Tag Archives: Singing

There’s a Great Day Coming

It’s real. It’s big. It’s coming. And there’s nothing you can do to stop it!  Some will welcome it with open arms, screaming salvation! Others will try in vain to escape it, crying for mercy. But it is still going to come.

What is it, you might ask?

It’s the judgment.

It is appointed unto men once to die, and after this, judgment (Hebrews 9:27).

Regardless of whether someone died two thousand years ago, or if it’s someone who won’t die until two thousand years from now, every person will have to stand and be judged after their death.  For some people, it will be a wonderful day. For others, it will be a day of horrible sadness.

We’re all familiar with the song, “There’s a Great Day Coming” and it conveys these ideas well.  So, let’s take a few moments to look at how people will view this judgment when it comes.

Verse 1 – It will be a great day.

The word “great” has suffered a lot of misuse, to the point where its meaning has almost been forgotten.  Most people in the United States use the word “great” as though it means “better than good.” But that’s not the meaning of the word. It actually means something large, noteworthy, or powerful.

In the first Harry Potter movie, the wand-seller Olivander speaks of the evil wizard Voldemort, and says “he did great things, yes. Terrible. But great.”

Acts 2:20 speaks of the destruction of Jerusalem as “that great and notable [or terrible] day of the Lord.”  The people in Jerusalem sure didn’t think that this meant it was a “better than good” day.

There’s a great day coming, a great day coming, there’s a great day coming by and by.

This is a large, important, noteworthy, powerful day here. It’s the day that everyone will see. It’s the day that each one will meet Jesus—the righteous Judge (II Timothy 4:8). It’s the day that each person will hear the words “guilty” or “not guilty.”

It’s also a day of separation. Up to this point, the righteous and the wicked have lived side-by-side, but on that day, there will be a separation. The righteous will go into life eternal, and the wicked shall be sent into the fires of hell for eternity (Matthew 25:31-46).

Truly, this is a great day.

There’s a great day coming, a great day coming. There’s a great day coming by and by; when the saints and the sinners shall be parted right and left.

Verse 2 – For some it will be a bright happy day.

In my office is a very large dictionary published in 1964. My grandfather would go to the grocery store each week and buy this dictionary in sections. After purchasing all sixteen sections, he was given the cover that goes with it. It was part of my inheritance when he died. In it, under the word “bright” is this definition: “Characterized by cheerfulness and gaiety, pleasant, lively.” Another definition is “giving promise of prosperity or happiness, favorable.” And of course, there’s also this one: “Illustrious, glorious.”

These are the ideas, the meanings of the word “bright” that we need to keep in mind.

There’s a bright day coming, a bright day coming, there’s a bright day coming by and by.

This judgment day is a day of happiness and cheerfulness. It is a day that promises eternal prosperity and happiness. It is a glorious day to be sure!

The apostle Paul looked forward to this judgment day. “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (II Timothy 4:7-8).

It is a day where we will be with the Lord, which is far better (Philippians 1:23).

It is a day where we will be reunited forever with loved ones who died in the Lord (I Thessalonians 4:17-18).

But that promise is only to those who are faithful (Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life—Revelation 2:10).

God doesn’t hold a spiritual lottery. He doesn’t reward people who don’t show true love for Him with obedience. You won’t accidentally make it into heaven when you’re judged.

There’s a bright day coming, a bright day coming, there’s a bright day coming by and by. But its brightness shall only come to them that love the Lord.

Verse 3 – for others, it will be a horrible day.

For the people who have not given themselves to God; for the ones who haven’t submitted to the commands of Jesus Christ; for the ones who have intentionally sinned; for the ones who have not remained faithful to the Lord, this judgment day will be one of sadness and misery.

There will be sadness for wasted opportunities to obey the gospel.

There will be sadness for time spent in sin.

There will be sadness for rejected pleas to come back to God.

There will be sadness because they know what the judgment is going to be.

There’s a sad day coming, a sad day coming, there’s a sad day coming by and by.

“Cast the unprofitable servant into outer darkness. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt 25:30).

“You serpents, you generation of vipers, how can you escape the damnation of hell?” (Matt 23:33).

“Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev 20:15).

“Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his messengers” (Matthew 25:41).

“Many will say unto me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many marvelous works?’ And then will I profess unto them, ‘I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity’” (Matthew 7:22-23).

There’s a sad day coming, a sad day coming, there’s a sad day coming by and by, when the sinner shall hear his doom, “Depart, I know ye not.”

Are You Ready?

The day is coming. Make no mistake about it. “It is appointed unto men once to die, and after this, judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

The question for you is this: what kind of day will it be for you? Are you prepared?

Are you ready? Are you ready? Are you ready for the judgment day? Are you ready? Are you ready for the judgment day?

Please, make yourself ready starting right now.

-Bradley Cobb

O, Come Angel Band

It’s time again for another Sermon Wednesday, and we’re still continuing our theme of “Singing with the Understanding.”  The song we’ll be looking at today is one that isn’t as familiar with most Christians.  It’s called “My Latest Sun is Sinking Fast” or “O, Come Angel Band” depending on which songbook you might use.

Intro:

The apostle Paul stated that he was torn. He wanted to die so he could go to be with the Lord, which is far better; but at the same time, he knew that he was still needed to fulfill his mission here on earth.

It seems like many Christians today aren’t really all that torn. By that, I mean that they’re really tied to this earth and just plain want to stay. When you talk to them, they say, “I’m ready to go to heaven, I just hope it isn’t any time soon.” Or “I’ve got a lot of work to do. But if God decides it’s my time to go, then I guess that’s okay too.”

Do you see a difference between the two attitudes? One longs for heaven, but realizes that he might have to stay here on earth longer to keep working for the Lord. The other longs to stay, but reluctantly agrees to go to heaven if it’s his time.

There’s a song in our songbooks called “My Latest Sun is Sinking Fast,” and in it, the idea is I’m ready to go home. I want to go home. I know where my home is.  It was written by an older man whose days were coming to an end, but I think this is an attitude that we all can and should have all the time.

Verse 1

Jesus said he had to work during the day (while he’s still alive), because the night is coming in which no man can work (death)—John 9:4.

Work for the night is coming.
Work through the morning hours.
Work while the dew is sparkling.
Work ‘mid springing flowers.
Work when the day grows brighter.
Work in the glowing sun.
Work, for the night is coming
when man’s work is done
.”

We must work with the realization that this may indeed be our last day. Our final sunset may be just on the horizon.

We must be like the apostle Paul who was able to say “I have finished my course” (II Tim. 4:7), but you know he was still working when he wrote those words.  “Let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Heb. 12:1).

My latest sun is sinking fast, my race is nearly run.

Look back in your life and contemplate all the difficulties that you’ve made it through. Look at all the trials that God has seen you through—ones that you didn’t know how you were going to endure. Yet God’s helped you through each and every one of them. You made it. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).

Sure, there may still be some difficult times ahead, but realize that God’s with you. God will help you through them all. And when you realize that, these “strong trials” lose some of their bite. When you’re truly relying on God, you’ll be like our friend and sister Linda Foshee, who calls the trials of life “life’s little speed bumps.”

My strongest trials now are past, My triumph is begun.

Verse 2

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day. And not to me only, but to all them also that love his appearing” (II Tim. 4:7-8).

For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (I Thes. 4:16-17).

King David said of his son who had passed away, “I shall go to him” (II Sam 12:23).

One of the great promises in these passages is that we will be reunited with friends and loved ones who died faithful to God. That’s why the song says:

I know I’m near the holy ranks of friends and kindred dear.

The Promised Land is within eyesight. The Israelites are gathered on the banks of the Jordan River looking over into the land that God has promised to give them. They see it. They ache for it—it’s home. But between them and their new home is the Jordan River. And they cannot cross it until God decides it’s time. But they know it’s coming.

In the same way, we need to be looking beyond, seeing heaven, longing for our new home, and being ready when God opens the way for us to be there.

I brush the dews on Jordan’s banks, the crossing must be near.

Verse 3

These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that you may KNOW you have eternal life. And that you may believe on the name of the Son of God” (I John 5:13).

Then the King shall say unto them on His right hand, ‘Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’” (Matt. 25:34).

Enter into the joy of thy Master” (Matt. 25:23).

