Posted by: rcottrill | June 27, 2014

Follow On

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Words: William Orcutt Cushing (b. Dec. 31, 1823; d. Oct. 19, 1902)
Music: Robert Lowry (b. Mar. 12, 1826; d. Nov. 25, 1899)

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Note: William Cushing’s parents were Unitarians (a group that does not recognize the deity of Christ), and as a boy he was taught by the Unitarian clergyman in his town. However, as he began to study the Bible for himself, he became convinced of the deity of Christ and other orthodox doctrines.

At the age of eighteen, he began to prepare for the ministry and went on to serve many years as a pastor in several churches in New York State. He had an effective ministry, and was also a great supporter of the Sunday School movement.

In 1854 he married Hena Proper and she was a help to him in his work. But Mrs. Cushing’s health failed and, after a long illness, she died in 1870. Soon after that, Pastor Cushing was seized with what a biographer calls a “creeping paralysis,” and he was forced to retire from active ministry.

But in those days of suffering his prayer was, “Lord, still give me something to do for Thee!” And God did so, turning his attention to the writing of hymns. Over the years that followed he wrote over 300 of them. One of these, created in 1878 is Follow On, the tune being provided by Baptist pastor and hymn writer Robert Lowry.

CH-1) Down in the valley with my Saviour I would go,
Where the flowers are blooming and the sweet waters flow;
Everywhere He leads me I would follow, follow on,
Walking in His footsteps till the crown be won.

Follow! follow! I would follow Jesus!
Anywhere, everywhere, I would follow on!
Follow! follow! I would follow Jesus!
Everywhere He leads me I would follow on!

Follow. The word is used over 250 times in the Bible, in one form or another. And there is a sense in which each person in society can be categorized as either a leader or a follower. In truth, we’re often both at once, with our exact position depending on the particular sphere of activity in view. For example, a man may be a leader in his church, but he may be under the authority of a boss at his workplace.

Whether we are one or the other says nothing about our personal worth. It’s a matter of administrative rank. The man referred to above is not a better or more worthy person as a leader than he is as an employee. Nor is a woman somehow inferior to her husband, because she acknowledges his headship in the home, according to the biblical pattern (cf. Eph. 5:22-23). Someone has to lead at home, and God has designed that it should be the husband.

We see the clear distinction between rank and intrinsic worth illustrated by the Lord Jesus Christ. On earth, He willingly submitted Himself to the will of God the Father. In that sense, He was a Follower. But He didn’t stop being God the Son at His incarnation. His disciples submitted to Him as their Lord (Jn. 13:13), and He accepted the worship of others (Lk. 24:51-52; Jn. 20:28).

A godly spiritual leader will understand that he is only worthy to be followed to the extent that he himself follows the Lord. The Apostle Paul made that plain. “Imitate me, just as I imitate Christ,” he said to the Corinthians (I Cor. 11:1). And “you became followers of us and of the Lord,” he said to the Thessalonians (I Thess. 1:6). The writer of Hebrews exhorts us to “imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Heb. 6:12). But, in the end, it’s the Lord Jesus Christ whom we’re to follow or imitate.

The New Testament uses several different Greek words translated “follow” in our English Bibles. When Peter tells us that Christ left us an example, that “[we] should follow in His steps” (I Pet. 2:21), it is the Greek word epakoloutheo, meaning to follow closely, to tread in Christ’s very footsteps.

Perhaps you recall the carol, Good King Wenceslas, in which the king asks his pageboy to follow him to the cottage of a poor man, so they can provide him with food and firewood. In John Mason Neale’s words, “In his master’s steps he trod, / Where the snow lay dinted.” Just so we are to follow Christ. Some days will be rich with delightful blessings. Others will bring trials and testing. But in either instance we can be reassured in Christ’s promise, “Lo, I am with you always” (Matt. 28:20).

CH-2) Down in the valley with my Saviour I would go,
Where the storms are sweeping and the dark waters flow;
With His hand to lead me I will never, never fear,
Dangers cannot fright me if my Lord is near.

CH-3) Down in the valley, or upon the mountain steep,
Close beside my Saviour would my soul ever keep;
He will lead me safely in the path that He has trod,
Up to where they gather on the hills of God.

1) In practical terms, what does it mean to follow Christ?

2) What are the challenges and obstacles to consistently following the Lord?



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