“Standing on the Promises”

"Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises" (2 Pet. 1.4)

     INTRO.: A song which mentions the exceeding great and precious promises that we have through Jesus Christ is "Standing on the Promises" (#360 in Hymns for Worship Revised and #176 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written and the tune (Promises) was composed both by Russell Kelso Carter, who was born at Baltimore, MD, on Nov. 18, 1849.  Graduating in the first class from Pennsylvania Military Academy of Chester, PA, in 1867, he was recognized as an outstanding baseball player and star gymnast during his student days. At this same school he became an instructor in 1869, a teacher of chemistry and natural sciences in 1872, after which he spent a brief time in California where he engaged in sheep raising from 1873 to 1876, and then, returning to the Academy, a professor of civil engineering and higher mathematics in 1881.

     Carter’s literary output was prolific, including textbooks in the areas of science, mathematics, and religion, and he published several novels. "Standing on the Promises," with both words and music, first appeared in Songs of Perfect Love, compiled in 1886 for John J. Hood Publisher of Philadelphia, PA, by Carter and John Robson Sweney (1837-1899). The song had been produced earlier that same year just before Carter left the Pennsylvania Military Academy, and some have suggested that the rhythmic martial tone of its music might possibly reflect his military academy experience. In 1887, he resigned his teaching position and became a minister in the Methodist Church, where he was identified with the Holiness movement and became quite active in camp meeting activities.

     Later, with A. B. Simpson who founded the Christian and Missionary Alliance, Carter edited Hymns of the Christian Life, which was published in 1891. To this collection, Carter contributed 52 hymns, and for 44 of them he provided original tunes, composing 24 tunes for texts by other writers and credied as the arranger or adapter of 25 other tunes. In all, over 68 songs are attributed to him. After a number of years as a minister, he took up the study of medicine in later life and finished his career as a physician in Baltimore. He died at Catonsville in Baltimore County, MD, on Aug. 23, 1926 (some sources say 1928).

     Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, "Standing on the Promises" appeared in the 1921 Great Songs of the Church (No. 1) and the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 both edited by E. L. Jorgenson; the 1935 Christian Hymns (No. 1), the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2, and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 all edited by L. O. Sanderson; the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch; and the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater.  Today, it may be found in the 1971 Songs of the Church, the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed., and the 1994 Songs of Faith and Praise all edited by Alton H. Howard; the 1978/1983 Church Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; the 1986 Great Songs Revised edited by Forrest M. McCann; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; in addition to Hymns for Worship, Sacred Selections, and the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat. 

     This song helps to remind us of the Christian’s daily dependence on the promises of God.

I. In stanza 1, we are told that these promises come through Christ, the King
"Standing on the promises of Christ, my King,
Through eternal ages let His praises ring;
Glory to the highest, I will shout and sing,
Standing on the promises of God."
 A. We can stand upon these promises because they are made by our King, Jesus Christ: Rev. 19.16
 B. We should let His praises right through eternal ages because all of God’s promises related to our spiritual needs are found in Him: 2 Cor. 1.20
 C. Thus, we should shout and sing "Glory in the highest," just as did the angels at His birth: Lk. 2.14

II. In stanza 2, we are told that these promises cannot fail
"Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail;
By the living word of God I shall prevail,
Standing on the promises of God."
 A. The promises cannot fail because they are made by a God who keeps His word: Heb. 6.11-18
 B. In this life, all of us will face the howling storms of doubt and fear, which symbolize the trials and tribulations that we must
experience: Acts 14.22
 C. However, we can prevail over these difficulties by holding on to the living word of God: Heb. 4.12

III. In stanza 3, we are told that these promises make it possible for us to be cleansed from our sins
"Standing on the promises I now can see
Perfect, present cleansing in the blood for me;
Standing in the liberty where Christ makes free,
Standing on the promises of God."
 A. Having such promises, we should seek to cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit: 2 Cor. 7.1
 B. However, we must recognize that the agent by which this cleansing takes place is the blood of Christ: 1 Jn. 1.7
 C. When we receive this cleansing upon our obedience to the gospel, we then have the liberty that is available in Christ: Gal. 5.1

IV. In stanza 4, we are told that these promises enable us to overcome by the Spirit’s sword
"Standing on the promises of Christ the Lord,
Bound to Him eternally by love’s strong cord,
Overcoming daily by the Spirit’s sword,
Standing on the promises of God."
 A. Christ the Lord has established His covenant on better promises: Heb. 8.6
 B. Through this covenant, we can be bound to Him by His love for us and our love for Him: 1 Jn. 3.16, 5.3
 C. Also, this covenant as the word of God is the Spirit’s sword by which we can fight the good fight of faith and overcome: Eph. 6.17

V. In stanza 5, we are told that these promises will keep us from falling
"Standing on the promises I cannot fall,
Listening every moment to the Spirit’s call,
Resting in my Savior as my all in all,
Standing on the promises of God."
 A. This does not necessarily say that the child of God cannot fall, period, but that by continuing to stand on the promises he can make his calling and election sure and not stumble: 2 Pet. 1.8-10
 B. We should listen every moment to the Spirit’s call because He reveals unto us the promise of eternal life: 1 Jn. 2.25
 C. Thus, we can be assured that we cannot fall as long as we are truly resting in Christ as our all in all: Col. 3.11

     CONCL.: The chorus reinforces the thought that is contained in each stanza:
"Standing, standing, Standing on the promises of God, my Savior;
Standing, standing, I’m standing on the promises of God."
The promises of God are steadfast and sure. A daily dependence upon them is the only real remedy for all our human fears. Therefore, we can live confidently in Christ as long as we are "Standing on the Promises."


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