We read of a place that’s called heaven,
It’s made for the pure and the free.
This truth in God’s word we are given.
How beautiful heaven must be.

I’ve almost gained my heavenly home, My spirit loudly sings.

And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, who was laid at his gate, full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom” (Luke 16:20-22).

There was a song many years ago about the beauty of the death of God’s faithful. It went:

Gathering flowers for the Master’s bouquet,
Beautiful flowers that will never decay.
Gathered by angels and carried away,
Forever to bloom in the Master’s bouquet.

And our song today says it this way:

Thy holy ones, behold they come, I hear the noise of wings.
O come angel band,
Come and around me stand.
O bear me away on your snowy wings to my immortal home.
O bear me away on your snowy wings to my immortal home.

Conclusion:

Is that your attitude? Are you ready to go right now? Are you ready for that day to come? If you’re not ready—truly ready—then you won’t make it.

But what a wonderful thought—that God loves His faithful people so much that He send His angels to bring them to their eternal home. God takes care of us in this life. He takes care of us in the next. And He takes care of us as we’re going from one to the other.

Don’t you want that wonderful blessing? God has offered it to you through the death of His Son, Jesus the Christ. Come to Him, believing in His Son and His resurrection from the dead. Leave your sins behind as you confess His wonderful name and are baptized into glorious forgiveness.

-Bradley S. Cobb

Sermon Wednesday – Seeking The Lost

Seeking the Lost

A child is lost, alone, and starving on the side of a mountain. He doesn’t know how to get home. He doesn’t have anything. He needs help.  Would you try to help him? Would you make the effort and spend even just a day looking for him?

Now, imagine you’ve found him. What kind of effort would you put in bringing him home? Would you try to lead him by the hand? Would you carry him? Would you encourage him to come with you to safety? If he was unsure, would you lovingly, continually assure him that you are there to help him and that you know how he can get to safety?

Would you do the same thing for someone who is lost in sin, without Christ, and astray on the mountain of sin?

Today, we will be looking at the Biblical principles behind the song, “Seeking the Lost.”  Hopefully, this will help us to better sing with the understanding, but also encourage us to actually be out seeking the lost!

Verse 1

Most people aren’t just going to come knock on our door and say, “I want to know the gospel!”  No, we have to go find them.

Jesus Christ came to “seek and save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).  We must follow His example, (trying to walk in the steps of the Savior, striving to follow our Savior and King…), and that includes seeking the lost.  We aren’t going to find them if we don’t go looking for them. (“seek and ye shall find” – Matthew 7:7).

It’s time to start Seeking the lost.

So many people have the idea that we need to beat people over the head with the Bible until they finally open their eyes to see the gospel truth.  But what we need to remember is that the word “gospel” means GOOD NEWS! We’re supposed to be out sharing good news!

If you find a little boy lost on the side of a mountain, you don’t grab your map or GPS and berate him for not following what the map said. Instead, you try to help him.  You can use the map or GPS to guide him back, but being harsh with him isn’t going to help, and isn’t going to make him want to follow you at all.

Love is kind (I Corinthians 13:4). And we are to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).

Seeking the lost, yes kindly entreating wanderers on the mountain astray.

But when we find lost people, what are we supposed to say?  While our words are important, Jesus’ words are what matters.  Jesus is the one who invites all lost souls to come to Him. He says, “come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden [bearing a heavy burden] and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

We need to tell these lost souls that Jesus has an open invitation to them. He invites them to come to Him.  We need to let them know that there is safety awaiting them in Jesus.

“Come unto me,” His message repeating, words of the Master speaking today.

Verse 2

Far too often, Christians try to make evangelism about themselves instead of about JesusI don’t know what to say. I can’t evangelize. I might mess things up. I’m scared.  Or maybe we start giving our opinions about things in the Bible when what we should be doing is pointing to Jesus!

The good news isn’t that the church of Christ doesn’t use instruments; the good news is that Jesus died for our sins—for their sins!  The good news is that even though these people are lost, they can be led to safety and brought home!

There’s plenty of time to deal with doctrinal issues and how to worship God acceptably, but first we have to get them to Jesus!

Seeking the lost and pointing to Jesus

A lot of people have gone through some horrible times in their lives.  They’ve been betrayed, they’ve been hurt, they’ve struggled—and still do.  Many of them think that there’s no hope for them.  Many of them think that no one cares.  But it’s our responsibility to show them that we care because Christ cares!

souls that are weak and hearts that are sore.

When a person is lost, they want to know how to get somewhere.

A man comes across the lost boy on the mountain. The boy desperately wants to go home to his father. So, the man says, “keep heading up the mountain.” The problem is, the boy’s father doesn’t live up the mountain. He lives down in the valley.  That boy is going to boy overjoyed because he thinks he knows the way now. But eventually, he’ll find out that the man wasn’t telling the truth.

Oh, that man may have thought he was telling the truth, thought he knew what he was talking about, but the fact still remains that the little boy will never find his father that way.

How incredibly sad! And it makes it that much harder for someone else to find that little boy, because he’s headed in the wrong direction. And it makes it that much harder to convince the boy that he’s going the wrong way. And even if you beg and plead with him, the boy may decide not to trust anyone’s directions anymore because he was led astray.

My brethren, there are thousands of people who are out looking for lost people and then giving them wrong directions that take them even further from God.  They say, “Oh, the direction to Christ is the path called the Sinner’s Prayer.”

They say, “To get to God? Well, you can’t. You’ll just have to wait for Him to find you, and if He picked you, He’ll find you. If He didn’t pick you, you’re lost forever anyway.”

And that makes our job even more difficult. It’s not impossible to bring these misled people to Christ, but it’s difficult.  That’s why we need to be out there, actively looking for people. Showing them the right way—the Bible way—before someone else gets a hold of them and sends them the wrong direction!

The more work we do now, the easier it will be!

Leading them forth in ways of salvation, showing the path to life evermore.

Verse 3

Because we have good news, because we have been given a mission by Jesus Christ, because we know the Bible way of salvation, we must spread it!

We must take pity on people who are lost and help them.  We must show mercy to them, kindly showing them the error of their ways.  After all, this is what Jesus did. Those people who had been neglected and rejected by society were the ones that Jesus seemed to spend the most time teaching.

And we need to be the same way. We need to go to these people who know they need help, who know they need Jesus.

Thus I would go on missions of mercy, following Christ from day unto day.

We need to give people hope by showing them that Jesus died for them.  We need to show them that the gospel really is good news—it’s GREAT news.  And when we see Christians who have stumbled, we need to help them back up and help them on that glorious path to heaven above!

Cheering the faint and raising the fallen, pointing the lost to Jesus the way.

Chorus

Jesus gave a parable about a man who had 100 sheep, and one of them got lost.  That man left the other 99 sheep to go search for that one lost lamb.  We might say, “he’s still got 99% of his sheep, why worry about that one?” It’s because that one sheep is important. That one sheep is valuable.

We must realize that all people are important and are valuable. Until we take this seriously, we’ll never grow.

We have to be willing to go out of our way to seek the lost. We have to be willing to give up our comforts (and our comfort zone) to seek the lost.

If there really was a boy who was lost on a mountain, or in the woods, would you stop what you’re doing to help?  Then you should be willing to stop what you’re doing and try to help find the lost souls out there who are searching for home.  We need to find them, and guide them to Christ.

Going afar upon the mountain, bringing the wand’rer back again into the fold of my Redeemer: Jesus the Lamb for sinners slain.

Conclusion:

If you’re not a part of the body of Christ, having put Him on in baptism, then you are one of the lost.  Jesus died for your sins, and He wants you to come home to Him. He says “come to me, you weary ones. I’ll give you rest.”

The path to Jesus is easy, just believe in Him, leave your sins behind and confess Him as the Christ, being buried with Him in baptism, and being raised up from the waters as a new creature—saved!

Perhaps you’ve already followed that path, but somewhere along the way you’ve lost your footing and fallen off the trial to heaven. We beg you to come back now—we’ll help you!

-Bradley S. Cobb

Sermon Wednesday – Ten Thousand Angels

They bound the hands of Jesus in the garden where he prayed.
They led him through the streets in shame.
That spat upon the Savior, so pure and free from sin.
They said “Crucify him. He’s to blame.”

We all know those words of that song. And we know what comes next in it.  The song contains some great thoughts, and helps us focus our minds on what is really important. But before we get into the song, let me tell you about how it was written.

