Posted by: rcottrill | February 18, 2011

Jesus Paid It All

Words: Elvina Mable Hall (b. June 4, 1822; d. July 18, 1889)
Music: All to Christ I Owe, by John Thomas Grape (b. May 6, 1835; d. Nov. 2, 1915)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: In later years, Elvina Mable Hall married Thomas Meyers, a Methodist clergyman. (Some resources spell her middle name Mabel.)

The story of how this hymn came to be written is told in the linked Wordwise Hymns article. The Cyber Hymnal adds some detail, giving us an account from the pen of John Grape, the composer of the tune. (The hymn to which he refers, also called “Jesus Paid It All,” but written by William Bradbury, must be a different selection entirely.) He wrote the tune All To Christ I Owe for that hymn. It was Pastor Schreck who later found that the melody matched Mrs. Hall’s words perfectly.

Beautifully simple, and simply beautiful! That’s how I would describe this hymn. It says what it needs to say, what is important to say, without unnecessary frills. It should be used often–and is especially suited to the Lord’s Supper. The hymn expresses the heart of the gospel.

¤ That all are sinners, lost, and headed for eternal destruction (Rom. 3:10-11, 23)

¤ That we are unable to save ourselves by our own efforts (Rom. 4:4-5; 5:6; Eph. 2:8-9; Tit. 3:5-6).

¤ That God, in wonderful grace and love, sent His beloved Son to take upon Himself the penalty for our sins (Rom. 6:23; I Cor. 15:3; Eph. 1:7; I Pet. 2:24).

¤ That now, through faith in Christ and His finished Calvary work, we can have full forgiveness, and receive the gift of eternal life (Jn. 3:16; Acts 16:30-31; Rom. 3:24-26).

¤ That this is the only way of salvation (Jn. 3:18, 36; 14:6; Acts 4:12; I Cor. 3:11; I Jn. 5:11-12)

When Christ cried from the cross, “It is finished!” (Jn. 19:30), what He said was one word in the Greek language. “Tetelestai!” Tax receipts have been found that had the word written across them to indicate the debt was “Paid in full!” From the lips of the Saviour, it was a cry of victory. His death on the cross paid the debt we owe in full. Not in part, with something to be made up by penance, or our own good works. In full (Isa. 53:6; I Jn. 2:2).

The hymn uses the cleansing of a leper, by the power of Christ (CH-4, cf. Matt. 8:2-3) as a picture of the cleansing power of the gospel. And the cleansing of garments (CH-2) is reminiscent of the Bible’s teaching that we are clothed in Christ, as in a glorious white robe of righteousness (Gal. 3:26-27; Rev, 1:5).

“‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ Says the LORD, ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool’” (Isa. 1:18).

Most hymn books only use four of Elvina Hall’s original six stanzas. Below are the other two. Again, she takes up the imagery of a robe (CH-3), as does Nicolaus von Zinzendorf in the hymn Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness. (Note also that the final stanza, as printed today, has been slightly altered from the original.)

CH-3) And now complete in Him
My robe His righteousness,
Close sheltered ’neath His side,
I am divinely blest.

CH-5) When from my dying bed
My ransomed soul shall rise,
“Jesus died my soul to save,”
Shall rend the vaulted skies.

1) Someone has said that salvation is not a “do” but a “done.” What is meant by this?

2) If we are not saved (even in part) by our own good works, that raises some important questions.

¤ Does it really matter how we live? Can you give one or more reasons why Christian conduct matters (cf. Eph. 4:1, 30; 5:8; I Pet. 1:15)?
¤ If good works are not the means of our salvation, how do they fit into the picture (Eph. 2:8-10; Tit. 3:8)?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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