Tag Archives: Salvation

He Lives!

I serve a risen Savior, He’s in the world today;
I know that He is living, whatever men may say.
I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer,
And just the time I need Him, He’s always near.
He lives, He lives! Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.
He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart!

In all the world around me I see His loving care;
And tho’ my heart grows weary, I never will despair.
I know that He is leading thro’ all the stormy blast;
The day of His appearing will come at last.
He lives, He lives! Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.
He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart!

Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian, lift up your voice and sing
Eternal hallelujahs to Jesus Christ, the King!
The Hope of all who seek Him, the Help of all who find,
None other is so loving, so good and kind. [Refrain]
He lives, He lives! Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.
He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart!

Words and Music by Alfred H. Ackley, 1933

 


But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.
I Corinthians 15:12 – 21


 

There are lots of things that we learn over the years. After all, we spend at least 13 or the first 18 years of our lives in school. We read books, we learn facts, we study and we test our knowledge. Yes,at the end of the time we know a lot. (In fact as most of us have observed, 18 year olds often seem to think they know everything.) But as much as we have learned there is so much more that we do not know. Book knowledge only gets us so far, but real knowledge comes from experience. There are somethings that can really only be known through experience. It is this knowledge that runs through Alfred Ackley’s, “I Serve A Risen Savior.”

The hymn declares that “I know that He is living, whatever men may say.” This is the challenge that so many of us face. The world around us questions, “How can you know that Jesus is alive?” A valid question, after all just because we read something is a book, does not make it true. Yes, the book in question is the Bible, the inspired Word of God which we believe as an act of faith, but there is something more than simple faith to knowing the Jesus lives.

So the hymn continues, “I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer, And just the time I need Him, He’s always near.” Those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ have experienced something that goes beyond words. They have been forgiven, renewed and restored. They have experienced the very presence of God in the mercy he has poured out. They have felt His presence in those darkest moments, when they felt all alone and forgotten. Christ was there, saying “Come to me.”

And so the hymn continues to build on the truth of knowing Jesus as we read, “In all the world around me I see His loving care.” We live in an amazing world. A world that sits in a tedious balance, a balance that necessary for the very existence of life. And while all experience tells us that things eventually wind done and fall apart, this world remains. It maintains this balance. This is the very hand of God, holding the world together. We can see it all around us.

It continues, “And tho’ my heart grows weary, I never will despair. I know that He is leading thro’ all the stormy blast; The day of His appearing will come at last.” It is because of this knowledge that we can have true hope. (I Corinthians 15:12 – 21) Not simply wishful thinking, but a confidence in what the future holds. This is the hope about which Ackley speaks when he writes,”The Hope of all who seek Him, the Help of all who find.”

Why can we say that we know? It is simple in that if we believe in Jesus Christ, all will begin to come clear. Yet it is challenging, in seeing past the business of our lives to look and listen for Him.

Yes, He live and wants to be part of our lives, if we will put our faith in Him. When we do, we can join with the final truth of the chorus as we declare, “You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart!”

 

 

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Christ The Lord Is Risen Today!

Christ, the Lord, is risen today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth, reply, Alleluia!

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once He died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!

Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Lo! the Sun’s eclipse is over, Alleluia!
Lo! He sets in blood no more, Alleluia!

Soar we now where Christ hath 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!

Words by Charles Wesley, 1739
Music by unknown composer, ca. 1708

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them,“Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
Matthew 28:1 – 10

“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:55 – 57

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
1 John 3:2


The old saying is that bad news travel quickly. Of this, I have little doubt. Life experience has confirmed it. But if bad news travels quickly what happens with Good News? Well, there is good news that simply is nice to know and there is good news that you can not keep to yourself. It is this latter good news which is declared in Charles Wesley’s, “Christ The Lord Is Risen Today.”

The account of that Sunday Morning gives us the greatest good news ever. In Matthew 28:1 – 6 we are told:

“After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.”

He is risen! What more joyous message could you imagine. These people who saw their friend and Savior die on the cross, had now received the news that He was no longer dead, that he had risen.