Ray Overholt was a musician with his own TV show, “Ray’s Roundup,” for a time. But in 1958, something changed. He had left the TV show and started playing in nightclubs.  He was drinking heavily.  He said, “I began thinking there must be a better life than the nightclub, show-business whirlwind. I was so intent on changing my lifestyle that I went home and told my wife that I was quitting all of the smoking, drinking and cursing. I wanted to cleanup my own life.”

One day I thought to myself: I’ve written secular songs, I’d like to write a song about Christ. I opened the Bible, which I knew very little about, and began to read the portion of Scripture that describes Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane telling Peter to put away his sword. I read where Jesus told Peter that He could ask His Father and He would send twelve legions of angels. I didn’t know at the time that would have been more than 72,000 angels.”

I thought a good title for a song would be He Could Have Called Ten Thousand Angels. I didn’t know what happened during the life of Christ, so I began doing a little research. The more I read about Jesus, the more I admired him for what He had done. I then remembered that He did this all for me.

“I was playing in a nightclub in Battle Creek, Michigan, when [I started] to write the song. I wrote the first verse and put it in my guitar case. I then gave the club my notice that I was quitting. As I opened my guitar case to put my instrument away, one of the other musicians saw the music written out and he asked, ‘What are you doing there?’ I told him I was writing a song about Jesus. He asked the title and I told him. He said, ‘It will never go.’ I asked why? He said, ‘I don’t even like the title.’ But I finished the song and sent it to a publishing house, which reluctantly agreed to publish it.”

And the rest is history. The song has become one of the favorites of Christians all over the world.

Let’s think back to the time described in the words of this song.

The Arrest of Jesus

It’s late at night, and after spending several hours with His disciples, Jesus goes off alone to pray. He looks at Peter, James, and John, and says, “you guys stay awake and keep a lookout while I go pray.”  Then Jesus goes further into the garden, falls on his knees, and agonizes in prayer. He is incredibly stressed to the point where he is sweating as it were great drops of blood (Luke 22:44).  He gets back up and finds that His disciples sleeping. He wakes them up, and it’s not much later that a large group of soldiers, led by Judas, comes and arrests Jesus. “Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus and bound Him” (John 18:12).

Jesus, the innocent man was arrested and chained as a common criminal, and led away for trial.  The soldiers shove Jesus through the city on the way to the high priest’s home. People hear the noise and begin to look out their window and see Jesus in chains.  The man who had—just days earlier—been greeted with cries of “Hosannah” as He rode down the street in Jerusalem as a King, was now being led down the street in the early morning hours as a prisoner.

Again, the high priest asked Him, and said unto Him, “Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” And Jesus said, “I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest rent His clothes, and saith, “What need we any further witnesses? Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye?” And they all condemned Him to be guilty of death. And some began to spit on him.” (Mark 14:61-65).  The sinless Savior stood there while the crowd condemned Him to death and spat on Him.

And Pilate said again to them, What do you desire then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews? And they cried out again, Crucify him! Then Pilate said unto them, Why? What evil hath he done? And they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him!” (Mark 15:12-14)

They bound the hands of Jesus in the garden where He prayed.
They led Him through the streets in shame.
They spat upon the Savior, so pure and free from sin.
They said, “Crucify him! He’s to blame!”

The Mockery of Jesus

Jesus has been dragged from one mock trial to another. The Sanherdrin condemned Him to death, and spat on Him. Herod rejects Him because Jesus wouldn’t speak against the accusers. Pilate showed himself as spineless and washed his hands of the whole situation. Then Jesus is scourged—whipped across the back until the muscles and bones in his back are clearly visible. Then he’s turned over to the soldiers for them to do whatever they want before they kill Him.

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and the whole band of soldiers gathered around Him. And they stripped Him, and put on him a scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they spit upon him, and too the reed and smote him on the head. And after they had mocked him, they took the robe off of him, and put his own rainment on him, and led him away to crucify him” (Matthew 27:26-31).

They put a robe on his bleeding back. They twisted up thorn vines and put them on his head. They mocked him in fake worship. They took the reed and started hitting him on the head, driving the thorns deeper and deeper into his head.   And during this whole time, there was no one there defending Him. He was by Himself.

Upon His precious head, they placed a crown of thorns.
They laughed, and said “Behold, the king!”
They struck Him and they cursed Him and mocked His holy name.
All alone, He suffered everything.

The Crucifixion of Jesus.

Jesus is beaten and bloody. His face is unrecognizable. And they nail his hands and feet to the cross. Jesus is hurt, exhausted, dehydrated, sleep-deprived, mentally spent, but still determined. He is still thinking clearly. But as He’s raised up on the cross to begin His final torture before dying, He looks at the crowd that’s gathered. Through the blood that’s run into His eyes, He sees Mary, His mother. As He’s on the cross, struggling for every breath, He makes sure His mother is taken care of.

Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary of Clophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith to His mother, “Woman, behold thy son!” Then saith He to the disciple, “Behold, thy mother.” And from that hour, that disciple took her into his own home.” (John 19:25-27).

Everything had been taken care of. It was all about over. The last request of Jesus on this earth was a drink.  “After this, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, saith, “I thirst.” Now there was a set vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon the hyssop, and put it to His mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, “It is finished.” And he bowed His head and gave up the ghost.” (John 19:28-30).

The wicked work of the Jews in killing Jesus had finally accomplished their goal.

When they nailed him to the cross, his mother stood nearby.
He said, “woman, behold thy Son.”
He cried, “I thirst for water,” but they gave Him none to drink.
Then the sinful work of man was done.

The Other Side of the Story

The sinful work of man was done, but this was also in the plan of God—it was God’s grand plan to bring about redemption.  Jesus didn’t fight the mob. Jesus didn’t resist the authorities that falsely arrested, accused, and condemned Him. He refused the drink that would have helped to deaden the pain. He took the full force of His death. He was taking on the full punishment for sins, and nothing was held back. The entire world’s sins were on His shoulders while He was on the cross, and He had no helper. No one to help shoulder the burden. It was all on Him. And then He died, and His death made salvation possible for all men.

And Jesus cried with a loud voice” (Mark 15:37) “He said, It is finished: and he bowed his head and gave up the ghost.” (John 19:30).

“Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

For the preaching of the cross is, to them that perish, foolishness. But unto us which are saved, it is the power of God” (I Corinthians 1:18).

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to all those who believe, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).

To the howling mob He yielded. He did not for mercy cry.
The cross of shame He took alone.
And when He cried “It’s finished,” He gave Himself to die.
Salvation’s wondrous plan was done.

The Self-Control of Jesus.

Peter, the impetuous sword-wielding disciple of Jesus Christ, tried to stop these events from taking place. In the garden, when the soldiers came to take Jesus, Peter stood up for His master and attacked.

And behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear. Then said Jesus unto him, “Put up again thy sword into his place. For all they that take up the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou not that I cannot now pray to my Father, and He shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?” (Matthew 26:51-54).

He could have called ten thousand angels
to destroy the world and set Him free.
He could have called ten thousand angels,
BUT…He died alone, for you and me.

Conclusion:

He could have avoided it all, but He died alone for you and for me.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16).

Repent and be baptized, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38)

Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).

Behold now is the accepted time, behold NOW is the day of salvation.”

-Bradley Cobb

Sermon Wednesday – In Vain in High and Holy Lays

Welcome back to another Sermon Wednesday!  This week, we continue our series on “Singing with the Understanding.”  Enjoy and use it to God’s glory!

Introduction:

A realization struck me this week, that there was a song I knew, I sang, and I have even led—and I didn’t have a clue what the first line was even talking about: In Vain in High and Holy Lays.

What does that even mean?  Perhaps you have wondered the same thing.

The rest of the song is easier to understand, and we’ll be looking at it today.  It breaks down like this:

Verse 1 – The inexpressible love of Jesus
Verse 2 – The comforting love of Jesus
Verse 3 – The forgiving love of Jesus

Let’s join together and look at the Biblical truths expressed in this song so that we can truly follow the command to “sing with the understanding” (I Corinthians 14:15)

Verse 1 – The Inexpressible Love of Jesus

In vain

This phrase simply means that it is worthless, such as “In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9).

In high and holy lays.

