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Sunday, January 29, 2017 pm                                                    Song Index

 

SERMONS FROM SONGS
TELL ME THE OLD, OLD STORY
#279, Sacred Selections

 

Tonight, we examine another song we occasionally sing.  This particular song reminds us of the life of Jesus that ought to be on our mind often.

This song was part of a poem written by Catherine (Kate) Hankey in 1866.  Hankey was born in 1834 in England.  Her family and she were involved in movements to end slavery as well as other humanitarian causes.  She was devout in her faith (though denominational).  In 1885 she became seriously ill and was ordered to be bedridden for a full year.  To occupy her time she wrote poetry.  Among her writings was a 100 verse poem called, “The Old, Old Story.”  It was divided into 2 sections, the first being called, “The Story Wanted” and the second, “The Story Told.”

The following year, a Major General Russell at a YMCA convention concluded a sermon by reading part of this poem.  In the audience was a song writer named, William Doane who put a portion of the first section of this poem to music.  This is the hymn we are noting this evening.  Also of interest, a portion of the second part was put to music by William G Fischer.  From it we get the hymn, “I love to tell the story”, #277 in our hymnal.

Of course, our interest in this hymn is not about its history, but the message we glean from it.  This is a hymn that reminds us to think of the life of Jesus and what it has done for us often – to think of it simply, slowly, often, softly, and always,

Story – I want to begin by recognizing that the word “story” is used throughout this song.  Sometimes, when we think of the word story, we think of a fictitious account.  While that is included, the definition of a story includes a narrative that is either true or fictitious which is designed to inform or interest the hearer (or reader).    Sometimes, it is used when some type of lesson or application is about to be made.  Someone will “tell you a story”, which is a true account, and then application is made.  Clearly, the author of this song, and as we sing it, know these events are VERY true!  In fact, John noted to deny the reality of the coming of Jesus in the flesh is anti-Christ (1 John 2:22, 4:3).    It is with this understanding that we can sing this song.

In thinking about this song, I can apply it in several situations.  Here are a couple to consider as we examine this song.  1)It is a call for us to tell others about the gospel.   Think of this as one searching and we have the gospel to share.  How will we share it.
2) OR you might consider it as you listen to the message when it is presented by others – such as on this occasion.   So with that in mind, let us consider the message of this song.

 I.                     The old, old story

a.       The old, old story - A well-established account – Christ coming to this earth is now 2000 years old.  Its message is not a modern account, but it is certainly relevant today.  Our hope is found in this.  When we are struggling with how to do something, what we need to do sometimes, is go back to the old paths (Jer. 6:16).

b.       Of unseen things above – this is about God and the heavenly realm.  This is about what happened before the foundation of this universe and He who made it possible.   Romans 1:20 – His invisible attributes are clearly seen…  Colossians 1:15-16

c.        Of Jesus and His glory & love – truly we should think of His glory – 2 Thessalonians 2:4 – our goal is the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ; He is described as the Lord of glory (James 2:1).  God has highly exalted Him and given Him a name – Phil. 2:8-10.
AND His love – John 15:13 – greater love has no one than this… Romans 5:6-8

d.       Tell the story simplyas to a little child.  We need to know this message with simplicity, not technicality and confusion.  Make it understandable.  Paul revealed God message so we can understand – Eph. 3:3-4.  1 Corinthians 2:1-5, Paul’s speech was not with excellence of speech, etc. 
As to a little child – I am reminded of our need to start early (cf. 2 Timothy 3:15)

e.       For I am weak and weary, helpless and defiled – when we’re hurting, we need to be comforted.  The simple message of the cross can build us up and help us through trying times. 

 II.                   Tell it slowly

a.       Tell it slowly, that I may take it in – make it clear and unmistakable.  Often when we slow down, we are making a point.  We are speaking to ensure there is complete understanding. 

b.       Wonderful redemption, God’s remedy for sin – is that not the crux of the gospel?  Romans 3:24 speaks our being justified by His grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus. 
Ephesians 1:7, we have redemption through His blood, the remission of sins.  Cf. 1 Corinthians 15:1-4

c.        Tell it often – for I forget so soon, as the early dew of morning has passed away at noon – we need reminding!  Paul reminded – Philippians 3:1, 2 Peter 1:12-15 – Peter reminded. 
God, in His infinite wisdom calls for us to assemble weekly, and always has.  Could this be because we need continual reminding?  Heb. 3:13 calls for us to exhort one another daily.

 III.                 Tell it softly

a.       Softly, with earnest tones and grave – take it seriously.  We sometimes become light hearted in our conversation and demeanor with one another.  That is fine.  But there is a time for all seriousness and we need to know when that is.
Considering salvation – it is no “laughing matter”.  Souls are at stake – 2 Corinthians 5:11.
Jude 22-23 – there are some we need to snatch out of the fire with fear, while treating others gently.  Let us do whatever we can to reach others with this most wonderful story.  Matthew 10:16 – be wise as serpents, yet harmless as doves. 

b.       Remember, I’m the sinner, who Jesus came to save – how do we view our friends.  Do we see them as just a part of this life, or do we see and think of their eternal destiny?  Do we think of them as sinners in need of hearing the gospel?  John 3:16, Romans 6:23.    Think of Paul as he notes, Christ came to save sinners, of whom I am chief. 

c.        Tell it always – in times of trouble, as source of comfort to me – when we tell it consistently, we can tell it when troubling times abound.  2 Timothy 4:2- in season and out of season.
As people are struggling and troubled, the gospel can be a source of comfort.  Present it with that in mind.   Be reminded of the invitation of Jesus – Matthew 11:28-30

 IV.                 Tell me the same old story

a.       Same old story - Don’t change it. 
So many today have sought to change the message of God’s word.  They seek to make it easier and to remove the sting of sin, especially particular sins.  We have to respect His work and keep it intact –
1 Corinthians 4:6 calls for us to not think beyond what is written.  We need to respect the boundaries of scripture.
Galatians 1:6-9 is just one example of this.  2 Peter 3:16 is another – where some twisted the scriptures to their own destruction. 
Jude 3 reminds us that “the faith” has been “once, for all delivered to the saints.”
1 Peter 1:24-25 – the word of the Lord endures forever.  Jesus Himself said that heaven and earth would pass away, but not His word – Matthew 24:35.

b.       When you have cause to fear that this world’s empty glory is costing me to dear – so many are living troubled and broken lives.  And the cause is their worldliness – sinful behaviors, materialism, an obsession with the things, places and times of this life.  As Jesus went about He saw the people wandering aimlessly and had compassion.  He called for us to pray that laborers be sent  - Matthew 9:36-38.  Matthew 16:26 lays out the truth – What profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world…?
1 John 2:15-17 – the world is passing away with its lusts…

c.        Yes, and when THAT world’s glory is dawning on my soul – realize that this life is a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away – James 4:13-14, Hebrews 9:27 – we will die and face God in judgment. 

d.       Christ Jesus makes thee whole – Acts 4:12 – there is salvation in no other name.  John 14:6 – no one comes to the Father except through Him. 
How are we made whole?  Through obeying the gospel – Romans 6:3-4 – buried with Him in baptism…

 

V.                   Chorus – Tell the old, old story.  An emphasisl to tell it over and over again.  And the emphasis is on Jesus and His love.  This really is the foundation of our hope. 

 

May we desire to hear it often, the message of our Lord and His redemption and may we seek to tell it to others.  Because, in this lost and dying world, this is the story that needs to be told to us and those who we can tell.  Are we doing that?  Think about it.