Posted by: rcottrill | October 20, 2017

I Hear the Words of Love

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Words: Horatius Bonar (b. Dec. 19, 1808; d. July 31, 1889)
Music: Newland (or Gauntlett), by Henry John Gauntlett (b. July 9, 1805; d. Feb. 21, 1876)

Wordwise Hymns (Horatius Bonar)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: Scottish pastor Horatius Bonar was a strong evangelical preacher whose gospel tract Believe and Live had more than a million copies published. Often called “the prince of Scottish hymn writers” Pastor Bonar wrote more than six hundred hymns.

But there’s an oddity about his output of hymns. Until the very end of his life, none of his songs was sung in his own church! The reason is he served a congregation that believed only the Bible’s Psalms should be sung by the congregation. (They missed a blessing!)

Change. It’s a common word meaning to make or be different, to alter or be altered, to transform or be transformed. And in a slightly different application it can mean to substitute one thing for another, or exchange one for another.

In this world, in this mortal life, more things change than stay the same. Life is full of changes, and many of them are spoken of in the Bible. There we see a change of wages (Gen. 31:7); a change of clothes (Gen. 41:14); a change of night to day (Job 17:12), and of seasons (Song 2:11-12); money being changed (Matt. 21:12); a person’s mind changed (Hab. 1:11); and a tone of voice changed–from friendly to stern (Gal. 4:20).

Some changes are good. Over the years, we develop and learn. These are good things. When that doesn’t happen, for example, when an individual is mentally disabled, and as an adult can only think and learn at the level of a young child, we are sad.

And in other circumstances, when ill health or sinful habits cause a deterioration of abilities, those changes are not pleasant or welcomed. What’s likely needed in the first of these is medical treatment of some kind. What’s called for to deal with the spiritual problem of the second is repentance–a word that means literally a change of mind.

Repentance is not simply sorrow over the consequences of sin, or that we got caught, but an utter rejection and abhorrence of what has offended a holy God. “I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance [i.e. real change]” (II Cor. 7:9). Repentance is more than a feeling. It must lead to action. Paul preached that people “should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance” (Acts 26:20).

In total contrast to these many changes in our lives is the utter changelessness of God. He declares:

“God is not a man, that He should lie, nor the son of man, that He should repent” (Num. 23:19). And “I am the Lord, I do not change” (Mal. 3:6).

This speaks of His basic nature and character. It’s not saying the Lord doesn’t do different things at different times. The incarnation of Christ, for example, was a historical event, and so was His death and resurrection. Now He “ dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him” (Rom. 6:9).

In 1861 Horatius Bonar produced a hymn that speaks of the contrast between what is changing and what is changeless. Bonar describes changes in himself, while celebrating God’s changelessness. The original hymn had ten stanzas, but only four or five are usually used now.

1) I hear the words of love,
I gaze upon the blood,
I see the mighty Sacrifice,
And I have peace with God.

2) ‘Tis everlasting peace!
Sure as Jehovah’s name,
‘Tis stable as His steadfast throne,
For evermore the same.

3) The clouds may go and come,
And storms may sweep the sky,
This blood-sealed friendship changes not,
The cross is ever nigh.

4) My love is oft times low,
My joy still ebbs and flows,
But peace with Him remains the same,
No change Jehovah knows.

7) I change, He changes not,
The Christ can never die;
His love, not mine, the resting place,
His truth, not mine, the tie.

8) The cross still stands unchanged,
Though heav’n is now His home,
The mighty stone is rolled away,
But yonder is His tomb!

1) What changes in yourself in recent years do you regret?

2) What changes in yourself in recent years do you consider a blessing?

Wordwise Hymns (Horatius Bonar)
The Cyber Hymnal


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