The word “lays” is an old English word that means songs.  So, these are high and holy songs, the grandest, most serene songs of praise—the ones that can give you chills when you hear it.

My soul, her grateful voice would raise.

The grateful heart sings the most meaningful, heart-felt songs possible.  The first line here describes our singing with our hearts, with truly grateful emotion, the most awe-inspiring melody and most honest and true words…

And it still wouldn’t come close to accurately describing the wonderful love of Jesus.  It can’t come close to doing justice to the praise Christ deserves.

For who can sing the worthy praise of the wonderful love of Jesus?

Though we can understand part of it, there is no way for our human minds to fully express the love of Jesus Christ for us.  Though we can try with all our might, there is no way we can adequately express our gratitude for the love of Jesus.

This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try, but just know that the love of Jesus is so great, so wonderful, so overwhelming that we cannot ever adequately express it.

Jesus loved us in that while we were yet sinners, He died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6)  And we show that love for him through praise, worship, and obedience (Hebrews 5:9, John 14:15).

The full extent of the love Christ has for us is truly inexpressible.

Verse 2 – The comforting love of Jesus.

A joy by day

When you look at the Scriptures, you can see that people who truly came to Jesus had great joy.  The Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:29) went on his way rejoicing after being saved by Jesus’ blood when he was baptized.  The people on Pentecost were glad to receive the instructions on how to come to Jesus (Acts 2:41).  John wrote Christians to remind them of the “full joy” they had in Christ Jesus (I John 1:4).

As we go throughout our daily routines, we should constantly remember the benefit of Christ’s death on the cross on our behalf and be joyful.  Even though troubles come in this life—sometimes extremely difficult ones—if we keep our eyes on Christ and continue to remember what He has done for us, we can truly be joyful.

Just remember Paul and Silas when they were falsely imprisoned after being beaten bloody—they sat there and sang (Acts 16:22-25).

What kind of joy do you show because of Jesus?

A Peace by night

When night comes, many people have anxiety—but that doesn’t need to describe Christians.  Every night when you lay down to sleep, you can have peace in knowing that you have come to the saving blood of Christ.  Every night, you can know that if you were to die in your sleep, you’ve got heaven awaiting you when you awake.

You have peace knowing that regardless of what happens, you’re depending on the One who matters most—Jesus Christ our Lord.  And when you get that, you have peace that surpasses understanding (Philippians 4:7).

In storms a calm

A massive storm was happening on the Sea of Galilee, and a group of lifetime fishermen were afraid they were going to die (Mark 4:37-39).  They stumbled down the steps in the boat as the waves covered the ship.  They found Jesus sleeping—SLEEPING!  How could someone sleep in the middle of that?

They woke Him up and said, “don’t you care that we’re about to die?”  Jesus spoke up and said to the storm, “peace. Be still,” and immediately the waves stopped, the wind ceased, and there was a pure calm.

In the midst of the storms of life, we can have the same kind of calm—as though we are under a protective shelter which keeps the storm from touching us.  We can have a calm, knowing that all things work together for good to them that love God (Romans 8:28).  We can have a calm, knowing that so long as we focus on God’s kingdom and righteousness, He will make sure we have everything we need (Matthew 6:33).

It is because of Jesus Christ’s love for us that He died, and gave us access to the Father in prayer—which can sooth our anxieties in the storms of life (Hebrews 4:16).

In darkness light

Jesus is described as “the light” (John 1:6-10).  In a world of darkness, Jesus is the light.  When all around us seems frightening, like there is no hope, Jesus Christ shines as a bright beacon lighting our way to heaven.  Jesus gives us hope and helps brighten our days.

We don’t have to grope around blindly—Jesus has provided the light for us to walk safely.

In pain, a balm

When we suffer hardships, emotional pain, we can look to the Great Physician (Luke 5:31) and He has provided the spiritual ointment needed to help heal our hurts.  We look to Him, and remember what really matters.

We look to Him, and realize that we’ve not got it as bad as we might think—after all, how many of us have been stripped naked, beaten bloody, publicly mocked and ridiculed, and then been nailed to a cross and left there to die?

Jesus brings healing to our souls, and cares about our lives.

In weakness, might

Leaning on Jesus, Leaning on Jesus, safe and secure from all alarms, leaning on Jesus, leaning on Jesus, leaning on the everlasting arms.

When we are weak, we lean on Jesus Christ who gives us strength; He lifts us up as we walk beside Him.  Paul said it this way, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

He also said, “I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecution, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then I am strong” (II Corinthians 12:10).

Is the wonderful love of Jesus.

All of these blessings comes because Christ loved us enough to die for us.

Verse 3 – The Forgiving Love of Jesus.

My hope for pardon when I call.

For non-Christians, pardon from sins comes when they call on the name of the Lord—turning to Him and His authority in obedience.  Calling on the name of the Lord (done by obedience in baptism) brings about pardon from our sins (Acts 22:16).  Calling on the name of the Lord (which was described as “repent and be baptized“) saves us (Acts 2:21, 38, 41, 47).

For Christians, pardon from sins come when they go to God in prayerful repentance.  Simon the sorcerer (a Christian) was told to repent and pray to God for forgiveness (Acts 8:22).  John told Christians to confess their sins to God, and they would be forgiven (I John 1:9).

We can have boldness to go to the Father in prayer BECAUSE of the wonderful love of Jesus (Hebrews 4:14-16).  But without Christ, there is no pardon for our sins.

My trust for lifting when I fall.

When we stumble along the way, we have the help of Jesus to get back up again and keep walking with Him.  If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin (I John 1:7).

The sins mentioned in that verse are those times when we stumble. But so long as we keep trying, Jesus lifts us up to help us on our way.

Love lifted me, love lifted me, when nothing else could help, love lifted me.

We can trust in Jesus to lift us back up when we have asked for forgiveness.

In life, in death, my all in all.

We live our lives for Christ—and He helps us through it all by His word and the work that He has already done on our behalf.  And when we do that, we know that when death comes, we can embrace it, knowing that we will go on to be with the Lord, which is far better (Philippians 1:23).

Our entire existence, whether we live or die, should all center on Christ Jesus.

Conclusion:

Wonderful love, wonderful love, wonderful love of Jesus!

It is through the love of Christ that we are saved, that we have hope, that we have comfort, and that we have forgiveness.

Remember that the next time troubles come along and you don’t know where to turn.  Remember that the next time you sing this song—The love of Jesus is what our entire existence depends on.

He loved you so much that He came here and willingly took your place—your death sentence because of your sins (Romans 3:23).  His love also revealed the way by which you can be saved—believe and obey the gospel.

-Bradley Cobb

Sermon Wednesday – A Wonderful Savior

This week (since we’re back home now), we will be continuing our series of sermons dealing with songs that we sing.  This series is called “Singing with the Understanding.”  Enjoy and use to God’s glory!

Introduction:

If you look through your songbook at the names of the songwriters, you’ll notice that some people appear semi-frequently.  L.O. Sanderson and Tillet S. Teddlie are two that come immediately to my mind.  Another one that you are probably more familiar with is Fanny J. Crosby.

Mrs. Crosby wrote hundreds of hymn lyrics, and others put them to music.  One thing that you might not know about her is that she was blind.  One of the things that stands out in her songs is that in most of them, she mentions seeing.  For example, in the song “To God be the Glory,” the last verse says “our wonder, our transport, when Jesus we see.”

Today, we will be taking a look at another song she wrote, and the Biblical truths expressed in it.  The song is “A Wonderful Savior.”

Verse 1 – In Jesus we have safety.

A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord.

Jesus died to rescue people from sin.  His is the only sacrifice with any true power—power enough to cover the sins of all those before Him and all those after Him (Hebrews 9:15).  He died for the sins of the whole world! (I John 2:2)

Truly, there is no other Savior like Jesus.  And there is no other Savior BUT Jesus (Acts 4:12).

A wonderful Savior to me.

He is not just the general savior of the whole world; He is our personal Savior as well.  He didn’t get a huge net and gather up everyone at once to safety—He saves people individually.

He’s my Savior. He saved me.  He can save you too. He’s waiting at the water to save you.  There ain’t nothin’ like being saved—freed from the sins that were holding you down and trying to kill you.

Jesus is my wonderful Savior. Is He yours?

