Til Jesus Christ Is Praised

Let the gates be opened wide
Let the roof be lifted high
Let the King of glory enter in
Lift your hearts and make a space
Lift your voice and pave the way
Lift the name of Him who takes our sin

Darkness has no place in face of Grace
Fear gives way for praise to the God who saves

Let the nations cry let it split the sky
Let Jesus Christ be praised
Let our hearts resound lay the whole world down
Let Jesus Christ be praised

Let the darkness try to fight
Let it try to face the light
Jesus is the overcoming King
Let the Devil make his claim
Let him try to cut the grain
God’s already conquered everything

There cannot be shame where there is no blame
This is my refrain – my Jesus saves!

Let the nations cry let it split the sky
Let Jesus Christ be praised
Let our hearts resound lay the whole world down
Let Jesus Christ be praised

You are the King of this heart, for you have made it
You are the Lord of this mind that you created
You are the God of these hands, and so I raise them
Up to You, for You are worthy
You are the God of the Cross, You are salvation
You are the Light of the World for all the nations
You are the giver of Grace, of Love, and Mercy
Offered to the undeserving
I’ll lift up no other name, for You are Holy
I will not offer my praise to any other
You are the strength of my days You are my comfort
In the face of all my weakness
I won’t give rest to my voice until I praise You
I won’t give rest to my eyes until I see You
I won’t give rest to my heart until I’ve offered all of me
To all of You my God

-Eric Scholtens

Richards: He’s the A and the Z—and the B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, and Y, too

“Dear friends,

The apostle John had a series of visions that make up the book of Revelation. These visions revealed the flow of human history from God’s perspective. Over and over again John saw evil on the precipice of victory, only to see a Lamb—that had been slaughtered—standing victorious over it all. No matter how great the disaster and how widespread the suffering, it all ends with the throne of God and none other than the Lord Jesus reigning from it.

In chapter 21 John saw a vision of the culmination of human history as Jesus fulfills God’s plans for the world.

‘Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’ Revelation 21:1–4 ESV

God created the world to be the place where he would walk in friendship and in fellowship with his people. We see this in his attempt to walk in the garden with Adam and Eve. This walk was, as you know, interrupted by Adam’s rebellion against God. This led to Adam and Eve and all their children being banished from that garden. It was only the work of God in providing clothing for them that offered them any hope. His promise to them was that one day he would end the suffering and pain and would restore them to the very place they were created to occupy.

John saw a vision of this new world. He describes it as a new city that comes down from heaven and is prepared for God himself. Then we hear the declaration that fulfills all of God’s promises: ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.’ What was lost due to sin and rebellion has been restored by God. In the next chapter John sees the city has a garden in the middle of it, with the river of the water of life flowing through it. Thus the story of God begins with him walking with his people in a garden and ends with him walking with his people in a garden.

What makes this possible is what happens in between these gardens. Here’s how John sees it.

‘And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.”’ Revelation 21:4–7 ESV

He is the Alpha and the Omega—and every letter in between. He is the first and the last. From beginning to end—from garden to garden—salvation is the work of God in Christ through his Spirit. He is the author and finisher of faith.

When John sees the new city coming down from heaven, he’s seeing salvation and the promises of God from God’s perspective. What is that perspective, exactly? Jesus declares to John in the vision, “It is done!”

The word translated “It is done” is one of those do-it-all words. Jesus says, technically, “They are done,” referring to all of his promises, though this is encapsulated in our translation just as nicely. The word can mean to give birth. In Galatians 4:4 Paul says Jesus was born of woman. She produced or brought forth her son. It can mean to manufacture or make. In Acts 19:26 a man named Demetrius complained that Paul was claiming that gods made with hands are not gods. The word can be used of a process or events that come about. In Hebrews 9:15 the author says Jesus’ death has occurred. It happened. It came about. The word was also used of a change in condition. In Mark 1:17 Jesus says he will make his disciples become fishers of men. They will become something they were not.

When Jesus declares to John, “It is done!” he is saying all of these things. It has come about, it has happened, it has taken place. The promises of God have been produced. They have been given birth. Everything has been transformed. “Behold, I am making all things new.”

