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Question #159

What has Alton Howard done to my favorite songs?

I absolutely agree that the song book "Songs of Faith and Praise" is terrible. It is well named though - there are almost no songs about anything except faith & praise -little about such non-essentials as obedience, Bible authority, actually worshiping God in song, etc. In fact, Songs of Faith and Praise ruined an old favorite -Victory in Jesus. Here's how 1) "I then obeyed his blest commands and gained the victory" 2) "and somehow Jesus came inside and gave the victory" Every song book I know of 'in the brotherhood' has the first rendering in the second verse - except for Songs of Faith and Praise. It has the second rendering - the Baptist revision (or vice versa). Either way it's inexcusable for Alton Howard to choose that rendering for a 'church of Christ' song book. I first saw the second rendering in a Baptist hymnal at the Hancock County, TN, jail - and that phrase led us to bring our own books (the old Songs of the Church) - which have the correct rendering- for the song service there. Another problem song is: Jesus is Coming Soon (Troublesome times are here) The second verse has the gem: "When these signs come to pass, nearing the end at last..." Those 'signs' occurred in A.D. 70 right before Jerusalem was destroyed - not terribly relevant to us 1930+ years later. Nevertheless most song books have the song in its entirety. Only one book I know of, Praise for the Lord, has scissored the second verse. Praise for the Lord also left "Just a Little Talk with Jesus" on the cutting room floor - right where it belongs. Another problem song is Heaven's Jubilee, 3rd verse. The original line is "singing in the Holy Ghost" and even Praise for the Lord published this rendering. Church Gospel Songs & Hymns changed the rendering to "singing to the uttermost" which is more scriptural than the original. And what happened to the second verse of "Amazing Grace"??? In the old Christian Hymns/Sacred Selections the second verse went as follows: "Twas Grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears allayed , how precious did that grace appear, the hour I first obeyed ". We still sing it that way even though we use Praise for the Lord there.

The Answer:

Amen! Thank you for providing these additional examples of why no one should be using that terrible song book! (Elders, are you listening? Do you care?)

God's Plan of Salvation

You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)

You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)

You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)

You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)

Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)