He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock

This is safety. This is protection.  It’s as though you are in the midst of a storm of sin, and there is a crevice cut into the side of a mountain—a place of refuge—a place of safety from the storms of life.

God is our refuge—Jesus is the one who brings us to that place of safety.

Where rivers of pleasure I see

Joys indescribable can be ours if we are in Jesus.  Only in Jesus can we have salvation.  Only in Jesus can we get to heaven, for He has blazed the trail for His people (Hebrews 6:20). Only those in Christ can answer “yes” to the question “shall we gather at the river that flows from the throne of God?”

In Christ, we can see the glories of heaven and the joys that can be ours here and in the world to come!

Verse 2 – In Jesus we have strength.

A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord, He taketh my burden away.

You’re walking around, carrying a burden of sin.  It’s overwhelming, and it drags you down to the point where you can’t even move—you’re trapped.  Then Jesus comes and removes the weight—suddenly you’re free! You’ve been liberated!

My friends, that’s what Jesus does for you when you are baptized into Him.  He washes away all of your sins (Acts 22:16).  The burden is gone!

He holdeth me up

It’s as though we are walking side by side with Jesus; and He’s supporting us, holding us up.  We don’t have strength on our own to walk right—we can’t get to heaven on our own strength.  Jesus is there helping us along—when we stumble, He’s there to keep us from falling (Jude 24).

What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!

The problem comes when someone lets go of Jesus, quits leaning on His everlasting arms, or even pushes Him away.  But so long as you are holding on to Christ, trying to walk in the steps of the Savior, He will keep you from falling.

And I shall not be moved.

When we are walking with Jesus, nothing has the power to knock us over.  More powerful is He that is in you than he that is in the world (I John 4:4).  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:35-39).

If we are in Christ and walking in the Light, then “like a tree planted by the waters,” we can say “I shall not be moved!”

He giveth me strength as my day.

We lean on Jesus for our strength, for we have none on our own.  He is the one who gives us strength.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13)!

Verse 3 – In Jesus we have reason to sing.

With numberless blessings, each moment He crowns.

Count your many blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done!

We are given constant blessings from God—from Jesus Christ our Savior.  We have access to God in prayer, we have the confidence of our salvation, we have the fantastic family of God—the church—to help us through each and every day.  Numberless blessings given to us every day!

And they only come through Christ (Ephesians 1:3).

And filled with His fullness divine.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly (Colossians 3:16).  When we fill ourselves with the word of God, then the power of Christ is in us.  And when Christ shall come again, we shall be changed as He was and ascend to our heavenly home!

I sing in my rapture, o Glory to God

When we examine the great blessings that God has given us, and the even better things that await us, it causes us to be overjoyed.  We sing “Hallelujah, praise Jehovah!

We sing “Thank you Lord for loving me and thank you Lord for blessing me, thank you Lord for making me whole and saving my soul!

Even when things aren’t going well for us here on earth, we can still sing, joyfully remembering what awaits us up there (remember Paul and Silas in Acts 16:22-25—singing in prison).

For such a redeemer as mine.

We sing glory to God because “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Glory to God for sending the One who paid the price to save our souls from eternal damnation!

Verse 4 – In Jesus we have eternal salvation.

When clothed in His brightness,

Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory (I Corinthians 15:51-54).

We will be clothed in glory, clothed in brightness!

Transported, I rise to meet Him in clouds of the sky.

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words (I Thessalonians 4:16-18).

When Christ comes back, all of His people will meet Him in the air, and be escorted to heaven!

His perfect salvation

When Christ comes again, salvation is completed!  When Christ comes again, our battles will all be over, and heaven will be our eternal home!

His wonderful love

He loved us enough to die for us, and “greater love hath no man that to lay down his life for a friend” (John 15:13).

I’ll shout with the millions on high!

There will be an innumerable amount of people surrounding the throne of God in heaven, singing praises to God the Father, and Jesus the Christ throughout eternity.

When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be, when we all get to heaven, we’ll sing and shout the victory!

Conclusion:

Do you want to be one of those joyful millions who can’t help but singing in heaven?  Jesus invites you to join Him, to become one of His people.

He said, “come unto me, all ye who labor and are heavy-laden (carrying a heavy burden) and I will give you rest…for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-30).  And when you do that, it’s as though—even though you are in a dry desert—Jesus has given you shade and protection, and provides all the water you could ever need.

He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock that shadows a dry, thirsty land. He hideth my life in the depths of His love, and covers me there with His hand, and covers me there with His hand.

The words here seems to be taken from when God allowed Moses to see Him from behind as He walked by (Exodus 33:20-23), where God showed His love and respect for Moses by letting him see His glory as He passed by.  But the idea in the chorus is that Jesus holds us close and protects us.

For the great invitation to have any power, you have to first hear it, and believe that it is real.  Then make that decision to take Jesus up on His offer, leaving your past sins in the past.  Confess that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and be baptized, washing away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

Jesus invites you, and so do we.

-Bradley S. Cobb

Sermon Wednesday – All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name

Today, we continue our series on “Singing with the Understanding.”  We thank you all for the encouraging emails that you have sent us regarding this series.

Introduction:

Have you made Christ your king?  When someone is made the leader (be it of a city, state, or nation), they hold the office, even though some people may not recognize their authority.

Christ is indeed the King over all, but do you submit to that authority?  Have you made Christ the king in your life?

The song we will be looking at today deals with the power of Christ—His authority—and the recognition of it.

“All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name.”

Verse 1 – He has authority over the angels.

The song starts with its main theme:

All hail the power of Jesus’ name!

It means “Everyone, recognize the power of the authority of Christ!”  Jesus claimed all authority in heaven and on earth after His resurrection (Matthew 28:18-19).  The first three verses of this song express this truth in different areas. First…

Let angels prostrate fall

He has authority over the angels.  Though He was made to be a little lower than the angels by becoming man, through His death He took a place of authority over all (Hebrews 2:7-9).  The angels are subject to Him and are commanded to worship Him (Hebrews 1:4-6).  Angels are powerful beings, without question, but their power is subject to Christ (Revelation 22:16).

The phrase “Let angels prostrate fall” means “let angels bow down before Him.”

He is the royal ruler: King and Lord of all!

Bring forth the royal diadem

This is the crown of the king.  He is the Son of God (the King) and through inheritance has taken His rule with God as king (Hebrews 1:3-4).

And crown Him Lord of all.

He has been put over all things (Hebrews 2:7).  The angels are commanded to recognize Christ’s authority.  His authority stretches beyond heaven—but that’s described in the next verses.

Verse 2 – He has authority over God’s people.

The church is the recipient of the promises to Israel—we are spiritual Israel.

Ye chosen seed of Israel’s race.

Spiritual Israel is not the same as physical Israel:  For they are not all Israel who are of Israel (Romans 9:6).

The true Israel of God are the ones who follow His commands.  And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy on the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16).

The seed of Abraham to whom the promises were made are those who are his children by faith

For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: Because the law works wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all (Romans 4:13-16, see also Romans 2:28-29).

The blood-bought ones should recognize Christ’s authority in all things.

Ye ransomed from the fall.

To be ransomed means to be purchased—bought back.  Christ has purchased us from sin with His blood (Acts 20:28).  The fall is our sinful state—for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

Hail Him who saves you by His grace.

Christians—recognize Christ’s authority, for He is the One who saved you!  Christ’s saving work isn’t a one-time thing—He continually saves us.  When we are baptized, He saves us.  As we stumble on our walk with Him, He picks us up and dusts us off so long as we’re still trying.  As we repent of our sins, He keeps saving us (I John 1:9).

He has saved us by His grace.

“Grace” is a much-abused topic these days.  But we need to remember that if Christ didn’t want to save us, we couldn’t be saved.  There’s nothing that mankind did that made Jesus say, “wow! I have to save these people.”  It was completely His grace that made the way for us to be saved.  It was completely by His grace that He made that way known to everyone through His word.

We still have to accept it on His terms, but we can never forget that it is God’s grace that saves us.

And crown Him Lord of all.

All Christians must submit themselves to Christ.  And not just that, but recognize His complete sovereignty—His total rule over our lives.  Have you crowned Christ as the King of your life?

Verse 3 – Christ has authority over the entire human race.

This cannot be stressed enough—everyone is amenable to the rule and law of Jesus Christ!