Upon receiving such incredible news what would you do? Imagine to be the first to hear the words that He was alive. This message that the angels shared was followed with instructions. In Matthew 28:6 – 7 we read “Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’”

Go and tell! This is the instruction given to the first to hear the truth. But need it be said. If you were to learn that one you loved with all your heart was actually alive, would you wait for instruction or would you want everyone to know right away. This is the message declared in the hymn when it reads, “Christ, the Lord, is risen today.” He is alive and I want the world to know!

The hymn continues, “Sons of men and angels say, . . . Raise your joys and triumphs high, . . . Sing, ye heavens, and earth, reply.” Jesus is alive! Let the news echo throughout all the earth. All creation join in with celebration.

The hymn declares, “Lives again our glorious King, . . . Where, O death, is now thy sting? . . . Once He died our souls to save, . . . Where thy victory, O grave?” Jesus death on the cross, was but a step in the plan of salvation. It paid to penalty that we owed, but was not the end. His resurrection showed him victorious not only over sin, but death itself. This is why Paul writes in I Corinthians 15:55 – 57, “’O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Not only do we celebrate that He is alive, but that through Jesus death and resurrection we to share in the victory. This is why the hymn continues, “Love’s redeeming work is done, . . . Fought the fight, the battle won.” Jesus has won. In Him alone the work is done. Nothing we could do, would prove victorious, yet we may share in His victory when we accept his gift of salvation through His work.

Yes, He is Risen, and there is no greater news that could fill this earth. In Him we claim the victory that He has won. We know that we shall be “made like him.” (1 John 3:2) So we join in with the voices of those who came before and those who will come knowing that in Him all is “Ours the cross, the grave, the skies.”

He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!

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Read the full text of “Christ The Lord Is Risen Today.

Traditional Choral Arrangement

Are You Washed In The Blood

Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you washed in the blood,
In the soul cleansing blood of the Lamb?
Are your garments spotless? Are they white as snow?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

Are you walking daily by the Savior’s side?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Do you rest each moment in the Crucified?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you washed in the blood,
In the soul cleansing blood of the Lamb?
Are your garments spotless? Are they white as snow?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

When the Bridegroom cometh will your robes be white?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Will your soul be ready for the mansions bright,
And be washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you washed in the blood,
In the soul cleansing blood of the Lamb?
Are your garments spotless? Are they white as snow?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

Lay aside the garments that are stained with sin,
And be washed in the blood of the Lamb;
There’s a fountain flowing for the soul unclean,
O be washed in the blood of the Lamb!
Are you washed in the blood,
In the soul cleansing blood of the Lamb?
Are your garments spotless? Are they white as snow?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

Words & Music by Elisha Hoffman, 1878

 


for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Romans 3:23

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”
Isaiah 1:18

I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Revelation 7:14

Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them
John 7:38

but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.
John 4:14


 

There is nothing more annoying that getting a stain on one of favorite pieces of clothing.  I can’t tell you how many shirts I have had that ended out with a permanent stain from an unfortunate drip. Now I have seen the commercials where they rub grass, blueberries and other such things into a piece of clothing to create horrible stains. Then they magically wash it with some astounding stain removing detergent and it looks as good as it did when it was new. Now I don’t know about you, but I have never seen a detergent that can really work like that.  No matter how hard you try, there always seems to be some residual sign of the stain.

This is not unlike the stains that sin leaves upon our souls.  Stains that continually build up upon each other slowly darkening our soul.  And just like the stains in my shirt, there is nothing that we can do to make them like new.   Of course many options are pitched to us by the world – doing good works, getting an education, going to church – and while these are good things, no matter how much we do them, they can not make our soul clean like new. Thankfully, God has given us the only way to make our souls clean. It is through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ. This is a theme found in Elisha Hoffman’s “Are You Washed In The Blood?”

