“Nor Silver Nor Gold”

"…Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold…but with the precious blood of Christ" (1 Pet. 1:18-19)

     INTRO.: A song which emphasizes that we are not redeemed with corruptible things such as silver or gold but with the precious blood of Christ is "Nor Silver Nor Gold" also known as "I Am Redeemed." The text was written by James Martin Gray who was born on May 11, 1851, in New York City, NY, and was converted while reading William Arnot’s Laws from Heaven for Life on Earth. Becoming a minister with the Reformed Episcopal Church, he served for a while at a church in Boston, MA, and later was a lecturer in English Bible at a seminary in Philadelphia, PA. In 1893, he was invited by Dwight L. Moody to teach at the Bible Institute for Home and Foreign Missions at Chicago, IL. Following Moody’s death in 1899, Gray was named dean and the school was called the Moody Bible Institute. During these years, he authored many books and was responsible for the publication of the Voice of Thanksgiving, Nos. 1 to 4 from 1913 to 1928, which were the official hymnbooks of the Moody Bible Institute. "Nor Silver Nor Gold" is dated 1900 and was first published in the 1901 Hymns of Faith and Praise by Edmund S. Lorenz. The tune (Priceless) was composed by the director of the Music Department at Moody Bible Institute, Daniel Brink Towner (1850-1919).

     Another of Gray’s hymns, "Only a Sinner" dated 1905 and beginning "Naught have I gotten but what I received," also with music by Towner, has been popular. But Gray is perhaps best remembered among us for his 1903 hymn "What Did He Do?" beginning "O listen to our wondrous story," which our books set to a melody by Welsh musician William Owen. After his retirement in 1934, Gray died at Passavant Hospital in Chicago on Sept. 21, 1935. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, "Nor Silver Nor Gold" appeared with the chorus only in the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 edited by E. L. Jorgenson. Among other hymnbooks, the entire song can be seen in the 1967 Favorite Hymns of Praise published by the Tabernacle Publishing Company, the 1968 American Service Hymnal published by John T. Benson Publishing Company, the 1968 Great Hymns of the Faith published by Singspiration Inc., the 1972 Soul Stirring Songs and Hymns published by the Sword of the Lord Publishers, the 1972 Living Hymns published by Encore Publications Inc., the 1974 Hymns for the Living Church published by Hope Publishing Company, and the 1987 Zion’s Praises published by Weaver Music Company.

     The song points out that only the blood of Christ, shed in His death on the cross, can bring redemption.

I. Stanza 1 talks about riches of earth
"Nor silver nor gold hath obtained my redemption,
Nor riches of earth could have saved my poor soul.
The blood of the cross is my only foundation;
The death of my Savior now maketh me whole."
 A. Riches of earth could never save one soul because even if a man gained the whole world he could still lose his soul: Matt. 16:26
 B. Yet, the one thing that each of us needs more than anything else is the saving of the soul: Heb. 10:39
 C. It is the death of our Savior that makes us whole because Jesus died for our sins: Rom. 5:8

II. Stanza 2 talks about the guilt of the conscience
"Nor silver nor gold hath obtained my redemption;
The guilt on my conscience too heavy had grown.
The blood of the cross is my only foundation;
The death of my Savior could only atone."
 A. When we sin, we become guilty before God: Jas. 2:10
 B. Therefore, what we need is to have our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience: Heb. 10:22
 C. It is the death of Jesus that makes this possible by providing an atonement or reconciliation for sin: Rom. 5:11

III. Stanza 3 talks about the holy commandment
"Nor silver nor gold hath obtained my redemption;
The holy commandment forbade me draw near.
The blood of the cross is my only foundation;
The death of my Savior removeth my fear."
 A. The "holy commandment" of the law simply forbids sin: Rom. 7:8-11
 B. Therefore, because all have sinned it forbids us from drawing near to God because the curse of the law is to everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them: Gal. 3:10
 C. However, the death of Jesus removes our fear of death by offering us access to the new and living way: Heb. 2:14-15, 10:19-20

IV. Stanza 4 talks about the way to heaven
"Nor silver nor gold hath obtained my redemption;
The way into heaven could not thus be bought.
The blood of the cross is my only foundation;
The death of my Savior redemption hath wrought."
 A. What God wants for us, and what we should want, is to go to heaven: 1 Pet. 1:3-5
 B. However, the way to heaven could never be bought with anything of our own because it is not of works: Eph. 2:8-9, Tit. 3:5
 C. So we must look to the blood of Christ by which eternal redemption is provided: Heb. 9:11-12

     CONCL.: The chorus repeats the fact that we are redeemed, not with silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Jesus.
"I am redeemed, but not with silver,
I am bought, but not with gold;
Bought with a price, the blood of Jesus,
Precious price of love untold."
Today, proper English indicates that the correct usage is "Neither…nor." However, in previous days, especially in poetic language, it was common to use "Nor…nor" as a correlative conjunction.  The New Testament certainly teaches that we must obey the gospel of Christ in faith to receive the pardon that God offers by His grace through the blood of Jesus Christ. However, we must also remember that in so doing, there is nothing that we can do or offer to make atonement for our own sins and thus earn or merit a right relationship with God.  Hence, we understand that our redemption is received by "Nor Silver Nor Gold."


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