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Wordwise Insight, Issue #075
November 14, 2010

WORDWISE INSIGHT is the free monthly newsletter of


BIBLE INSIGHTS (and Reader Q & A): Is it proper to describe a Christian as "only a sinner"? And some comments on the degrading nature of today's popular music.

WORDWISE HYMNS: My Blog called Wordwise Hymns for you to check out!

DO YOU HAVE A QUESTION? See below for how to send it to us.


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Only a Sinner

(Is That an Accurate Description of a Christian?)

This month, I thought I'd include a couple of shorter items for your interest...

First, I have been challenged several times regarding the above description of the Christian. Doesn't it's very absoluteness ("only") render it incorrect? Not necessarily. It depends upon the purpose of the speaker or author.

The phrase was popularized by a gospel song, published in 1905. It was written by Dr. James Martin Gray, a Reformed Episcopal clergyman who eventually served as president of Moody Bible Institute (1925-1934)–years, by the way, during which my father was a student there. The song, called Only a Sinner, says in part:

Naught have I gotten but what I received;
Grace hath bestowed it since I have believed;
Boasting excluded, pride I abase;
I’m only a sinner, saved by grace!

Only a sinner, saved by grace!
Only a sinner, saved by grace!
This is my story, to God be the glory—
I’m only a sinner, saved by grace!

“Only” a sinner? No, of course not. We are much more than that. We are new creations in Christ. We are children of God, born into His family. We are elevated to the position of sons, and we are called “saints” (God’s set apart ones), and much more. But I’m quite certain Dr. Gray would have ably defended all of that.

It's simply not...

For the rest of this article, click on Only a Sinner.

Popular Music Today

(The Degrading Nature of Today's Music)

These comments relate to a blog posted by my son Jim, in which he discussed the immoral nature of much of the pop music being listened to in Mexico, where he and his wife Shari serve as missionaries. It was a revealing analysis. And from my awareness of the United States and Canada, I’d say that our popular music is at least as bad, possibly worse. Day by day it seems to reach new lows in vulgarity and the glorification of immorality.

Being an old guy, I can remember the early days of television in the 1950's. I recall a performer being caught be surprise by a fake spider being lowered from above, and blurting out (I think) the words "Oh my G--!"–then, apologizing to the viewing audience for her language! Today...? (Need I say more?)

And I can remember the fuss made about Elvis Presley. On television, on at least one occasion, only his face and upper body were allowed on camera, because his sensual wiggle was considered indecent. Now, many laugh at how “narrow” we were in those days, and how harmless it all was. But, of course, it wasn’t.

The Bible says, “In the last days perilous times will come. For men [i.e. human beings] will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God...

For the rest of the article, click on Popular Music Today.


Come and Pay Us a Visit!

In the spring I developed a blog that is called Wordwise Hymns. As the title suggests, it is about hymns, and church music in general.

But as many of you will know, a blog is especially designed to facilitate a conversation on its particular subject. Readers can easily post comments about what they see, and I'm able to reply. I hope you will take part in the discussion!

A Special Feature
There is something unique about this blog that I don't believe has ever been done before. It contains what we could call a Hymn Almanac. If you want to know what happened in the history of hymn writing on any particular day, just click on the blog and you'll see!

My hope is that the blog will add to the value of the website and this newsletter, and promote some profitable exchanges on the subject of sacred music.

What happened on this day in hymnology? To find out, click Wordwise Hymns.

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