It begins with the words, “Have you been to Jesus, for His cleansing flood? Are you washed in the blood of the lamb?” A cleansing flood.  The hymn starts from the truth that we are all stained with sin.  Romans 3:23 tells us, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” It is this sin that stains our souls. But there is hope. In Isaiah 1:18 the Lord says, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” Even though these sins have so stained our lives, our souls can be made clean by being washed in the blood of Jesus Christ.

This is an amazing realization, our souls can be made like new.  Our lives can be restored. When we come to embrace this, we need not fear the stains. So the hymn continues, “Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour? Are you washed in the blood of the lamb?” The question is not if we have found perfection, or if we are capable of eliminating any future sins from our lives, but do we trust in Him. When we do stumble and fall, we can trust in the saving grace of Jesus Christ.  We can trust that he will forgive us and make us clean.

So we look forward to the day when we will be made perfect. The day when we shall stand before Jesus. A day when we will “Lay aside the garments that are stained with sin.”  We shall then be clothed in the perfection of Christ. This is the day that John saw and described in Revelation 7:14 when he writes, “they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”

Through His blood, we are made clean and we are given a new source of life that will well up within us.  As the hymn writer says, “There’s a fountain flowing for the soul unclean.” This fountain is our source of life.  It is the fountain promised by Jesus in John 7:38 when He told us that “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”

When we put our trust in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we will overflow with living waters “welling up to eternal life.” When we put our trust in Jesus, we will be washed in His blood, being made new.  (John 4:14) If the eternal joy of being in Christ is what we truly seek, then we should each ask ourselves “Are (we) washed in the blood of the Lamb?”

 

 

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There is a Name I Love to Hear

There is a name I love to hear,
I love to speak its worth;
It sounds like music in mine ear,
The sweetest name on earth.
O how I love Jesus,
O how I love Jesus,
O how I love Jesus,
Because He first loved me!

It tells me of a Savior’s love,
Who died to set me free;
It tells me of His precious blood,
The sinner’s perfect plea.
O how I love Jesus,
O how I love Jesus,
O how I love Jesus,
Because He first loved me!

It tells me of a Father’s smile
Beaming upon His child;
It cheers me through this little while,
Through desert, waste, and wild.
O how I love Jesus,
O how I love Jesus,
O how I love Jesus,
Because He first loved me!

It tells me what my Father hath
In store for every day,
And though I tread a darksome path,
Yields sunshine all the way.
O how I love Jesus,
O how I love Jesus,
O how I love Jesus,
Because He first loved me!

It tells of One whose loving heart
Can feel my deepest woe;
Who in my sorrow bears a part,
That none can bear below.
O how I love Jesus,
O how I love Jesus,
O how I love Jesus,
Because He first loved me!

It bids my trembling heart rejoice;
It dries each rising tear;
It tells me, in a still small voice,
To trust and never fear.
O how I love Jesus,
O how I love Jesus,
O how I love Jesus,
Because He first loved me!

Jesus, the name I love so well,
The name I love to hear!
No saint on earth its worth can tell,
No heart conceive how dear.
O how I love Jesus,
O how I love Jesus,
O how I love Jesus,
Because He first loved me!

This name shall shed its fragrance still
Along this thorny road,
Shall sweetly smooth the rugged hill
That leads me up to God.
O how I love Jesus,
O how I love Jesus,
O how I love Jesus,
Because He first loved me!

And there, with all the blood-bought throng,
From sin and sorrow free,
I’ll sing the new eternal song
Of Jesus’ love to me.
O how I love Jesus,
O how I love Jesus,
O how I love Jesus,
Because He first loved me!

Words by Frederick Whitfield, 1855
Music: Traditional 19th Century American Melody

 


Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
Acts 4:12

We love because he first loved us.
1 John 4:19

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace
Ephesians 1:7

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
1 John 3:1

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.
Hebrews 4:15

After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.
1 Kings 19:12


 

I’ll be honest with you, I hate using the telephone.  I always have. You make a phone call to relay information. When the information has been relayed there is no point to staying on the phone.  Now I am not alone, my Grandmother was very much the same way. This doesn’t mean that I don’t know proper phone etiquette of that I don’t like talking to people, I do.  I simply do not like talking to people on the phone. That having been said, there are exceptions.  When my mom or dad call I am more than willing to spend time with them on the phone. It of course does not take the place of spending time with them in person, but sometimes it is the best you can do. But I love to hear from them.  There is something truly comforting to hear their voices. In my mind I picture them and the next thing you know I am with them.  Just the simple thought of Mom and Dad brings a warmth to my heart. This same theme permeates through Frederick Whitfield’s hymn, “O How I Love Jesus.”

