9 Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. 10 For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little: 11 For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. Isaiah 28:9-11 (KJV)
Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein. Jer 6:16 (KJV)
The oldest and most priceless story ever told is the Old, Old Story of the Redeemer promised by God in Eden’s lush Garden. Mrs. Kate Hankey has performed a wonderful service to the Church in writing a hymn that brings to mind the grandeur and critical importance to us of remembering every detail of that ‘Old, Old Story of Unseen Things Above.’ This is by no means the only hymn by Hankey that directs our memory back to those treasures of God’s Word from Eden until now. Another, among many, is entitled, “I LOVE TO TELL THE STORY.” Today’s hymn was composed in 1866 during a serious illness. The music is by William Howard Doane. (1869) I will relate another testimonial associated with the story which I quote from Mr. Steven Miller:
“The story is told of a dear old saint who was dying in Ireland, and a young minister who came in to be at his bedside. The old saint enjoyed conversation, but the younger man confessed his embarrassment in not knowing how to keep up the conversation. The dying man consoled his visitor by saying, “Just tell me the old, old story. Just the old, old story, nothing more.” It is said that when this incident was related to Miss Hankey, it inspired her to write her famous hymn.”
TELL ME THE OLD, OLD STORY
Tell me the old, old story of unseen things above,
of Jesus and his glory, of Jesus and his love.
Tell me the story simply, as to a little child,
for I am weak and weary and helpless and defiled.
Tell me the old, old story, tell me the old, old story,
tell me the old, old story, of Jesus and his love.
Tell me the story slowly, that I may take it in,
that wonderful redemption, God’s remedy for sin.
tell me the story often, for I forget so soon;
the early dew of morning has passed away at noon.
Tell me the story softly, with earnest tones and grave;
remember I’m the sinner whom Jesus came to save.
Tell me the story always, if you would really be,
in any time of trouble, a comforter to me.
Tell me the same old story when you have cause to fear
that this world’s empty glory is costing me too dear.
Yes, and when that world’s glory is dawning on my soul,
tell me the old, old story: “Christ Jesus makes thee whole.”
“Tell me the old, old story of unseen things above, of Jesus and his glory, of Jesus and his love.
Tell me the story simply, as to a little child, for I am weak and weary and helpless and defiled ” It is an irony of the spirit that often the one who suffers physical blindness can see those “unseen things above’ far better than those of us with 20/20 physical vision. Our youth choir today (Palm Sunday) sang “Praise Him, Praise Him” by the lady blind from infancy – Fanny Cosby. Many of Fanny’s hymns dwell upon seeing and believing, but she means seeing with the Spirit and not the eyes. The ancient fathers knew something of the love of God, but I do not believe they could fully grasp the beauty and completeness of its expression in the life, death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. He was LOVE personified! Is it the vanity of pride that prevents us from believing as a little child for, “2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, 3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matt 18:2-4 (KJV) There is no soul with greater joy than that of a little child who knows he is loved. If we belong to Christ, there could no greater love be showered upon us than that of the One who laid down His life to redeem us from our sins.
“Tell me the story slowly, that I may take it in, that wonderful redemption, God’s remedy for sin. tell me the story often, for I forget so soon; the early dew of morning has passed away at noon.” Amazing point here from which preachers could learn an important lesson. Christ never screamed or jumped about in pretended drama while preaching. He often sat down and spoke in a very conversational tone. Truth needs no human emphasis. I do not say that the normal pitch and tone of the voice should not be used in making points in preaching; but, really, are we entertainers or servants of God called upon to share His Word? One cardinal rule of teaching and learning is this: “Repetition aids recall.” There is repetition of ‘line upon line, precept upon precept’ in God’s Word. Important points are repeated often to reinforce their importance to us. We need to hear the old, old story of our Lord from Genesis to Revelations, and often repeated. Not only are our memories incapable of holding every point, but even those points that we do remember need regular watering with the Word. The dew aids the rose every morning, but it evaporates in the heat of life and needs the replenishment of distillation each day.
“Tell me the story softly, with earnest tones and grave; remember I’m the sinner whom Jesus came to save. Tell me the story always, if you would really be, in any time of trouble, a comforter to me.” Does the spiritual manner with which we expound upon the Word of God matter? Yes! It definitely matters. Let me give you an example from Holy Scripture. Do you recall the incident at Jacob’s Well in which a Samaritan Woman of ill repute came to the Well to be met by Christ? She was notorious in the village as an adulteress; however, her credibility changed once she knew Christ. “The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?
Then they went out of the city, and came unto him.” John 4:28-30 (KJV) Suddenly, the woman had a new credibility. Her fervency of expression proved that ‘something’ had happened in her heart. “ And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.” John 4:39 (KJV) The woman’s testimony had the ring of truth. Many BELIEVED on Christ for her testimony. Do we have that strength of faith in our own testimonies so that men will believe our testimonies?
“Tell me the same old story when you have cause to fear that this world’s empty glory is costing me too dear. Yes, and when that world’s glory is dawning on my soul, tell me the old, old story: “Christ Jesus makes thee whole.” Please let us adhere to that SAME old story preached by the prophets, our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Apostles. If we will demand pure water from the spring, we must drop our buckets upstream from the herd where men and beasts have muddied the waters. The story is changeless and immutable. It is all the seamless story of redemption and election in Christ from the beginning. Christ healed lepers, the paraplegic, the demon possessed, the deaf and dumb, and the blind; but these healings are not sufficient to make one whole – the entire man must be healed to be made whole. Only our Lord can make us whole in body, mind, and soul. Though we may forget, we pray the Holy Ghost to bring to our remembrance all that is written in Holy Scripture about our Lord Jesus Christ, and that, by the way, is every Word of Scripture.
REFRAIN: “Tell me the old, old story, tell me the old, old story, tell me the old, old story, of Jesus and his love.” Three times for emphasis is the appeal repeated “Tell me the old, old story” and it could be repeated one thousand times without exaggeration. The old, old story is sealed by that inestimable LOVE of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The heart of each saint has the Crimson Seal of His blood upon the Gates and passageways of the Temple of his Heart.