Like Button

Sunday, June 25, 2017

A Sunday Hymn

It's Sunday. How about a hymn?
Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing Thy grace.
Streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet, sung by flaming tongues above;
Praise the mount - I'm fixed upon it - mount of Thy redeeming love.

Here I raise mine Ebenezer - hither by Thy help I'm come;
And I hope by Thy good pleasure safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger wandering from the fold of God;
He to rescue me from danger interposed His precious blood.

O to grace how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness like a fetter bind my wandering heart to Thee:
Prone to wander - Lord, I feel it - prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart - O take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above.
Written in 1758 by Robert Robinson, this old hymn is a favorite of many. It has fallen into the sorry condition of anonymity largely because of the archaic language, but the truths held herein shouldn't be missed.

James writes, "Every good gift and every perfect gift comes down from the Father." The hymn writer concurs. He recognizes God as the "Fount of every blessing." We seem to miss that so many times today, thinking we have earned our good fortune. But the hymn credits God with that.

Further, the hymnist sees gratitude as a need of the heart, an attribute to be learned and developed. "Tune my heart to sing Thy grace." We see ourselves as much larger than we are. We think that with Jesus by our side we can do anything. We don't see that we can do nothing if we don't cling closely to Him. There is no good thing in us ... only Christ. It is His work, even to attune us to gratefulness. And giving thanks is one of the pleasing things to God (Eph. 5:20; Col. 1:9-12; 1 Thess. 5:18).

In our lack of gratitude, we have missed the next great truth that the hymn examines. "Streams of mercy." Some believe that Christ had to die for us, that His love for us required it. They place an undue sense of value on themselves. But God's holiness and wrath require judgment. It is mercy that stands between us and the living God. "It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God." (Heb. 10:31)

Our culture values self above all else. We refuse to believe that we deserve hell. We, after all, are human beings, valuable in our own existence. We've changed the hymns' references that denigrate our worth (e.g., "At The Cross" and "Beneath The Cross Of Jesus"). But without that bad news, the good news isn't as good. If we are, after all, valuable beings in ourselves, then it was only good economy on God's part to save us - and there is no grace. Grace is defined as unmerited favor. If we have merit, there is no grace.

In 1 Samuel 7, God delivers Israel from the Philistines. The prophet, Samuel, leads the nation in a sacrifice and God confounds the enemy with thunder. When it was done, he declared the place Ebenezer (1 Sam. 7:12), the place where God helped them. It was a symbol of God's faithfulness. Robinson raises his symbol of God's faithfulness on the place he found himself. He saw his very existence as proof of God's intervention. "By Your help and Your help alone I've come this far in life." How far? All the way to salvation.

The hymnist places no trust in his ability to maintain his salvation. "I hope by Thy good pleasure safely to arrive at home." All the glory of salvation and all the success of arrival lands squarely in God's lap. Neither the obtaining nor the sustaining of redemption is possible for a human being alone. But God is immensely capable. He proved it at the cross, at the cost of His shed blood.

The current theory in evangelical churches across America is that to become a Christian, we accept Christ. Robinson states it rather differently. "Jesus sought me when a stranger wandering from the fold of God." Scripture is plain to teach that faith is a gift from God (Eph. 2:8), and that we fail to seek God (Rom. 3:11). It is solely grace, favor shown without any merit in the receiver, that causes God to seek those who run from Him. Why? "To rescue me from danger." And at what cost? His blood. This, indeed, calls for songs of loudest praise.

We seem to easily forget God's amazing grace. We embrace it, then take it for granted, then demand it. Would that we could maintain the view that this hymn holds. God's goodness to us, the undeserving, should hold us in His debt. It has been said that the ethic of salvation is grace and the ethic of the Christian life is gratitude. "Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to Thee." That kind of slavery ought to be a welcome part of every believer.

Robinson recognized a trait in himself that we all possess and often miss. He saw his tendency to wander. In later life he did walk away from God, failing to be bound to God's goodness. But wandering, in itself, is not the final problem. Great heroes of the Bible strayed into sin. Abraham, whose faith was reckoned to him as righteousness, feared so much for his own life that he passed his wife off as his sister. David, the man after God's own heart, committed adultery and murder. The faith chapter of Hebrews 11 is as much a rogue's gallery as a museum of the faithful, for each hero of faith failed.

What, then, are we to do? Wherein is our hope? Our confidence is in the One who called us, who sought us while we were yet strangers. "It is God who is at work in you," Paul says (Phil. 2:13). What joy to have the assurance that God holds our hearts, sealed for Him (Eph. 1:13, 14)!

Seeing God, His grace, love, mercy and goodness, in this light must necessarily return us to the first verse of the hymn, for there is the proper response. Lord, fountain of every blessing, tune my heart to sing Your grace. The unending stream of Your mercy calls for songs of loudest praise. Teach me to sing as only the angels in heaven can sing of Your wonders. I'm fixed, grounded, rooted, anchored in Your redeeming love.

No comments: