Elvis or John Newton??

February 14, 2010

Christian Life, Gospel, Theology

Google sometimes gives you answers to questions you never thought to ask…  I was recently introduced to the hymn “I Asked the Lord” by John Newton.  The beauty of the song, the scriptural relevance and the interesting thought progression intrigued me so much I thought I would try to find some more information about it.  John Newton, who most of you know also penned “Amazing Grace,” was a gifted lyricist who knew much about suffering and the Grace of God.   Below are the lyrics to the song.

I Asked The Lord

-by John Newton

1. I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith and love and every grace
Might more of His salvation know
And seek more earnestly His face

2. Twas He who taught me thus to pray
And He I trust has answered prayer
But it has been in such a way
As almost drove me to despair

3. I hoped that in some favored hour
At once He’d answer my request
And by His love’s constraining power
Subdue my sins and give me rest

4. Instead of this He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart
And let the angry powers of Hell
Assault my soul in every part

5. Yea more with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Cast out my feelings, laid me low

6. Lord why is this, I trembling cried
Wilt Thou pursue thy worm to death?
“Tis in this way” The Lord replied
“I answer prayer for grace and faith”

7. “These inward trials I employ
From self and pride to set thee free
And break thy schemes of earthly joy
That thou mayest seek thy all in me,
That thou mayest seek thy all in me.”

I believe this hymn is very reflective of true Christianity.  It is, however, a version of Christianity that few in today’s evangelical circles would like to embrace.  Several years passed between John Newton’s first enlightenment to the Gospel and when he actually felt he was truly converted.  He also spent long periods of time in his life when things didn’t transpire according to his plans and, as a result, probably felt that God was distant.  A reflection of the truth of Scripture, however, reveals that God works in ways that enable His Grace to be made manifest in our lives.  These ways often include extended periods of suffering and trials; periods through which we are purified.

[picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=elvis+presley&iid=1154585″ src=”9/a/b/e/35.jpg?adImageId=10293922&imageId=1154585″ width=”234″ height=”155″ /]During that search,  what I didn’t expect to find was a song by the same name that Elvis had sung.  The lyrics are below and, I suppose, they have a grain of truth in them.  They do, however, reflect that bubbly, whimsical, hoky-doky everything is going to be alright mentality that is often portrayed by those who don’t understand the true nature of God and how He accomplishes His will for our lives.  As John Piper pointed out in the previous post, some renditions of the Gospel and of God are dangerous and lead to a belittling of the nature of our sin.  And just as the impersonator falls short of the real Elvis, so to these lyrics don’t reflect the full nature of the Christian Gospel.  They merely are an aid to a belief in God that is not grounded in truth.

 
I Asked the Lord

-as arranged and performed by Elvis Presley

 
I asked the Lord to comfort me
When things weren’t going my way.
He said to me “I will comfort you
And lift your cares away.”
I asked the Lord to walk with me
When darkness was all that I knew.
He said to me “Never be afraid,
For I will see you through.”
 
I did not ask for riches.
He gave me wealth untold;
The moon, the stars, the sun, the sky,
And He gave me eyes to behold
 
I thank the Lord for everything
And I count my blessing each day.
He came to me when I need Him,
I only had to pray.
 
He’ll come to you if you’ll ask Him to.
He’s only a prayer away

I wish he had sung Newton’s version.  Now that would have been something….

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