Posted by: rcottrill | February 20, 2015

He Included Me

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Words: Johnson Oatman, Jr. (b. Apr. 21, 1856; d. Sept. 25, 1922)
Music: Hampton Haygood Sewell (b. Jan. 7, 1875; d. May 11, 1938)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Johnson Oatman)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: Johnson Oatman has given us a number of songs that are still found in our hymn books. Count Your Blessings and Higher Ground are two of them. Hampton Sewell was a busy gospel musician in the early years of the twentieth century.

This 1909 offering is one of those incessantly repetitious songs which, to my mind, isn’t that well written either. The word “included” is used in four stanzas (and counting the refrains) 28 times! But, as I’ve noted with some other repetitious gospel songs, it does emphasize a truth that bears repeating.

CH-1) I am so happy in Christ today,
That I go singing along my way;
Yes, I’m so happy to know and say,
“Jesus included me, too.”

Jesus included me, yes, He included me,
When the Lord said, “Whosoever,” He included me;
Jesus included me, yes, He included me,
When the Lord said, “Whosoever,” He included me.

It was the determination of Branch Rickey, president and manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, to integrate baseball in 1947. Until that time, all-white teams refused to hire any African American players. The “World” Series of baseball was a myth, as some of the best players were being excluded because of ethnicity or skin colour. It took the courage of Jackie Robinson to finally change things. Facing daily abuse, and even death threats, for daring to cross the line, he was included, and he’s a true twentieth century hero.

But how about the Christian gospel? Is it inclusive or exclusive? The answer is a paradox: it’s both. It’s exclusive in the sense that forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and a home in heaven are ours only through faith in Christ. Jesus said, “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” (Acts 4:12). That’s pretty restrictive!

“All have sinned” (Rom. 3:23), and are condemned by a holy God. But there is a solution, a means of being delivered from the sin that shuts us out. By His grace, God the Father sent His Son to pay the price of our sin upon the cross. Through faith in Him, we can be saved (Jn. 3:16; Acts 16:30-31). “This is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (I Jn. 5:11-12).

Where, then, is the inclusiveness of the gospel? The inclusiveness is found in the offer of the gospel. It’s for all, of every national and ethnic group, men and women, old and young, rich and poor, educated and illiterate, no matter how sinful the person has been. A word that is used frequently to indicate this open invitation is whoever–or, in the longer form used by the King James Version, it’s whosoever.

Jesus promised, “Whoever believes in Me [will] not abide in darkness” (Jn. 12:46). “Whoever believes in Him [Christ] will receive remission [forgiveness] of sins” (Acts 10:43). God sent His Son to die in our place, “that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16). “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved” (Rom. 10:13).

That is the inclusiveness about which Johnson Oatman has written.

CH-2) Gladly I read, “Whosoever may
Come to the fountain of life today;”
But when I read it I always say,
“Jesus included me, too.”

The glorious invitation to avail ourselves of the gracious provision of God is a theme that can be found in both Old Testament and New.

“Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance” (Isa. 55:1-2).

“On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water [a symbol of the new birth, through the regenerating work of the Spirit of God’” (Jn. 7:37-38).

“The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22:17).

CH-3) Ever God’s Spirit is saying, “Come!”
Hear the Bride saying, “No longer roam;”
But I am sure while they’re calling home,
Jesus included me, too.

Questions:
1) What are some reasons a person might think the gospel does not include him or her?

2) What is the advantage of a song being repetitious, as this one is?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Johnson Oatman)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org


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