As I drove to my study last week, a thought popped into my head. You will not be surprised when I tell you that it was a line from one of William Cowper’s lesser-known hymns: “Sometimes a light surprises the Christian while he sings.” I wonder, do you find that happening from time to time when you are part of a worshiping congregation? Familiar words suddenly are suffused with heavenly light, as if Jesus the worship leader drew near to say, “These words are most wonderfully true and relevant to you.” I cherish such moments when we get a tiny glimpse of what it will be to join with that great multitude in declaring, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
This experience happened to me most recently at a communion service at Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church in Tennessee. Having preached, I took my place in the congregation while one of the pastors presided over Communion. Before the distribution of the elements, we said, “Here we have Communion with our blessed Redeemer, crucified and glorified, and with the body of Christ, His sanctified people. When we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we remember the finished work of Christ, receive nourishment, and anticipate the glory to come. Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.”
The closing hymn was familiar, one I have sung many times, but as I joined in singing the refrain, it was then that the light shone, and familiar words stirred my heart: “I need not other argument, I need no other Plea; it is enough that Jesus died and that He died for me.”
The hymn writer is describing the personal subjective experience of the believer whose faith is placed in the finished work of Christ—a faith that is placed not in something done by us or in us but in that which has been done for us. Our subjective experience is grounded in the objective reality. Jude urges us to contend for The Faith and similarly Paul tells Timothy that he must “guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you.”
Now the “surprise” with which I began was not experienced in isolation but in the company of people of faith. When our number is depleted, we are immediately aware of our loss. This week we have lost one of our original Truth For Life board members. Roland Hinz was one of three who committed themselves prayerfully and financially to launching this ministry. He could be relied upon to lead with vision and enthusiasm. He was kind and generous and loved to laugh. I liken him to Barnabas, who, Luke tells us, was “a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith.” I thank God for the impact he had on my life and for the influence he brought to this ministry. We extend our sympathy to his wife Lila and to all the members of his family.
In closing, I commend the materials that we offer this month. You may be confident that we are careful in our selections, which are in keeping with our stated purpose.
With my love in the Lord Jesus,