“I Know God’s Promise Is True”

"And this is the promise that He hath promised us, even eternal life" (1 Jn. 2.25)

     INTRO.: A song which stresses the promise that God has made to us is "I Know God’s Promise Is True" (#432 in Hymns for Worship Revised, and #479 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written and the tune was composed both by Lelia Naylor (Mrs. Charles H.) Morris (1862-1929). It was copyrighted in 1899, assigned to the Nazarene Publishing Co., and renewed in 1927 by the Lillenas Publishing Co. I have not been able to locate its origin of publication. Some of Mrs. Morris’s other well-known hymns that have appeared in many of our books include "Nearer, Still Nearer," "Let Jesus Come Into Your Heart," "Sweet Will Of God," and "Sweeter As The Years Go By."

      Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, "I Know God’s Promise Is True" appeared in the 1935 Christian Hymns (No. 1) edited by L. O. Sanderson; the 1940 Complete Christian Hymnal edited by Marion Davis; the 1938/1944 New Wonderful Songs edited by Thomas S. Cobb; the 1959 Majestic Hymnal No. 2 and the 1978 Hymns of Praise both edited by Reuel Lemmons; and the 1966 Great Christian Hymnal No. 2 edited by Tillit S. Teddlie.  Today, it can be found in the 1971 Songs of the Church and the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed. both edited by Alton H. Howard; 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.

     The song reminds us of the blessings that are available to us because of God’s promise.

I. Stanza 1 mentions the gift of God’s Son for our sin
"For God so loved this sinful world, His Son He freely gave,
That whosoever would believe, Eternal life should have."
 A. The song begins with the fact that promise of God is based on His love that sent Jesus Christ to die for our sins: Rom. 5.8
 B. In Sacred Selections, and several of our books since then, "would believe" has been changed to "would obey," evidently due to the thinking that someone might misunderstand and think "faith only" (interestingly enough, the Complete Christian Hymnal, which was one of the first books among brethren to make changes in hymns for "soundness," did not change this one). However, the statement in the song is obviously based on a specific passage of scripture, and if it is scriptural to read, "That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life," then it should not be unscriptural to sing it: Jn. 3.16 (or should we cross out "whosoever beliveth" and write in "whosoever obeyeth" in our Bibles?)
 C. The result of the fact that God loves us and sent Christ to die for us is that we can have the hope of eternal life: Tit. 1.2

II. Stanza 2 mentions the gospel call to come to Christ
"I was a wayward wandering child, A slave to sin and fear,
Until the blessed promise fell Like music on my ear."
 A. Peter says that at one time we were all wayward like straying sheep: 1 Pet. 2.25
 B. In such a condition, we were slaves of sin: Rom. 6.16
 C. However, we are called to come out of sin by the gospel, which reveals God’s blessed promise: 2 Thes. 2.14

III. Stanza 3 mentions the freedom from sin that is in Christ
"The ‘whosoever’ of the Lord, I trusted was for me;
I took Him at His gracious word, From sin He set me free."
 A. The call of the gospel is "Whosoever will may come": Rev. 22.17
 B. Of course, the means by which we take the Lord at His gracious word is to obey Him: Rom. 5.8-9
 C. When we do this, He makes us free from sin: Jn. 8.32-36

IV. Stanza 4 mentions the hope of eternal life that we can have
"Eternal life, begun below, Now fills my heart and soul;
I’ll sing His praise forever more, Who has redeemed my soul."
 A. Again, in Sacred Selections and many of our books since then, "begun below" has been changed to "promised below" (Hymns for Worship has "the promise below"). It is true that eternal life is not something that we have now as a present possession, but something that we shall receive in the life that is to come: Mk. 10.30
 B. However, it might be said that eternal life is begun below in that it is in this life that we meet the conditions upon which God will give us eternal life so that we do have it now as a promise and a hope; this is the sense in which Jesus says that a person "has eternal life": Jn. 6.54
 C. Therefore, because Jesus came to offer us eternal life, we should sing praises to Him in whom we have redemption through His blood: Eph. 1.7

     CONCL.: The chorus emphasizes the fact that we can place absolute confidence in God’s promise.
"’Tis true, O yes, ’tis true, God’s wonderful promise is true,
For I’ve trusted, and tested, and tried it, And I know God’s promise is true."
I will most likely face times of fear and doubt in my life. However, as I see in the scriptures all the promises that God has made and how wonderfully He has kept them, then "I Know God’s Promise Is True."


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