Taking a Fresh Look at Some Popular Hymns of the Faith -- By: Robert N. Wilkin
JOTGES 13:1 (Spring 00) p. 3
Taking a Fresh Look at Some Popular Hymns of the Faith
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
The Psalms were originally set to music and sung in the temple as part of the worship there. God delights in believers singing praises to Him. The Lord Jesus and His disciples sang a hymn in the Upper Room before they went to the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt 26:30). When the apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesian believers about being filled with the Spirit he spoke of “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Eph 5:19). There can be no question but that we as believers should sing to God as part of our regular worship.
There can be a question, however, as to what we should sing. In this article I am examining some beloved hymns. My purpose is not to hinder our appreciation of these hymns, but to enhance it. The intent of this article is to challenge each of us to consider if what we are singing is truly honoring to God. And if not, what should we do?
Victory in Jesus1
Victory in Jesus is a great hymn. Yet the words, “Then I repented of my sins and won the victory,” are confusing.
The first verse, in which this line appears, concerns how a person comes to be born again. It reads:
I heard an old, old story, how a Savior came from glory,
How He gave His life on Calvary to save a wretch like me:
I heard about His groaning, of His precious blood’s atoning,
Then I repented of my sins and won the victory.
JOTGES 13:1 (Spring 00) p. 4
That second line speaks of Jesus who “gave His life on Calvary to save a wretch like me.” The next makes clear that this concerns eternal salvation: “I heard about His groaning, of His precious blood’s atoning.” Then comes the line meant to indicate what we must do to have eternal salvation: “Then I repented of my sins and won the victory.”
The “victory in Jesus” spoken of is the gaining of eternal life. While it is true that repentance may precede faith, repenting of one’s sins is not a condition of eternal life.2
There is one other possible reference to what we must do to be saved in verse two:
I heard about His healing, of His cleansing pow’r revealing,
How He made the lame to walk again and caused the blind to see;
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