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                           "BLEST BE THE TIE"


INTRODUCTION

1. A wonderful blessing we enjoy in Christ is fellowship with other
   Christians...
   a. We are members of one another - Ro 12:5
   b. Thus we have a special bond or tie that binds us together

2. A simple yet beautiful song that describes this bond is "Blest Be The
   Tie"...
   a. Words written by John Fawcett in 1782
   b. Melody by Johann Georg Nageli, arranged by Lowell Mason in 1845
   -- In "Hymns For Worship", it is song #302

[From the words of this song, let's take this opportunity to reflect
upon the special bond we enjoy as Christians...]

I. FIRST VERSE

   A. "BLEST BE THE TIE THAT BINDS OUR HEARTS IN CHRISTIAN LOVE"...
      1. Consider first what the tie that binds is not
         a. It is not an earthly tie, such as:
            1) Friendship
            2) Marriage
            3) Family
            -- All of which are either social or physical ties
         b. It is not broken like earthly ties, such as through:
            1) Separation
            2) Incompatibility (e.g., the apostles were a diverse group)
            3) Death
      2. Consider then what the tie that binds is
         a. Love, not easily broken - cf. Col 3:14
         b. Love, that comes from the God of love - 1Jn 4:7-11
         c. Love, learned from the example of Christ - 1Jn 3:16
         d. Love, serving as a mark of true discipleship - Jn 13:34-35
      -- The tie involves love that is uniquely Christian; patterned
         after Christ's love

   B. "THE FELLOWSHIP OF KINDRED MINDS IS LIKE TO THAT ABOVE"...
      1. This tie involves a unity for which Jesus prayed - Jn 17:20-23
      2. It involves a unity of mind for which Paul prayed - Php 2:2
      3. Therefore any threat to this unity is strongly condemned
         - e.g., 1Co 1:10
      -- The tie seeks to emulate the unity between the Father and the
         Son

[The tie that binds is based upon the love and unity which Christ makes
possible; how it is manifested is illustrated in the remaining verses of
the song...]

II. SECOND VERSE

   A. "BEFORE OUR FATHER'S THRONE WE POUR OUR ARDENT PRAYERS"...
      1. We are blessed to be able to approach God in prayer
         a. A privilege enjoyed in Christ - He 4:14-16a
         b. A privilege with great blessings - He 4:16b; Php 4:6-7
      2. This song depicts frequent and fervent prayer
         a. Praying for one another - e.g., Jm 5:16; Ac 12:5
         b. Praying with another - e.g., Ac 1:14; 2:42; 12:12; 21:5
      -- Such prayer is a benefit of the tie that binds, and also
         strengthens that tie

   B. "OUR FEARS, OUR HOPES, OUR AIMS ARE ONE, OUR COMFORTS AND OUR
      CARES"...
      1. We have similar concerns and desires
         a. Some because we are simply fellow humans in this world
            1) We desire to be healthy, we fear sickness and dying
            2) We enjoy comforts of life, we fear joblessness and
               poverty
         b. Others because we are fellow citizens of the kingdom
            1) We share the hope of the resurrection and eternal life
               - cf. 1Pe 1:3
            2) We share in the struggles against temptation and
               persecution - 1Pe 5:8-9
      2. As Christians, therefore, we can have more in common
         a. Not just because of our human nature
         b. But also because we are partakers of divine nature
            1) Grace and peace are multiplied - cf. 2Pe 1:2-3
            2) We have exceedingly great and precious promises - cf.
               2Pe 1:4
      -- Our shared experiences, enhanced by our spiritual blessings,
         strengthen our tie

[The next verse focuses on mutual problems we sometimes face...]

III. THIRD VERSE

   A. "WE SHARE OUR MUTUAL WOES, OUR MUTUAL BURDENS BEAR"...
      1. As Christians, we are to bear one another's burdens - Ga 6:1-2
      2. In times of spiritual weakness, we are to pray for one another
         - Jm 5:16
      3. In times of persecution, we are to remember one another - He
         13:3
      4. In times of physical need, we are to provide for one another
         - Jm 1:27
      -- Manifested in such ways, the tie we have in Christ is truly a
         blessing

   B. "AND OFTEN FOR EACH OTHER FLOWS THE SYMPATHIZING TEAR"...
      1. Because that is how God composed the body of Christ! - 1Co 12:
         24b-26
      2. That we might weep with those who weep - Ro 12:15
      -- An emotional but effective demonstration of the bond we share

[The final verse describes the impact of the tie that binds, when it
comes time to separate, even temporarily...]

IV. FOURTH VERSE

   A. "WHEN WE ASUNDER PART, IT GIVE US INWARD PAIN"...
      1. The tie is such that departure can be painful
      2. Note the example of Paul and the Ephesian elders - Ac 20:36-38
      -- Never experience such pain?  Perhaps one might need to examine
         their tie

   B. "BUT WE SHALL BE JOINED IN HEART, AND HOPE TO MEET AGAIN"...
      1. We might be separated in the flesh, but can remain together in
         spirit - Col 2:5
      2. We are comforted by a wonderful hope
         a. The hope of the resurrection - 1Th 4:13-18
         b. Made possible by the resurrection of Christ, and our faith
            in Him - 1Pe 1:3-5
      -- It is this hope which keeps our hearts joined together, when
         all other bonds fail

CONCLUSION

1. "Blest Be The Tie" is a beautiful song...
   a. That describes the blessings of our oneness in Christ
   b. That expresses how many Christians truly feel for one another

2. But it describes blessings known only by those...
   a. Who have been added by Christ to His church - cf. Ac 2:41,47
   b. Who are diligent in preserving the unity of the Spirit in the bond
      of peace - cf. Ep 4:1-3

Have you been added to the Lord's church through obedience to the gospel
(cf. Ac 2:38)?  Are you doing your part to strengthen the tie that binds
those in Christ?

   "Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond
   of unity." (Col 3:14, NASB)
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