There are some in the church who are trying to sidestep some of God’s laws by teaching that non-Christians aren’t amenable to the law of Christ.  By this, it is meant that the rules in the Bible don’t apply to anyone unless they’re Christians.

Here’s the problem with that reasoning—if they don’t apply to non-Christians, then non-Christians cannot be lost, because they aren’t under any law.  Where there is no law, there is no sin (Romans 4:15).

If this doctrine were true, there would be no point in evangelizing either—because we’d be bringing them into a law that they could possibly break and thus be eternally damned!

Let every kindred, every tribe on this terrestrial ball

Everyone, regardless of their family, ethnic background, or location, is under consideration here.  Everyone on earth is subject to Christ.

Terrestrial ball = land-sphere, this earth.

To Him, all majesty ascribe.

Everyone on earth should recognize the authority of Jesus Christ and submit to it.  Part of that responsibility is ours—to take the message of Christ to others so that they know about it.

Everyone on earth—even non-Christians—need to recognize Christ as the one supreme King.  This is what it means to ascribe all majesty to Him.  It is to recognize His complete authority—that He is supreme.

And crown Him Lord of all.

Non-Christians—by definition—have not crowned Christ as their Lord and Savior.  If you’re not a Christian, then you are living in rebellion to the Supreme King and Judge, Jesus Christ.

Verse 4 –  The reward for submission to the king—heaven!

Why should we recognize and submit to the Kingship of Jesus Christ?  This verse describes it for us!

O that with yonder sacred throng…

This is to be with the saved in that great by and by in the sky.  This is to be with the redeemed, to hear our name when the roll is called up yonder.  This is the sacred (holy) throng (multitude of people) yonder (over there in heaven).

We at His feet may bow

We will be able to worship Christ forever in heaven (Revelation 7:9-10).  We will be in His presence (you have to be in His presence to be able to bow at His feet).

Eternity in heaven with God and Christ—free from all care, happy and bright, Jesus is there, He is the light.

We’ll join the everlasting song…

Singing praises to God forever—continual joy, unending happiness.  In short, heaven!

When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less day to sing God’s praise than when we first begun!

Everlasting life in heaven, never to be separated again!

And praise Him Lord of all.

Those who submit to the authority of Christ here on earth will have the pleasure and desire to praise and thank Him for all eternity in heaven.

Conclusion

Christ Jesus is the King over all creation—of angels and of ALL people—including you!  Have you made Him king of YOUR life?  Have you acknowledged His authority and submitted to it so that you can go to heaven?

Christ has set forth His law, and it’s not hard.  Believe in Him as the Christ, the Son of God.  Repent of your sins.  Be Baptized in order to have your sins forgiven.  Then afterwards continue to do your best to serve your King.

-Bradley S. Cobb

Sermon Wednesday – A Mighty Fortress

Welcome back!  This week, we present to you another sermon in the “Singing with Understanding” series.  We are looking at the words of songs that we sing, and showing the biblical ideas behind them so we can truly understand what we’re singing.  In case you missed the previous lesson (God’s Family), you can read it here.

Introduction

The name of Martin Luther is familiar to most people.  He is the founder of the Lutheran Church.  He was one of the catalysts in the Reformation Movement back in the 1500s.  He was a former Catholic priest who nailed a list of 95 things that the Catholics were doing that he believed were opposed to the Bible.

He famously declared that the Pope was the “man of sin” described in II Thessalonians 2.  The Catholics afterwards declared that Martin Luther was the “man of sin” described in that chapter.

But one thing you might not know about him is that he also wrote hymns—and we still sing one of them occasionally today.

The song is called “A Mighty Fortress.”

There are different stories about the first time this song was sung publicly.  But all are agreed that the idea was taken from Psalm 46.

  • Some have said that it was sung by Martin Luther and others as they were entering the room where they were to be examined by a Catholic inquiry against them.
  • Others have said that it was a song written for armies to sing as they battled the Ottoman (Muslim) Turks.

Whichever it was, the point of the song was to encourage the singers to rely on God for strength.

Today, our lesson will come from the biblical truths expressed in this song.

Verse 1 – The combatants in the great war.
Verse 2 – Our strength in the war.
Verse 3 –The war continues

Verse 1 – The Combatants in the Great War.

God is the first Combatant in this war.

A Mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing.

There is safety and security in God.  He’s like a strong, fortified castle that cannot be breached.  You are completely safe from death inside His walls.  A “bulwark” is a defensive wall, a means of protection—and God’s protection never fails!

Romans 8:38-39 – No outside force has the power to separate us from the love of God which is IN Christ Jesus.

Our helper He amidst the flood of mortal ills prevailing.

If we were to rearrange the words to our normal usage, it would be He is our helper, prevailing in the midst of the things which have the power to kill (aka, sin).

In James 1, Christians are told to rejoice in the midst of trials and temptations; they are told to go to God for help in the midst of temptation.  So, in the midst of a world of sin and surrounded by temptation, God is our helper—He can help us overcome the enemy!

But who is the enemy?

Satan is the other combatant in the war. 

He’s still fighting against us.

For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe.

Or, Our ancient foe is still seeking to harm us.  Satan is not some new enemy; he’s our ancient foe.  Satan is the originator of all things evil, for he has been evil from the beginning (John 8:44).  He is always described in the Bible as evil—thus he has always been opposed to God.  And he is continually trying to destroy us.

Our adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour (I Peter 5:8).  He is constantly firing flaming arrows at us (Ephesians 6:16).  He is indeed a very powerful enemy.

His craft and power are great

His methods (craft) are strong and effective.  After all, everyone who’s ever lived has fallen prey to his methods (Romans 3:23).  All, that is, except one—Jesus Christ (II Corinthians 5:20-21).

His power is great.  He is a strong enemy—defeating him isn’t easy.  Just try to go a week without losing at least one battle against him.

and armed with cruel hate.

Unlike the United States has historically been, Satan views the enemy with hatred.  The US, as a general rule, treats their enemies with respect and kindness (see the general treatment of prisoners of war, or even terrorists).

Satan is fueled by hatred, and doesn’t just want victory—he wants to destroy us completely!  He is “seeking whom he may devour.”

on earth is not his equal.

No one on earth can stand against Satan on his own.

 

This thought leads us into the second verse.

Verse 2 – Our strength in the War.

We touched on the two combatants in the war, but something that needs to be remembered is that we are in this war as well.

Remember Job?  There was a war between God and Satan, and the battlefield to determine the winner was Job himself.  Satan is not just God’s adversary, but OURS as well (I Peter 5:8).

Since there is no one on earth equal to Satan’s power, we cannot defeat him on our own.

Did we, in our own strength, confide, our striving would be losing.

Satan is too powerful for us to defeat on our own.  All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).  Every person is a slave to sin if he is on his own.

There is good news, however: we don’t have to fight Satan alone—God has sent one to defeat Satan for us!

Our striving would be losing were not the right One on our side, the man of God’s own choosing.

God so loved the world that He sent someone save people from perishing (John 3:16).  Our strength in the battle—our ability to overcome Satan—is found in one Man.

Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He.

  • It is Jesus Christ who has fought for us.
  • It is Jesus Christ who has already won the victory (Hebrews 2:14, Revelation 12:7-11).
  • It is in Jesus Christ that we win the victory as well (I John 2:13).
  • The One who fights with us is more powerful than the one who fights against us (I John 4:4)!

Lord Sabaoth is His name.

The word Sabaoth means armies.  Christ is the captain of the armies of God (Joshua 5:13-15).  Christ is called “the captain of our salvation” (Hebrews 2:10).  In Revelation, He is described as the leader of the army of God (12:7-11).

From age to age the same.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).  He is eternal—He is God (John 1:1).  If God (Christ) be for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31).

And He must win the battle.

The outcome of the war has already been determined, for Christ has won!  Now, all that we have to do is choose which side we are on!

Verse 3 – The war continues.

Even though Christ has won the victory for us, we must still continue with the battle here on earth.

And though this world, with evil filled, should threaten to undo us

Just because Jesus has won the victory, that doesn’t mean we can rest.  We must be vigilant because Satan is still on the attack (I Peter 5:8).  Christians cannot get the idea that we can sit back and relax!

We will not fear, for God has willed His truth to triumph through us.

