“Is Thy Heart Right with God?”

"Suffer Him with a perfect heart…for the Lord searcheth all hearts" (1 Chr. 28.9)

     INTRO.: A hymn which asks if we have a perfect heart before Him who searches all hearts is "Is Thy Heart Right With God?" (#263 in Hymns for Worship Revised and #39 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written and the tune was composed both by Elisha Albright Hoffman (1839-1929). A native of Orwigsburg, PA, he was a minister with the Evangelical Church and spent most of his life in his native state, although he lived his last days in Benton Harbor, MI, and Chicago, IL. Although never formally trained in music, he contributed more than 2000 gospel songs to various publications. Also he served with the Evangelical Association Publishing House in Cleveland, OH, for eleven years, and later with Hope Publishing Co. beginning in 1894.

     For many of his songs, Hoffman produced both words and music. Undoubtedly, his most famous hymn is "I Must Tell Jesus." Others include "Are You Washed in the Blood," "What a Wonderful Savior" which has appeared in some of our books, and "Is Your All on the Altar" which has not. He also provided well-known texts for the tunes of others, such as John H. Stockton’s "Glory to His Name," John H. Tenney’s "Where Will You Spend Eternity?", Anthony J. Showalter’s "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms," and Daniel M. Wilson’s "To Christ Be True." "Is Thy Heart Right With God" was first published in 1899 with five stanzas.

     Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the full song appeared in the 1921 Great Songs of the Church (No. 1) edited by E. L. Jorgenson, but was omitted from the 1925 edition; the chorus only was in Jorgenson’s 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2. The song (in four stanzas) was included in 1935 Christian Hymns (No. 1), but only three stanzas were used in the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2 and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3, all edited by L. O. Sanderson. Most subsequent books followed the three-stanza version, such as the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert Welch; and the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater; but the 1965 Great Christian Hymnal No. 2 edited by Tillit S. Teddlie had all five stanzas. Today, the song may be found in the 1971 Songs of the Church and the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed. both edited by Alton Howard; the 1978/1983 (Church) Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; and 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John Wiegand; in addition to Hymns for Worship, Sacred Selections, and the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat.

    This is a good invitation song to make sure that our hearts are right with God.

I. Stanza 1 asks if our affections have been nailed to the cross
"Have thy affections been nailed to the cross?
Is thy heart right with God?
Dost thou count all things for Jesus but loss?
Is thy heart right with God?"
 A. Our affections refer to the part of our mind which involves the moral interest or reflection of our thinking; they should be set on things above, not on things beneath: Col. 3.1-2
 B. Having those affections nailed to the cross simply means being spiritually crucified with Christ so that we become dead to the world: Gal. 2.20, 6.14
 C. When we do this, then like Paul we will count all things but loss for Jesus: Phil. 3.4-8

II. Stanza 2 asks if we have dominion over self and sin
"Hast thou dominion o’er self and o’er sin?
Is thy heart right with God?
Over all evil without and within?
Is thy heart right with God?"
 A. First, we must establish dominion over self by denying ourselves, taking the cross, and following Christ: Matt. 16.24
 B. In doing this, we can begin to have dominion over sin as we yield ourselves as instruments of righteousness rather than unrighteousness: Rom. 6.11-14
 C. And by this, we can have victory over all evil without and within: 1 Thess. 5.21-22

III. Stanza 3 asks if there is any condemnation for sin
"Is there no more condemnation for sin?
Is thy heart right with God?
Does Jesus rule in the temple within?
Is thy heart right with God?"
 A. To those who are in Christ, there is no more condemnation for sin, because all past sin has been washed away: Rom. 8.1
 B. For such people, Jesus rules as King of their hearts and Lord of their lives: Col. 3.15
 C. The "temple within" refers simply to the inner man of the Christian which is a temple for God’s spiritual dwelling: 1 Cor. 6.19

IV. Stanza 4 asks if our powers are under Jesus’ control
"Are all thy powers under Jesus’ control?
Is thy heart right with God?
Does He each moment abide in thy soul?
Is thy heart right with God?"
 A. The idea of "powers" might refer to the physical strength by which we carry out the affections of our minds, and we should love the Lord with all our strength: Mk. 12.30
 B. Thus, all our powers should be under Jesus’ control as we submit to God and resist the devil: Jas. 4.8
 C. And when we do this, Christ will abide in our souls: Eph. 3.17

V. Stanza 5 asks if we are walking in heaven’s pure light
"Art thou now walking in heaven’s pure light?
Is thy heart right with God?
Is thy soul wearing the garment of white?
Is thy heart right with God?"
 A. To be in fellowship with God, we must walk in the light: 1 Jn. 1.7
 B. Wearing garments of white represents being pure and holy in the sight of God: Rev. 7.13-14
 C. But, as the Revelation statement indicates, being white suggests being washed, and we are washed in the blood of the Lamb when we obey His word in being baptized: Mk. 16.16, Acts 2.38 and 22.16

     CONCL.: The chorus continues to point to the issue of our hearts’ being right with God, asking,
"Is thy heart right with God,
Washed in the crimson flood,
Cleansed and made holy, humble and lowly,
Right in the sight of God?"
Whenever we sin, our hearts are not right in the sight of God (Acts 8.21-22). Therefore, as we strive to prepare ourselves for "heaven’s pure light," we need to be examining ourselves and answering that all-important question, "Is Thy Heart Right With God?"


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