Posted by: rcottrill | August 12, 2013

Victory Through Grace

Words: Frances Jane (“Fanny”) Crosby (b. Mar. 24, 1820; d. Feb. 12, 1915)
Music: John Robson Sweney (b. Dec. 31, 1837; d. Apr. 10, 1899)

Wordwise Hymns (John Sweney)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: Some early hymn books attribute this 1890 song to “Sallie Martin,” one of a couple of hundred pen names used by Fanny Crosby. As the Wordwise Hymns link shows, Fanny collaborated a number of times with composer John Sweney.

This is a rousing and triumphant hymn, with words and music wedded together perfectly. And though the initial phrase of each stanza may seem to refer to Revelation 6:2, “He went out conquering and to conquer,” it does not. (The Cyber Hymnal uses that as a theme verse, but I believe it is a mistake.) The text in Revelation refers to a king all right, but not to King Jesus.

As chapter 6 begins, the Lord Jesus Christ (“the Lamb”) is in heaven, being worshipped (5:11-14). There He receives from God the Father a scroll, sealed with seven seals (5:1-10). Though it is not stated in the passage, I believe the scroll could well be the title deed to the earth. Because of the fall, no other is worthy to rule the earth for God. But the holy Son of God abundantly qualifies to do so.

There are twenty-one judgments of increasing intensity poured out on the earth during the Tribulation, represented by the breaking of the seven seals. Telescoped within the seventh seal are seven trumpet judgments (8:1-2), and telescoped within the blowing of the seventh trumpet (11:15), after some intervening events, seven bowls of wrath are poured out (16:1). These judgments, described in Revelation 6–18 develop in more detail those described by the Lord in Matthew 24:3-28.

With the breaking of the first seal (6:1) a rider on a white horse appears. This is not Christ, but the Antichrist. Satan’s counterfeit Messiah will seem at first to bring peace on the earth (6:2). The fact that he has a bow, but no arrows are mentioned, perhaps suggests that his world conquest will be by treaty and international agreements, rather than warfare. But the peace will be short-lived. With the breaking of the second seal, peace disappears from the earth (6:3-4). “For when they shall say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them” (I Thess. 5:3).

No, the rider on the white horse is not Christ. However, having said that, there are two major conquests in which Christ is truly involved. There is His triumph at that final consummation of all things (Rev. 19:11ff). That is the “still to conquer” of Fanny’s song. But before that we have His triumph at the cross, and many spiritual victories in this present life being won because of it.

The latter come through the grace of God, and by what has been provided through Christ. The victories Fanny describes happen every day, as believers serve the Lord. That is the “conquering now” of the hymn. And as the refrain  indicates, when we trust in God, we learn that, “The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong” (Ecc. 9:11; cf. I Cor. 2:1-5).

“God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence” (I Cor. 1:26-29; cf. Zech 4:6).

“‘For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.’ Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Rom. 8:36-37). “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 15:57). “Thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ” (II Cor. 2:14).

In our service for Christ we not only conquer, but are “more than conquerors.” To be more than victors is to not only defeat the enemy, but to despoil and plunder his kingdom of darkness. That is what we do when we win precious souls to the Saviour, and they’re delivered from Satan’s clutches (cf. Acts 26:17-18).

CH-1) Conquering now and still to conquer, rideth a King in His might;
Leading the host of all the faithful into the midst of the fight;
See them with courage advancing, clad in their brilliant array,
Shouting the name of their Leader, hear them exultingly say:

Not to the strong is the battle,
Not to the swift is the race,
Yet to the true and the faithful
Vict’ry is promised through grace.

CH-3) Conquering now and still to conquer, Jesus, Thou ruler of all,
Thrones and their sceptres all shall perish, crowns and their splendour shall fall,
Yet shall the armies Thou leadest, faithful and true to the last,
Find, in Thy mansions eternal, rest when their warfare is past.

1) Can you think of a victory for Christ won recently by you someone you know?

2) In what sense were those involved “more than conquerors” for Christ?

Wordwise Hymns (John Sweney)
The Cyber Hymnal


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