Christians have need to fight, but they have no need to fear, for God has given us a spirit of power, not of fear (II Timothy 1:7).  God has already determined that His truth will endure; His truth will triumph; and that victory is through US!

  • WE—the church—are the pillar and ground of the truth (that which hold up the truth).
  • WE—the church—are the ones who have been entrusted with the faith (Jude 3).

God’s word will stand forever, and we are the ones who are supposed to carry it to others so that we can conquer hearts!  In order for us to be victors in the war, we have to stay focused on heaven!

Let goods and kindred go.

Seek ye first the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33).  Don’t be like the rich young ruler (Mark 10:29-30).  We can’t let the things of this world take our eyes off the prize: eternal life in heaven with God!

This mortal life also; the body they may kill.

When this song was written, the Catholic Church had threatened to take property of those who fought against it.  You could be tried and executed for heresy if you left the Catholic Church.  So when this song was written, they had a great fear of being killed for their faith.

In the first century, it was much the same—the Jews killed many Christians.  But the point is that even though they may be faced with death, they must remain faithful (Revelation 2:10).

God’s word abideth still, His kingdom is forever.

Regardless what happens to us, God’s word still stands.  Even if thousands—millions—of Christians fall away, God’s word still says what it says.

God’s kingdom will never fall.  It is eternally victorious—and those who are part of that kingdom have eternal life in heaven awaiting them (Matthew 25:34).

Conclusion:

Let us never forget that we are in the greatest war in history!  The two greatest enemies of all (God and Satan) are fighting on the biggest battlefield of all—the human race!  And WE are in that war!

We have a promise of protection and help from one side if we join Him.  We have a promise of being destroyed if we join the other side.

Which side are you on?  God never fails.  We cannot win the battle on our own; we can only win it through Jesus Christ.  But that victory is guaranteed if we stay on God’s side.

Whose side are you on?

-Bradley S. Cobb

Sermon Wednesday – God’s Family

This week, we continue our theme of “Singing with the Understanding.”  We will be looking at different songs in our songbooks, and looking at the biblical ideas behind them.  When we do this, then we can truly “sing with the understanding also” (I Corinthians 14:15).

Our introductory lesson can be found here.

Introduction:

Some of the most memorable lessons we can learn come in the form of songs—if we are willing to learn from them.  How did you learn the alphabet?—I’m willing to guess that you learned it from the song.  How about the books of the New Testament?—I’d guess that you learned it the same way.

Open your songbook to the song “God’s Family.”

This song teaches some of the most basic doctrines of the Bible.  It teaches of the family of God, the church, the saved people.

Today we will look at the lessons we can learn from this song.

  • Verse 1 – Becoming part of God’s Family.
  • Verse 2 – Life in God’s Family.
  • Verse 3 – Destiny of God’s Family.

Verse 1 – Becoming part of God’s Family.

You don’t just instantly become part of someone else’s family.  You have to join it in some way—through birth, through adoption, or through marriage (interestingly, the Bible describes joining God’s family in all three ways).

The Bible says that we are children of God by the faith, in Christ Jesus, because as many of us as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ (Galatians 3:26-27).  Jesus says that unless a man is born again, he cannot enter into heaven (John 3:3-5).  This “new birth” is the first resurrection (Revelation 20:6), being raised to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:3-4).

We become part of God’s family by being baptized.

“We’re part of the family that’s been born again…”

A family shares a common bond.  When someone becomes part of your family, you love them, right? (with the possible exception of some in-laws—haha).  You’d do anything to help and save your family, right?  What would you call that bond?

“Love one another, for those who love one another are the ones born of God” (I John 4:7)

“We’re part of the family whose love knows no end.”

A family shares a common relation.  At a family reunion, people may have different last names, but they’re all related to each other through a common relative.

The family of God is composed of those who are saved by the blood of Christ.  The family of God is composed of those who “saved themselves” by obeying the command to be baptized (Acts 2:38, 40-41).

“Cause Jesus has saved us, and made us His own.”

God’s family shares a common journey.  The members of God’s family are to be walking in the light (I John 1:7).  The members of God’s family are on a journey—looking for the heavenly dwelling promised by Christ (John 14:2—mansions).

The members of God’s family know that this world is not our home, we’re just a-passing through.

“Now we’re part of the family that’s on its way home.”

Verse 2 – Living in God’s Family.

Families should be support groups.  When one member is going through a hard time, he should be able to share that struggle with others in the family and receive comfort and support.

The same thing is true in God’s family.  If you are going through struggles—physical, emotional, or spiritual—you should feel like you can go to your spiritual family and lean on them for support.

In the same vein, brothers and sisters in Christ should feel their pain and share their grief (Romans 12:15).

“When a brother meets sorrow, we all feel his grief.”

Families should rejoice together.  When someone successfully comes through surgery, the family rejoices with the one who needed it.  When someone finally finds a job after a long time of searching, the family rejoices with him.  When a Christian (part of God’s family) makes it through a difficult time, we should all rejoice with them.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice” (Romans 12:15).

“When he’s passed through the valley, we all feel relief.”

Families stick together through good or bad. A villain in a movie recently said, “I have no problem destroying people to take over the world…but nobody messes with my family.”

When times are great, you should be able to rejoice with family—the ones who know you best and are sincerely excited for you.  When times are bad, you should be able to lean on your family for help and strength—because they need you and you need them.  God’s family must stick together (Hebrews 10:24).

The armor of God in Ephesians 6 doesn’t have anything to cover your back—but don’t worry, because your family has got your back covered for you.

When God’s family sticks together, they gain the victory!

“Together in sunshine, together in rain, together in victory through His precious name.”

Verse 3 – God’s family reunion.

Sometimes family gets separated, but they look forward to the reunion.  

Many families have annual family reunions.  The family members haven’t seen each other in months—sometimes years—but they look forward to that family reunion to renew their relationships.

We look forward to gatherings like that, don’t we?  Times when you get to see friends you have lost touch with?

Some folks get there earlier than others.  My aunt Earline was always the first one to show up at family events (I thought her name was “early” for the longest time because of this).

God has a family reunion scheduled.

Some may have left to get there before others, but all of God’s faithful family will be there.  And in that reunion, all the saints will be gathered together—a joyful family reunion.  I Thessalonians 4:13-18, II Timothy 4:7-8.

“And though some go before us, we’ll all meet again.”

The family reunion is held at a specific location.

Could you imagine getting an invitation to a family reunion, but it never says where it was going to be held?  You’d probably think someone didn’t really want you coming!

All reunions take place at a certain location.  Some take place at the park, others at someone’s house.  My mother’s family has an annual reunion at the cemetery—no joke.

The location must be suitable for the purposes.  There must be plenty of room.  It must be a location that can be accessed (you wouldn’t be able to have a reunion at the bottom of the sea).

It must be suitable for the people who will be attending.  You wouldn’t choose a place that had no seating or shelter.

God’s family reunion is held in a specific location: heaven!  It is the place prepared by Jesus Christ for our reunion (John 14:2-3).  It has plenty of room for all of God’s family.  It is the heavenly city

“Just inside the city, as we enter in.”

Family reunions must end.

As fun and enjoyable as family reunions might be, they do have to end at some point.  And as each year comes and goes, there are some people who won’t make it back to the reunions.  Perhaps they’re busy.  Perhaps they’re too frail to make the trip.  Perhaps they’ve passed away.

But God’s family reunion is different.  It is a PERMANENT reunion.  All the faithful family will be there, never to die, never to part again.  It is a joyful, forever reunion!

“They’ll be no more parting, with Jesus we’ll be, together forever, God’s family.”

Conclusion:

Take the time right now to think about the family reunion that will take place in heaven.  Who is it that you’ll be looking forward to seeing again? (names___)  And now realize that once you get to see them again, they’ll never be taken away from you anymore.  You will get to always be with them in heaven.

But here’s the catch—this reunion is only for those who are in God’s family.  If you’re not a Christian, you can’t come to the reunion.

Sermon Wednesday – Singing With Understanding

For the next several weeks, our “Sermon Wednesday” feature will focus on Singing with Understanding (I Corinthians 14:15).  We will take the time to examine the words of some of the songs we sing, and look at the Biblical ideas expressed in them so that when we sing them, we will truly “sing with the understanding also.”

