My Resolution: “Though no one joins me, still I will follow”

“I have decided to follow Jesus”

“Though no one joins me, still I will follow.”

“The cross before me, the world behind me.”

 

These words are taken from the hymn titled “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus.” But, actually, the words came out of the mouth of the martyr who lived in India many years ago.

More than 150 years ago in a pagan village known for headhunting in northeast India, a family became followers of the Lord Jesus Christ under the ministry of a Welsh missionary. When the village chief had heard about this family’s conversion to Christianity, he asked the father of the home to recant his faith in Christ. With boldness, however, the Christian father responded, “I have decided to follow Jesus.” To force him to forsake Christ, a decree was made to kill his wife and two children. But, by God’s grace, the man proclaimed, “Though no one joins me, still I will follow.” The persecutors murdered his wife, but he remained faithful to his Lord and Savior. Finally, they killed him, but even his death did not shake his faith. In fact, during his execution, the persecutors found him saying, “The cross before me, the world behind me.” Deeply touched by this man’s life, the chief announced, “I too belong to Jesus Christ!” Eventually, the whole pagan village was converted to Christianity.

Sadly, many people do not appreciate “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus” because of its mistaken association with Arminianism. I encourage you therefore to sing this precious hymn with the inspiring story above in mind. In doing so, you will appreciate the original meaning of the song. Thank God for enabling this Christian Indian father to be willing to die for the sake of Christ.

When the time of persecution comes to you, will you be able to sing by God’s grace?

I have decided to follow Jesus,
I have decided to follow Jesus,
I have decided to follow Jesus–
no turning back, no turning back.

The world behind me, the cross before me,
the world behind me, the cross before me,
the world behind me, the cross before me–
no turning back, no turning back.

Though none go with me, I still will follow,
though none go with me, I still will follow,
though none go with me, I still will follow,
no turning back, no turning back.

May the words of this song be our resolution!

 

Reference:

Hymnary.org

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Arminianism Gospel Hymns Martyr

Songs of Suffering and Sanctification: The Hymnody of Anne Steele

This paper will examine the life and work of one of the greatest hymn writers whose heritage makes her a product of this movement, Anne Steele. Her family roots grow from the Dissenting tradition; Steele was a Particular Baptists of the eighteenth century. After a brief biographical sketch, her hymns will be examined as a source for better understanding her theology and experience, both personally and as a part of the Particular Baptist denomination. Specifically, the themes of biblical authority, personal conversion, and suffering and the sovereignty of God will each be considered in Steele’s life and compositions. Through evaluation of her biography and works, Steele’s spirituality can serve as an example to other believers seeking to cultivate and maintain their own personal piety.

 

The article is by Jake Porter, Senior Pastor of Mont Belvieu First Baptist Church, Texas, and a Ph.D. student at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky.

Click here, to continue reading his article.

Anne Steele Hymns Sanctification Spirituality Suffering

“I will sing unto the LORD”: Musical Autobiography

Philosophy of Music

As observed, music has been an important part of my life. I cannot imagine life without it. Martin Luther (1483-1546) expressed the significance of music this way: “Music is next to theology.” Of course, whenever I use the word music here I am not referring to worldly, God-dishonoring songs. While not all secular music is evil, we should be wise to discern and to avoid any secular and even “Christian” songs that displease God. Our music, first of all, must glorify the Lord; the musical tunes as well as the texts should be solemnly appropriate and theologically scriptural.

The importance of music in my life is best seen in my Christian growth. Music has been instrumental for my sanctification. Thus, I fully agree with Michael A. G. Haykin when he once said in our class that “hymnody is a vehicle for piety.” While I enjoy psalmody and classical music, I remain a great lover of hymns. Hymns comfort me when I am discouraged: “Be not dismayed whate’er betide, God will take care of you.” When I sin and feel so unworthy to come to God for forgiveness, they remind me of the: “Wonderful grace of Jesus…, Broader than the scope of my transgressions, Greater far than all my sin and shame.” They challenge me to live a godly life: “Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee.” When Satan tries to question God’s faithfulness in my life, they tell me: ‘“Great is Thy faithfulness,’ O God my Father, There is no shadow of turning with Thee… All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—‘Great is Thy faithfulness,’ Lord, unto me!” Finally, they teach me to always sing with one of my favorite hymn writers Fanny J. Crosby (1820-1915):

“To God be the glory, great things He has done!”

