It is Well With My Soul

The Next Step Podcast
Season 2: Ponder Anew
Episode 12: It is Well With My Soul
Date: 26 August 2020
Guest: By Rev. Dr. Theodore Hopkins, Concordia University, Ann Arbor
Also available on: iTunes

Professor Theodore Hopkins teaches theology at Concordia University, Ann Arbor where he also serves as Pre-Seminary Director. Dr. Hopkins is the featured guest for our discussion of It is Well With My Soul. Verse four of that hymn says, “O Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight…” That’s the focus of our conversation with Ted Hopkins today.

After a brief intro, you’ll hear author Justin Rossow pray, and Dr. Hopkins will read the verses from 1 Corinthians 13 found on page 117 of the hymn journal. They’ll discuss those verses and what they mean for us as we follow Jesus. Paul uses an analogy of growing up in the faith to become a complete person. One day we will know fully, that is, fully recognize Jesus, even as we are fully known and recognized by Jesus.

Some vocabulary similarities take the discussion to Luke 24 and the Emmaus Road disciples who will eventually recognize Jesus in Scripture and in the breaking of the bread. Ted makes a theological distinction between two kinds of faith: the direct faith that grabs onto the promises (and is a gift of the Spirit) and the faith which is believed. That second kind of faith falls under what Prof. Hopkins calls the “eschatological proviso,” that is, a kind of New Creation asterisk that recognizes Christ will one day come to make all things new.

Dr. Rossow will also read the devotion on page 118. In the course of the discussion that follows, you will hear Hopkins and Rossow talk about how Paul can say that love is greater than faith. Philip Melanchthon comes up as an important figure of the Reformation. Melanchthon wrote the defense of the Augsburg Confession, known as the “Apology of the Augsburg Confession” or just “The Apology.” Not the “I’m sorry,” kind of apology; rather a “You misunderstood: I meant this!”

Article IV of the Apology (on Justification) deals with how Roman Catholic theologians were insisting that salvation comes from knowledge of God (faith) plus love expressed in things like prayer and following the Ten Commandments. Citing the Apostle Paul, Melanchthon and the Lutherans argued that salvation comes through faith (trusting the promise) alone, apart from works of love or works of the law.

So Lutherans might naturally think that faith is greater than love; and if you are only talking about how you are saved, that’s pretty good theology. But, as Dr. Hopkins points out, “We can be so busy saying Love doesn’t justify that we don’t listen to Paul say Love is the greatest of these.

You can read more of what Professor Hopkins has to say about the ways in which you can say love is greater than faith in this sermon: The Greatest of These Is LOVE?

Ultimately, this conversation gets back to a tension: we already have salvation, and we have not yet received salvation as fully as we will when Jesus comes again. This Already/Not Yet dynamic is clearly seen in verses 3 and 4 of It is Well With My Soul.

Before the episode concludes, you’ll hear Dr. Hopkins say: “One of the biggest mistakes of the modern Christian imagination is that we tend to think of ourselves as the ones who are in charge of our own lives, in charge of even the way the world runs. We think of our stories as our own rather than recognizing that this is all God’s Big Story. It’s His work; He’s the One who’s leading, He’s the One who’s working, and we’re just trying to tun with the grain of God’s own work and God’s own story. Even your story is a gift from above.”

This recording was made possible in part by the generous support of Next Step Patrons. Today we recognize two sisters, Kristi and Scott, for their ongoing support of our mission and ministry. Thank you, Scott and Kristi, for helping us equip others for their next step following Jesus!

If now is the right time for you to make a commitment to the mission of resourcing next step discipleship, please consider becoming a Next Step Patron today. To see different options for support, visit

Like the Emmaus Road disciples, we follow Jesus better when we follow Him together, so we invite you to join The Ponder Anew Facebook Group and share your part of the story Jesus is shaping in your life. Big or small, those stories help us look for Jesus at work in our lives, as well. We’d love to hear from you at Next Step Press.

The intro and outro music for Season 2: Ponder Anew was arranged and performed by Brendan Knorp. All rights reserved.

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