Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Victory in Jesus?

Lately, the hymn with the refrain, "Victory in Jesus, my Savior for ever" has been going through my head. I have been thinking that the words are not very scriptural or at least not very balanced. I have sung this song so many times!

Words and Music by E.M. Bartlett© 1939
Based on 1 Corinthians 15:57
"But thanks be to God,
which giveth us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ."

I heard an old, old story,
How a Savior came from glory,
How He gave His life on Calvary
To save a wretch like me;
I heard about His groaning,
Of His precious blood's atoning,
Then I repented of my sins
And won the victory.

Chorus
O victory in Jesus,My Savior, forever.
He sought me and bought meWith His redeeming blood;
He loved me ere I knew Him
And all my love is due Him,
He plunged me to victory,
Beneath the cleansing flood.

The chorus is etched in my mind, unfortunately. I say unfortunately, because I associate the song with the emphasis on the one-time and your done style of conversion and the resulting emphasis on holy living going forward. If you haven't been in a church like that (there are many) you'll have to trust me when I tell you the setting this song is sung. It is sung as if to build up our strength to continue to try and live a Christian life. It fails in that your spirit is deflating the second you commit another sin - probably before you get to the parking lot for most humans. In this song is missing a verse about how we remain sinners our whole lives and can't possible attain holiness on this earth. The fact that we are so totally dependant on Christ for our salvation is where true encouragement, peace and hope comes from.
Today, Hapax Legomena posts encouragingly on what victory in Christ truly is and what it is not.

For indeed He was crucified because of weakness,
yet He lives because of the power of God.
For we also are weak in Him,
yet we shall live with Him
because of the power of God
directed toward you.
2 Cor 13:4

JS writes...

I’ve heard a lot of people talk about identity in Christ, and usually this is couple with the idea that we are “more than conquerors through Christ". The victorious life that we are supposed to live through Christ is one of strength, confidence, joy, etc. For some people this teaching might be a source of encouragement, but for me the effect is the exact opposite–it depresses me and makes me angry. Why? Keep reading...

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

You object to:

"One time and your done"?? How many times do you think God has to try before he manages to save us?

"Emphasis on holy living"?? I sure don't know what's wrong with that.

But I'm glad you've got "Victory in Jesus" running through your mind! I wish I could hear it at church
again. I think most churches quit singing that one about 1985. It's theology may not be perfect, but it's much better than much of what passes for "worship" music today. My guess is that if someone did a word count of contemporary Christian worship music, the most common words would be:
1) I
2) Lamb
3) worship
4) worthy
5) me

I'll be hopping down off my soapbox now.

Bugs

TKls2myhrt said...

I should clarify that this song brings back bad memories of being in law-based churches. I didn't say I hated the song.

My comments remain: It fails in that your spirit is deflating the second you commit another sin - probably before you get to the parking lot for most humans. In this song is missing a verse about how we remain sinners our whole lives and can't possible attain holiness on this earth. The fact that we are so totally dependant on Christ for our salvation is where true encouragement, peace and hope comes from.