 

To read my entire essay, click here.

Autobiography Hymns

“The Piety of Joseph Hart as Reflected in His Life, Ministry, and Hymns”

In June 5, 1768, John Hughes preached a sermon during the funeral service for his brother-in-law, Joseph Hart. In that sermon, which was based on 2 Timothy 4:7, the Baptist Hughes appealed four times to his audience to remember their dear and godly departed friend Hart: “O ye saints of God, he [Hart] has a right to be remembered of you all.” Indeed, Hart, regarded by one of his admirers as “the most spiritual of the English hymn-writers,” deserves to be remembered. Yet, sadly, today his name is almost forgotten. In fact, since 1910, no major biography has been written about him, and, since 1988, no major article on him has been published. His hymns, even among evangelical churches, are rarely sung. This article hopes to contribute to the study of Hart by examining his piety as reflected in his life, ministry, and hymns.

 

To continue reading the article, see Brian G. Najapfour, “The Piety of Joseph Hart as Reflected in His Life, Ministry, and Hymns,” Puritan Reformed Journal 4, no. 1 (2012): 201-22.

Hymns Joseph Hart Piety

“Where shall my wondering soul begin?”: A Historical and Theological Analysis

“Where shall my wondering soul begin?”:

A Historical and Theological Analysis[1]

 

Born on December 18, 1707 in Epworth, England, Charles Wesley grew up in an Anglican family. In 1726, he entered Christ Church College at Oxford University, where he received his BA (1730) and MA (1733). It was here in 1729 that he led the so-called “Holy Club,” a religious organization that promoted piety through a systematic study of the Bible. Yet, at this time he was not saved.

In 1735, still unconverted, Wesley was ordained priest in the Anglican Church. That same year he and his brother John (1703-1791) journeyed to the newly found colony of Georgia to start a mission work among the Indians. Their mission being unsuccessful compelled them to sail back to England. Despite this failure, however, this mission trip became memorable to the brothers. It was during this period that they met the Moravians, who made a profound impact on them conversion and on their passion for hymns.

On May 21, 1738, while living in England, Charles Wesley experienced evangelical conversion, which he expressed this way: “I now found myself at peace with God, and rejoiced in hope of loving Christ.”[2] Two days after his conversion, he wrote a song which he called “an hymn upon my conversion.”[3] It is generally believed that this conversion hymn, the first of numerous hymns that he wrote, was “Where shall my wondering soul begin?” What follows is a historical and theological analysis of this hymn, the original title of which was “Christ the Friend of Sinner.”

 

To continue reading the article, see Brian G. Najapfour, ‘“Where shall my wondering soul begin?’: A Historical and Theological Analysis,” Puritan Reformed Journal 3, no. 2 (July 2011): 291-298.


        [1] The quote is taken from the first line of the hymn whose title is also: “Where shall my wondering soul begin?” For my biographical sketch of Charles, I am indebted to J. R. Tyson, “Wesley, Charles,” in Biographical Dictionary of Evangelicals, eds. Timothy Larsen, David Bebbington, and Mark A. Noll (Leicester and Illinois: Inter Varsity Press, 2003), 710-12.

        [2] The Journal of Charles Wesley (1707-1788), entry date, May 21, 1738; available from http://wesley.nnu.edu/charles-wesley/the-journal-of-charles-wesley-1707-1788/the-journal-of-charles-wesley-may-1-august-31-1738/ ; Internet; accessed 14 October  2010.

        [3] The Journal of Charles Wesley (1707-1788), entry date, May 23, 1738; available from ibid.

Charles Wesley Hymns John Wesley

“And Can It Be”: A Historical and Theological Analysis

Originally titled “Free Grace,” this hymn is one of several hymns by Charles Wesley that is still widely sung in the present day. Although we do not know exactly when “And Can It Be” was written, it is usually associated with a very early period linked with the Charles Wesley’s conversion. Regardless of when it was written, the song clearly describes the experience of conversion and the wonder of one who is still amazed “That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?”. Tyson points out the repeated use of “for me” in this hymn as evidence of the impact of the reading of Martin Luther’s Galatians commentary.

 

The article is by Steve Weaver, pastor of Farmdale Baptist Church, Frankfort, KY. He is currently pursuing a PhD in Church History at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY.  His area of research is 17th century British Particular Baptist pastor, Hercules Collins.

Click here to read his entire article.

Charles Wesley Hymns