The hymn begins, “There is a name I love to hear, I love to speak its worth; It sounds like music in mine ear, The sweetest name on earth.” The name of Jesus brings comfort and joy to the heart of the believer.  He is the hope for the sinner who has lost his way.  He is the comfort of those who find themselves mourning. He is the joy of new life to those who have put their faith in him.  It is music in our ears for “salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

In light of this, the chorus rings out, “O how I love Jesus, because He first loved me!” The music rings so wonderfully in our ears as we realize the love He has for us. A love that came to us before our love for Him. “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) A love we did nothing to deserve.  A love that came to us when we were far from Him. Romans 5:8 tells us that “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

It is in Jesus Christ that we find salvation. This is why the hymn continues, “It tells me of a Savior’s love, Who died to set me free; It tells me of His precious blood, The sinner’s perfect plea.” Jesus shed His very blood for our forgiveness. In his love, He died for us.  This is why Ephesians 1:7 tells us, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.”

This love does not end with simply forgiving our sins.  It goes beyond mere redemption. It allows us to call God our Father.  1 John 3:1 tells us, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” We are children of God and our Father pours His love out upon us.  This is why Whitfield writes, “It tells me of a Father’s smile Beaming upon His child.” Yes, the Father’s love is poured down upon us.

So the name of Jesus reminds us “of One whose loving heart Can feel my deepest woe; Who in my sorrow bears a part, That none can bear below.” Jesus is the one who knows what we face. He is the one stand beside us and leads us to the father as our advocate.  This is what the writer of Hebrews is speaking of in chapter 4, verse 15 where we read, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.”

So at the name of Jesus we are filled with joy as we listen for His voice.  The hymn says “It tells me, in a still small voice, To trust and never fear.” So God calls to us, not in the loud booming voice, but in the still small voice.  A voice that we can only hear when we choose to listen, just as Elijah did in the wilderness.  (1 Kings 19:12)

Yes, at the mere mention of the name of Jesus our hearts are filled with joy.  At the sound of His voice, we are drawn into His presence. It is at this time that we must declare His praise.  So we join with our brothers and sisters in Christ as we “sing the new eternal song, Of Jesus’ love to me.”

 

 

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Go Tell It On The Mountain

Go, tell it on the mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere
Go, tell it on the mountain,
That Jesus Christ is born.

While shepherds kept their watching
Over silent flocks by night
Behold throughout the heavens
There shone a holy light.

Go, tell it on the mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere
Go, tell it on the mountain,
That Jesus Christ is born.

The shepherds feared and trembled,
When lo! above the earth,
Rang out the angels chorus
That hailed the Savior’s birth.

Go, tell it on the mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere
Go, tell it on the mountain,
That Jesus Christ is born.

Down in a lowly manger
The humble Christ was born
And God sent us salvation
That blessèd Christmas morn.

Go, tell it on the mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere
Go, tell it on the mountain,
That Jesus Christ is born.

Words and Music:Traditional African-American Spiritual

 


When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
Luke 2:17 – 18

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
Mark 10:45

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
Mark 16:15


 

In today’s age of technology, the idea of information being spread by word of mouth throughout the land seems unheard of.  After all, today you can instantly send information around the world.  But, yes there was a day when the news was spread to a community by the town crier. No, not the sad person who sits on the corner bench, but the person who would walk through the street crying out the news that everyone needed to hear. This is how the information of Christ birth was first spread and is the theme of the old spiritual, “Go Tell It On The Mountain.”

