Posted by: rcottrill | March 14, 2016

It Passeth Knowledge

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Words: Mary Shekleton (b. ___, 1827; d. Sept. 28, 1883)
Music: Ira David Sankey (b. Aug. 28, 1840; d. Aug. 13, 1908)

Wordwise Hymns (none)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: Mary Shekleton was an Irish authoress who lived with a serious disability. She wrote a number of hymns, including the present one concerning God’s surpassing love. The year after her death, Mary’s sister published a book about the author with the long title, Chosen, Chastened, Crowned: Memorials of Mary Shekleton, Late Secretary of the Invalid’s Prayer Union.

Do you ever wonder what past generations would think of how things are today? They would be utterly astonished at some things–and likely considerably dismayed at others.

At the beginning of the last century, when my father and mother were born, there was no polio vaccine, and no penicillin. There were no airplanes; and there was no radio or television, let alone any computers. Even when I was a boy, the telephone was still attached to the wall by a wire, not a palm-sized marvel we could carry around in our pockets.

The Bible says, “[At] the time of the end, many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase” (Dan. 12:4). To some degree, that has always been the case. But Daniel is speaking of knowledge growing at an astounding and ever-increasing rate, as human history draws to its God-ordained conclusion. It’s happening. So many today seem driven to do more, and do it faster, scurrying here and there to find that lost or unknown something that will bring them peace and contentment.

We used to talk about how changed things are from what they were a century ago. Now, dramatic differences can be seen in a decade, and sometimes even when compared to a few months ago. Don’t look now, but that computer you bought a few months back has since been replaced with a newer model that does more things, and does them quicker than ever!

The goal of advertisers is to keep us dissatisfied and wanting more, craving the newest and latest thing. That is actually a materialistic distortion of a quality God has built into us: the desire to discover and learn, the longing to know. There is nothing wrong with the thirst for knowledge, in itself. By employing it, humanity has made amazing advances in exploration, agriculture, medicine, technology, and other areas. But it can be abused to feed materialistic and selfish aims.

In the spiritual realm, salvation brings a new thirst for a knowledge of God. When a person becomes a Christian, through personal faith in Christ, the Spirit of God plants withing his heart a desire to know the Lord in a deeper and fuller way. That desire was not present before. It isn’t a natural quality of the unregenerate heart. Instead, the natural tendency of the sin-darkened soul is to reject or ignore God. Of them the Bible says, “There is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God” (Rom. 3:11).

But the Apostle Paul voices the new priority of the born again believer: “Indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil. 3:8). It was his prayer for others too, that they might “know the love of Christ which passes knowledge [which far surpasses human understanding]” (Eph. 3:19).

How can we know something that is beyond knowing? How can we comprehend One that by His very nature is infinite and transcendent? It seems that the apostle is mapping out for us a thrilling search that will not only take our full dedication here, but will engage our enhanced gifts in eternity. It’s a search that will be constantly rewarding, but never fully completed. There will always be more of God to know.

Mary’s sister included in her memorial book several of her sister’s hymns, including one called It Passeth Knowledge, alluding to Ephesians 3:19. The original had seven stanzas, but many hymn books use only three or four.

CH-1) It passeth knowledge, that dear love of Thine!
My Jesus! Saviour! yet this soul of mine
Would of that love, in all its depth and length,
Its height and breadth, and everlasting strength
Know more and more.

CH-2) It passeth telling! that dear love of Thine!
My Jesus! Saviour! yet these lips of mine
Would fain proclaim to sinners far and near
A love which can remove all guilty fear,
And love beget.

CH-3) It passeth praises! that dear love of Thine!
My Jesus! Saviour yet this heart of mine
Would sing a love so rich, so full, so free,
Which brought an undone sinner, such as me,
Right home to God.

CH-7) And when my Jesus face to face I see,
When at His lofty throne I bow the knee,
Then of His love, in all its breadth and length,
Its height and depth, its everlasting strength,
My soul shall sing.

1) What are some of the characteristics of the love of God?

2) Can you pinpoint some quality of the love of the Lord that you’ve learned more about, or experienced particularly, in the past few weeks or months?

Wordwise Hymns (none)
The Cyber Hymnal


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