Posted by: rcottrill | April 7, 2014

We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations

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Words: Henry Ernest Nichol (b. Dec. 10, 1862; d. Aug. 30, 1926)
Music: Message, by Henry Ernest Nicol

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: Some books list the composer of the tune as Colin Sterne, but that is a pen name of Ernest Nicol (an anagram, based on rearranging the letters of Nicol and Ernest).

There is much in this 1896 hymn that is stirring, and commendable. However, the juxtaposition of the refrain does create a problem, and could at least lead to some misunderstanding.

Nichol says the gospel is “a story of peace and light, for the darkness shall turn to dawning…and Christ’s great kingdom shall come to earth.” Individually, the statements are true. But the two are not cause and effect. By bringing them together in this way, the author is expressing a teaching of postmillennialism. Postmillennialists believe that the church is going to convert the world, and then Christ will return to set up His earthly kingdom. This view became less popular in the twentieth century, with war after war, and the obvious and increasing corruption of society.

Contrary to this view, the Bible says:

“The Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron” (I Tim. 4:1-2).

“Know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (I Tim. 3:1-4).

“All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (II Tim. 3:12-13).

So, yes, we have a story to tell to the nations (CH-1), the Bible’s account of how God the Son became Man, and died to save us. And we have a song to sing (CH-2)–the great hymns and gospel songs of the Christian faith that are the subject of this blog. We have a message to give (CH-3), and a Saviour to show to the world (CH-4), both through our lives and our verbal witness. We invest our time, talents and treasures in this work, for the glory of God.

Christ will come again according to the time set by a sovereign God. But apostasy and the pollution of sin will be such that the Lord Jesus raised the question, “When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Lk. 18:8). “Christ’s great kingdom” will not follow the transformation of the gospel, but will bring that transformation with it. It’s the return of Christ that will “shatter the spear and sword” (CH-2), not the present works of men (cf. Isa. 2:1-4).

CH-1) We’ve a story to tell to the nations
That shall turn their hearts to the right,
A story of truth and mercy,
A story of peace and light,
A story of peace and light.

For the darkness shall turn to dawning,
And the dawning to noonday bright;
And Christ’s great kingdom shall come on earth,
The kingdom of love and light.

CH-2) We’ve a song to be sung to the nations,
That shall lift their hearts to the Lord,
A song that shall conquer evil
And shatter the spear and sword,
And shatter the spear and sword.

CH-3) We’ve a message to give to the nations,
That the Lord who reigns up above
Hath sent us His Son to save us,
And show us that God is love,
And show us that God is love.

1) How would you explain the essence of the gospel to a non-Christian (i.e. using what key Bible truths, and what verses of Scripture)?

2) What are the greatest missionary hymns in the English language?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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