"YESTERDAY, TODAY, FOREVER"
"Jesus Christ the same yesterday, to day, and for ever" (Heb. 13:8)
INTRO.: A song which emphasizes the unchanging nature of our Lord, past, present, and future is "Yesterday, Today, Forever." The text was written by Albert Benjamin Simpson, who was born on Dec. 15, 1843, at Bayview, Prince Edward Island, Canada, the third son and fourth child of James and Janet Clark Simpson, who were strict Scottish Presbyterians. There may have been several influences on Simpson’s early religious beliefs, but it is known that when he was fifteen he read Walter Marshall’s Gospel Mystery of Salvation, written in 1692. After finishing high school, Albert taught school for a while to earn money so that he could enter Knox College at the University of Toronto. Graduating at age 21 in 1865, he married Margaret Henry and became minister with the large Knox Presbyterian Church in Hamilton, Ontario, for eight years. In 1873, at age thirty, he then moved to the Chestnut St. Presbyterian Church in Louisville, KY, where he joined in city wide evangelistic endeavors.
After five years, Simpson was called to the Thirteenth St. Presbyterian Church in New York City, NY, where he was introduced to the masses of immigrants. After he had lead 100 or so Italian immigrants to Christ, the church suggested that they might find another church to attend, so Simpson left the congregation and founded the New York Gospel Tabernacle, and later the Missionary Training Institute. At the 1890 convention of the Tabernacle he developed his "Fourfold Gospel" message that resulted in the establishment of the Christian and Missionary Alliance. This hymn was produced at about this same time, with a tune composed by James H. Burke (1858-1901). Burke, about whom little is know except that he lived in the nineteenth century, was music director at the New York Gospel Tabernacle from 1889 to 1891. The author of 101 books and countless hymns, Simpson died on Oct. 29, 1919, at Nyack, NY.
Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, "Yesterday, Today, Forever" appeared, with a portion of the chorus only, in the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 edited by E. L. Jorgenson; the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater; and the 1965 Great Christian Hymnal edited by Tillit S. Teddlie. Among other hymnbooks, the stanzas and entire chorus can be seen in the 1951 Inspiring Hymns and the 1968 Great Hymns of the Faith both from Singspiration Music; the 1957 All American Church Hymnal and the 1968 American Service Hymnal both from John T. Benson Publishing Co.; the 1972 Worship in Song Hymnal from Lillenas Publishing Co.; the 1972 Soul Stirring Songs and Hymns from the Sword of the Lord Publishers; the 1972 Living Hymns from Encore Publications Inc.; and the 1999 Songs and Hymns of Revival from North Valley Publications (all these omit stanzas 4 and 5). Many others have the chorus only.
The song takes several events from the life of Jesus to show that He still loves and cares for us.
I. Stanza 1 mentions His miracles general, affirming that He still loves us
"O, how sweet the glorious message Simple faith may claim:
Yesterday, today, forever, Jesus is the same!
Still He loves to save the sinful, Heal the sick and lame,
Cheer the mourner, still the tempest; Glory to His name!"
A. Our faith in Jesus Christ is based on the signs that He did as recorded by the inspired writers: Jn. 20:30-31
B. For instance, He healed the sick and lame: Matt. 11:1-5
C. Also, He cheered the mourners by raising the dead: Lk. 7:11-17
II. Stanza 2 mentions His care for His apostles, affirming that He will still help us
"Him who pardoned erring Peter, Never needest thou fear;
(The original apparently said "He," but this is grammatically incorrect, so it is sometimes changed to "Him")
He that came to faithless Thomas All thy doubt will clear.
He who let the loved disciple On His bosom rest
Bids thee still, with love as tender, Lean upon His breast."
A. Christ pardoned erring Peter: Matt. 26:33-34, Mk. 14:66-72, Jn. 21:15-17
B. He came to faithless Thomas and cleared his doubt: Jn. 20:24-29
C. He let the beloved disciple lean upon His breast: Jn. 13:21-26
III. Stanza 3 mentions His stilling the tempest and weeping in the garden, affirming that He will still calm us
"He who ‘mid the raging billows Walked upon the sea
Still can hush our wildest tempest, As on Galilee.
He who wept and prayed in anguish, In Gethsemane,
Drinks with us each cup of trembling In our agony."
A. Jesus walked upon the sea: Matt. 14:22-33
B. By His same power, He also stilled the tempest on Galilee just as He can still the storms in our hearts: Matt. 8:23-27
C. And He showed His concern for us and His willingness to meet our needs by His anguish in Gethsemane: Matt. 26:36-44
IV. Stanza 4 mentions His compassion on the sinful woman, affirming that He will still pardon us
"He who was the Friend of sinners Seeks the lost one now.
Sinner come, and at His footstool Penitently bow.
He who said, ‘I’ll not condemn thee, Go and sin no more,’
Speaks to thee that word of pardon As in days of yore."
A. Jesus was called the Friend of sinners: Matt. 11:19
B. He came to seek and save the lost: Lk. 19:10
C. One illustration of this was His pardoning of the woman taken in adultery: Jn. 8:1-12
V. Stanza 5 mentions His healing of the woman who touched His garment, affirming that He will still cleanse us
"Oft on earth He healed the sufferer By His mighty hand;
Still our sicknesses and sorrows go at His command.
He who gave His healing virtue to a woman’s touch
To the faith that claims His fullness still will give as much."
A. While on earth, Jesus healed those who suffered sicknesses and sorrows: Matt. 8:16
B. One instance of this was the woman who touched the hem of His garment: Matt. 9:18-22
C. His compassion on the sick demonstrates His compassion on the lost to save them from sin: Matt. 9:35-38
VI. Stanza 6 mentions His walking with the disciples on the road to Emmaus, affirming that He will still be with us
"As of old He walked to Emmaus, with them to abide,
So through all life’s way He walketh Ever near our side.
Soon again shall we behold Him; Hasten, Lord, the day.
But ’twill still be this same Jesus, As He went away."
A. Following His resurrection, He walked with two disciples on the road to Emmaus: Lk. 24:13-32
B. In a spiritual sense, He promises to continue to be with His people as they do His will: Matt. 28:18-20
C. And we look forward to the return of this same Jesus: Acts 1:9-11
CONCL.: The chorus gives glory to the name of Jesus because His nature does not change.
"Yesterday, today, forever, Jesus is the same.
All may change, but Jesus never! Glory to His name!
Glory to His name! Glory to His name!
All may change, but Jesus never! Glory to His name!"
Jesus Christ is the eternal Word of God who came to earth, was tempted in all points as we are, left us an example that we should follow in His steps, died for our sins, rose again the third day, ascended into heaven, saves us by His blood, and bids us look forward to His return. While nothing in this world is permanent, we can live and labor for Christ with that He is the same "Yesterday, Today, Forever."