Introduction:

In the church, most of the sermons you hear regarding singing are either about the use of instrumental music, or about singing unscriptural songs.  I have preached on those topics, and they absolutely need to be preached on.

However, it has been my experience that far fewer sermons are preached on the positive aspects of proper singing.  I’ve not heard many lessons on the importance of trying to improve the quality of your singing.

I know a man named Jay Rix who made it a point almost every time he lead singing to tell people to lift their songbooks up in front of them so that their voices could be heard (instead of it being sung to the floor).

I’ve not heard many lessons on the importance of trying to understand the notes and beats in our songbooks.  Have you ever been completely thrown off-track when singing a song because the song leader is singing it one way, and no one is singing the same notes or the same speed, or in the same key?

I’ve been places before where the song leader didn’t lead very loudly, and so there were three or four people in the congregation who tried to take over the lead from their pews—all at the same time, and all in different keys.  And you can picture the scene, each one sings progressively louder and louder, trying to drown out the others and make them change to the key HE (and sometimes SHE) singing in.

This inhibits proper worship—because it keeps people from focusing on WHAT they are singing.

It has happened to me more times in my life than I’d like to admit that the singing was so out of unison that I couldn’t concentrate at all on the words I was singing.  It would be beneficial if we all could take a little time now and then and learn a bit more about the music and how notes work.  After all, bad singing can be a distraction to proper worship.

In Midway, KY, back in the 1800’s, it is said that the singing in the Lord’s church there was so bad that it was called audio warfare.  It was so bad that they brought in an organ—not to help the congregation learn the notes better, but to drown them out.

I’ve not heard many sermons about the importance of “singing with the understanding.”  Of all the things involved with our singing of praises to God, this is the most important.  Paul says, “what is it then? I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the understanding also” (I Corinthians 14:15).  This is the idea of singing with the proper attitude, and knowing what you’re singing—and why you’re singing it.

Today we will be looking at what is involved in proper singing as worship to God.

Proper singing involves:

  • The proper songs (psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs)
  • The proper attitude (I will sing with the spirit)
  • The proper understanding (I will sing with the understanding also).

The proper songs (Ephesians 5:19).

The only songs authorized in praise and worship to God are: psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.

Psalms – possibly a reference to the Old Testament book of Psalms, but it would also include any inspired song of praise to God (see I Corinthians 14:26).  For example, The Lord’s My Shepherd (there are three different versions of this song in some songbooks).

Hymns – This word is also translated “sing praise” in Hebrews 2:12, and basically just means a song of praise. Some of the Psalms fit this category.  For example,  Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah!

Spiritual Songs – These are songs sung for the uplifting and edification of the members.  For example,  Are You Coming to Jesus Tonight?

Some songs can fit into more than one category.

There are songs in some songbooks that do not fit the description of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.

Precious Memories—though I like the song, it is a song about memories of your mother and father from when you were a child—not about God, Christ, the Bible, salvation, or heaven.

America the Beautiful is in more brotherhood songbooks then you might realize.

The Star-Spangled Banner is even in some of the songbooks.

As nice as these songs are, they have no business being sung during worship to God, because they are not what God has authorized in His word.

The songs we sing must be Scriptural.

These songs are supposed to be used to teach each other (Colossians 3:16).  If the songs aren’t Scriptural, then by definition we are teaching unscriptural things when we sing them!

The most popular example of this is the song Jesus is Coming Soon.  It has a great melody and a really fun bass-line to sing, but it’s not teaching the truth.  It was written in 1942, and people have been singing it for over 70 years—yet Jesus still hasn’t come.  It speaks of signs that will come to pass (the “troublesome times” from verse one) before the end comes—but Jesus said that there would be no signs before the end comes (Matthew 24:35-39).  We could say “we need to live as though Jesus could come at any moment,” but that’s not what the song says.

Our singing must also involve…

The Proper Attitude (I Corinthians 14:15)

I will sing with the spirit (the proper attitude).

Some say that this is speaking of miraculous songs (songs directly inspired by the Holy Spirit), and that is possible in the context.  But at the same time, we are commanded to worship “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24) and that applies long after the miracles ended in the first century.

When we sing, what kind of attitude are we showing?

Some people sing because they want to be heard—to show off their singing voice.  They are sometimes loud, sometimes they intentionally add notes to their singing, and their purpose in doing so is to get attention for themselves.  But where should the focus be?

Some people sing in a mumble, just doing enough so that they can say they were singing.  Others sing half-heatedly, occupying themselves with their phone or something else.  And still others sing loud and clear—but without giving a thought to the words they’re singing.

If you don’t think this can happen, I ask: have you ever sung along with the radio?  Did you give much thought to the words of the song you were singing, or were you just singing with it because you like the tune and have heard it enough times that you have it memorized?

So many songs on the radio (and it’s been this way for decades) are about drinking and sex—yet often Christians are guilty of singing along with them, not even thinking about what the words are actually saying.

We can rattle off things that we’ve memorized without difficulty, but does that make us mean it?

We need to be giving thought to the words that we are singing.  If you wrote a song for your one true love, and you then sang it to her, would you sing it with meaning? With feeling? With understanding?

When you sing a song to God, shouldn’t you sing it with meaning? With feeling? With understanding?

The Proper Understanding (I Corinthians 14:15).

I will sing with the understanding.

The Ethiopian Eunuch was reading the Bible—a great and noble thing to be doing—but Philip came up to him and asked, “do you understand what you’re reading?” (Acts 8:30).  If Philip came into our worship service sometime, he might go up to one of us and ask “do you understand what you’re singing?”

Do you understand the words you’re singing?

Richie Valens was a famous singer from the late ’50’s whose biggest hit was a song he sung in Spanish, called La Bamba.  The only problem? Richie Valens didn’t know Spanish.  He sat and listened to the song being sung over and over until he memorized the words—the syllables—even though he didn’t know at all what the words meant.  And I’d be willing to guess that more than a few of you have sung along with that song as well, having no idea what the words mean.

There are some great poets who have written songs…but many times those poets use words and phrases that make no sense to us.  For example:

  • Night with ebon pinion, brooded o’er the vale.
  • the panoply of God

We’ve sung these phrases for years, but if a visitor came in and asked you, “what does that mean?” could you answer them? And if you can’t explain what it means, doesn’t that mean you aren’t “singing with the understanding”?

There are some songs that are steeped in Bible references, but some of them are unfamiliar.  And the best example of this is O Thou Fount of Every Blessing, which says…

Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by thy help I’ve come

What is an Ebenezer? Isn’t that the Scrooge guy from Charles Dickens’ book?  I Samuel 7:12 says that after God had secured the victory for the Israelites, Samuel raised up a stone (made a monument) and called it Ebenezer, which means “The stone of the help” or “the stone to remind us of God’s help.”

So when we sing “Here I raise my Ebenezer,” we are saying “God has helped me, and I am setting up a monument in my mind to remind me of the one who has brought me this far.”

How do we make sure we are singing with the understanding?

Part of that falls on the song-leader, because he is the one who chooses the songs.  He needs to make sure that the songs he leads are either easily understandable or that he explains the possibly confusing parts.  Sometimes a song can be given a wealth of meaning and the congregation can focus on the words so much more with just a few words of explanation before the song begins.

One person said, “any time we sing this song about heaven, I think of _______ who lived her life always looking forward to her home up there.”

Another person said (about a closing song) “remember that this song is the one we’ll sing together to get us through the rest of the week” (it was “God be with you till we meet again”).

One song-leader would occasionally announce that the closing song was actually a prayer, and so that would also serve as our closing prayer.  When he did that, it caused me to look more at the words and I came to realize that it really was a prayer.  And then I had to focus on what was being said, because it was a prayer that I was saying to God!

Part of singing with the understanding falls on the one singing.  If you don’t understand what the song is saying, then you need to do some asking or some investigating on your own.  My kids have asked me on more than one occasion what something means in a song (“panoply” being the most recent one).

There’s no shame in asking someone “what does this mean?”  It wasn’t until someone explained it to me that I finally figured out what “be of sin the double cure” was referencing (in Rock of Ages).

Conclusion:

Let’s take the opportunity to put more thought and feeling into our singing.  Let’s remember that proper singing involves the proper attitude and mindset—stop singing on auto-pilot.  Let’s remember that proper singing involves the need to understand what you’re singing.

-Bradley Cobb