The news had first come to the shepherds heralded by the angels “That hailed the Savior’s birth.”  Luke 2:10 – 11 tells us that the angel declared, “I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” Well the first thing they were compelled to do was to verify the news so in Luke 2:15 they said, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

The shepherds traveled to the stable where they found the Christ child just as the angel had said.  Their response is clearly shown in Luke 2:17 – 18 where we read that “when they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child.” This news was so incredible that they could not keep it to themselves, they proclaimed it throughout the city “The Savior is Born.”

This news is to be proclaimed, and notbsimply in the streets of Bethlehem or in Judea, but from the very mountain tops.  The meaning behind this is clear, it is proclaimed for all the world to hear, for this is a message to the whole world (Luke 2:10) that is open to anyone who will hear.  A message that declares the truth “And God sent us salvation, That blessèd Christmas morn.”

Salvation had come to the world, a Salvation that would be completed 33 years later when this same Jesus would willing give his life on the cross in our place. This was the reason for His birth as He himself stated in Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

This is the call that is laid on each of us to whom the message has been given.  A call of the news proclaimed that first Christmas morning, and echoed in the final commission of Christ to His follower recorded in Mark 16:15 where “He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel (good news) to all creation.'”

So as each of us celebrates the Christmas season in our own fashion, let us not forget the good news that came that first Christmas. Let us then, in turn, “Go, tell it on the mountain,
That Jesus Christ is born.”

 

 

 

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What Child Is This?

What Child is this who, laid to rest
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing;
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.
Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh,
Come peasant, king to own Him;
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.
Raise, raise a song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby.
Joy, joy for Christ is born,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

Words by William C. Dix, 1865
Music: 16th Century English Melody (Greensleeves)

 


When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.
Luke 2:15 – 21

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
John 8:12

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
Isaiah 53:5

Then Pilate turned Jesus over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus away . . . to the place called Place of the Skull . . . There they nailed him to the cross . . . when they came to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead . . . One of the soldiers, however, pierced his side with a spear, and immediately blood and water flowed out.
John 19:16 – 17, 33 – 34

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.
1 Peter 3:18


 

When I grew up, the end of the business day was 6:00 pm. At that time the whole town would shut down. The stores would close, all the businesses were done for the day and everyone would head home. If you would walk through the streets in the evening, unless there was a home ball game or it was church night, you would see little sign of activity.

On the other hand, this meant that when something would happen it caught everyone’s attention. Everyone was curious what was going on. Now Bethlehem was a small rural town similar in size to the one I grew up in, so I find myself wondering if a normal day or evening was not unlike what I knew, where something out of the ordinary caught everyone’s attention. Now even if you do not come from a similar background it does not matter. Even if you are in a suburban or urban neighborhood you know when something unusual happens it becomes “the talk of the town.” It is this disruption to the ordinary that launches the Christmas hymn, “What child is this?”

Imagine what the people of Bethlehem must have been thinking at the commotion caused by the shepherd’s that night. Luke 2:17 – 18 tells us ” When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.”

This was no ordinary day as the Shepherds traveled through the streets spreading the news of this child who was sleeping in a manger. Luke tells us the people were amazed. This very out of the ordinary activity caught their attention. Surely they are no different from us. They wanted to know what this was all about. And so William Dix presents a question that may have been on their lips, a question that echoes down through the ages, “What child is this?”

Who is this child that the shepherd’s were compelled to proclaim? Who is this child that people have celebrated, declared and worshipped down through the ages? What child is this?

The response is immediate, proclaimed in power, “This, this is Christ the King.” Christ, Messiah, the anointed one. He is the long-awaited Savior. He is the Light of the world. (John 8:12)

Now if we seemed confused before, how much more so are we now. This is Christ the King? Then why is he in a stable? It is this question that the hymn picks up next when it says “Why lies He in such mean estate, Where ox and ass are feeding?” This is no place for a King. A king should be in a palace where his birth could be heralded to all.

But Jesus is born in a stable. A foreshadowing of the life he would lead. A life that flies in the face of what we believe a King should be. So the hymn continues, “Nails, spear shall pierce Him through, The cross be borne for me, for you.”

