Dear Friends in Christ,
I came across your web site while looking for the lyrics to Ira Stanphill's song, "Follow Me." Like you, I am committed to challenging Christians to think Biblically so I found your site helpfully thought provoking.
Your web site has this appraisal of Stanphill's song: "If just a cup of water I place within your hand, then just a cup of water is all that I demand." The author of this song must never have read the parable of the talents! If just a single talent I place within your hand, then just a single talent is all that I demand?
Is it possible that you were thinking of a different scripture than the author was? Since he wrote “cup of water” and not “a single talent,” I believe Stanphill was referencing Jesus' words in Matthew 10:42. There Jesus said, "And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.”
If I have a cup of cold water, it sounds like Jesus wants me to give it in his name to "one of these little ones." And if I do, he promises a reward. It doesn't appear the reward or his approval is contingent on the cup of water being multiplied like the talents.
I could be wrong, but it sounds like a simpler explanation for Stanphill’s lyrics.
Please keep up your good work and let me know what you think.
Hoping to help.
Your point is well made and the spirit in which it is made is appreciated. However, note that Jesus did not say that the cup of cold water to a little one was all that he demanded. It is the parable of the talents that demonstrates that which Jesus expects of his brothers and sisters who are God’s children – use them wisely and develop more. In one case (cup of water) a person is responding to a particular need; the emphasis is on the needy recipient. In the song the emphasis is on the giver who, if your understanding is correct, is to be satisfied with just one talent that is given away, leaving him with none at all. When the master gives a talent he expects us to be good stewards, use them wisely, and develop the original talent and add others. Stanphill has the one talent given away leaving the servant without talents.
Sometimes lyricists become to concentrated on achieving rhyme that they overlook, unintentionally perhaps, harmonizing words with truth. A good example of this is No. 577. Instead of having human beings crown Jesus, why not make it read “King of my life to thee I bow, Thine shall the glory be.” It is scriptural and it still rhymes. Stanphill might have found something else to put where the cup of cold water language is. It seems out of place, anyway, in the context of taking up our cross and following Jesus. Jesus demanded more even of the person who gave the cup of cold water, even assuming that that was all that he had.
You Must Hear the Gospel
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
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
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
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)
You Must Be Baptized
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!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
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)