Posted by: rcottrill | September 2, 2016

O Take the Gift of Mercy

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Words: James Martin Gray (b. May 11, 1851; d. Sept. 21, 1935)
Music: Alfred Barney Smith (b. Nov. 8, 1916; d. Aug. 9, 2001)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (James Gray)
The Cyber Hymnal (James Gray)
Hymnary.org (James Gray)

Note: James Martin Gray served as dean, and then as president of Moody Bible Institute, in Chicago. He also wrote a number of hymns. Among them is this one–maybe. It is found in only one hymn book that I know of, Living Hymns, where it is set to a tune by the editor, Alfred B. Smith. A full biography of Mr. Smith, an influential contributor to gospel music, can be seen here. My thought is that it may have been a poem written by Dr. Gray, and that Smith spotted it and thought it worthy of becoming a gospel song. The tune Barnsdall, used by the Cyber Hymnal with another hymn, works with the song too.

The ancient Romans were famous for their many well built roads. These became a network for travel and trade, many radiating from the capitol like a gigantic spider web. It’s said that Caesar Augustus had a monument erected in the city of Rome called the golden milestone (miliarium aurem), and that distances from anywhere in the Roman Empire were calculated from that point.

The modern adage, “all roads lead to Rome,” is a version of comments made by Mediaeval authors, such as Chaucer, and by ancient Latin writers too. It was based on the fact that, certainly within the Italian peninsula, it was planned for all lesser cities to be connected by road to the city of Rome. But there were no roads directly connecting those cities with each other, so that it would be more difficult for them to mount a united resistance against the empire.

In its practical application, the saying that “all roads lead to Rome” means simply that different paths can be taken to the same goal. Fishing provides an example. If your goal is to catch fish, there’s fly-casting, fishing with a baited hook, or with nets, or traps. There’s spear fishing, and even hand gathering in some cases. They all can work, given the right conditions, and the skill of those using them.

But in the spiritual realm it is not necessarily so that all roads lead to heaven.

If we mean by it that the Lord can use many different life experiences to bring individuals into a personal relationship with Himself, that’s true. Look at Paul on the Damascus Road (Acts 9:1-19), the jailor at Philippi (Acts 16:16-34), or young Timothy who was raised by a godly mother and grandmother (II Tim. 1:5; 3:14-15).

Or, if we mean the Lord can lead individuals through an amazing variety of experiences after they come to faith, that’s equally true. Moses and Ruth are Old Testament examples of that. Though they were both people of faith, their lives unfolded in very different ways. In the New Testament, John and Luke followed quite different paths of discipleship as well.

However, the object and basis of our faith is another matter. The Bible is either true or it’s not. If it is–since it is–then our choice is suddenly limited. The Lord Jesus spoke of a broad road to destruction followed by the majority, and a narrow road to life, “and there are [relatively] few who find it” (Matt. 7:13-14). You can put your faith in a dollar, or even an eggplant, if you want to, but it won’t get you to heaven.

Some put their faith in their own right living, or good works. “I do the best I can. I love my family; I help my neighbour. I don’t have any really bad habits.” Others espouse a kind of “churchianity,” confident that religious activity will do it. Read your Bible and pray, attend church regularly, put money on the offering plate, that’s the answer. And those are fine things to do, but the Word of God is clear. They’re not the way to heaven, they’re ultimately roads to nowhere.

God’s salvation and getting to heaven is “not by works of righteousness that we have done” (Tit. 3:5). It is “not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9), because, in God’s sight, “all our righteousnesses [all our attempts to act righteously] are like filthy rags” (Isa. 64:4). They are all flawed and imperfect. It’s Christ alone who saves, not good living or religiosity. “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (I Jn. 1:7; cf. Jn. 3:16; Acts 16:30-31; Eph. 1:7). There is no other way (Jn. 3:18:36; I Jn. 5:11-12).

1) It is not thy repentance, thy sorrow or thy tears,
That brings to thee salvation, or drives away thy fears.
It is the cross of Jesus, the death He there did die,
That wrought out full salvation, for such as you and I.

O take the gift of mercy,
Let grace restore thy soul;
Confess the name of Jesus,
Trust Him to make thee whole.

3) You say, ‘I read the Bible, in prayer I daily bow;’
You say, ‘Why I am doing the best that I know how!’
But even were thou perfect, the old sin still remains.
It needs the blood of Jesus to wash away thy stains.

Questions:
1) What are some of the false things people are relying on to get them to heaven?

2) Can you explain, simply, how a person gets saved?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (James Gray)
The Cyber Hymnal (James Gray)
Hymnary.org (James Gray)


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