This Anointed King, who was born in a stable, would go on to suffer in our place as Isaiah wrote in chapter 53 verse 5, “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” He would hang on a cross, nails in His hands and feet, a spear thrust in His side, and die in our place. (John 19:16 – 17, 33 – 34) No, this is not the King we expect, but the King we need. One who would humbly pay our penalty that we might come before God. (1 Peter 3:18)

This truth demands our response. This is why the hymn continues, “So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh, Come peasant, king to own Him; The King of kings salvation brings, Let loving hearts enthrone Him.” He has given us everything, can we do any less for Him.

The question has been asked and answered. What child is this? He is Christ, the King who brings salvation to the world. When we realize this, our heart will cry out with the final words of this hymn, “Joy, joy for Christ is born, The Babe, the Son of Mary.

 

 

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Good Christian Men Rejoice

Good Christian men, rejoice with heart and soul, and voice;
Give ye heed to what we say: News! News! Jesus Christ is born today;
Ox and ass before Him bow; and He is in the manger now.
Christ is born today! Christ is born today!

Good Christian men, rejoice, with heart and soul and voice;
Now ye hear of endless bliss: Joy! Joy! Jesus Christ was born for this!
He has opened the heavenly door, and man is blest forevermore.
Christ was born for this! Christ was born for this!

Good Christian men, rejoice, with heart and soul and voice;
Now ye need not fear the grave: Peace! Peace! Jesus Christ was born to save!
Calls you one and calls you all, to gain His everlasting hall.
Christ was born to save! Christ was born to save!

Words by Heinrich Suso, 14th Century
Music is a 14th Century German Melody

 


Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Philippians 4:4

She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.
Matthew 1:21

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Luke 15:8- 10

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:56


 

A couple of years ago my son was working on his Eagle project for Boy Scouts. Now while it was his project, meaning he did the planning and overseeing, there were a lot of us who did the physical work. Part of the job involved landscaping. Well, after a day of digging in the dirt and putting in new plants, I looked at my hands and had an alarming realization. I no longer had my wedding ring on. Needless to say, I was more than a little panicked .

I began retracing my steps to everywhere I had been. The problem is, I had been everywhere.  One of the scouts called his dad who had a metal detector.  He brought the detector and we continued to search to no avail.  I was becoming greatly worried.  I decided to run to the rental  store and pick-up a stronger metal detector for one last shot.  Finally after a total of about three hours of searching, we struck gold (literally). My son located the ring buried under a hasta I had planted. I was overjoyed with relief.  I had reason to rejoice because we had located something of great value, both financially and more importantly personally.  This feeling of rejoicing that comes from receiving something so important is a theme found in the old Christmas hymn, “Good Christian Men Rejoice.”

The hymn begins by calling us to “rejoice with heart and soul, and voice.” In other words, we need to rejoice with our whole being, rejoice in all we do, or as Paul puts it in Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it always!”   Yes, we are to rejoice, but lest we wonder, why is it that we are to rejoice, the author answers immediately with, “Give ye heed to what we say: News! News! Jesus Christ is born today.”  Our rejoicing is in the birth of Jesus.

It was Jesus’s entry into the world that is the source of joy that drives us to rejoice. As the hymn continues, “He has opened the heavenly door.” It is through His birth that we can have what we could never find on our own . . . Salvation (Matthew 1:21).  It is through His birth that we may enter into God’s very presence. So the hymn continues, “Now ye need not fear the grave: Peace! Peace! Jesus Christ was born to save!”

We rejoice not that a baby was born, but because God gave us the only means of knowing him.  The only means of salvation.  A precious unmatched gift. This is the rejoicing found in Luke 15:8 – 10 were we read, ““Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Our call to rejoice is not simply within us, but it is a reflection of the rejoicing in heaven itself.  For it is through this babe in the manger, that salvation came to earth. It is through Him that we have victory over sin (1 Corinthians 15:56). In light of this great truth, it is us who should truly “rejoice, with heart and soul and voice.”

 

 

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