"GOD CALLING YET"
"I have called, and ye have refused" (Prov. 1.24)
INTRO.: A song which indicates that God has called and we should not refuse is "God Calling Yet" (#329 in Hymns for Worship Revised and #597 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written by Gerhard Tersteegen, who was born at Mors in Westphalia or Rhenish Prussia in what is today Germany on Nov. 25, 1697. His parents had intended for him to be a Reformed Church minister, but his father died in 1703 when he was six, and the family could not afford to educate him beyond the local Latin School, Mors Gymnasium, making a university education impossible. At age sixteen he was apprenticed to a merchant and four years later had his own business. But after a religious experience, he began eking out a meager living weaving and selling silk ribbons. An overly strict regimen of eating only one small meal a day so that he could give his money to the poor caused a severe depression which lasted for nearly five years. At the end of that period, he had another religious experience in 1724, following which he wrote out his new, solemn covenant with God and signed it with his own blood.
From this time until the end of his life, Tersteegen gave himself to religious service and literary activities, spending time in prayer, visiting the poor, and writing. It is said that he worked at his loom for ten hours each day, prayed for two hours, and devoted two hours writing and discussing spiritual matters with his friends. Finally, he gave up his business and gathered to himself a number of followers who supported him in his preaching work. His home, known as the "Pilgrim’s Cottage," became a refuge where he ministered to the physical and spiritual needs of many who sought a new way of life. Withdrawing from the Reformed Church because he felt that it had become to engrossed in mechanics and lost its evangelical fervor, he went to Holland from 1732 to 1755 since no one outside the state church could preach in his district of Germany. Yet he made no effort to set up a new sect but simply lived the quiet life of a celibate and ascetic. His 568 hymns are considered some of the most important of his day.
"God Calling Yet" was published by Tersteegen in his Geistliches Blumengartlein inniger Seeler (Spiritual Flower Garden), 2nd edition, in 1735. The first edition of 1729 contained the other of his best known hymns today, "God Himself Is With Us." Tersteegen died at Muhlheim in Rhenish Prussia on Apr. 3, 1769. The English translation is sometimes ascribed to Jane Laurie Borthwick (1813-1897). She and her sister translated a number of other German hymns along with this one in their 1855 book Hymns from the Land of Luther, Second Series. However, Jane said that this translation was made by her sister, Sarah Borthwick Findlater (1823-1907). The present arrangement of the text was made in 1858 for the Andover Sabbath Hymn Book by Edward A. Park. Many books use a tune (Federal Street) composed in 1831 by Henry K. Oliver (1800-1885). However, it is often used with another hymn, "From Calvary A Cry Was Heard" by J. W. Cunningham. The tune with which we are probably most familiar was composed by John G. Foote (19th c.).
Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the song appeared in the 1938/1944 New Wonderful Songs edited by Thomas S. Cobb, with the words arranged by the editor; and the 1940 Complete Christian Hymnal edited by Marion Davis. Today, it may be found in the 1986 Great Songs Revised (with the Oliver tune) edited by Forrest M. McCann; in addition to Hymns for Worship and Sacred Selections.
This hymn encourages sinful mankind to respond to God’s call.
I. In stanza 1, the call of God is to hear Him above earth’s pleasures
"God calling yet! shall I not hear? Earth’s pleasures shall I still hold dear?
Shall life’s swift passing years all fly, And still my soul in slumber lie?"
A. God wants us to hear His message of salvation spoken through His Son: Matt. 17.5
B. However, the pleasures of life, which are but for a season, are often a strong influence trying to keep us from hearing God: Heb. 11.24-27
C. Yet, we must remember that life’s swift passing years are flying because our lives are but a vapor: Jas. 4.14
II. In stanza 2, the call of God is to arise at His loving voice
"God calling yet! shall I not rise? Can I His loving voice despise,
And basely His kind care repay? He calls me still; can I delay?"
A. God wants us to respond to His call by arising and being baptized immediately like Saul of Tarsus: Acts 22.16
B. By failing to arise at God’s call, we are in effect despising His loving voice, doing "despite" or insulting the Spirit of grace: Heb.
C. A failure to arise also repays His kind care with baseness, because the goodness of God is designed to lead us to repentance: Rom. 2.4
III. In stanza 3, the call of God is to open our hearts to His knocking
"God calling yet! and shall He knock, And I my heart the closer lock?
He still is waiting to receive, And shall I dare His Spirit grieve?"
A. The Lord is pictured as standing at the door of our hearts, knocking to come in: Rev. 3.19-21
B. However, by refusing to open to Him, we make our hearts harder and more closed: Matt. 13.14-15
C. Yet, He continues to wait for us with the desire to receive us if we will receive Him: Jn. 1.11-13
IV. In stanza 4, the call of God is to confide in Him
"God calling yet! in Him confide; Where but with Him doth peace abide?
Break loose, let earthly bonds be riven, And let the spirit rise to heaven."
A. God wants us to confide in Him, to cast all our cares upon Him: 1 Pet. 5.7
B. He promises that when we do so, He will give us peace: Phil. 4.6-7
C. However, to do so, we must break loose from all earthly bonds and not be conformed to this world: Rom. 12.1-2
V. In stanza 5, the call of God is to awake and give heed to His message:
"God calling yet! and shall I give No heed, but still in bondage live?
I wait, but He does not forsake; He calls me still; my heart, awake!"
A. God wants us to give heed to Him: Heb. 2.1
B. If we do not give Him heed, we shall continue to live in bondage to sin: Rom. 6.16
C. However, He calls us to awaken and come to Him: Rom. 13.11-14
VI. In stanza 6, the call of God is to yield Him our hearts without delay
"God calling yet! I cannot stay; My heart I yield without delay;
Vain world, farewell! from thee I part; The voice of God has reached my heart."
A. There are examples in the scripture of those who, when they heard God’s call, stayed: Acts 24.25
B. However, God wants us to yield to Him in obedience: Heb. 5.8-9
C. Therefore, we should allow His voice to reach our hearts and not harden them to His call: Ps. 95:7-8
CONCL.: The chorus used in most of our books, undoubtedly added by the composer, continues with tenderness and urgency:
"God is calling, calling yet,
God is calling, Sinner, heed His pleading voice."
Those who are lost in sin or have wandered away from the Lord need to hear and heed the voice of "God Calling Yet."