From God’s perspective it is as if this has already taken place. When God makes a promise, that promise is so sure and so trustworthy it is as if it has already been fulfilled, even when fulfillment remains thousands of years into the future! The promises of God are not given as a carrot-on-a-stick, as if they were always just out of reach though we keep pursuing them. While the fullness of our experience of these promises remains in the future, we experience the reality of these promises in the present. The promise is that the future dwelling place of God is with his people and the present reality is Jesus’ promise, ‘Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’ The fullness of his presence is future, yet the reality of his presence is now.

What this means for you is that your circumstances are temporary. They may be full of pain and suffering and sorrow and loss. The promises of God are so sure that God himself can declare, ‘They are done!’ The fullness may be future, but the reality is present. The promises of God are given as a comfort in the present for the surety of the future.

Rest in these promises. Find comfort in them. Cling to them. The Alpha and Omega is also the Beta and the Gamma and the Delta… Though God’s plan in the garden appeared to have been thwarted, we know from John’s vision that we will return to an even greater garden, one that will never be taken from us again.”

-J-T Richards

Edwards: Looking Upon that Soul that Is Holy

“Oh, how may angels stand, with pleased, delighted and charmed eyes, and look and look, with smiles of pleasure upon their lips, upon that soul that is holy; how may they hover over such a soul, to delight to behold such loveliness! How is it above all the heathen virtues, of a more light, bright and pure nature, more serene and calm, more peaceful and delightsome! What a sweet calmness, what a calm ecstasy, doth it bring to the soul! How doth it make the soul love itself; how doth it make the pure invisible world love it; yea, how doth God love it and delight in it; how do even the whole creation, the sun, the fields and trees love a humble holiness.”

-Jonathan Edwards, The Miscellanies, as recorded by Owen Strachan, Always in God’s Hands: Day by Day in the Company of Jonathan Edwards, 288.

Come, Ye Thankful People, Come

Come, ye thankful people, come,
raise the song of harvest home;
all is safely gathered in,
ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide
for our wants to be supplied;
come to God’s own temple, come,
raise the song of harvest home.

All the world is God’s own field,
fruit as praise to God we yield;
wheat and tares together sown
are to joy or sorrow grown;
first the blade and then the ear,
then the full corn shall appear;
Lord of harvest, grant that we
wholesome grain and pure may be.

For the Lord our God shall come,
and shall take the harvest home;
from the field shall in that day
all offenses purge away,
giving angels charge at last
in the fire the tares to cast;
but the fruitful ears to store
in His garner evermore.

Even so, Lord, quickly come,
bring thy final harvest home;
gather thou thy people in,
free from sorrow, free from sin,
there, forever purified,
in thy presence to abide;
come, with all thine angels, come,
raise the glorious harvest home.

If I Had a Thousand Tongues

Guilt was a raging fire, burning all of me
Leaving only ash scattered in the breeze
Everything I chased was a fantasy
But I loved my chains, and I could not see

Then came Your voice
And it spoke the name of Jesus
For You made the choice
And the Word became
The only power that frees us

If I had a thousand tongues I still couldn’t sing
In a thousand days the praise I should bring
For the thousand ways that you are deserving
Of all my praise-you’re eternally worthy

God of my salvation, God of new creation
You have made a way like only you can do
I am consecrated, I am recreated
I am now made holy, only in You
Only in You, only in You

Wherever sin has grown, Grace is greater still
I cannot escape from my Savior’s will
I won’t feed the lie that my sin has won
I’ve been crucified with the Risen Son

I will lift my voice
And shout the name of Jesus
For You made the choice
And on the cross you gave
The anguish that redeems us

If I had a thousand tongues I still couldn’t sing
In a thousand days the praise I should bring
For the thousand ways that you are deserving
Of all my praise-you’re eternally worthy

God of my salvation, God of new creation
You have made a way like only you can do
I am consecrated, I am recreated
I am now made holy, only in You
Only in You, only in You

