"FOR CHRIST AND THE CHURCH"
"Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it" (Eph. 5:25)
INTRO.: A song which reminds us how Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it is "For Christ and the Church" (#550 in Hymns for Worship Revised). The text was written by Eliza Edmunds Hewitt (1851-1920). She produced many well known gospel songs, such as "More About Jesus," "Sunshine in My Soul," and "When We All Get to Heaven." The tune was composed by WIlliam James Kirkpatrick (1883-1921). The song was first published in 1890 but I have not been able to locate any information as to the origin of publication.
Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, it appeared in the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2 and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 both edited by L. O. Sanderson; the 1959 Majestic Hymnal No. 2 and the 1978 Hymns of Praise both edited by Reuel Lemmons; the 1952 Hymns of Praise and Devotion edited by Will W. Slater; the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch; and the 1965 Great Christian Hymnal No. 2 edited by
Tillit S. Teddlie. Today it may be found in the 1971 Songs of the Church edited by Alton H. Howard; the 1983 Church Gospel Songs and Hymns (not the original 1978 edition) edited by V. E. Howard; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; in addition to Hymns for Worship and the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat.
The song mentions some things that each Christian should do for the Lord and for His body.
I. Stanza 1 tells us to let our voices ring
"’For Christ and the church’ let our voices ring;
Let us honor the name of our own blessed King.
Let us work with a will in the strength of youth,
And loyally stand for the kingdom of truth."
A. The reason that we need to let our voices ring is to honor the name of our King: Jn. 5:23
B. However, we honor Him not only by our voices but also by working for His cause: Jn. 9:4
C. Thus, honoring Christ also means standing loyally for His kingdom, which is His church: Matt. 16:18-19
II. Stanza 2 tells us to make our earnest prayer
"’For Christ and the church" be our earnest prayer;
Let us follow His banner, the cross daily bear.
Let us yield, wholly yield, to the gospel’s power,
And serve faithfully every day, every hour."
A. We should pray for God’s help to bear the cross: Matt. 16:24
B. We should pray for God’s help to yield wholly to the gospel’s power as servants of obedience unto righteousness: Rom. 6:16-18
C. We should pray for God’s help to serve Him faithfully every day and hour: Rev. 2:10
III. Stanza 3 tells us to make willing offerings
"’For Christ and the church’ willing offerings make,
Time and talents and gold for the dear Master’s sake;
We will render the best we can bring to Him,
The heart’s wealth of love that will never grow dim."
A. These offerings include time, talents, and, yes, even gold: 1 Cor. 16:1-2
B. The amount is not really important; the important thing is that we give God the best that we can bring by first giving ourselves: 2 Cor. 8:5, 9:6-7
C. The motivation behind such giving is that we love Him with all our hearts: Matt. 22:37
IV. Stanza 4 tells us to cast aside all hindrances
"’For Christ and the church’ let us cast aside,
By conquering grace, chains of self, fear, and pride;
May our lives be enriched by an aim so grand,
Then happy the call to the Savior’s right hand."
A. To grow spiritually in Christ, we must lay aside all malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and evil speaking: 1 Pet. 2:1-2
B. Having put such things away, we must then keep our minds on the grand aim or goal toward which the Lord points us: Phil. 3:12-14
C. By doing this, we meet God’s conditions upon which we can have the hope of being called to the Savior’s right hand and hearing Him say, "Well done": Matt. 24:21
CONCL.: The chorus reemphasizes the importance of both Christ, our Redeemer, and the church, His bride.
"For Christ, our dear Redeemer,
For Christ, the crucified;
For the church His blood hath purchased,
The church, His holy bride."
While doing some research on this song, I came across a blog in which comments were made about various hymns that have been sung among churches of Christ. One wrote, "I’ve been wondering, When we sing ‘For Christ and the "Church" let our voices ring,’ is this scriptual? I’m thinking of the word church. What is the new Testament Church? Have I gone off the deep end by micro- analyzing? Who knows." Someone responded in agreement, saying, "Well, I been thinking about something…that anything that takes our attention away from God is idolatry. And, I’m inclined to agree. So if the church is between us and God, where does that put us? I ain’t downgrading the church, you hear, just wondering if some of our BLIND dedication to the church at Large, (I think thats somewhere in Minnesota, by the way), doesn’t stem back to our Catholic background. You all take it from here." Here are my thoughts. I certainly agree that anything which comes between us and God is idolatry, and it is quite possible for a person to have an unscriptural view of the church that makes blind devotion to it more important than actually serving God. However, I do NOT see that in the song at all. Rather, the emphasis is actually on Christ as our Redeemer and the church as His bride, the kingdom of truth. At the same time, it is simply impossible to have a relationship with the Head, who is Christ, apart from being in His body, which is the church. Someone else replied with a different, and I think appropriate, thought, noting, "“For Christ and the Church let our voices ring; Let us honor the name of our own blessed King.’ I really wonder what motive has led to this great song of praise which cries out for unity being omitted from Songs of Faith and Praise and other newer ‘praise’ oriented hymnals. When sung with enthusiasm and faith, it moves the heart: ‘For Christ, our dear Redeemer! For Christ, the Crucified! For the Church his blood has purchased, the church, his holy bride.’ Maybe it was ruined by bad songleaders or maybe cynical, burned believers don’t want to be reminded that Christ purchased the church, to which all the saved belong. Maybe it’s just a copyright problem. It’s still a shame it’s not in more of the newer hymnals." Since the song has been in the public domain for many, many years, I would guess that maybe the problem is cynical folks who no longer believe that Christ purchased the church to which all the saved belong. In any event, scriptural teaching emphasizes that true believers will dedicate themselves to living "For Christ and the Church."