Sunday, June 9, 2019 – Pentecost (Whitsunday) Spirit of Faith, Come Down – The United Methodist Hymnal 332
Spirit of Faith, Come Down - Tune - DIADEMATA (UMH 88)
Spirit of faith, come down, reveal the things of God,
And make to us the Godhead known, and witness with the blood.
‘Tis thine the blood to apply and give us eyes to see,
Who did for every sinner die hath surely died for me.
No one can truly say that Jesus is the Lord,
Unless thou take the veil away and breathe the living Word.
Then, only then, we feel our interest in his blood,
And cry with joy unspeakable, “Thou art my Lord, my God!”
O know my Saviour lives, he lives, who died for Me,
My inmost Soul his Voice receives who hangs on yonder Tree:
Set forth before my Eyes ev’n now I see him bleed,
And hear his Mortal Groans, and Cries, while suffering in my Stead.
O that the world might know my dear atoning Lamb!
Spirit of faith, descend and show the virtue of his name;
The grace which all may find, the saving power, impart,
And testify to humankind, and speak in every heart.
Inspire the living faith (which whosoe’er receive,
The witness in themselves they have and consciously believe),
The faith that conquers all, and doth the mountain move,
And saves whoe’er on Jesus call, and perfects them in love.
This Sunday our theme is twofold. Pastor Meredith will speak to salvation and it also happens to be Pentecost. The word Pentecost describes the journey to this day, 50 days after Easter Sunday and on this day, we celebrate the birthday of the church and the Holy Spirit as the agent whereby the risen Christ is made present to the church then and today. This does not mark the Holy Spirit’s first appearance though. The Spirit was there hovering over the water in the very beginning when the earth was a formless void. In my first blog entry I spoke about the Hebrew word ruach being translated as wind, breath or Spirit. The Pentecost scripture in Acts 2:1-4 also speaks about wind.
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
Charles Wesley wrote this hymn around 1746 for the day of Pentecost (Whitsunday for our British friends). He carefully weaves in the work of the Spirit to bring salvation to the individual. This becomes especially clear in the third line of the first stanza ‘’tis thine the blood to apply and give us eyes to see’.
The second stanza is filled with Scripture references. (1 Corinthians 12:3)
Therefore, I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says “Let Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit.
And John 20:28
Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”
Charles describes prevenient grace, the grace that goes before. It gives us an understanding that God woos us continuously even when we do not know God. We do not understand the saving love of Jesus Christ until that moment when we recognize God’s love when ‘the veil is taken away’. Charles describes this incredible moment in a somewhat personal way, as to say to the reader that ‘you too can have that relationship with God and the joy of life that comes with it.
The third stanza printed here is omitted in our hymnal but in this case, we must refrain from blaming the hymnal editor Carlton (Sam) Young because John Wesley, Charles’ famous brother, is the culprit here. When he published this hymn in his Collection of Hymns for the Use of the People Called Methodists (1780) he omitted the third stanza and made some other minor changes as in stanza 4 where he changed the original ‘My dear atoning Lamb’ to ‘the all atoning Lamb!’.
While Charles might express a deeply personal view of Jesus’ redemption, John might have counteracted their context of Calvinism (only God’s pre-elected are being saved). Wesleyan theology insists that God loves and welcomes all into a relationship with God. Presbyterians find their heritage in Calvinist theology, but I can honestly say that I have not heard that being preached in a Presbyterian Church. One might wonder if it would not be beneficial to the deepening of our relationship with God if John’s edit should be reversed to Charles’ original ‘my dear atoning lamb’. That would also apply to omitting the third verse which also expresses our deeply personal relationship with God.
The final stanza also tells us about Charles’ belief that faith is a gift from God, not something we acquire. However, we do have the choice to say yes to that gift. This might be a new concept to you, and I would encourage you to ponder on that this week. Say yes to God – I recommend it.
Rev. Suzi Byrd