“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Colossians 3:16 (NASB)
I pray that the above John Wesley quote will be better known, and better embraced, by Methodists in Singapore.
Homo unius libri – Latin for “a person of one book”. The book Wesley was referring to was the Bible. Wesley believed that God’s way of salvation through Christ was written down by God in the Bible.
The quote is found in the Preface to Wesley’s Standard Sermons, a collection compiled to help Methodist local preachers promote scriptural holiness throughout the land. (“Scriptural holiness” is another Wesley quote which I think we Methodists should embrace more fully.)
Wesley writes: “God himself has condescended to teach the way: For this very end he came from heaven. He hath written it down in a book. O give me that book! At any price, give me the book of God! I have it: Here is knowledge enough for me. Let me be homo unius libri.”
I think it would be great if Singaporean Methodists were regarded as people who made the careful study and application of the Bible a chief characteristic of their lives – homo unius libri, a people of one book.
Praise God that Christians all over the world have started using the 34-week Bible-reading programme developed by the United Methodist Church known as DISCIPLE. Many of our Singapore Methodist churches have small groups that use this series also. This is one way we try to promote the idea of being “a people of one book”, committed to spreading “scriptural holiness” throughout the land.
Methodism is also famous for having given the world so many scriptural hymns and songs.
John Wesley wrote a few, but his brother Charles is attributed with having composed more than 7,000! Among them are favourites like “And Can It Be That I Should Gain” and “Hark The Herald Angels Sing”.
This combination of the Bible’s teaching on Christ and the value of hymns and songs comes together in Colossians 3:16 – “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (NASB)
I am thankful to be part of a Methodist heritage that urges me to be homo unius libri and to sing hymns and songs that inspire us to not only read the Scriptures, but to sing them as well. I hope you are too.
Picture by Flynt/Bigstock.com
The Rev Dr Gordon Wong was elected President of Trinity Annual Conference in 2012 for the quadrennium. He has been a Methodist pastor for 27 years, and was a lecturer at Trinity Theological College in the Old Testament, biblical Hebrew and homiletics since 1995.