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Hope is Real

Hope Church - Hot Springs

Sunday Mornings: 11 - 12:15

836 Shady Grove - Hot Springs

Hope Church - Saline

Sunday Mornings: 11:00am

100 Hill Rd - 72022 Bryant, Arkansas

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Hymn of the Month: February 2016

Our Hymn of the Month for February is Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder. While many may not be familiar with this hymn, they are surely familiar with its author, John Newton, who also penned the famous hymn, Amazing Grace. Some of you may be familiar with Newton’s story, but for those who are not, John Newton (1725-1807) was, essentially, a juvenile delinquent and Royal Navy deserter who eventually found himself a crew member on a ship employed in the slave trade. One fateful night during a tremendous storm at sea, Newton, who had been reading about Christianity, cried out to Jesus, though he reflected later that, “I cannot consider myself to have been a believer in the full sense of the word.” Even after his conversion, he continued to serve in the slave trade, sailing as both a first mate and captain over the years. Even so, the seeds of belief took hold, and John Newton eventually left his vile profession behind. After some years he was ordained in the Anglican church. For years, he held a Thursday evening prayer service, writing a new hymn every week which he sang to a familiar tune. He wrote more than 280 hymns. He also authored the book, Thoughts Upon the African Slave Trade. Today, John Newton’s hymns bring a much-needed perspective to the Christian hymnal: Newton had no illusions about the depths of his depravity, and he struggled to let go of the shame that haunted him for his role in the slave trade. His awe and gratitude that the Lord of mercy would “save a wretch like me” (Amazing Grace) is palpable in the lyrics of his hymns. Let Us Sing and Love and Wonder is no different.We can see that each stanza develops an idea from the first line, and is rooted firmly in the scriptures.

The second stanza develops the idea of love. “Let us love the Lord who bought us, pitied us when enemies.” In 1 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul tells us again and again that those who belong to Christ were “bought at a price” (see Eph. 6:20, 7:23). Through Newton’s lyrics, we can proclaim the truth that there can be no greater love than the love the Father displayed through His son. We need look no further than Romans 5:8 to know that this is true:

“but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Stanzas 3 and 4 develop the ideas of singing and wonder, respectively. “Let us sing though fierce temptation/ threatens hard to bear us down.” Newton was no stranger to temptation! He knew all too well the desires of the flesh and their destructive ends. The only way to sing through such a battle is to keep our eyes unwaveringly on the free, everflowing future grace of our Lord. As we walk through the pain and suffering of the already, but not yet, we can persevere by looking back to the Cross and knowing that the God who loved us so much that “he gave his only son” (John 3:16) will surely fulfill all of His promises to us in Christ. We can march forward with confidence the race set before us (Hebrews 12:1).
A true understanding of this miraculous love of Christ can have no other result than to inspire wonder at the mercy God has shown to us. It is the natural response of the believer. “Let us wonder grace and justice/ join and point to mercy’s store.” Often in our sin, we prefer to magnify one attribute of God over the others, forgetting that it is His attributes together that make Him holy and perfect. In previous generations, people erred by magnifying His justice over His love; today, we sin by diminishing His mighty justice in favor of His love; not realizing that it is because his holiness requires justice that His love and mercy are displayed. Put another way: there can be neither love nor mercy if there is no justice. If our rebellion against the creator could simply be overlooked, if our sin was not really such a great offense to his holiness, then there would be no reason for the cross. Why would He send His son to die if our sin did not require a blood sacrifice? When we separate justice from the equation, we diminish the power of the cross, and we diminish the Father’s love for the Son. If saving us was easily done, then it would not take much love to do it. In fact, if saving us was easily done, then perhaps He would not have to love us at all to do it. But it was because of His justice that the tremendous cost of the cross displays His glorious grace, mercy, and love.

What a beautiful thing to sing of the joining of grace and justice, together displaying the great mercy of our Lord! In fact, a proper understanding of the Cross will naturally inspire within the believer an overflowing fountain of praise and song. And so, finally, in stanza 5, the natural outpouring of the our wonder of Christ’s love, is to sing praises to Him. Because of His great love, because the depths of His mercy, because He has faced the perfect justice of God and been found worthy, “let us praise and join the chorus/ of the saints enthroned on high/ here they trusted Him before us// now their praises fill the sky.” J.I. Packer says, "Any theology that does not lead to song is, at a fundamental level, a flawed theology." This echoes gloriously what we see in Revelation 5:11-12:

Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice,

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”

We hope that you will join us this Sunday as we come together, a ragtag group of sinners who, because of Christ’s love and mercy, have been transformed into a kingdom. As we worship corporately together, we can see a glimpse, a shadow of what is to come:

And they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.”

(Revelation 5:9-10)

Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder

1. Let us love and sing and wonder
Let us praise the Savior's name
He has hushed the law's loud thunder
He has quenched Mount Sinai's flame
He has washed us with His blood
He has washed us with His blood
He has washed us with His blood
He has brought us nigh to God

2. Let us love the Lord Who bought us
Pitied us when enemies
Called us by His grace and taught us
Gave us ears and gave us eyes
He has washed us with His blood
He has washed us with His blood
He has washed us with His blood
He presents our souls to God

3. Let us sing though fierce temptation
Threatens hard to bear us down
For the Lord, our strong salvation,
Holds in view the conqu'ror's crown
He, Who washed us with His blood,
He, Who washed us with His blood,
He, Who washed us with His blood,
Soon will bring us home to God

4. Let us wonder grace and justice
Join and point to mercy's store
When through grace in Christ our trust is
Justice smiles and asks no more
He Who washed us with His blood
He Who washed us with His blood
He Who washed us with His blood
Has secured our way to God

5. Let us praise and join the chorus
Of the saints enthroned on high
Here they trusted Him before us
Now their praises fill the sky
Thou hast washed us with Thy blood
Thou hast washed us with Thy blood
Thou hast washed us with Thy blood
Thou art worthy Lamb of God

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