word can have two meanings, 1)a valley, 2) the world or mortal, earthly life.  The songwriter could be saying that he doesn’t know whether he will walk the valley of the shadow of death (cf. Psa. 23:4) or whether he is alive on this earth when the Lord returns, but either way he will “meet Him in the air.”
But in our version this has been addressed to note that even though we don’t know when He will return, we know that we will meet Him in the air instead of walking with Him upon this earth.
This accords with 1 Thess. 4:16-18 notes that the Lord will return with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and we will be caught up in the air to meet with Him. 

f.         EVEN though we don’t know when the Lord will return, we know what we have believed and that we can be prepared to stand before Him.


 And thus we can see another psalm intended to instill faith in our Lord and hope as we proceed throughout our time in this world.  May we always seek to have the disposition Paul had, living or dying for the Lord knowing that He will keep what we have committed to Him.  What have YOU committed to Him until that day?