You were betrayed and I’m forgiven
You were condemned and I am living
You were denied and I’m acknowledged by Your Word
I pound the nail, and You defend me
I crucify and Your wounds mend me
It is finished-the final words that death has heard

God of my salvation, God of new creation
You have made a way like only you can do
I am consecrated, I am recreated
I am now made holy, only in You

-Eric Scholtens

Edwards: For the Sake of Christ

“When we pray for grace for the sake of Christ, we should intend thereby to desire God to remember that ’twill be to his Son’s joy and happiness; for the bestowment of God’s grace upon us was the joy that was set before him, the reward he expected, that made him cheerfully subject himself to such torments. Our happiness was a thing he really desired, and made an agreement with God about, by which he was to undertake great labors…and the more of us obtain grace, and the more grace and happiness we obtain, the more pleasure and glory doth he enjoy. And therefore ’tis for his sake we may ask of God, for our grace is his joy.”

-Jonathan Edwards, The Miscellanies, as recorded by Owen Strachan, Always in God’s Hands: Day by Day in the Company of Jonathan Edwards, 313.

Edwards: Totally Dead

“When we say that all men by nature are altogether depraved and corrupted, and without the least grain of true holiness, children of wrath, nothing else can truly be intended but that every man is so of himself, as he is of nature. Nothing else is belonging to us but sin and misery, as we are in Adam; nothing but misery belongs to us according to the first covenant, that we are all under in our first state; and when we are born, nothing else is in us according to the first constitution of things….What he has given him now is according to a new and extraordinary way; ’tis being born again.”

-Jonathan Edwards, The Miscellanies, as recorded by Owen Strachan, Always in God’s Hands: Day by Day in the Company of Jonathan Edwards, 305.

Born Again

In the wake of all that sin has left destroyed
When the bitterness of guilt became more natural than joy
There is a King and He has come,
And all the darkness begins to fade
For over the grave Jesus has won,
And so begins the light of day, the light of day

We are reborn, the King of new Creation;
The Lord of our salvation is living again
We are reborn in Him who lives forever
And the pain of the death can never,
Ever conquer us for we are born again

When we clung to our own guilt, our lies, and pain
Jesus came into our night to be the life, the truth, the way
He was the Lamb there on the cross
That brought forgiveness and relief
Now out of the grave with all that was lost
He is the risen prince of peace, the risen prince of peace

It’s the end of human hopelessness, the end of desperation
It’s the end of all that’s broken; the beginning of salvation
It’s the promise of eternity; the hope in things we will someday see
And Jesus’ name is death’s humiliation

-Eric Scholtens

Strachan: Appreciating Complexity

The battle over Christmas music is the true culture war of our time. Here is the center of the debate: Can we listen to our favorite songs before December? I know purists on both sides. Personally, I try to resist playing such pieces before the season really kicks off. But there are certain tracks I cannot help but play—they are simply too beautiful. This is true of Handel’s Messiah. Composed in 1741, when Jonathan Edwards was at the peak of his vocation, the Messiah seems to me one of the greatest musical accomplishments of all time.

Whatever one’s precise opinions about the proper beginning of the Christmas season, to hear an orchestra at the height of its performance exhilarates the mind and moves the soul. This is especially true of “very complex tunes.” Most of us do not have a carefully trained ear to appreciate “a great many notes together.” But in heaven, Edwards suggests, we will hear “thousands of different ratios” and so listen to symphonic worship in perfect harmony.

A love for classical music is not a necessity for the Christian faith. But Edwards’s point is worth considering. The Trinity itself directs us to appreciate complexity—a complexity we would not have thought possible. A piece that brings many voices and instruments into harmony speaks to a richness, a depth of experience that transcends the power of even many voices singing one note together. Whatever our exact aesthetic interests in the afterlife, we can know that the praise of Christ in song will exceed by far anything we have heard on earth. Let us prepare ourselves to exalt God. Let us now, whether as professionals or amateurs, sing praise to God—in season or out.

Be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:18-20)

-Owen Strachan, Always in God’s Hands: Day by Day in the Company of Jonathan Edwards, 309.