Posted by: rcottrill | April 11, 2019

Great God of Wonders

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Words: Samuel Davies (b. Nov. 3, 1723; d. Feb. 4, 1761)
Music: Wonders (or Sovereignty), by John Newton (not the same man as the hymn writer who wrote Amazing Grace) (b. ___, 1802; d. ___, 1886)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: Davies was an evangelist associated with the Presbyterian Church. He traveled on horseback around the American colonies, preaching the gospel. By the invitation of King George II, he also preached before the king. He became president of the College of New Jersey (which later became Princeton University), but died only a year and a half into his tenure.

The longest word in the English language is reputedly a forty-five letter monster labeling a lung disease contracted by inhaling volcanic dust:

Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.

But words don’t have to be long to be significant. Take the words yes, and no. Lives have been dramatically changed, and wars have been started–or ended–by the utterance of one or the other. Then, there’s the word but, which signals a change in direction. It can be a small thing. Mom says, “We planned a picnic for today, but it’s raining.” Or, it might be something much bigger. Wealthy Jacob Astor was traveling to America on the Titanic, but he was drowned when it sank.

The little word if marks some kind of conditional action which, again, can involve something important, or less so. Dad says, “We’ll have the picnic next Saturday, if the weather’s good.” Or a nurse assures the family, “He’ll get better if he takes the medicine the doctor prescribed.” Or, take this sad and cruel corruption of true love: “I’ll love you if you please me, and do as I say.”

In court, the difference between the words guilty and innocent can bring years in prison, or glorious freedom. And what about the words life and death? Or darkness and light? Words. American poetess Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) wrote:

“I know of nothing in the world that has as much power as a word.”

How much more is this so if it refers to the words of Almighty God? The Bible itself is God’s written Word. Though human authors were involved, their work was superintended by the Spirit of God, so that what we have is God’s true and trustworthy message to us (II Tim. 3:16-17; II Pet. 1:20-21). Along with phrases such as “the word of God,” or “the word of the Lord,” He speaks directly to human beings hundreds of times in the Book.

Holy Scripture, the Bible, is true and trustworthy precisely because it comes to us from a God of truth (Deut. 32:4), who cannot lie (Tit. 1:2).

“O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven…. The entirety of Your word is truth” (Ps. 119:89, 160).

The Lord Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Matt. 24:35).

And we need to pause a moment and note that Christ Himself is spoken of as “the Word” (Jn. 1:1, 14). In Him, deity and humanity have been combined. “In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9). By His incarnation He has, in effect, translated the infinite and invisible God into a humanity we can more fully know and understand.

There are many powerful words in Scripture–heaven, holy, forgive, love, mercy, eternal, sin, hell, cross, bless, save, to name a few. But one of the most significant and powerful words to lost sinners is the word grace. Found dozens of times from Genesis to Revelation, it refers to the unearned and undeserved favour and blessing of God.

A gracious God does not treat us as we deserve, but provides a way for condemned sinners to be saved eternally. What is called “the gospel [good news] of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24) is that, through faith in Christ, we can be forgiven and receive the gift of eternal life (Jn. 3:16). Writing to Christians, Paul says:

“By grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).

Converted slave trader John Newton marveled in the “amazing grace” of God. So did eighteenth century evangelist to the American colonies, Samuel Davies. A hymn he wrote speaks glowingly of the grace of God.

CH-1) Great God of wonders! All Thy ways
Are matchless, Godlike and divine;
But the fair glories of Thy grace
More godlike and unrivaled shine,
More godlike and unrivaled shine.

Who is a pardoning God like Thee?
Or who has grace so rich and free?
Or who has grace so rich and free?

CH-4) In wonder lost, with trembling joy,
We take the pardon of our God:
Pardon for crimes of deepest dye,
A pardon bought with Jesus’ blood,
A pardon bought with Jesus’ blood.

CH-5) O may this strange, this matchless grace,
This godlike miracle of love,
Fill the whole earth with grateful praise,
And all th’angelic choirs above,
And all th’angelic choirs above.

Questions:
1) Why do you think Samuel Davies thought so highly of the grace of God?

2) Why should our churches regularly sing and preach about God’s grace?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org


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