Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

November 26, 2018 at 1:15 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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The well-known Incarnation celebration hymn, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” was first written by Charles Wesley, and later changed by George Whitefield, who changed the first line from, “Hark, how all the welkin ring,” to “Hark, the herald angels sing.” This changed the emphasis from the regeneration of the natural world, including inanimate creation, to the regeneration of mankind, God’s image-bearing creation.

The word “hark” does not appear in the Bible, but it is a shortened form of “hearken,” which does appear in 150 verses. For example,

Who among you will give ear to this? who will hearken and hear for the time to come?

Isaiah 42:23

Hearken means to listen closely, to listen with intensity and purpose, and with the intention of responding to what is heard. It is a great word to use in connection with the Annunciation: the announcement of the birth of Christ. Only those with “ears to hear” had been listening to the prophecies in the Word of God for centuries and centuries. Now was the time to hearken with joy, for faith to become sight AND to become audible.

The angels are called “herald” angels, and they were announcing good news. Before the internet, television, or even newspapers, the “town herald” heralded good news. The word “angel” means “the deliverer of news,” and, in the case of the EvANGELion, the greatest news of all.

Bless the Lord, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word.

Psalm 103:20 (emphasis added)

The angels who announced the good news (“good tidings“) of “great joy” were angels which had hearkened, and which must be hearkened unto.

“Hark, the herald angels SING.” Singing, in the Bible, is often a sign of joy.

Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;

Ephesians 5:19

New Testament singing is a gift of encouragement. The angels weren’t content to make a simple spoken announcement. This was an event worthy of sublime poetry in beautiful song.

“GLORY to the newborn King.”

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Luke 2:14

Glory” is the weight of God’s attributes. It also speaks of His renown. It is His greatness showing forth – being revealed and made known. It is extreme. We like knowing that He is a powerful, transcendent, glorious God, but His glory also makes us “sore afraid.”

The phrase, “glory to the newborn King,” is a striking paradox, for this King was God, but how could the eternal God be “newborn?” This was a proclamation that God had become man – still God, but now adding humanity to Himself in order to accomplish the redemption of His fallen creatures, now His kinsmen: His own “race.”

And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.

Acts 17:6-7

It took people a while to realize the full meaning of the announcement that the King had arrived as a newborn baby, but, once it was understood, the Apostles and the early Christians turned the world upside down with this message: The true King had died, risen, and ascended to sit down at the throne of God.

The message of the Incarnation of the Son of God (which this world calls Christmas) is a history lesson, but it is also a prophecy, a promise, and a sure prediction that will be fulfilled in a greater way yet to come. We must hearken back, and, every time we hear the familiar song, or think about Christ in any circumstance, to hearken forward as well.

Beware Forensic Filth

March 30, 2015 at 3:14 pm | Posted in Salvation, The Fives | 1 Comment
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If you’ve attended an evangelical church long enough or often enough, you’ve probably heard this well-worn challenge from the pulpit: “If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”

forensic-evidence

The Bible teaches that true Christians are those who have been born again to new life in Christ by the grace of God through faith. This “new life” is eternal life, which means that, once a person repents, believes the Gospel, and calls upon Christ alone to save him, then his sins are completely forgiven and judicially set apart from him at a distance that is as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).

So why, then, would a preacher, Bible teacher, or spiritual counselor go to the trouble of inquiring into the “evidence” of your life as part of the inquiry into whether or not you are destined for Heaven? There are multiple reasons, but one of them is that this is the same type of inquiry that the Holy Spirit commands us to consider:

For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

Ephesians 5:5

Perhaps at some point in your life you were told that, in order to go to Heaven (and to escape eternal damnation) you had to call upon and/or trust Jesus with all your heart. And, perhaps, this sounded like a safe bet at worst, or an exceedingly good deal at best. After all, you couldn’t deny the guilt of your sins, could you? So you prayed a prayer. Or you made a decision. Or you got baptized. Or you joined a church – which, by the way, are all good things to do.

So, what’s the potential problem? The potential problem is that you are not saved by trusting your heart. You are saved (if you are to be saved at all) by trusting Christ Jesus Himself. And when you are truly saved by Christ Jesus Himself, there is an expectation that you will begin to love Jesus, walk with Jesus, talk to Jesus, serve Jesus, live for Jesus, trust Jesus more and more, read about Jesus in the Bible, and, perhaps slowly, perhaps fitfully, perhaps with much labor and back-and-forthing and stumbling and searching – but still nonetheless realistically – you will become more like Jesus. Jesus was sinless, both inwardly and outwardly.

Therefore, if the pattern of your life since the time when you say you trusted Christ unto salvation is marked by the types of sexual immorality, idolatry, selfish lust, and general uncleanness that you see described in Ephesians 5:5, it is definitely worth your time (and the time of those who love you enough to tell you the truth) to inquire into exactly why or how your heart may or may not have been deceiving you when you felt like you believed the Gospel and trusted Christ. Jesus is too magnificent, His Gospel is too glorious, eternity is too long, and the stakes are too high, to simply rely upon feelings and ignore the evidence.


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