Posted by: rcottrill | June 24, 2013

Jesus Saves

Words: Priscilla Jane Owens (b. July 21, 1829; d. Dec. 5, 1907)
Music: Salvation (or Kirkpatrick) by William James Kirkpatrick (b. Feb. 27, 1838; d. Sept. 20, 1921)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Priscilla Owens)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: A woman of Scottish and Welsh descent, Miss Owens wrote this hymn for a missionary service in the Sunday School of the Union Square Methodist Church, in Baltimore, where she served for fifty years (one year more than she taught public school in the same city).

The Petersen’s volume, The Complete Book of Hymns (2006), is far from the mark when it says that this “may have been the only song she ever wrote.” Priscilla Owens wrote many, mostly for use in the Sunday School. The Cyber Hymnal lists 230 of them, and the Wordwise Hymns link discusses another fine gospel song she wrote

William Kirkpatrick’s tune was composed for this hymn fourteen years after the text was created in 1868. As noted in the Cyber Hymnal, the tune Limpsfield, another tune written for the same words, also works well with the hymn.

Jesus saves! There can be little doubt that this is a central message of the Bible, especially with the birth of Jesus. The New Testament uses words such as save, saved, salvation and Saviour over 150 times. A few of these have to do with some kind of temporal deliverance (e.g. Paul and others saved from a storm at sea, Acts 27:31). But by far the majority relate to the eternal salvation offered through faith in the saving work of Christ.

Here is just a sampling.

1) About the purpose of Christ’s coming
“She [Mary] will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord” (Lk. 2:11). “My eyes have seen Your salvation” (Lk. 2:30). “The Son of Man has come to save that which was lost” (Matt. 18:11). “God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (Jn. 3:17). “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief” (I Tim. 1:15).

2) About Christ being the only way of salvation
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (Jn. 14:6). “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9). “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him” (Heb. 2:3).

3) About sharing the message of salvation in Christ
“I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Rom. 1:16). “We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Saviour of the world” (I Jn. 4:14). “‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ So they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved’” (Acts 16:30-31). “It pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached [i.e. its apparent foolishness, as some see it] to save those who believe” (I Cor. 1:21).

We are to “go into all the world and preach the gospel” (Mk. 16:15). In the words of Priscilla Owens’ hymn we are to “spread the tidings all around,” and “bear the news to every land” (CH-1). We must “tell to sinners far and wide” that “Jesus saves” (CH-2). That is the Great Commission (cf. Matt. 28:18-20), and since the days of the apostles believers have obeyed it.

CH-1) We have heard the joyful sound: Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
Spread the tidings all around: Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
Bear the news to every land, climb the steeps and cross the waves;
Onward! ’tis our Lord’s command; Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

CH-2) Waft it on the rolling tide: Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
Tell to sinners far and wide: Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
Sing, you islands of the sea; echo back, you ocean caves;
Earth shall keep her jubilee: Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

Just a word about the last line of the second stanza. Under the Mosaic Law, every fiftieth year was designated as the Year of Jubilee (Lev. 25:8-10). And one of the things that happened in that year was that slaves (indentured servants) were set at liberty (vs. 39-42). The hymn writer has taken that and applied it to the result of the preaching of the gospel. She envisions sinners being delivered from bondage to sin, all over the earth.

Questions:
1) How does your church support and encourage the worldwide preaching of the gospel?

2) What other hymns do you know and use that express the urgency of world missions?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Priscilla Owens)
The Cyber Hymnal


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